Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Shows Spring 2017

creating couture: blossom & belle’s unique wedding gowns

February 8th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (3)

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

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (22)

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.

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (9)

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (30)

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.

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (12)

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.

Blossom & Belle Couture (c) All You Need is Love Photography (13)

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!

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well heeled: 2017 wedding shoes trends

January 21st, 2017 | Rachel Parry

6. BAREFOOT SANDALS - Forever soles

Forever Soles

This weekend we’re handing over the blogging reins to our guest writer, the lovely Sophie Grabham, Online Editor at Love Our Wedding Magazine, to fill us in on all the new bridal shoe trends for the year ahead…

sophie says: Gorgeous wedding shoes have always been the perfect finishing touch to any bridal look, but with shorter hemlines and high-low dresses growing in popularity, they’re more important than ever before!

Brides are now looking for show-stopping heels that play a big part in their overall look. So whether you’re in search of something comfy and low, or sky-high and striking, here are a few 2017 top trends to look out when choosing your perfect pair…

1. METALLICS - Rachel Simpson - Ginger shoe

Rachel Simpson – Ginger

metallics

Ultra-glam and bang on-trend, metallics are a great choice for stylish brides. Confident, fashion-forward brides can opt for a full-on metallic design, while those looking for a more chic and timeless style may prefer to stick to metallic detailing or muted tones. Check out this gorgeous design from Rachel Simpson, for a vintage twist on metallics.

sequins

Following on from metallics, sequins are also big news for 2017! This trend is everywhere in the wedding world right now, from bridesmaid dresses to table runners, so it’s no surprise that shoe designers have embraced the trend, too. From all-out glamour, to subtle hints of sparkle, make the sequin trend work for you by finding a design to suit your style. Rainbow Club have a stunning selection of sequin shoes and matching clutch bags this season, as do Pink by Paradox.

2. SEQUINS - Pink by Paradox Eve shoe

Pink by Paradox – Eve 

colour

A great way to add a pop of colour to your bridal look is by wearing a funky pair of colourful heels. Feeling brave? Go for a bright and beautiful pair to really stand out from the crowd, perhaps with a bold floral print – another key trend for 2017. If you’re more of a pastels girl, try chic shades of blush, champagne or nude. Or, why not choose a blue shade, so your heels can double up as your ‘something blue’? Rainbow Club offer a great shoe dyeing service, making it easy to match your shoes to your scheme.

boots

One trend we adore, especially for autumn/winter weddings, is bridal boots. We love this chic pair by Harriet Wilde that will keep you looking stylish and feeling warm! What more could you ask for?

3. COLOUR - Rainbow Club - Harlow shoes

Rainbow Club – Harlow

barefoot sandals

Forget heels sinking in the sand, the latest trend for barefoot sandals is a real game changer for those marrying abroad. The romantic boho designs simply adorn the top of the foot, and are ideal for laid-back summer celebrations. Forever Soles have a stunning range, including silver, beaded and crochet designs, that will have you looking effortlessly elegant.

shoe clips

Personalise your look and jazz-up a plain pair of heels with beautiful shoe clips. Customising a non-bridal shoe will mean you can wear them again and again after the big day, and is also a great option for matching up your bridesmaids shoes, too. Again, Rachel Simpson has some stunning designs, including embellished and floral style clips, that will instantly make your footwear fancy. Check out Brides Up North Sponsor Charlotte Mills‘s collection too.

5. SHOE CLIPS - Rachel Simpson Simone shoe clips

Rachel Simpson – Simone shoe clips

Love Our Wedding is stocked by hundreds of top bridal boutiques, venues & fairs nationwide. Visit loveourweddingmag.com to download or order your FREE monthly copy today. 

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festive treats from caroline castigliano

December 17th, 2016 | Julia Braime

caroline-castigliano-baboushka

Baboushka

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-castigliano-panache

Panache

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.

caroline-castigliano-morning

Morning

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 knightsbridge@carolinecastigliano.com

caroline-castigliano-tertia

Tertia

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breaking the bridal rules – beautifully – introducing charlotte balbier separates

December 8th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

cressy-piper-hr

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.

sparrow-hr-2

Sparrow

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.

nova-hr

Nova

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.

hester-hr

Hester

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-hr-2

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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look book: simple silhouettes

December 6th, 2016 | Julia Braime

jesus-peiro-1

Jesus Peiro

Understated glamour is the buzz phrase within 2017 bridal collections as designers strip back the beads, pearls and crystals to create fuss-free and flawless gowns with minimal detailing.

