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fit for a princess: caroline castigilano on how to wear it like meghan markle

May 11th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

Caroline Castigliano Sweet Dreams

Having been thrust firmly into the UK’s media limelight after snapping up one of Britain’s most eligible bachelors, Meghan Markle is quickly becoming a new style obsession for us ladies, favoured for her chic, tailored looks that are both pretty and polished.

We’re all keen to take note of her outfit choices at royal engagements and public appearances so that we can mirror that elegant yet effortless style for ourselves. So much so that certain outfits sported by the former Suits actress have gone on to sell out in just a matter of hours, or even minutes. In particular the bow-detailed green dress by Italian label P.A.R.O.S.H that Meghan wore for her first television interview with Harry after announcing their engagement.

It’s no wonder then that they biggest hype around the upcoming royal wedding, is what Meghan’s choice of gown will be. Speculation is sky high but with nothing confirmed we only have predictions to go on until the big reveal on May 19th.

Never one to wait patiently, we were keen to get the view of an expert in the industry, and so we’ve called upon our amazing Sponsor and top British bridal designer Caroline Castigliano, to give her thoughts on what we can expect from Meghan’s big day style while offering guidance for those brides-to-be wanting to radiant a royal worthy look for their own nuptials and celebrations.

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As the royal wedding approaches the question on everyone’s lips is what type of gown will Meghan wear? Can you share your prediction with us?

caroline says: I think the dress will be in a delicate lace with very subtle beading, it will be designed with a deep V neckline and long lace sleeve – the sleeve will show her skin tone through so you can see the beauty and delicate detail of the lace. The gown will skim Meghan’s body and have a large train attached at the waist in a silk zibeline – from the front you will see the vision of the body skimming lace dress and this fabulous train creating drama – the train will extend to the back and the lace from the gown will trickle down the train from the waist.

Do you think that Meghan will follow in Kate Middleton’s footsteps and have a second gown for her wedding? If so what type of gown do you think this will be?

Meghan will definitely change for the evening reception, I feel she will wear a classic but very stylish gown to the wedding and change for the evening to something more in keeping with a glamourous party, perhaps a low back fitted gown that is sparkly and shows off her stunning figure. It was estimated that three billion people watched the last royal wedding – we need to see as many gorgeous gowns as possible!

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And what about accessories? How do you think Meghan will complete her big day look?

Meghan will wear a silk veil covering the entire gown and extending to just past the end of the train on her gown. She will wear a tiara chosen from the collection of the late Princess Diana. I believe Meghan will also wear a delicate diamond necklace and matching bracelet.

How do you think Meghan’s choice of gown will shape bridal trends going forward?

I don’t think Meghan’s wedding dress will change the fashion of bridal wear in future years, Meghan may decide on something subtle within her outfit that could become a trend for a short period but if you look at royal weddings over the years you will see that none of these royal gowns have changed the course of bridal fashion.

You have designed gowns for celebrities, film stars and dignitaries – who has been your favourite to dress so far and which A-lister would you love the opportunity to design for?

I have never worked with anyone that I haven’t enjoyed dressing. My experience is the more successful someone is the more at peace they are within themselves and often quite humble. I would love to dress Adele. I love everything about her, the voice, the face – she is a great role model, truly amazing and a fabulous star.

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For brides that are wanting to achieve a radiant princess look through their dress choice, what style of gowns would you suggest?

If a bride wants the princess radiant look she should create a classic look; long fitted sleeve with the shoulder covered, no cleavage and preferably the back covered too, this of course could be in a beautiful soft lace, so the skin creates a highlight through the lace. Most royal wedding dresses have full ball gown skirts this helps create impact and most importantly a princess bride must wear a veil preferably a cathedral veil. Jewellery would be delicate with diamond or pearl earrings and makeup simple and natural with glowing skin.

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suits you: caroline castigliano’s tips on how to dress for your body shape

April 25th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

Lyla

Lyla

Here at Brides Up North we are dedicated to helping to inspire, excite and assist you, our lovely readers, on your wedding planning journeys, arming you with all the necessary information to make the process more straightforward, and above all, enjoyable!

As such, we often call upon our trusted Sponsors, who are experts in their fields, to share their top advice, tips and pointers that will keep you right along the way. And today it’s the turn of top British bridal designer Caroline Castigliano to take to the blog with some fabulous words of wisdom for you ladies currently on the dream dress hunt.

As one of UK’s leading bridal designers, Caroline has been realising brides’ dreams for 27 years and has built up a glowing reputation for her incredibly beautiful designs with clever corsetry that shows of the female figure at its best.

