That dream wedding dress.. the object of countless little girls' day dreams, and the object of many frantic fittings for countless brides-to-be. In an aim to get some down to earth and objective advice, from someone with years of experience, The Wardette Studio stopped by the busy studio of Heirloom Collections. Edwina obliged with some super helpful tips and insights.. It is a valuable read for all brides-to-be, even before you've chosen your dress...
What is your background in fashion design?
Trained in the seventies in Fashion design, pattern cutting and making up to a sample machinist standard. I worked for several fashion houses in London before settling in a company designing children coats. Over the past 20 years or so, I have specialised in Bridal wear, running my own cottage industry. From designing gowns to altering shop bought wedding dresses. Alterations can range from simple length adjustments to adding special features, making them unique and personal.
What makes bridal fashion different from any other part of the industry?
It is very specialised work and it is nearer to couture work than high fashion.
For me, as a one man band, it is about working closely with individual clients and helping them achieve their dream dress. Everyday fashion wear requires very different design needs to that of a bridal gown. THE bridal gown is a fiction of imagination for many girls from a very early age and for this reason, it does not have to adhere to the same design restrictions that high street fashion does.
The mind is allowed to run free with a swirl of romance and a dash of drama.
Because the basis of this dress is so steeped in the sense of drama, romance and centre stage attraction, that as designers we have a free reign when it comes to designing.
The budget for designing for such dresses, even in the mass production industry, is much higher than any dress in the high street. This raises the level enough to make designing for such dresses much more exciting. When working with individuals, budgets still figure strongly. Most brides have a budget, which though a challenge, makes designing such a gown exciting and rewarding.
What are the most challenging, the most rewarding, and the most exciting parts of the bridal design process?
Some clients can be very challenging and being able to meet their needs and achieving a happy bride, probably the most rewarding. Weddings can be very stressful for some brides, especially if they have unrealistic expectations, not only of themselves but of everyone around them, that it can make working with them difficult and challenging. Diplomacy is the order of the day......always!! Even if I go home at night and scream into my pillow.
The most exciting part is the design aspect.
Creating a piece of garment from a sketch and seeing the smile on the brides face, is both rewarding and exciting.
So many girls have many ideas on how they want their gown to look, but are unable to express that thought or idea accurately. This is where a fashion drawing comes in and with a little help from some well chosen magazine cuttings from the bride, I am able to draw exactly what they want. Mission accomplished!
What are the most exciting bridal designers for you, right now?
Jenny Packman for sheer romance and Oscar de la Renta for being brave enough to steer clear of lace. Bringing back the 50's elegance in duchess satin. It was lovely to how the Princess' wedding dress effected our lace industry- an industry that had struggled for years. But if I have to adjust another lace gown, I may have to scream into my pillow again! So it's a breath of fresh air for me to see designs in crisp duchess satins, echoing the 50's classic cuts. So elegant and flattering.
What are the top things you'd advise brides do, when choosing a dress?
Have an open mind and try everything on. You just might surprise yourself....many do!
Its a mistake to convince yourself that you don't want to look like a meringue or that your hip just won't be able to pull of a fishtail. I see hundreds of girls a year and many thankfully get convinced to try everything on and many are then so grateful, because they end up choosing something they would never have dreamed of previously. They are such unique dresses that you can not apply the same rules for buying them as you would a summer dress or even an evening gown.
Any tips on things to look out for/ remember when getting a dress fitted?
Always have the appropriate underwear on and your bridal shoes, and never attend a fitting without them.
A good bra is so important. Bras can re-shape our bust and so its so important, if you are going to wear one, to wear it for your fitting. Especially if it is an uplift bra or a padded bra. These bra's can make a difference of an inch or so to your measurement.
Your shoes are also very important. Without them, it is impossible to adjust and pin the exact length. No seamstress worth their weight in gold will guess a length. If any try, then its time to take your gown else where. You should be offered a second fitting, if not, then insist on one and make sure you have you shoes for that fitting too. One last note! refrain from wearing your wedding thong at your fitting, if only for the sake of your fitter. Best leave it at home and keep it new for your wedding, and the only person who really should see it....the groom!
Finally.. in one sentence.. how do you think a girl should feel in her wedding dress?
Like a million dollars! Nothing more and certainly nothing less. If you don't feel amazing in the dress then it's not the dress for you.
Heirloom Collections' online home is here and worth a look. Edwina not only works on stunning one-off gowns, but designs her own bridal collections too. As if this is not enough, her work also includes some stunning christening gowns.. too much cuteness. Have a look...
Oh, and Edwina also happens to be my mother. Which is why I've ended up a valuable help at lots of my weddings, on hand for quick dress fixes and pinning. The girls' never expected their photographer to have a clue.. mother taught me well.