Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I wanted to share with you those big three designers who influenced my own creating over the past few seasons.  Their imprint is on just about everything we see in the clothing arts.  Here it is, my own version of each designer . . . .

Art Meets Fashion
Jewelry by Studiolo
Christian Dior revolutionized fashion in 1947 with his “New Look”, a 180 turn out of the gray days of fashion following WWII.  Once restrictions lifted on fabric post war, Dior had the freedom to introduce the hourglass silhouette, showing off a cinched waist atop skirts flowing in yards of silks and layers of crinoline. Recently this defined  waist has made a come back and brides are loving it.


The great Mademoiselle Chanel spanned several eras of changing fashion. Her most notable signatures are close fitting cloche style hats, halters, separates, jerseys and strands of many different pearl necklaces all worn at once. Until her retirement in 1939, she was the probably the world's most influential designer. She made a comeback in the 1950s ushering in her most enduring contribution to fashion, The Chanel suit still popular today.
I see the Chanel bride of today much like Mademoiselle herself. Casual and classy, sophisticated and quirky. Above all stylish. The bride above is in separates: a Chantilly lace halter paired up with a long shantung skirt with a sweep train. All her accessories are inspired by Chanel.

Balenciaga Inspired
Photos by John Truong and Stuart Lirette


Balenciaga was one of a handful of couturiers who could actually design, cut, and sew his own designs. A designer's designer, his minimalist creations  were so well crafted they resembled sculptures and were considered the optimal of haute couture circa 1950s and 1960s. Balenciaga would have stayed in Madrid designing for the Spanish aristocracy but the Spanish Civil War forced him to Paris where post war he did some of his most innovative work (see what hanging with a bunch of Paris designers can inspire?).

All gowns and headpeices available though Amy-Jo Tatum 

Monday, November 29, 2010


How gorgeous are these?  British milliner Jane Taylor creates fascinators, hats and headpieces to die for.  In her London studio you'll find everything from vintage-inspired to the theatrical.  Plumes, netting, beads and other gems are found by Jane and woven into all the imaginative chic you see here.  You'll find  her work in Vogue, Elle, and Harpers and of course the bridal mags like Brides UK and Cosmopolitan Brides.  Check out her truly visual feast of a site  Jane Taylor Millinery

Photos courtesy Brides UK

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Thankful for You
I see the last of November as the perfect break in the holidays for a late fall wedding.  All these deep amber, ochre and aubergine touches say we're just teetering on the brink of winter.  Check out the ivy laced in with the roses . . . the fruits and berries.  Many thanks to Shana over at SMP Style Circle.  I'm forever lifting her beautiful inspiration boards off the site to share with you.  And for a real treat in bridal potpourri check out her blog, Bauble and Bubbles.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Winter Beeches
It's officially winter!  At least here in Northern California where the temps have been dropping below freezing at night.  To celebrate the coming of warm and cozy, please enjoy this series of images that the talented Sarah Ehman over at SMP Style Circle whipped up for us.  Want even more inspiration?  You have to see her blog oomphasis, all about mail enhancement (ha, ha!) and other paperlicious goods . . .

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 . . .

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Let's Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks to Sassy Bride on a Mission over at SMP Style Circle for putting together such an elegant set of inspirations perfect for this holiday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


A little cold clime inspiration here to get everyone thinking about winter weddings, especially those with a Christmas/Winter Wonderland/Snow  theme . . .

Above: Tulle dress, matching tulle shrug with hidden roses, David Fielden at Teokath. Feathers (worn as a headpiece), VV Rouleaux. Lace gloves, Cornelia James
Silk dress with silk-feather coat,  Jesus Peiro. Velvet peony Alice band,  Sophiei

Taffeta dress with Chantilly-lace detail,  Ritva Westenius London.

