Friday, November 26, 2010


Now that it's official, Kate and Wills are tying the knot in the one-thousand year old  Westminster Abbey come April 29, the burning question is, "What will Kate wear?  We can speculate till spring and only one thing will be certain between now and then: Kate will choose a British designer.  I thought this the perfect opportunity to launch a series focusing on the innovative talents of British bridal designers.  First of all, let me say, along with the Dutch, England turns out the most talented bridal designers in the world.  The British can be a bit bi-polar when it comes to fashion though.  Rooted deep is a loyal tradition for adhering to proper dress and protocol.   Despite this, the fashion rebellion and/or avant garde factor is usually going full tilt as well.  Wasn't it cutting edge sixties icon Mary Quant who introduced the mini skirt?  Soon after a plethora of revolutionary mod designs streamed off Carnaby Street and changed the not only the way we dressed forever--but how we lived.  Mix these two extremes--traditional and radical and you're in for some great  if not juxtaposed style sensations . . .

There's something very romantic about British bridal fashion.  They seem to have the waif/Goth/fairy-tale image all figured out . . . frothy head pieces, gossamer fabrics, florals everywhere.  This is just a sampling of a few of my my favs in the industry . . .

Charlotte Balbier

Charlotte's gowns have either that rose or yellow hue about them including all those gorgeous accessories that go with the look. Always, always so incrdibly feminine . . .

Sassi Holford

One of the reasons I love Sassi's creations other than they are works of art in lace is that she designs and has all her gowns made by hand in her studio. Also I hear she's been in the business almost thirty years and is self taught. She sounds a lot like me.   Sassi’s gowns are known mostly for cut, fit and her incredible use of just the right fabric.

Don't these designs reflect an incredible storybook quality . . .  with a real bit of edge?  Based in her design studio and store in Congleton, Cheshire, Sharon recently paired up with Rosie Panasar, a pioneer in the Asian wedding industry. The bridal wear Sharon and Rosie turn out now is a tour de fore of innovation as well as cut. The imagination and execution of their designs make them true style setters.
I've been following this designer for many years and always marvel that she can take romantisim in so many different directions.  A top notch corset maker, Terry works this skill into
making gorgeous costume-inspired wedding gowns as well.  Her site has a beautiful gifts section and is truly an experience you won't want to miss.


Caroline Castigliano

Caroline is a master of combining fabrics and layering --underneath as well as outer fabrics
so that they flow and move beautifully.  She also sits down with her clients before any gowns are even looked at and spends about 15 minutes getting to know all about them. 

Jasper Conran

I think of Jasper Conran as a pruist when it comes to style.  A fav designer of the Diana Generation Royals, Jasper designed Lardy Sarah Armstrong-Jones wedding gown  Niece of the Queen, her 1994 wedding gown was simple and elegant.  In 1982 Vogue called Jasper Conran a ‘British superlative’. At only 26 he won the British Designer of the Year Award. Here's what Mary Quant had to say about Conran, 'He makes clothes women want to wear’.

Jasper Conran

Jenny originally trained as a textile designer.The shapes of Packham's dresses may be basic and simple but the construction is more detailed and could be compared to the Dioresque designs of the  1950s, big on intricately placed seams, linings and inner-linings as well as boning and shaping materials. Her full skirts are made with layers of stiff netting and crin..  Best known for accentuating the female form

Art of Being by Elizabeth Emanuel

Elizabeth was Princess Diana's wedding gown designer. The day Diana emerged from her carriage swathed in tulle and taffeta, her storybook gown opened up so many new possibilities. Suddenly bridal designers and manufacturers could innovate and even break a few rules. Overnight Diana, with the help of the husband and wife team known as the Emanuels, eclipsed the granny gown and cookie cutter bridal uniforms of the time.   Fast forward almost thirty years and Elizabeth Emanuel is still producing gowns reflecting that little bit of Belle Epoch, a little bit Boho . . .

Art of Being by Elizabeth Emanuel

Actually Phillipa Lepley is the front runner in the, Who Will Design Kate's Dress Competition?  Known for her sweet and classic gowns, imagine Grace Kelly (of whom Kate resembles)  in one of these gems. 

Phillipa Lepley

Phillipa Lepley

Stay tuned here to find out more about the hottest British designers.  I'll be covering just about everything British and bridal all through the new year . . .


Emily Heizer Photography said...


Lovely dresses. They did a whole special on TLC about Prince William and Kate and surmised about her dress... interesting. I'm intrigued to see what she goes with. I'm thinking sleek and modern but we'll just have to wait and see!

Rachel - theWeddingVine said...

Personally I want Stephanie Allin to design it!! but I agree I think it will be Phillipa Lepley.

Rhian Morris said...

Jasper Conran has an understated look that can be embellished upon. My preference regards to his designs is that no embellishment is needed.

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