If you are new to the blog, you’ll soon find out that we are pretty keen on our bridal fashion here on these pages. Last year we ran an exclusive series of interviews debuting all our favourite designer’s new lines for 2014 (dresses that you’ll be trying on in your local bridal boutiques right now) – click here to catch up – and today I’m proud to introduce you to a hot new talent in bridal and Brides Up North Featured Supplier, Kelly of KMR Bridal.
Kelly says: Hi I’m Kelly, designer and owner of the brand and label KMR. I spent four years learning my craft at Sheffield Hallam University studying a Masters Degree in Fashion Design. Following the success of my graduate bridal collection ‘Forging Heritage’ and completion of my degree I started my own business and launched my label KMR Bridal. I am a contemporary bridal and occasion wear designer offering a bespoke service. Under the label KMR, I also produce my own collections and accessories which can be ordered and made to measure.
Let’s find out more, and watch out for a special offer exclusive to Brides Up North readers!
What is your design and style philosophy?
As a designer I have a strong design philosophy. I used skilled artistry and traditional construction techniques mixed with innovative fabrics and contemporary silhouettes. When it comes to style I believe that every woman has their own style and as a designer it is my job to ensure a bride not only looks glamorous on her big day but she is tempered with her own personality. I get to know all my brides and learn about their wedding day it helps ensure their dream wedding dress is created.
Tell us about your latest collection?
My graduate collection for Spring/ Summer 2014 is called ‘Forging Heritage.’ Studying in Sheffield increased my awareness of the local heritage of craftsmanship and the legacy it has created for the city today. The inspiration for my collection came from Sheffield; it had become the City I know and love and is now my home. From my time spent working in the bridal industry it became apparent that many wedding dresses today are manufactured abroad. As a designer I wanted to highlight this decline in craftsmanship in my collection and showcase British manufacturing and design. To do this I collaborated with a local craftsman, a Sheffield cutler who helped my design and manufacture some bespoke jewellery and accessories to compliment the garments in my collection. This worked well with my Sheffield theme. We recycled old cutlery to create some striking jewellery which would be suitable for the catwalk and styling for the shoot.
The aim of the collection was to highlight the decline of craftsmanship whilst informing a modern young bride to be sustainable and preserve cultural wedding traditions. I created a collection of pieces that have elements of jewellery/ metalwork that can be re-worn, treasured and passed down to future generations. Through emotional attachment between the bride and the collection piece the product’s legacy, family values and a sense of belonging will be strengthened. By creating this collection the aim was to solve the problems highlighted showcasing Sheffield’s past, present and future.
The colour palette was inspired by Sheffield’s heritage of silver plate, a metallic palette of silver shades, dirty lilacs, pale dove greys and off-whites.
The silhouettes are bold and offer a contemporary take on bridal wear challenging traditions with unconventional fabrics and colours. The fabrics allowed structure and creative panelling creating a clean defined look. I wanted to show brides that bridal wear can be considered fashion and can be challenged. Not every bride wants to look the same as the rest.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I take inspiration from my surroundings, art, culture and travels. I am heavily influenced by Britain’s heritage, my time studying in Sheffield increased my awareness of its rich heritage and my entire graduation project and collection was based on this subject. As a society proud of our heritage, designers, artists and other creatives should regenerate the past, bring it to the present and ensure a continued legacy for the future.
What sort of woman do you design for?
I design for women of all shapes and size and all ages. The brides I usually design for appreciate quality and craftsmanship and want a gown that is unique. Some women can’t find the dress they are looking for so come to me with lots of different design details from different dresses and I can then use them to create their dream dress. Some brides love the idea of being involved in the creative process and the journey of creating their own one-off gown which they can treasure, and remember forever. It’s a fantastic way to have complete control of your dress from the silhouette, shapes, colour, fabrics and detailing ensuring that the dress encapsulates their personality and their wedding day.
What fabrics and embellishments do you prefer to work with?
I work with some fantastic British fabric suppliers and this is something I am particularly passionate about. This is part of my ethos to support other British businesses and I manufacture all my gowns in my own studio in Sheffield. I like to offer brides diversity and a wide range of choice when it comes to fabrics. It is an aspect of the creative process that the bride can heavily be involved in.
I like to show brides how they can create a unique gown using untraditional bridal fabrics to create contemporary silhouettes. For my graduate collection I used Japanese cow hide leather, embossed silver leather, silk habotai, satin cotton and a fine metal mesh. Silks and lace are a personal favourite and I love working with lace as there is so much scope to produce truly unique pieces. As a designer I appreciate a client’s budget and will work with them to ensure we select the best fabric to suit their design.
Embellishments can completely transform a wedding gown. As I create dresses of different styles for a diverse range of clients every dress is different. I love embellishing gowns adorned with beads, crystals, pearls, embroidery, ruffles, pleats, ribbon, bows crystal lace applique motifs and trims. Embellishments can personalise a wedding dress and can help create a completely unique design. Working with each bride I ensure each gown is detailed with ornate embellishments that sit together in perfect unison.
Do you have a personal favourite from your collections? Which piece and why?
My favourite piece from my graduate collection is the midi length white leather dress with long sleeves and a metal mesh panel down the front. The shape of the dress and the lines are so flattering on any shape. It received some great feedback at fashion shows this year not just as a contemporary wedding dress but as a fashion piece.
Tell us about your bespoke design service?
I offer brides the opportunity to have a completely bespoke gown designed and handmade for them. I allow each client to be part of the design process creating a one-off bespoke gown that is made to measure. I work with each bride from start to finish ensuring their specifications are met considering, silhouettes, shape, style, fabric and colour. Working with every bride individually I ensure that the dress they have always wanted is created and made to the highest standard in my Sheffield studio.
What beauty look or jewellery would complement your designs? Why?