We caught up with her as she prepared to fly off to New York Bridal Week to discuss how brides should best dress for their body shape. Ladies, you may well want to grab a notebook as this information is golden!

Images provided by Caroline Castigliano.

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Baboushka

There are so many styles of wedding dresses to choose from the search can feel a little overwhelming. Initially, what should brides-to-be think about when setting out on their dress search?

caroline says: Once you have booked the venue, and have seen the room where you are going to have your wedding breakfast, you have seen the dance floor, you just want to think about that moment. When you leave the table and walk towards the dance floor with your now husband how is it that they want everyone to see you.

You don’t need to know the shape of the dress, if you are working with an expert they will find the silhouette for you. What you need to know is what that dress is saying to people – is it saying a very strong traditional look, soft and romantic, elegant and classic, vintage, boho. What is the appeal of the dress?

Without considering the silhouette decide on the vision – once this has been determined – go see one of our fantastic stockists and you will get advice. It is important to work with someone that understands silhouettes and fabrics so they can show you what suits you and what creates a strong silhouette for you.

If you are 5ft you will suit totally different silhouettes to someone that is 5’8” tall – if you are full busted you will suit different silhouettes to a bride that is more petite. Once you get going it is all quite easy but it starts with that one all important question – what vision do I want my future husband and my guests to see when I arrive at the wedding?

In what ways can professional boutique stylists and designers help brides make the most of their figure – highlight assets and disguise any body hang-ups?

When choosing a wedding gown, it’s important to find a silhouette that properly accentuates your figure. The cut and fabrics of your gown are essential for the beauty of your dress.

Fit is everything, a gown has to fit amazingly, it has to balance a person’s figure, bring out all the fantastic elements and play down the things they don’t like so much. They should look in the mirror and feel that they have never ever looked so beautiful; that they look the most beautiful they ever have in their life – that is the absolute key.

The art of designing brilliantly is when you can have someone who comes in who is 5 ft tall with a very full bust and she looks incredible in a dress and you can also take a dress on a girl who is 5’9 with a very small bust and make her look absolutely incredible. Design is about being able to take all the different body shapes and make them look stunning.

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Tertia

How do your dresses help to enhance the female figure while remaining comfortable?

Corsets are the engineering of our gowns, they are the foundation that everything is built around – each panel is hand cut to mould and sculpt the figure. They also have 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. We have also developed a unique stretch corset that is to die for so while you are getting the beautiful balance you also get great comfort.

What elements can help to improve a bride’s posture, stance and confidence? 

I like to create a corset in as many of my gowns as possible as it really helps a bride with her posture. Even if you are slim with a perfectly balanced figure corsetry helps in every way as it makes you stand up straight and walk nicely with a straight back. It also effects the way she sits so ultimately has a sensational effect on all the photographs and videos taken on the big day.

 What styles of dresses would you suggest for the following body shapes and which of your designs would you pick for each:

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Tertia

Brides who have a straight body shape will find they have a less defined waist than most. Your bust and hips tend to be pretty balanced and you are not as curvy. This is known as more of a ‘sporty’ athletic body shape, and it is important, when picking a bridal gown for a straight structure, to enhance your waistline and create a soft curve on the bust.

Look for: Bridal gowns with full skirts give the illusion that the hips are wider than they will add a feminine shape to you. Look for embellishment around the bust and necklines it is also good to have an off-the-shoulder strap as this draws the eye to the width of the shoulder and then gives the illusion that the figure is more curved as the eye leaves the shoulder to a small waist.

Avoid: Strapless dresses can make your shoulders look broader than they are so avoid harsh necklines and column wedding dresses that have no definition in their shape as they won’t give you a defined waist.

Caroline Castigliano gown of choice: Tertia

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Everlasting

Look for: For a pear-shaped body choose a ball gown. A waisted dress and full skirt accentuates the waist. These gowns will still show off your waistline and really flatter your body type. A pear shape bride wants to really emphasise the top of the body, beautiful arms, lovely bust shaping and small waist – a corset will always redefine your figure and create a perfect balance between your bust and waist. Choose a gown with embellishment on the bodice or a beautiful lace, falling in to a full or A-line skirt.

Caroline Castigliano gown of choice: Everlasting

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dream dress shopping: pro pointers for finding your wedding dress from yorkshire boutique owner hayley hoyle

March 6th, 2018 | Rachel Parry

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As the shopping trip of all shopping trips there is no doubt visiting bridal boutiques in search of that one special dress is one of the most exciting elements of planning a wedding.

