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!
December 22nd, 2016 | Rachel Parry
While planning a wedding is a super-exciting and enjoyable task, it can also be rather time-consuming and daunting, so we’re always keen to hear of suppliers that can ease the pressure on busy brides-to-be. And in today’s post we have news of not one, but two, such businesses – David’s Bridal and Bridebook.
As the world’s largest bridal retailer, David’s Bridal has been helping brides to find their dream wedding dress for more than 60 years and has four stores across the UK, which act as one-stop wedding shops.
In addition to numerous stunning dresses from the David’s Bridal collections, the stores stock gowns by White by Vera Wang, Wonder by Jenny Packham, and Truly Zac Posen, ranging from sizes 4 to 34, giving brides of all shapes and sizes exceptional choice.
Furthermore, there’s lingerie, shoes, hair accessories, jewellery, and bridal party attire too, meaning there’s no need for brides to visit numerous boutiques to check off items on their ‘wedding shopping list’.
To celebrate the opening of its newest store, located in Birmingham, David’s Bridal has teamed up with Bridebook, a free online wedding planner, to co-host a £1,000 David’s Bridal dress giveaway.
Surely, that would be the icing on the Christmas cake this festive season?!
Spanning an incredible 15,000 square feet of everything wedding, from bridal dresses and head-to-toe accessories to stunning mother-of-the-bride and bridesmaid attire, the new store is almost too good to be true. The free-flowing layout and clean displays make it easy for ladies to see everything on offer, and with a remarkable 38 spacious changing rooms and exceptional customer service on-hand, there’s a sky-high chance of brides finding ‘The One’ during their visit.
Oh, and be sure to check out Bridebook’s fabulous online wedding planning resources too, which include a user-friendly supplier search directory, budget calculator, guest list manager and exclusive advice from a team of globally recognised wedding experts, giving you all the tools you need to plan your wedding in just one place. Hallelujah to that!
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.
December 6th, 2016 | Julia Braime
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.
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.
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.
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.
December 2nd, 2016 | Julia Braime
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
December 1st, 2016 | Rachel Parry
Keen to collaborate with other big-day enthusiasts in the world of weddings, we’re introducing a new guest writer to the blog today, the lovely Sophie Grabham, Online Editor at Love Our Wedding Magazine.
Aa a regular feature in our Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Fair media packs, we’re big fans and supporters of Love Our Wedding Magazine and enjoy flicking through its glossy pages of inspiration. As such Sophie will be sharing a monthly feature with us on everything from dresses to décor, and in return we will be writing for the wonderful Love Our Wedding Magazine website once a month too. If you didn’t see our first feature on the Top 2017 Wedding Themes, be sure to take a look.
For her first feature, Sophie has some serious dress candy in store for you as she talks bridal fashion trends.
sophie says: One of our favourite bridal trends of the moment has to be illusion gowns!
Illusion necklines made an appearance in many designer collections for 2016 and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down for 2017. The elegant detailing gives the appearance of tattooed lace on skin and is a must have for any fashion-conscious bride.
But it’s not just necklines that have been featuring this illusion styling. There has also been a lot of emphasis on the backs of gowns as well as on sleeves, with intricate illusion lace patterns cropping up in many of the hottest new collections.
From chic and subtle to the fashion-forward and daring, this trend will work for any style of bride.
Let’s take a look at some of our favourites…
The signature style for 2016/2017 weddings, illusion necklines can be as daring as you like! There are many variations of this look; from high-neck detailing to plunging V-necklines – another huge trend for the new season.
We’d recommend wearing minimal jewellery and hair up or to one side, to really show off the gorgeous detailing on this style of gown.
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