If you’re a vintage purist looking for an authentic and gorgeous wedding gown, then today’s feature will be right up your street. This afternoon, I’m proud to introduce you to Brides Up North Featured Supplier Bex of Bex Brides & Rebecca Jane’s Secret Attic, creator of dream dresses and curator of treasures.
When did Rebecca Jane’s Secret Attic open and what is your background?
It kind of evolved, I first of all converted my garage at home, and then when I outgrew that I moved to Hurworth Grange, a fabulous Victorian House converted in the 1960’s for use by local people. I started with one room and expanded into two then three. Then the attic flat – which was when the name Secret Attic was coined! Nearly 2 years ago the attic of the Old Stables came available so I moved from the house to there (saving my clients the four flights of stairs)! it was so popular I soon had to expand into the Victorian bedrooms of the Old Gardener’s Cottage and the main bridal salon “The Paradise Room” is housed in the old fruit lofts.
I feel so lucky to work in such a beautiful and inspiring environment- I have lost count of the number of clients who walk in and say they could stay forever! I have sewn since I was a little girl picking up my Mother’s scraps and making them into dresses for my Sindy doll. After a career in retail management I decided to utilise the business skills I had learnt and maximise my creativity.
Tell us about your made to measure wedding gowns?
My ethos is to provide stunning gowns at affordable prices. I tend to deal mostly with clients who cannot find what they want on the high street. The majority of my clients come via recommendations – when they are lamenting to friends and colleagues that they just can not find what they want – they are sent in my direction. I am always surprised that so many get sent to me by more than one person. I work in a different way to most designers and dressmakers- for one I do not copy dresses. I would ascertain what elements the client liked about a particular dress and then design one incorporating those but also ensuring the shape and style was suited to their height and body shape. I also work backwards from the clients budget: I try and give them the design they want within their budget, by being flexible on fabrics and so on.
Tell us about your 1950’s and medieval designs?
My 1950’s designs are very popular with brides and maids alike. I love making them as they suit just about every body shape and all ages. I can vary the designs immensely with the use of different fabrics, the cut and style of the bodice and the use of coloured chiffon and net petticoats.
I get asked to do older style vintage too! I have done medieval, Elizabethan, Victorian and of course Downton Abbey era. I am expecting a surge in interest in The Great Gatsby this year.
Tell us about your alterations service?
I offer a full bridal alteration service, I can alter anything from high street brands to top end designers. Using an experienced seamstress is a must, as you need to ensure a perfect fit or you will be fidgeting all day and may get some disastrous photos.
My service is called “Save The Day” as when my little girl was about six she used to ask what I had been doing and because I have dealt with a lot of tearful brides with online disasters, or dresses bought from discount warehouses that don’t fit. She would say “Did you save the day?” so the name stuck. I am also known on some forums as the hoop Yoda as I have a pet hate of brides being sold the wrong hoop for their dress, or worse still not using one at all. With the exception of slinky dresses every bridal gown from small A line, to fishtail, to ball gown, to princess they all need the correct hoop to provide support, shape and enable you to walk and turn without ending up wound up in your train looking like a twizzle stick.
Tell us about your range of pre loved and vintage gowns?
I hold around 300 gowns to buy off the peg. I have pure vintage from 1940’s to 1970’s and I have also customised vintage that are all silk gowns of various ages that have been repaired, and restyled and had Victorian lace added and so on for a truly individual gown. I have an ethos to make these affordable and they range from £100- £500.
I also have more contemporary dresses in my pre loved range from designers such as Mori Lee, Ian Stuart and Jenny Packham. Last and certainly not least I also stock brand new designer samples, discontinued lines and bankrupt stock. These are all amazing dresses from designers such as Forever Yours, Mark Lesley, Phil Collins and Madeline Gardner New York all at around 50-70% off RRP.
What lines of accessories do you stock? Tell us about your bespoke service?
I stock headdresses, side tiaras, jewellery, veils, gloves, shoes, hoops and petticoats also crystal and brooch bouquets and real touch bouquets. I use a range of top quality suppliers for ready made pieces and I can also make my own bespoke pieces. I also stock pieces from several talented local makers who can make to your exact requirements.
Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price?
Short bridal dresses from £500 to £800, full length at £700 to £1000. Maids short at £170 to £220, long at £220 to £300.
Do Brides Up North need an appointment?
You can pop in if passing, however as I take appointments seven days 9am till 9pm it is best to ensure I am free if you want to try dresses on and to that your trip is well worth it.
What can Brides Up North expect when they come in for an appointment?
For a bridal consultation I would allow up to two hours of one to one time for you to browse through all the rooms in my Attics. You can try as many dresses on as you wish and I allow photography. All my clients say they find my studio very relaxing and full of amazing treasures and they no one ever feels rushed or pressurised.
What is your current favourite design and why?
I do love my Alice and Audrey dresses and all their variations, they are like old friends. However I also love Fleur which is a design based on styles from around 1915, but it flows through into the 20’s and 30’s. I wore a variation of it to go the The Wedding Industry Awards, when I won Dress Designer of the North East. It is in soft lace with a gorgeous design and slashed shoulders and a beaded belt.
Is there a particular style of dress that is popular with your brides at the moment?
1950’s and lace, lace and more lace!
How does Rebecca Jane’s Secret Attic provide a superior experience to other wedding dress boutiques?
Well I would not like to say I was superior as I am just little old me, in my quirky attic with treasures spilling out everywhere! However if I can quote some of my brides who regularly say that they wish they had just come to me first and saved them selves the stress! All my brides say I make them feel welcome, comfortable and give them exactly what they wanted – and often more! At a very reasonable price. So I guess that is why they keep coming.
Do you design bridesmaid dresses too?
Yes, and also offer to customize shop bought to make them look unique but this means I can take on more brides when I am already full for commission work.
Are you married? What did you wear on your wedding day?
I married my first husband when I was 24 and wore a silk Elizabethan inspired gown with three bridesmaids in matching Elizabethan dresses and I had a cathedral length veil and a tiara I made myself from picture wire and odd bits of vintage jewellery.
Sadly a year later my only sister was killed on the job as a fire-fighter and my marriage gave way under the stress. Happily my childhood sweetheart from when I was age 7-11 got in touch so we met up. We had not seen each other for 18 years! One week later I moved in! 10 years and two kids later we married. I was dressed as a medieval princess and he was dressed as the 8th Doctor Who. Of course I made all the outfits – even his, all the bouquets, the jewellery the invites and the table centres.
That was four years ago and next year on our 5th anniversary and to celebrate 15 years together (not including the four years as children!) we are renewing our vows at The Spa at Saltburn. Of course it has to be Victorian next time!
How can Brides Up North get in touch with you or find out more?
Rebecca Jane’s Secret Attic & Bex Brides is a Brides Up North Featured Supplier