 Beaded silk-chiffon dress,  Manuel Mota at Pronovias. Faux-fur shrug,  LK Bennett

Tulle gown with satin and Swarovski-crystal waistband,  Charlotte Balbier. Cashmere cardigan,  Pure Collection. Wire-edged ribbon (worn as a sash),  VV Rouleaux. Cashmere scarf with Swarovski-crystal detail,  William Sharp. Felt hat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Winter Wonderland weddings call for warmth.  Go ahead and wear that strapless gown but get some accessories like faux fur, fur lined boots and a muff for staying warm between destinations.  Here are a few warm and cozy gems worth checking out . . .

Cashmere scarf with pom-poms by Sassi Holford White fur-trimmed boots by Salvatore Ferragamo

Monday, November 22, 2010


For those of you with a holiday destination wedding approaching, this is for you. Traveling at this time of year can be hectic.  Getting not only your dress but yourself and all your bridal paraphernalia from one point to another is something you need to think about whether you're navigating across town or half way around the world. Things might go a little easier if you've invested in a dress made out of microfibers (yes silk can be microfiber) ; you'll have little worry about it wrinkling. In most cases your dress will consist of delicate silk with length and volume (many underlips and linings) that need to be kept intact.

By Car

Getting your gown home safely from the shop is the first step. You’re going to have to treat it with all the love and care of a newborn. No, you won’t need an infant seat but just about any size back seat of a car will do. In all probability once delivered, your gown will be packed in plastic, the bodice stuffed with tissue. Hang it on the hook above the back door draped across the back seat. This applies if you're going on a two block or two thousand mile trip.

AIR TRAVEL- With so many destination weddings these days, salons and stores have special procedures preparing your gown for not only that car trip home but air travel. You need to decide whether or not you're checking your gown as baggage or carrying it on board the plane. Either way there are pluses and minuses. Once upon a time carry on was a given. No matter how BIG your gown--and some gowns run very big-- the stewardesses found a way to look after it. Since then the friendly skies have become so heavily booked, unless you travel first class, space is going to be tight. If your gown isn't too poufy and more of a sheath than ball gown, the overhead bin will work. Take into mind this a good-to-go situation only if there's no other baggage crushing your gown.

To avoid hassles during check in, be certain beforehand the box or bag holding your gown is an approved size. Yes, some airplanes don't have additional room for over-sized carry-on pieces so make arrangements with them before purchasing your ticket. Some airlines allow the cabin coat closets in first-class to be used for bridal gowns even if you're flying coach. However, doing my research I found some airlines are better than others on this. Again, MAKE ARRANGEMENTS BEFOREHAND!


You've met folks who never check in luggage; they're afraid once they land in Boston their bags will turn up in Cleveland. Well, imagine asking a bride to check her gown as baggage. If you're brave enough to consider it, think of little old me, a fashion designer who must fly with five gowns at a time, that, by the way, just like your gown, need to arrive in New York in pristine condition (otherwise they don't sell). I have no choice but to check them as baggage so here's what I do. Since I'm a pro I know how to pack them. Your store can do this for you. All you need do is decide on whether you want to pack the gown in a box (salon's job but you can do it) or suitcase (your job).
I've done both.


Use a large box, about one-third the length of the front of your gown.

Line the box with tissue and lay the gown over it. Your gown should be centered in the box and laid face down, spread flat out. This way you can avoid any wrinkles or creases from forming.

Now, start with the side seams and fold your skirt length-wise all the way over the tissue. Your skirt should not exceed the width of the box.

This is when you add more tissue and fold the top of the gown over into the box.

The top of the gown (bodice) will be facing up. Now use more tissue and pack the bodice, cushioning anything else (florals, bows, belts, sleeves) that should be protected. When you are finished, the dress should really be packed in tight so as not to move around in the box.


If your gown is a generous A-line or ballgown complete with petticoat, you need to go for the biggest suitcase you can find. Otherwise, like the box, find a suitcase about a third of the size of your gown. Your gown should be the only piece of anything you pack in the case other than tissue. Follow the same procedure you would for packing your gown in a box, especially the part about stuffing the bodice with tissue. This way your gown can retain its shape.

