March 14th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
We just love it when we get to share an exclusive first look at a designer’s brand new collection – and this afternoon on the blog, we are doing just that!
Prepare for some serious dress candy ladies, as we reveal a special preview of the 2018 collection from our hugely talented Sponsor, Felicity Cooper Bridal.
The stunning label was launched by North West designer Fiona Cooper back in 2010 and has continued to go from strength to strength, with brides falling head over heels for its pretty bohemian designs that are both feminine and fashionable.
Here to introduce the latest collection with stunning imagery and video footage, is the leading lady herself.
With images by Lucy G Photography.
What is the name of the new collection and does it have a certain theme?
fiona says: ‘Authentic Luxe’ is our 2018 collection and we are so excited to preview it here exclusively! It has a bohemian luxe vibe – the look we love the most!
Where did you get the inspiration from for the new collection?
The 2018 collection has a relaxed feel. I have taken inspiration from so many things, including interior design trends, bohemian fashion and the brides I meet.
Can you give us an overview of the various styles that feature in the collection?
The majority of the collection is slim fitting; off-shoulder gowns and spaghetti straps play a prominent part.
And what fabrics have been used?
My usual signature fabrics; silk chiffon in both matt and shine, delicate French laces, soft draping crepe and a really quirky geometric stretch cotton.
Do you have a personal favourite dress from the collection?
Oh, I have a few, though I think Willow and Poppy are my very favourites!
How has the new collection been received so far by those that have seen it?
Some of our stockists have had sneak previews and so far we have had an amazing response. We can’t wait to get the collection in their boutiques and to the brides!
What type of bride do you think the new collection will appeal to?
We really think our dresses appeal to the relaxed bride, fun loving and fashion thinking bride. The bride who knows her own mind and style, who wants to be comfortable yet look breath-taking.
When and where will the new collection be available from?
The collection will be available at trunk shows with our stockists over the coming months and permanently with them from the summer. I would advise any bride wanting to try the new collection to contact their nearest stockist, book into the trunk shows and make sure the dress they want to try will be there!
Any other news to share with us?
With the success of Felicity Cooper Bridal with our wonderful stockists we have decided to close our Knutsford boutique to enable us to concentrate fully on our brand and support our stockists. We will be hosting special events in the North West and I will be attending as many trunk shows as I can personally. Our stockist trunk show dates so far are:
Frock & Soul – 8th and 9th April
The White Yard – 1st May
Kimberley Ann Bridal Boutique – 8th and 9th July
For a full list of stockists visit www.felicitycooper.co.uk
February 13th, 2017 | Julia Braime
Right in time for one of the most romantic days of the year, we’ve got a super pretty styled shoot that’s bursting with beautiful blooms.
Centered around the stunning Posey separates by top British bridal designer and Brides Up North Sponsor, Charlotte Balbier, the shoot’s creative team of fabulous suppliers have shown how the design of a dress can influence other elements of the wedding without taking things OTT.
We just love ultra-feminine styling complete with romantic roses and opulent metallic touches, which work in perfect harmony with the dreamy bridal two-piece and rural backdrop. Here to tell us more is lovely makeup artist Amy L Wilkinson, who also directed the shoot.
With images by Samantha Hook Photography. Models Iain Spivey and Chloe Tong.
amy says: The theme of the shoot was flowers after I was inspired by the beautiful Charlotte Balbier Posey skirt and top. The two-piece lead the shoot in every way; we chose to incorporate flowers and floral patterns into as many elements of the day as we could without it becoming overpowered, and used a pretty colour palette mainly consisting of girly lilacs and pinks.
The location of the shoot was the stunning Swancar Farm in Nottinghamshire. We felt the rural location and the setting of an old farm house was the perfect backdrop for all our fabulous flowers. The venue is surrounded by fields, trees and flowers, so it also felt like we were bringing the outdoors, in!
I chose to keep the bride’s makeup fresh with perfectly polished skin. The gold eyeshadow was a nod to some of the styling elements and the lip colour reflected the flowers. For a subtle floral touch, the bride’s nail art by Nikki Drury featured a sweet flower design.
The bride’s shoes, from I am Florence, were decorated with white leather flowers and we also used trainers in some shots for a relaxed and alternative look.