You’ll want the experience to be fun, enjoyable memorable and stress-free, which is why we think its uber-important to enter into the search fully equipped with all the dos and don’ts that will see you well on the way to securing your perfect dress.

And who better to deliver such golden advice than a lady who has helped to dress hundreds of beautiful brides for their moment in the wedding spotlight, Hayley Hoyle, proud owner of top Yorkshire bridal boutiques, The Bridal Collection Harrogate and The Harrogate Wedding Lounge.

So, we’ll waste no time in handing over to Hayley to impart her insider knowledge in the form of a handy step by step guide to make your dress shopping, an absolute dream!

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Homework – what research/preparation can brides do when initially beginning their wedding dress search?

hayley says: There is certainly no shortage of wedding inspiration in this world. Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, social media, magazines, wedding fairs, designers’ websites the list goes on – I would start a Pinterest board specifically for your gown and keep it as a secret board, use it to collate a collection of images you like; from a fabric, a neckline or even a specific dress or designer. This board will be useful when you start the shopping process, show your stylist and ask them to select some styles for you based on what you have been liking so far. If you are a technophobe a scrap book works just as well.

Booking appointments – how should a bride go about selecting the boutiques she makes appointments at?

First of all, I would consider the designers that have caught your eye from your research, check their websites and find your nearest stockist. Get on social media and check out the profiles of your local boutiques and see what resonates with you, each boutique will have their own brand personality and it should inspire you. Check out their reviews on Google and Facebook and look at how they respond to complaints as well as praise. Most importantly try to support your small, independent, service driven boutiques, to them you are special, you are a unique bride not just another sale.

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Attending appointments – what advice would you give to brides when attending boutique appointments?

Most importantly – relax, remain open minded and let the stylists do their thing. It might be wise to wear modest seam-free flesh coloured underwear and a good strapless bra. Don’t slap on the fake tan before your appointment as it may damage the dresses and definitely don’t take too many people shopping with you! Remember the less people that see the dress the bigger the impact on the day. Finally remember to ask your boutique what extras will need paying pay for? Do they have an in-house alterations team, can you use it and how much are anticipated fittings?

Making a decision – what would you say to a bride who can’t make up their mind on a dress or that is unsure whether to visit more boutiques before making up their mind?

Don’t over think it. Think about both of the gowns in the setting of your wedding, does one work more than the other? Is there anything you would change about either of the dresses? Do they make you feel amazing? Over shopping will only make the process harder and more choices will only confuse you more. Remember there will always be more dresses and selecting yours is not the end of the process, it’s actually just the beginning. If after all of that you still have reservations, chances are you haven’t yet found your gown so head to your next appointment and keep looking, the perfect one is out there.

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Fittings – is there anything you would advise brides to be mindful of during their fittings?

By the time it gets to your fittings your weight needs to be stable and you need to have the correct shoes and underwear, so your gown can be fitted to perfection. It is impossible to make a garment fit a moving target and because we want your gown to fit perfectly we advise no further weight loss once your gown has been pinned. Don’t take photos during your fittings, the gown isn’t perfect yet and looking back at a photo of a dress that doesn’t fit correctly will only cause you stress and anxiety. Trust the professionals and leave the photos until the day.

Accessories – after the dress comes the accessories. What elements should brides take into consideration when it comes to picking their finishing touches?

Your accessories should be the icing on the cake, they should complement the gown perfectly and not overpower you or the dress. When styling any outfit, I believe that less is more with regards to accessories and a wedding gown is no different. Choose one piece to shine and keep everything else simple. Oh – and always try a veil, there is only one day in your life you can wear one.

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The big day – any tips on how brides can look and feel their absolute best in their wedding gown on their big day?

Make sure one of your bridal party knows how to get you in to your gown and how to bustle the train for dancing if there is one. Try practicing at your final fitting to avoid unnecessary stress on the day.

Most of all, keep calm and remember what the day is really about: you and your partner celebrating each other. Everything else is just stuff.

Aftercare – once the big day has been and gone, what should brides do with their dress/what are the options?

Depending on your sentimentality there are a few options you can choose post wedding to either preserve or recoup. If you intend to have your gown professionally cleaned I recommend you use a specialist gown and luxury fabric cleaner. We offer a post wedding dry cleaning service in our boutiques with the option of a long-term storage box in a design of your choice. Speak to your boutique to see if they do something similar or have any recommendations.

