FROM FASHION INDUSTRY GENIUS TO LUXURY BRIDAL ATELIER…
From a career working behind multiple leading bridal brands and international design houses for over 30 years – and for which I have loved every minute and can still recall my very first day with pride and fondness. I don’t think my feet have had much time to touch the ground in between dreaming about designs to making them and seeing them worn, it is a fast past relentless industry filled with never ending demands yet so joyable to see the end results fulfilling someones dream.
From my first day at work, where I would watch the dressmakers drape, cut and sew a piece of cloth into something quite magical and breath-taking – without any drama and whilst sipping a hot tea or black coffee – you most certainly wouldn’t be allowed to do that now! I was so eager to learn that I would even sneak home the floor cuttings each day and fashion them into diva-esque outfits ready for the weekend groove.
I began sewing when I was only 14 after being inspired by the kick-ass dressmakers in my little town. So by the time I began work at my first job with a Tailor in Birmingham City Centre, I was already quite skilled. And within a few weeks of landing my first job in London they were trusting me with quite challenging pieces allowing me to work entirely on silks and chiffons and expensive cloths. So within two years of finishing my course at London College of Fashion, I launched my first workroom designing bespoke evening gowns and high tea dresses for the ladies of Notting Hill, Kensington and Knightsbridge. I guess I thought that I knew it all back then, but little did I know it would take another 30 years of practice and learning before I could genuinely award myself the title of Atelier.
ON A JOURNEY TO BECOMING THE BEST ATELIER IN LONDON
A celebrity press portfolio is considered a major achievement in the fashion industry but back then, before the days of Instagram and Social Media, everyone took it in their stride and kept their input private and confidential, knowing that we achieved what we did only because of each other. We all knew that the end product was only as good as the people who laboured hard behind the scenes, and without whose talent the show just wouldn’t even be starting let alone going on’. We used to tease each other with names such as ‘Flo and Darlin” – because today, you might be flavour of the month but only for a short while – knowing that within a few days, your talent and skill would be long forgotten. I’ve lost track of the number of nights that I didn’t make it home and spent the night with a room full of strangers, each willing to make the next round of tea and coffee to keep everyone on track and awake. At one point, I think I stayed at work for two whole days and nights prompting my mother to call the police thinking something dreadful had happened to me.
I think this has to be one of the only industries whereby teams are often required to stay behind until the job was done. This practice still continues today in the fashion industry especially in the run up to London Fashion Week and still for many of the biggest names, on a weekly basis where craftsmen & women are expected to work the whole day and night together just to get jobs done; one of the reasons why so I make no apology for my moments of fame as I have earned it 10 times over.
In fact, I am filled with pride whenever I think back on what my little hands have accomplished. I am not one to boast about work and tend to play it down rather than bore everyone to death. One of the reasons that I take such as laid back approach is because when a dress is completed, it is whisked away immediately to its new owner and I then start all over again by figuring out how to make the next one work. I never ever just jump in…there is so much testing and sampling to ensure everything will work as planned before the process starts again – so there really isn’t time to dwell on things too long!
So, whenever someone asks the question, “So, who is the most famous person you have ever made a dress for”, I sometimes don’t quite know where to begin…I guess it depends upon the age of the enquirer. Everyone in the fashion industry is inspired by the iconic screen goddesses of the 50’s and 60’s but I, under my own label, had the opportunity to work on a few pieces for the late Ava Gardener – only regret is that I don’t have photos.
Because of image quality, the dresses featured in this post were made around 2006 onwards whilst working alongside influential and talented designers whom I have the utmost respect for and have featured them here to give a little insight into my past achievements.
WHAT IS IT LIKE MAKING DRESSES FOR CELEBRITIES?
Sometimes, really nerve racking especially if you know who they are. I can get star crush and forget they are only human too. I love it when they are themselves and down-to-earth. And I especially love it when they take a moment to thank you personally – Kindness goes a long way!
I can recall every stitch during the creation of Rosamund Pike’s dress. I had about two or three days to make it happen before it had to be on a flight to LA. The challenges were endless as the design required expertise, skill and patience to achieve the immaculately sculpted design. My one sad tear, is the fact that the wearer knows nothing of the sacrifices of the many that have gone into making the perfect dress! But none-the-less, I am thankful for of all the opportunities that have helped to shape and hone my skills in the fine art of couture dressmaking and and the ability to craft bespoke wedding dresses with precision. And I am humbled when designers call on me from time-to-time to help mastermind their wonderful ideas and vision
FINDING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE
One of the key things I ‘d like to point out when you look closely at celebrity fashion – especially Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo) for example. J-Lo knows exactly what style of dress flatters her body and she works it in her trusted style mercilessly time after time. Now I happen to know that she has her body challenges and is certainly not as slim when compared to VB in the same shot. But, by simply choosing the right style, cut and fit, she looks perfectly proportioned, projected by a stunning clean cut silhouette. This is achieved via the cut of the dress, the flow of the line and the structuring i.e., how the dress is made up on the inner layers – making this a go-to-silhouette that J-Lo is able to trust.
TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN SHOPPING FOR THAT PERFECT WEDDING DRESS SHAPE TO FLATTER YOUR BODY AND CURVES
- Focus: Your initial search should be to find a few variations that are based upon your favourite shape.
- Wedding day confidence: How To rock Your frock on your big day, you must feel 100% at home about your shoulders, upper arms and back. If this is you? then proceed immediately to start looking at strapless dresses that will show off your best bits with great results.
- Bit of a tummy? If you are not as toned in the mid-rift area, you need to consider dresses that are either well structured with built in and hidden corsetry or choose the more relaxed empire line dresses to provide the ideal shape that you need.
- Dresses with sleeves: Are making a big comeback on the bridal fashion scene and are a great way to redirect attention away from the bust, arms ans shoulders as well as taking your style up a notch in sophistication
- Ultra Low Cut Front: If you are heavy busted and the dress does not support your bust, either choose a dress that has a high illusion bodice that will hold you in place, plus, you may need to visit a specialist alteration dressmaker who will lift and reshape the bodice to avoid the dress drooping at the front as your body settles in and the fabric warms up.
- DO NOT: consider buying a dress a size too small unless you are 100% confident that you can lose two dress sizes – if you have already done so, then you need to factor in additional alterations costs.
Hope you enjoyed the read!