As each gown is a one-off bespoke design the jewellery and beauty can be tailored to the individual client’s style and can reflect their wedding and personality. This ensures that their overall look reflects their vision of a dream wedding.
How do you decide on the “names” for your designs and collections?
When deciding names for either a specific design or a collection, I reflect on the theme that has inspired that design.
What sizes are available in your designs? Are all your pieces made to measure?
I have worked with brides of all shapes and sizes. I treat every client as an individual and none of my gowns are made to a generic size. All my designs are made to measure, to suit your shape and to fit you perfectly. It is so important that a dress fits a bride correctly to ensure their perfect day.
What is the process for your clients from the first meeting to the final fitting?
I outline the couture process in five stages. Firstly I invite brides to a free consultation to meet me at my design studio which will focus on the bride’s specific requirements including silhouettes, shape, style, colour and fabrics. Following the consultation I will develop a range of designs to fit the bride’s specifications.
The second step is the design and selection, I invite the bride to visit my studio and select a final design and fabric allowing the bride to be part of the creative process. The third step is the toile fitting. The brides design will be made up as a calico toile for the bride to try on. I will fit the mock up gown and make any alterations or minor changes necessary before making the dress in the final fabric. This ensures the dress fits perfectly.
The fourth step is the dress fittings, the final fabric will be cut and the bride’s dress will begin to take shape. To ensure a perfect fit and to finalise finishing touches several fittings will take place ensuring the bride remains involved in the couture making process. The last step is the final fitting and once complete the bride can take the gown home and wear it with pride on their special day.
What is the price range for your designs?
Bespoke wedding dress designs range from £900 upwards. As each gown is bespoke and made to measure prices vary with fabrics and complexity. Gowns usually take between 4-6 months to create although shorter deadlines can be achieved.
Do you design bridesmaid dresses or mother of the bride outfits?
Yes, under my label I also design and make outfits for weddings, special occasions, bridesmaid dresses, evening gowns, prom dresses, mother of the bride and groom.
Do you design and make any accessories under your label?
I design and make handmade veils, bouquets, bespoke garters and accessories to compliment your gown.
What sets KMR Bridal apart from other bridal wear brands, and you apart from other designers?
Unlike most bridal wear brands I offer a completely unique service. I allow you to work with me to create your dream wedding dress. There won’t be another bride wearing the same dress as you, as my designs are not mass produced and stocked in boutiques across the country. Many brides find they like various details from different dresses, for example the skirt of one dress and the sleeves from another. I can take details you like and put them into one dress, your dream dress. This gives brides the control to choose which silhouettes, shapes, colours, fabrics and styles they like to take their vision and make it a reality. Your dress will be tailored to fit you and your body, made to measure. You can walk down the aisle in a truly unique gown.
Do you have a “signature” piece?
I would consider my signature piece to be a guipure lace and crepe gown which I made a few years ago for a past collection. This dress has been a favourite of clients and has been adapted to suit their specifications. The keyhole back, lace heart shaped bodice and crepe skirt with lace train was inspired by 1950’s Hollywood. The dress has an elegant and sophisticated appeal and has always remained a personal favourite.
How did you get into wedding dress design – what is your story?
At the age of sixteen I got my first Saturday job working in a fabric, haberdashery and bridal shop. This stepped me into the world of bridal and was a great job to support me during my A levels of which I studied Textiles. Following my A levels I went to study a Masters degree in Fashion design in Sheffield. During my four years on the course I learnt and developed my craft and specialised in bridal wear. Alongside my studies I produced bespoke wedding and bridesmaid dresses made to measure for clients. I also spent 9 months working at bridal design studio and boutique Tickled Pink Bridal working with the design team.
In my fourth year at University I entered a national competition sponsored by Bridal designer Ian Stuart and Susi Rogol of Bridal Buyer. I was selected as one of twelve finalists to manufacture my submitted design to be displayed at the British Bridal Exhibition in Harrogate. My design was showcased as one of the final six entrants on the catwalk at the awards ceremony. My graduate bridal collection was selected to open the universities fashion show, of which I was also awarded runner up prize in the Brightest Spark competition judged by Panache Lingerie. Upon leaving university I went to work for Sheffield based designer Nabil Nayal working on his Spring/ Summer 2014 collection and began to launch my own label and business.
What are your plans for the future?
My ambition has always been to own business as a bridal designer. My time at university and in the industry has helped me reach my goal. Now I want to continue to help brides create their dream wedding gowns and grow my business.
Is this your dream career?
Yes this is my dream career, I am so lucky to be doing the job I love! After studying for four years at University I knew that I wanted my own bridal label. I love the whole process of creating a bespoke gown for a client from the design to the making. The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing a happy bride leave with her own handmade gown and then receiving gorgeous photos from her big day!
What would “a day in the life” at KMR Bridal HQ be like?
A creative and hectic one! I spend most my time in my studio sketching designs and making beautiful gowns, creating patterns, cutting out fabric and sewing.
Where do you go and what do you do to relax?
I enjoy spending time with my friends and my fiancé. We are now planning our own wedding so I never seem to have much time to relax. When I can though I enjoy reading and socialising with my friends, often going out for a lovely meal and a catch up!
What are your “best things” in life?
Family, friends and fashion. They are the most important things to me, they are my life and my work.
How can Brides Up North readers get in touch with you/ see more of your designs?
When booking a consultation brides are invited to my Sheffield studio where they can look through and try on my dresses and accessories. There they can then begin the wonderful process of designing their perfect bespoke wedding gown.
Is there anything else that we should know?
I am offering any Brides Up North readers a free bespoke garter worth £69.99 if they choose for me to design their wedding dress. If any Brides Up North readers have any questions or queries feel free to contact me, I am happy to help!