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hayley loves

Timeless dress design: Swanson by Suzanne Neville

Showstopper dress design: Margo by Enzoani

Favourite dress trend: I love unusual fabrics, so I’m a big fan of gowns that have plenty of texture to them such as brocade, printed organza and thick textured Mikados. There is nothing more beautiful than a simple gown, expertly cut in a beautiful fabric so I’m a big fan of the simplicity popular with brides at the moment.

Celebrity style: For everyday fashion I love Holly Willoughby, she always looks expertly put together and I am constantly Googling where her outfits are from.

Favourite wedding trend: We have seen so much in the way of blush pinks, rose gold, greys and mixed metallic colour palettes over the last couple of years, I am very excited to see some strong opulent tones coming through now too – think peacocks, exotic landscapes and rich jewels.

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look book: all about the sleeves

March 2nd, 2018 | Aislinn Thompson

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This season, the catwalks are dancing with spectacular sleeve detail. From illusion sleeves with lace detail, to puffball sleeves, to flutter sleeves, to bell sleeves, to off-the-shoulder sleeves, to blouson sleeves … yes, OK, you get the picture. There’s an incredible array of delightful choice in the sleeve department. So, we’ve done the hard work for you (oh, it’s tough looking at wedding gowns for hours on end!) and whittled down the options to a collection of gorgeous creations that will no doubt send you all misty-eyed.

Main image Rime Arodaky.

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From the bell to the blouson, Lillian West has got your arms covered when it comes to dreamy, romantic sleeves this season. Styles 6463 and 6509 have a gorgeous vintage vibe, with flared skirts to echo the flute of the bell sleeves. Flutter like a butterfly in style 6517, as ethereal chiffon cascades from the shoulders of this beautiful illusion neckline and deep illusion back. Go boho with blouson sleeves and a crepe gypsy skirt in style 6518, or an off-the-shoulder illusion blouson bodice in style 6476.

If you’re looking for effortless cool with a bit of grit thrown in (think rocking up to the church on a motorbike with bed hair and sharply contoured cheeks), Rime Arodaky is right up your alley. The puffy sleeves are to die for. Check out the Zappa, with its funnel neck, puffy sleeves and plaited high-waisted skirt. Or the Jude, a sleek silhouette with a gigantic puff adorning each wrist. The off-the-shoulder Madden sports large ruffles in plumetis and organza and brings a bit of romance to the occasion. And, for the ultimate in ruffled sleeves, look no further than the Arlo and the Joni, both crepe gowns with dazzling appeal. Pass me the black kohl eyeliner, quick.

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There’s a delicate vibe to Theia’s sleeve detail that gives us the romantic feels. Sandy is sophisticated, with hand-appliquéd, scallop-edged sleeves that swish down the aisle. Layla is covered with thousands of glass-cut beads and micro pearls which, combined with the off-the-shoulder flutter sleeves, create an ethereal effect. For a long-sleeved gown with gorgeous floral detail that the designer describes as a ‘tattoo effect’, take a look at Karina. Then there’s the Sasha, with a stunning mermaid skirt and a cut-out cape-style sleeve and Ellie, with its chic silhouette and fabulous bell sleeves.

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Absolutely nailing the illusion sleeve is Hayley Paige. Pascal is completely divine, with its long-sleeved illusion bodice with metallic floral micro beading. Stevie is another off-the-shoulder creation with a glorious bateau neckline and full skirt, while Rogers combines an illusion sleeve with a delicate butterfly flutter at the wrist and a low scoop back. So pretty. For a more obvious flutter, try Frida, a fit-to-flare gown with a deep V scalloped neckline and a detachable, cascading sleeve. And, finally, we mustn’t forget the cap sleeve, for a subtle nod to the season’s trend. Check out Vaughn, with its low open back, full tulle skirt and lovely bateau neckline.

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So, come on ladies, dress your arms to impress. After all, they do have a huge roll to play in the proceedings, from presenting the hand upon which your dashing groom will slip the wedding ring, to making some serious shapes on the dancefloor in the evening. Whether your totally boho or a chic petite, there’s a sleeve out there for you!

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look book: clean lines

February 22nd, 2018 | Laura McDonagh

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This afternoon we’re talking about sculpted columns, bold lines and architectural sweeps – but this isn’t a piece about wedding venues, oh no, it’s all about dresses – specifically, simple, fuss free-wedding gowns with clean lines and sleek silhouettes.

There’s something about a minimalist gown that, while timeless, has a simultaneous up-to-the-minute feel perfect for a fashion-forward bride. Here at Brides up North we love the edginess of a dress with less, and we’ve gathered together a whole lovely loot of unadorned beauties for your browsing pleasure.