When it came to styling the groom, we chose a floral-patterned shirt by Sauce & Brown, that remained in keeping with the theme and that wasn’t at risk of clashing with the bride’s attire. Instead of a traditional corsage, we used the groom’s pocket to create a “window box” of flowers.
For the backdrop, we styled a table setting with small flowers enraptured in geometric shapes, floral painted menus by Amy Bailey Designs and decorative glasses, all of which reflected the colours used in the floral arrangements. Touches of copper and gold helped to add a further elegance.
The cake table had flowers pouring out of the draws as well as decorating the wedding cake itself, which was designed by The Confetti Cakery. Macaroons were brushed with gold and copper to match the cake and other sweet treats provided further colour and texture.
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February 8th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
While there are numerous stunning wedding dress designs hanging on the rails of boutiques, for some brides nothing completes the dream wedding picture like having a couture gown specially made for their big day.
Brides Up North Sponsor and dress-maker extraordinaire Antonia Aitken of Blossom and Belle, is fully versed in the art of creating beautiful bespoke wedding gowns, from the structure and cut to the fabric and finish. As such, we’re putting the blog in her skilful hands this afternoon so she can tell us exactly what couture is, and how she goes about creating it through her one-off, timeless wedding gown designs.
She also has news of a fabulous Blossom and Belle charity tea party event taking place in York on Sunday 26th February, which will feature workshops, high-end suppliers and delicious treats, so be sure to read to the end of the post for full details.
With images by All You Need Is Love Photography
How would you define a couture wedding gown?
antonia says: Couture is not ‘dressmaking or copying a design’ – rather it is the creation of a luxury item which starts from design through to pattern cutting, toiles and fittings and the final amazing result.
Couture is not off the peg. It is a unique creation that no one else will have. It is a process that takes time, not something that can be made in an instant. Specialised elements, from hand stitched hems and embellishments, to steel boned bodices and button and loop detailing, are the epitome of a couture gown. It is timeless piece that will look just as wonderful in years to come as it does on the day of the wedding.
What skills must you have as a dress maker to craft such creations?
As the design director at Blossom and Belle I pride myself in my skill to create a one-off bespoke gown or outfit.
It’s having the ability to see a client for the first time and knowing exactly what she will suit. It is the art of how fabric will work and fall on the form. Knowing about colours, textures and the cut and line of a design. How to emphasise the best features of a client and disguise those that they are less keen on.
I do not work from someone else’s pattern, I make my own, which is a meticulous process requiring great skill and an art form in itself.
What do brides enjoy about having a couture gown for their big day?
For my clients, it’s the knowledge that they are wearing something truly unique and luxurious and in their own size – not mass produced and not off the peg – something made especially for them.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the process a bride can expect to follow if she decides to have a couture Blossom and Belle gown made?
The whole process of having your own gown created is really quite lovely. After your first free consultation, where we go over ideas and look through fabrics and any trimmings or embellishment ideas, I will design a range of gowns for you to choose from and take your measurements. I also say at this point that the bride should get their underwear as this is vital to the fit of the gown. A toile is then made in calico, which is a mock-up of the wedding dress and where tweaks and design decisions are made. Having a couture gown made just for you is a very private affair and no one else, unless you want to, will see your gown being created.
There should be no more than five fittings, although some brides like to have more as they love to see everything taking shape and enjoy the process so much.
Finally, for the full experience, I’m available to dress the bride on the day of the wedding to make sure everything is perfect.
What would you say to brides who are worried that having a couture dress made will be expensive and time consuming?
A couture gown is unique and made just for you, which is why it can cost more than an off the peg gown. Only the finest of fabrics are used, meticulous hand beading and hand stitching are all involved in the process of having a couture gown made. It can take several months just to make one gown, which is why fittings are spread over time to suit the bride and to allow for any tweaks to be made.
We never ask for the full price of the gown to be paid upfront, rather it is paid by instalments, which takes the pressure off. I do say that you never lose money on a couture gown as it becomes an heirloom passed down through the family.
What is the feedback like from brides who have had a Blossom and Belle Couture dress made?
I always receive wonderful feedback from brides, and have even been invited to the wedding. Over the time of the dress being made we get to know each other very well.