Perfect for those who believe that less is more, the fresh designs are all about clean lines and cuts with an emphasis on rich and luxurious looking materials that help to heighten the elegance. From sleek, slimline designs to eye-catching A-lines, there’s a style and silhouette to suit all shapes and sizes.

rosa-clara-nantes

Rosa Clara

And if the perfectly plain creations are a step too sophisticated for some, there are designs featuring feminine detailing in pretty bows and soft lace trims as well as those with deep backs, plunging v-necklines and thigh-high splits, for the more daring bride to bare little skin.

For a truly classic look we love the structured and more traditional designs in rich Mikado silks. Meanwhile for the fashionista bride, there are beautifully uncomplicated jumpsuits and simple separates that provide a more on-trend alternative to the stripped-back trend.

sassi-holford-autumn

Sassi Holford

Spanish designers in particular are doing the look on point, with ultra-ladylike designs coming from Rosa Clara and Pronovias, while Jesus Peiro offers more striking and statement pieces. Favourites for us include the stunning slim-line Nantes gown by Rosa Clara and the feminine yet flirty Tabina by Pronovias.

British designer Sassi Holford has also executed the art of simplicity beautifully within her recent collections with Davina and Darcy both proving to be big hits on The White Gallery catwalk earlier this year, and one of our favourite gowns from Charlotte Balbier‘s Untamed Love had to be the delicious Agatha. 

agatha

Charlotte Balbier

Those that choose to go down the clean route can opt to keep their accessories and styling in line with the style with subtle jewellery and neat hair, or alternatively make more of an impact with statement jewellery and modern, undone hair styling to complete their desired bridal look.

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diary date: rue de seine trunk show at jean jackson couture

December 2nd, 2016 | Julia Braime

dakota_front

Gals on the dress hunt, we’re stopping by this afternoon to bring you details of an exciting event being held by one of our fabulous Sponsors.

On Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th of December 2016, the wonderful team at Jean Jackson Couture HQ, located in the leafy suburb of Urmston, Manchester, will be hosting a Rue De Seine Trunk Show featuring the Love Spell Collection in its entirety.

There are limited places available for this exclusive event, so let’s not delay in handing over the blog to Rebecka of Jean Jackson Couture, who can give us full details, including how to secure an appointment.

moon_front

What can brides expect from the Trunk Show event?

rebecka says: The Love Spell Collection Trunk Show will feature stunning Rue De Seine designs for brides to view and try on during their appointment. They will also receive a special goody bag too.

What are the benefits of the event to brides-to-be?

It is the only time that we will have the entire Love Spell Collection in the boutique so this is an exclusive opportunity to have full access to the collection.

How many appointments are available at the Trunk Show and how long will the appointments last?

There a few appointments still available on the Saturday and Sunday and each appointment will last an hour. We ask that brides only bring two guests and refrain from wearing fake or instant tan.

woodrose-f

Tell us a little about the Rue De Seine collection…

The Love Spell Collection is a celebration of free thinking, bold and unconventional brides.

The inspiration for this collection ranges from the relaxed, romantic beaches of Bali to the daring and dramatic expressions of iconic trailblazers.

The collection boasts many unique and individual laces, which are designed and made exclusively for Rue de Seine. These laces have immense detail and rich textures making Love Spell a modern collection of bohemian fantasy.

Are there any particular favourites or stand out pieces within the collection for you personally?

One of my personal favourites is Blake, a slim-fitting, racer-back gown made from a heavy guipure lace featuring tassels.

avril_front

What sizes are Rue De Seine designs available in?

The dresses are available in sizes 6 to 14.

What is the price range of the Rue De Seine dresses that you stock?

The dresses range from £1,850 to £3,200, but the majority are around £2,500.

raven_back

What are you looking forward to most about the event?

We just love meeting with new brides and hearing all about their super cool weddings!

Do you have any advice for brides-to-be attending the Trunk Show?

It’s always good to come with a list of your favourite four to five dresses. Also, be open-minded to trying on a wild card, the result might surprise you.

blake_front

How do ladies go about booking an appointment for the events?

To book an appointment go to the ‘contact’ page of our website, or alternatively call us on 0161 748 2878.

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