Garment Bag

The first thing about bagging a gown in a garment bag is finding out where the dress hangers are. Most gowns have these little hangers resembling straps that keep the stress off the shoulders. They are typically found at either the armhole or waistline. After hanging the gown up on a padded hanger, pack the gown with tissue in the bodice so it keeps the shape. If there is a full skirt, pack the bottom of the bag so the skirt rests on it to eliminate stress to the hemline.



Brides either marrying on board or sailing to their destination via cruise ship generally have few worries. Closet space is available and pressing services on board ship are top notch. This of course depends on the cruise line. I've heard horror stories about cheap cruise lines with bathrooms so small your shower is in the toilet. Think Cunard, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and you're in a major city floating on water, everything you ever wanted readily available. Same goes without saying for private yachts. Shorter cruises on, say, ferries are trickier but usually have more closet space than that aboard a plane or train.


Once upon a time in America this was one of the most common and luxurious forms of long distance travel. No more. Over time train travel has lost its glam factor. But for those who have a morbid phobia about flying or just plain love going by train, here's the scoop. Trains offer a little more space for moving around from compartment to compartment than planes do. You'd think this would mean more room to hang a gown but when I spoke to the Amtrack agent she said it's either the overhead bin or baggage car for the gown. Since Amtrack is the only game in town if you're getting from point to point in the USA, please avoid coach unless you are going a short distance. Then, use the above info to box your gown and check it in as baggage (yes box--your gown. The way they throw baggage around your gown will be packed tight in the box) If you're going a little further than say Buffalo to NYC: go for one of the larger compartments if you can. Here's the link for finding the right sleeping car which invariably means having your own space to guard your prized procession.

Train travel through Europe is a little different and more common. Schedules there actually run on time and go faster than their American cousins. Going short distances via coach, the space problem still exists so you can do one of two things: either box your gown and check it in as baggage or buy an extra seat on which to put it. Take into mind there are many more train routes that go through Europe. This means whether your destination is a major city or smaller village, a train either runs through it or nearby. Check online if you are traveling through Europe or Asia and find out as much as you can about space.

Once you reach your destination remove the dress from the bag and make sure to put it on a padded hanger. An alternative to the padded hanger is my hanging dress form above. This is a display hanger I use in the studio to show off my designs. They have another function: keeping your gown shaped and taking the stress off the shoulders or from whatever point your dress hangs. You can order one from Robert Hamm

If you can invest in a portable steamer, do it. They're twice as fast as the conventional iron and give a clean, finished look. As with over pressing, the steamer if held too close can water spot silk. A small travel iron is great for getting all those corners and pleats. Having a portable steamer and travel iron both is ideal. The optimal option if you can arrange it is getting your gown professionally pressed once you reach your destination.

Other Options and Tips

*If you don't want to travel with your gown have your salon, dressmaker or yourself ship the gown ahead to its destination. Out of the big three--UPS, Fed Ex and the US Postal Service, the latter is the cheapest way to go. Brides have always exercised this 'Send my things on ahead' option by arranging for a friend, family member or hotel/venue/consultant to sign for it. Thus, this has become so convenient for destination brides, many hotels and venues are signing for the wedding dress as part of their service.

*Pack your bridal accessories for travel separately from your gown. Once you reach that beautiful destination you can assemble your whole ensemble.

*More suggestions about pressing: If your gown is made out of tulle, don’t you dare press it! Steam it instead. The same goes for your veil; ironing scorches tulle.

*Pressing hard to get at wrinkles out of your gown is done with a cool, dry iron over a piece of broadcloth or muslin, called a press mitt. Forget worrying too much about wrinkling your gown going to and from the ceremony. Just push the bulk of your skirt aside once you’re in the car--that is, if you will be in a car or carriage.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Let's mix up the pallette a bit.  Here's a touch of fall for all you fans of purple and aubergine.  Yes, a touch of orange and berry red to brighten things up.  A big thank you to Solera over at SMP STyle Circle for sharing . . . .