I have had one bride recently send me a photograph of her 17-year-old daughter wearing her gown that was made by me 20 years ago and it still looks wonderful and timeless. I also had one bride love the style of her vintage inspired gown so much, she had another two made in different colours!
January 19th, 2017 | Julia Braime
In our line of work we’re fortunate to feast our eyes on some of the most gorgeous bridal dresses out there and a definite highlight of the year for us is viewing new bridal collections at White Gallery in London. Among the labels that we’re particularly keen to see is Caroline Castigliano, who never fails to blow us away with her beautifully feminine and effortlessly glamorous gowns. As such, we’re honoured to be adding Caroline to our fabulous list of designer Sponsors.
Having been at the forefront of luxury bridalwear for 25 years, this talented lady is certainly an expert in making brides look and feel their most fabulous for the biggest day of their lives.
Particularly well-known in the industry for her expert corsetry, Caroline Castigliano dresses are recognised for their perfect fit, clean classic lines and contemporary touches.
But that’s enough from us, let’s hand you over to the main lady herself to tell us more about her fabulous label whilst showcasing some of her stunning creations.
Can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to work in the bridal design industry?
caroline says: I studied acting and dance at Italia Conti Drama Academy, everything in my life growing up was related to the crafts. My mother taught me to sew when I was five-years-old and by the time I was ten I was making clothes for myself. This was the best training you could ever have, thankfully my best friend also loved sewing and our idea of fun was to travel to London to shop at Liberty and purchase fabrics so we could make clothes in our summer holidays.
My career started when I was twelve-years-old and the BBC offered me a role in a television play, I started acting professionally and went on to a number of films and TV series through my teenage years.
It was only when I was twenty-two that I started to wonder what else was out there for me. I fortunately met a very successful businessman and he suggested I would be good in business. It didn’t enter my head that I would go into wedding dress design. I came up with the idea of Survival Kit, a kit of sportswear and dumbbells to travel with, they were high fashion and bright colours and I went off to New York and was really lucky as I sold it to Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus – quite incredible for a beginner! Everything moved very fast and before I knew it I was living in Miami, designing and manufacturing active sportswear – I was the first person to come up with g-string leotards!
Once I knew my career was going to be design focussed I decided to really consider where my talents lay and it didn’t take long to realise it was in wedding dresses! And so began the brand Caroline Castigliano, I opened my first store in Esher in Surrey in 1991.
What was it that attracted you to the world of weddings and what do you love most about your job?
To design and be part of the most important day in a woman’s life is very special and I am honoured to have been able to take this role in so many brides’ lives. I love making a woman feel and look the most fabulous she ever has in her life.
What type of bride is a Caroline Castigliano bride?
A Castigliano bride is aware of fashion but is nor ruled by it, she understands quality and cut, she is looking for a classic feel with modern contemporary inspiration for her bridal gown.
Where do you get the inspiration for your designs from?
I am inspired every day of my life, whether I am watching a 1950’s movie that inspires classic tailoring and clean styled lines, or I am at an 1800’s design exhibition or even wondering in the woods and think of magic and fairies – my mind is never far away from a new bridal gown design.
Are there any materials in particular that you tend to use in your designs?
I love silk organza so you will always find gowns in my collection with beautifully floaty skirts – I also love silk Mikado and I use this structured fabric to create gowns with strong silhouettes – of course I also work with silk duchess satin and many different laces. At the moment I am working with layering Chantilly lace with guipure and it creates a stunning 3D effect and is very modern.
Similarly, are there are details in particular that tend to feature in your designs?
I like to create a corset in as many of my gowns as possible as it really helps a bride to stand well and walk nicely, it also effects the way she sits so ultimately has a sensational effect on all the photographs and videos taken on the big day. This being said, it also has a very flattering effect on the bride’s figure – I design the corsets to really balance the figure and extenuate a small waist – I have a number of different corsets that create different effects depending on the design of the gown – nothing will ever compare to a beautifully structured corset creating the foundation of the gown.
Can you give us a little overview of your 2017 ‘Love is in the Air’ collection?
