I am in the privileged position of obtaining access to all my favourite bridal designers for a series of exclusive interviews here on Brides Up North, where they’ll be giving you a sneak peek at their newest designs, sharing the inspirations behind the collections and giving you a glance into their (very beautiful) world. These are the gowns that will be landing in a wedding dress boutique near you soon.
Your very normal, somewhat average Tuesday in front of your computer screen is just about to get a whole lot more gorgeous, as I talk to Elizabeth Stuart about her brand new collection for 2014: White Label. It’s a collection for the modern woman – a bride who is empowered, beautiful and effortlessly chic.
And even if you’re just pretending to be all those things for a day, these gowns will get you there!
Please introduce Elizabeth Stuart Bride and tell us a little about your brand?
Born in Virginia Beach USA, I moved to New York to pursue a career in Fashion Marketing for a well-known luxury magazine. In 2005 whilst on a business trip to London I met my now Husband Joe, I can remember him asking me on our first date and me thinking how will this ever work when we live thousands of miles apart. After going back to New York Joe and I stayed in touch and would regularly travel backwards and forwards to see one another. Eventually in 2008 whilst on a romantic trip to Bordeaux Joe popped the question and then in 2009 we married in an intimate family ceremony in Virginia.
Whilst organising my wedding I can remember looking at dresses and being confronted with large meringues, statement bustles and silk flowers and I craved a more understated, elegant style. At my final appointment I can remember one of the shop assistants showing me two dresses and they both looked exactly the same. From that day forward I realised what the bridal industry was missing; luxuriously soft fabrics, less structured bodices and NO corsetry. Eventually I settled for a duchess satin gown with an open back and a minimal train.
After the wedding Joe and I chose to live together in England so I packed up my bags and left New York. On moving here I realised that it was time to fulfil my dream of Elizabeth Stuart Bride.
Tell us about the new collection by Elizabeth Stuart?
When starting on any new collection my inspiration is always my brides. What do they love? Who are they? The newest collection is our White Label 2014, our White Label is a collection of slim line gowns made using only the finest silks and delicate laces.
The newest White Label was inspired by an Italian Romance and is a seductive combination of leather and lace. I gained this inspiration whilst holidaying with my husband in Rome and watching the stunningly chic Italian women and their handsome beaus shopping and sipping espresso.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I draw inspiration from everywhere, my travels, my work and the women that I meet.
What sort of woman do you design for, did you have a specific “muse” for this collection?
I try to design for every woman but the Elizabeth Stuart Bride is empowered and knows what she wants. She is traditional but with a modern twist. She is a career woman, a mother and a wife. She is indefinable.
What fabrics and embellishments were chosen for the new collection and why?
For the new collection there is a lot of lace embellishment. Both delicate French Chantilly laces as seen on Alexandrine, Amelia and Antonia. And French hand corded alencon lace as seen on Celine, Fiorella and Jacqueline.
With this collection we also incorporated lambskin leather and silk satin sashes, a beautiful contrast of the structured leather against the fluidity of soft silk.
Do you have a personal favourite from the new collection? Which piece and why?
I do love all of the ladies however just because I feel like she truly embodies the collection and you can wear her with a fierce pair of shoes (I love shoes!) it would have to be Celine.
What jewellery would you pair with pieces from your new collection?
The most important piece of jewellery with all of our dresses is of course a beautiful engagement ring but in addition to that I always like to see some lily-white pearls (I know it’s so cliché) as I love a classic.
What beauty look would complement the pieces in your new collection?
I like to always see a relatively natural look on all of our brides but for an evening wedding a statement red lip or a smoky eye can really complete the look.
Do you have a “signature” piece?
We don’t have a signature piece per se however we do have the fairy-tale bodice as seen on designs such as Cherry Blossom and Alexandrine; very similar to the traditional sweetheart bodice with an Elizabeth Stuart twist to make sure it fits like a glove.
How do you decide on the “names” for your gowns?
The naming process is always a fun one and I always like to get my team involved. We start with the inspiration for the collection and pull fitting names. For the latest collection we pulled from names of Italian origin. Then again we also have some dresses that when we see them we just know. Celine was one of those. Short, flirty with just the right amount of sass.
What sizes are available in your gowns? Are your pieces made to measure?
We offer made to measure as standard with most of our dresses and we love dressing brides of all shapes and sizes. We don’t put limitations on height either so grab those sky scraper heels ladies!
What is the process for your clients from finding “the one” to the final fitting?
The majority of our brides come to us with a pretty clear vision of what they are looking for. On arrival at our studio, brides will meet with either myself or one of our consultants who will ask the bride a series of questions; on most occasions the bride has a specific dress or dresses that she wants to try on from the collection but if she doesn’t we will ask her a number of questions to help us get an idea of what she is looking for.
Once the bride has chosen her dress we will go ahead with taking her measurements, we take approximately 18 measurements so the dress is beautifully tailored to the bride’s body. At this point we are also able to discuss with her any small changes or little details that are important.
In approximately 12-16 weeks we will call the bride back into studio for her first fitting, typically there are very few alterations to be made however this just allows us to hem the dress to the bride’s shoes and make small changes if the bride has lost any weight so the dress still has that tailored fit which is synonymous with our brand.
What is the retail price range for your designs?
Our designs currently retail for between £2,200 and £3,800 and in our studio that includes most alterations!
What sets Elizabeth Stuart apart from other bridal wear brands?
Here at Elizabeth Stuart nothing is too much for our brides, we pride ourselves on a very personalised service whether I’m calling a bride personally to put her mind at ease when she develops those pre wedding jitters or helping her to choose her shoes for the special day. Most of our brides even stay in touch well after the wedding day is over and become close friends of the brand.
How did you get into wedding dress design – what is your story?
I have always had an interest in fashion and luxury fabrics, my first experience of dress design was actually back in New York when one of my friends was getting married and she came to me and asked me to make her a dress.
She knew I dreamt of having my own collection and had witnessed my passion for how a fabric moves and caresses the body. We went to the garment district and spent the day immersed in frothy silk organza, crisp silk georgettes and structured silk failles. The day I saw her walk down the aisle in my design was truly magical and since then I’ve never looked back.
Was there a defining point in your career that made your business the success that it is today?
I wouldn’t say there has been one particular point, I attribute our success to the amazing support from all of our media partners and our consistently good quality and customer service.
Is this your dream career?
This is certainly my dream career, spending my days surrounded by beautiful dresses and being a part of the most special day in each of my brides’ lives watching them begin their journey as a couple.
What would “a day in the life” at Elizabeth Stuart HQ be like?
Every day is different but they always start with a Starbucks and end with a smile!
Where do you go and what do you do to relax?
I think my whole team would tell you my tag line whenever we are travelling is “you’ll find me at the spa”!
What are your “best things” in life?
The thing I cherish most in life is my son; Axel. He truly is the best part of my day.
Do you have any Northern stockists – how can Brides Up North find them?
At present we are in negotiations with a number of Northern stockists and we shall be hopefully releasing who we will be working with very soon!
How can Brides Up North readers get in touch with you/ see more of your designs?
The Brides up North readers can call my studio on 0115 9583211 or they’re welcome to visit our website www.elizabeth-stuart.com where they can view our entire collection
This is not a sponsored post