Main post images by Cortana.

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First up is Spanish designer Cortana, a label which boasts a romantic, boho vibe. We love the luxe factor of the Gala gown; a silk satin bias-cut beauty which looks slinky and effortlessly chic. The attention to detail is just stunning – that diagonal row of silk-covered buttons on the back gives us all the feels – and the thin straps feel bold and youthful and a little bit 90s-Calvin-Klein, which is always a good thing in case you’re wondering.

The Cortana collection also features the stunningly minimalist Grace with daring back and thin crossed strap detail and the silk brocade Linda, made with a touch of lurex to give a super-flattering fit and stretch. There’s also the Valentina which, quite frankly, makes my heart sing – the boat neckline! The sleek drapery! And is a strong contender in my frequent ‘What Would I Wear If I Got Married Again?’ mental debate (don’t mention that to my husband, kaythanks?)

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Onwards to a Brides Up North favourite – the always-opulent Eliza Jane Howell. EJH is known for their decadent vintage designs, and so might not seem a natural bedfellow of the Clean Lines brigade. However, in Gill Harvey’s recent collections, we’re seeing subtlety, simplicity and lots of plain silk alongside the embellishment and embroidery. Belle from the Leading Lady collection is a stunner with a contemporary feel, complete with bold halterneck, textured figure-hugging fabric and a daring sheer back. Daisy from the Legend collection and Clarissa from the Debutante range are unquestionably more vintage in style but still simple and sleek, with Daisy offering the tiniest hint of embellishment and Clarissa’s floaty sleeves a great option for brides less inclined to bare. Luna from the Stardust range gets close to the fussier end of the spectrum with its frothy skirt and mini train, but the long sleeves, close fit and semi-sheer overlay is dreamily clean and sculpted.

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first look: luella’s bridal 2018 expectations collection

February 8th, 2018 | Julia Braime

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With the weekend almost in sight, we think it’s high time for some serious dress candy; which might just be the extra inspiration you need if you’re about to embark on your dream gown search.

Today’s gorgeous loot of loveliness comes in the form of the brand-new collection from our fabulous Sponsor Luella’s Bridal. Located in the Wimbledon Village area of London, this independent boutique not only stocks a stylish range of creations from edgy international designers, but it also produces its own line of totally dreamy dresses.

Having just launched their second collection, titled Expectations, the team at Luella’s wanted you lucky Brides Up North readers to be among the first to see these utterly beautiful gowns in all their glory. And so today we’re brining you a first look at the five stunning designs that make up the collection, while finding out about the inspiration behind these fine creations.

Here to tell us more is the lovely owner of Luella’s, Rachel Attwell…

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Tell us about the inspiration behind Expectations?

rachel says: The collection is inspired by Trinidadian jewellery designer, Sarah May. The collection includes five distinctly different dresses, which have been carefully designed to match Sarah’s island pod rings, which were inspired by her original engagement ring and then her subsequent life journey. Named; Happy, Love, Dream, Believe and Abundance.

The idea behind the collection, is that each ring can be interpreted in the wearers own unique way and Luella’s felt that there was something truly special about having a ring to wear that is so personal to each individual.

As such, we felt that it was important to include an assortment of styles to reflect the essence of the rings and therefore our bride’s personality. Each dress has an element of sparkle so that even the simplest styles, still look and feel truly special.

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Can you give us an overview of the styles of dresses that make up the collection?

All of the dresses have been designed by the Luella’s team and are handmade in the UK. Each has been designed to reflect our beautiful free-spirited brides and includes a mixture of simple understated and intricately beaded slip style dresses and beautiful lace and tulle gowns. There is a selection of low plunging backs, soft flowing skirts, stunning hand beaded lace and our signature pleated skirt.

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What about the fabrics and colourways used within the collection?

The collection is made from a variety of beautiful silks, satins and French laces and the most exquisite selection of hand beaded appliques. We have used more than 16 metres of tulle in the skirt of one of our designs! The dresses are made in a mixture of colours ranging from soft ivories to warm cream tones and our Nieve dress also comes with a slip that can be ordered in a choice of ivory or oyster.

Talk us through the dress designs one by one…

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Isla – The Isla dress is made from two layers of sumptuous silk satin in a soft ivory colourway. The bias-cut design features a low v neckline and plunging v-back which is framed with the most exquisite handmade beading in a floral design in ivory and soft blush tones. The dress also features and optional long flowing train and can be made in either off white, ivory or oyster silk satin.

Price £2,800

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