Love is in the Air is all about romance and femininity. I have created a group of gowns that are corseted with a bra cup, so you get the shaping without the lingerie effect, I have moulded Chantilly lace over the base corset and then hand appliqued guipure lace over the top – it gives a stunning feminine silhouette and the lace trickles down onto the skirt.
I also designed gowns in silk Mikado with strong, deep sweetheart necklines underpinned with silk tulle to hold the deep neckline – this creates a playfully sensual feel but is really wonderful on brides with a fuller figure.
The Love is in the Air collection has all silhouettes, from full skirts to fishtails – lace to georgette – it is about enjoying being a woman – understated, feminine, glamour.
Do you have a personal favourite within the new collection?
My favourite gown in the Love is in the Air collection has to be Tertia – it is everything the brand stands for. I layered a soft mocha base with Chantilly lace and hand appliqued guipure lace to the corset, it has a circle tea coloured silk organza skirt. It says – style – modern – feminine – understated – it is truly beautiful.
December 17th, 2016 | Julia Braime
Caroline Castigliano is regarded as the connoisseur of luxury bridal wear in the UK and this year celebrates 25 years in business. Her name is synonymous with understated chic bridal gowns and contemporary designer style.
Castigliano’s signature is an unquestionably feminine silhouette, which is effortlessly glamourous. Her unique ability to cut and construct a garment, enables her to create a gown that is confident and sexy, yet exudes a deep sense of style. Everything about a Castigliano gown is unique; from the exquisite choice of fabric, to the foundation of the gown, which is created using unique corsetry and undergarment techniques. All Caroline Castigliano gowns are handcrafted in the United Kingdom. Here at Brides Up North, we fell in love with her delectable creations a long time ago.
Now, new exclusive bridal gowns have arrived at Caroline’s Knightsbridge store and Castigliano are offering brides-to-be a fantastic shopping experience to celebrate.
caroline says: Brides (along with a chosen family member or close friend) who join us in store over the festive season will be able enjoy champagne and delicious treats as they are guided through their appointment by our experienced wedding stylists who are all experts in bringing each brides vision to life.
These stunning gowns are all created from luxury fabrics and laces and handcrafted here in here in the United Kingdom.
All brides who order their dress before the 30th of December will be offered a festive seasonal gift – £500 off Caroline Castigliano’s made to measure service! What better reason to take a break from your Christmas shopping and commence a festive dress hunt?
Appointments can be booked on 0207 590 9120 or on email@example.com
December 8th, 2016 | Rachel Parry
Cressy & Piper
We’re all about pushing wedding boundaries, thinking outside the big day box and sometimes, just sometimes, breaking the bridal rules. This is perhaps why we’re such a fan of the super-stylish Separates collection from our good industry friend and Sponsor, Charlotte Balbier.
Daring to go where other bridal wear labels won’t, Charlotte was one of the first British designers to introduce an inter-changeable Separates range to her collections, which enable a bride to build and create her own individual big day look using slips, skirts, toppers and belts.
Encouraging fashion-forward and free-spirited brides to throw the wedding attire rule book out of the window, the versatile range provides options beyond the traditional wedding gown and helps a bride to express their unique individuality, personality and style through their bridalwear choices.
Better still, when broken down into individual components, the pieces can be worn long beyond the wedding day – so while not conventional, they’re certainly both practical and pretty.
This new imagery from Charlotte Balbier showcases perfectly how the Separates can be teamed for a high-impact wedding day look and then switched-up and restyled for cool and edgy casualwear.
For example, brides wanting a classic yet contemporary look for their wedding could pair the lace Cressy topper with the voluminous Piper tulle skirt, while for the boho bride the Rowe satin and lace topper and Saint chiffon skirt provide a dreamy duo. For a flirtier look, the Una thick lace topper and pretty, flared Pippa puff-ball skirt is most definitely a winning combination.
Following the big day, brides can then add their Separates to their everyday wardrobe with toppers doubling up as on-trend cropped tops and soft jackets and gilets providing classy winter cover-ups.
Cressy & Piper
Personal favourites that would earn a place on our wardrobe wish list include the Cressida satin and lace topper, the fabulous Marabou feather Sparrow jacket and the super-soft Hester fur jacket. If Santa happens to be listening, we’ve been awfully good this year!
For more, visit www.charlottebalbier.com.
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