In our line of work we’re fortunate to feast our eyes on some of the most gorgeous bridal dresses out there and a definite highlight of the year for us is viewing new bridal collections at White Gallery in London. Among the labels that we’re particularly keen to see is Caroline Castigliano, who never fails to blow us away with her beautifully feminine and effortlessly glamorous gowns. As such, we’re honoured to be adding Caroline to our fabulous list of designer Sponsors.
Having been at the forefront of luxury bridalwear for 25 years, this talented lady is certainly an expert in making brides look and feel their most fabulous for the biggest day of their lives.
Particularly well-known in the industry for her expert corsetry, Caroline Castigliano dresses are recognised for their perfect fit, clean classic lines and contemporary touches.
But that’s enough from us, let’s hand you over to the main lady herself to tell us more about her fabulous label whilst showcasing some of her stunning creations.
Can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to work in the bridal design industry?
caroline says: I studied acting and dance at Italia Conti Drama Academy, everything in my life growing up was related to the crafts. My mother taught me to sew when I was five-years-old and by the time I was ten I was making clothes for myself. This was the best training you could ever have, thankfully my best friend also loved sewing and our idea of fun was to travel to London to shop at Liberty and purchase fabrics so we could make clothes in our summer holidays.
My career started when I was twelve-years-old and the BBC offered me a role in a television play, I started acting professionally and went on to a number of films and TV series through my teenage years.
It was only when I was twenty-two that I started to wonder what else was out there for me. I fortunately met a very successful businessman and he suggested I would be good in business. It didn’t enter my head that I would go into wedding dress design. I came up with the idea of Survival Kit, a kit of sportswear and dumbbells to travel with, they were high fashion and bright colours and I went off to New York and was really lucky as I sold it to Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus – quite incredible for a beginner! Everything moved very fast and before I knew it I was living in Miami, designing and manufacturing active sportswear – I was the first person to come up with g-string leotards!
Once I knew my career was going to be design focussed I decided to really consider where my talents lay and it didn’t take long to realise it was in wedding dresses! And so began the brand Caroline Castigliano, I opened my first store in Esher in Surrey in 1991.
What was it that attracted you to the world of weddings and what do you love most about your job?
To design and be part of the most important day in a woman’s life is very special and I am honoured to have been able to take this role in so many brides’ lives. I love making a woman feel and look the most fabulous she ever has in her life.
What type of bride is a Caroline Castigliano bride?
A Castigliano bride is aware of fashion but is nor ruled by it, she understands quality and cut, she is looking for a classic feel with modern contemporary inspiration for her bridal gown.
Where do you get the inspiration for your designs from?
I am inspired every day of my life, whether I am watching a 1950’s movie that inspires classic tailoring and clean styled lines, or I am at an 1800’s design exhibition or even wondering in the woods and think of magic and fairies – my mind is never far away from a new bridal gown design.
Are there any materials in particular that you tend to use in your designs?
I love silk organza so you will always find gowns in my collection with beautifully floaty skirts – I also love silk Mikado and I use this structured fabric to create gowns with strong silhouettes – of course I also work with silk duchess satin and many different laces. At the moment I am working with layering Chantilly lace with guipure and it creates a stunning 3D effect and is very modern.
Similarly, are there are details in particular that tend to feature in your designs?
I like to create a corset in as many of my gowns as possible as it really helps a bride to stand well and walk nicely, it also effects the way she sits so ultimately has a sensational effect on all the photographs and videos taken on the big day. This being said, it also has 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.
Can you give us a little overview of your 2017 ‘Love is in the Air’ collection?
Love is in the Air is all about romance and femininity. I have created a group of gowns that are corseted with a bra cup, so you get the shaping without the lingerie effect, I have moulded Chantilly lace over the base corset and then hand appliqued guipure lace over the top – it gives a stunning feminine silhouette and the lace trickles down onto the skirt.
I also designed gowns in silk Mikado with strong, deep sweetheart necklines underpinned with silk tulle to hold the deep neckline – this creates a playfully sensual feel but is really wonderful on brides with a fuller figure.
The Love is in the Air collection has all silhouettes, from full skirts to fishtails – lace to georgette – it is about enjoying being a woman – understated, feminine, glamour.
Do you have a personal favourite within the new collection?
My favourite gown in the Love is in the Air collection has to be Tertia – it is everything the brand stands for. I layered a soft mocha base with Chantilly lace and hand appliqued guipure lace to the corset, it has a circle tea coloured silk organza skirt. It says – style – modern – feminine – understated – it is truly beautiful.
What do you find most enjoyable and most challenging about releasing a new collection?
It is always challenging designing a new collection and making sure it is as good as, or better, than your previous collection – at the same time it is exciting looking at new fabrics and laces. Being inspired and seeing gowns that were once just ideas in my head transform into actual products is wonderful, as is launching a collection to all the buyers, magazines and bloggers that come to the launch and love it – I get a great night’s sleep after that!
You are celebrating 25 years at the forefront of luxury bridalwear, this year, how would you say your designs have developed over the years?
There is no question my designs have moved on over the 25 years, but I have stayed true to my beliefs and always designed gowns that are classically based, clean cut with contemporary highlights. I started with integral corsets and they are still the foundation of my designs!
Would you say that you have a signature style?
Without question the Castigliano brand has a signature style – understated effortless glamour – clean classic lines with contemporary touches.
You are known in the industry for your expert corsetry, would you say the fit is the most important aspect of a wedding dress and what advice would you offer to brides when searching for their dream dress?
The fit of the gown is crucial to a beautiful dress – you are photographed from every angle by friends and professional photographers so the corset is very important, along with the cut of the whole gown.
How do you choose a wedding dress – that is the question. In fact this is quite easy. First you must consider the ‘vision’ you want to create for the big day. Do you want to be remembered for being; traditional, contemporary, classic, boho vintage, romantic or elegant and understated?
Without considering the silhouette decide on the vision – once this has been determined book an appointment with one of our bridal stylists. 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?
And what about when it comes to accessorising the dress? What tips can you offer to brides?
Accessories are very important to finishing off a ‘look’ for your big day but make sure your accessories do not overpower you. A big head piece on a small head is not flattering – look at the shape of your face before trying on headdresses as you want a shape that will flatter your features. If you have a round face an Alice band shape won’t work! If you have a beaded neckline on the dress, then it is best not to wear a necklace as they will clash and can overpower you. Earrings should be quite delicate remember hundreds of pictures will be taken of you and you don’t want over powering, large earrings on.
Accessories can make the simplest gown look glamorous. A favourite of mine is a silk crepe fishtail gown with a long two tier veil a beaded belt – drop earrings and a matching bracelet – simple – stunning – glamorous!
Where can our readers find out more about the new collection and details of Caroline Castigliano stockists?
To view pictures of the Love is in the Air collection and to find stockists, please visit our website at carolinecastigliano.com
Any other news that you would like to share with us?
We are super busy at Castigliano. We are just about to launch our ecommerce site and along with selling veils, belts and headdresses, we will be launching our first collection of handbags and our bespoke scented Caroline Castigliano candle, so these are very exciting times.
We are also in the middle of organizing our yearly champagne tea at The Dorchester in conjunction with Brides magazine, which is taking place on February 26th 2017. We have a salon style fashion show, showing bridal gowns and evening wear while our guests drink champagne and have the most delicious tea. I invite ten of the top industry experts to host a table and chat to our guests – it really is a memorable day!
Brides to be can buy tickets at Eventbrite – just click here.