Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Katie and Her Forties Hollywood Dress - Part 4 The Wedding

The beautiful Coombe Lodge, Blagdon.

Katie set the scene with family photos from the Forties, ration books and collected clocks.

The fabulous vintage bus to transport the guests

Stepping out of the car, film star style.

The Forties bridesmaids. We made the dresses in crepe and piped the panel cut bodice with Liberty print cotton.

look at the amazing Forties styled guests in the background!

This is my favourite picture, she looks like a film star from the silver screen!

We made the fabulous mother of the bride a dress too, she looked incredible and so elegant.

Katie and me in my hat by Janine Basil and leopard shawl forties style.

Katie's name settings. Each table was named after a WW11 plane too.

The beautiful flowers by Eden florists in Winscombe, Somerset. Katie's wedding favours were champagne glasses you kept after toasting the couple.

Katie had a wrist loop added to the train which kept the dress elegant whilst dancing. I hate it when dresses are hitched at the back. No need for it!
Tea was served in vintage tea cups!

The swing dance teachers entertaining all the guests with a demonstration before we aere all taught to swing dance!

 Congratulations to Katie and Luke!

Here are the official photos from Katie's 1940's, wartime theme wedding which was full of Hollywood elegance. Katie worked really hard organizing everything for the day making sure it was just perfect. And Wow it really was perfect!

The day started with the fabulous old double-decker bus collecting the guests (all dressed in 1940s attire!) from the local hotel and transporting them to the beautiful Coombe Lodge in Blagdon which overlooks the lakes. This location was simply stunning.

Meanwhile I dressed Katie, and quickly got in the car to be ready for the ceremony which was held outside in the garden, it was such a beautiful day in late September.
Katie arrived in a wonderful vintage car in perfect silver screen style and after an anticipating pause, she walked around the corner towards her guests and the equally .
She took my breath away at this moment and I have never had to fight back the tears like it did just then, and I wasn't the only one. When you have put everything into a dress or a piece of work it becomes an emotional attachment and this really was quite overwhelming to see her look so beautiful in my dress.

After the gorgeous ceremony, the day proceeded with drinks, relaxing in the grounds of the house and then a wonderful dinner with toasts and thank yous. I even had a mention and a bouquet of beautiful flowers. Boy did I blush! The tables were decorated with tall vases of roses and pearls, the place names stamped with the crown that became the logo of Katie and Luke's wedding stationary. The wedding favours were champagne glasses that each guest kept after the toasting the couple. This was a great touch and the best wedding favours I have seen.
They also had postcards of thier own 1940s film poster printed for all the guests to write a message to the bride and groom.

The evenings entertainment was fantastic in the form of swing dance lessons and a swing band with a beautiful lead singer.

It really was a wonderful day and upon viewing Katie twirl around the room with the dance teacher I knew my work had been done.
I know this is a very mushy post but that's kind of how I feel about this dress, and the bridesmaids and the most fabulous mother of the bride you could dream of working with.

Dress, Bridesmaids and Mother of the Bride: Alexandra King (you know where I am)
Hair and make up : the amazing Beehive Brides, they do vintage hair and make up
Photography: Matthew Wiseman he did a wonderful job and he didn't get in the way one bit!
Flowers: Eden Florists, Winscombe, Somerset
Venue: Coombe Lodge, Blagdon

Monday, 24 October 2011

Katie and her Forties Hollywood Dress - Part 3 The Dress

The dress awaiting its debut.
The back trimmed with a concealed zip and 36 matching covered buttons.
The bodice, the neckline is cut around the lace pattern and to make sure the bodice was symmetrical, one shoulder has an appliqued motif cut so that it matches. The lace at the waist and hips has also been cut and hand appliqued in place. The puff shoulders are structured with tulle ruffles inside.

The back of the skirt. The top layer was to sit separately from the under dress so that it moved freely, little tacks kept it from going adrift.

The lace applique over the back of the skirt to make the pattern.

A close up of the lace applique. Each motif had to be carefully hand cut from the border of the lace and hand stitched into the pattern.

Using the lace we made a cord and then looped this into the button loops to fasten the back.

The sleeves, French seamed and trimmed with matching covered buttons. Edged in lace appliqued to the cuff.

The soft tulle underskirts edged in satin

 The final dress, the mannequin and my photo taking skills really don't really do it justice.

I know you may be thinking the bodice is a little reminiscent of another bridal gown this year? There was quite a bit of debate about this neckline, I was dreading it and my initial thoughts were NO NO NO, NOOOOOOO! As you can see the initial design had a high neckline, no V but we hadn't set anything in stone and we wanted to see how the dress developed.
I really didn't want to do anything that even vaguely looked like the KM dress. Not that I don't like it, it's the most stunning example of couture and craftsmanship that anyone will see but knowing this, my feelings were that anything that looks like it will be a cheap copy. Plus it's someone else's dress!

So, could I really say to Katie 'no you can't have your wedding dress how you want it' and cause stress over the shape of a V? Well no, the Royal family can't have the monopoly on V necklines. Katie's was inspired by the 1940s which the whole wedding revolved around, a wonderful Wartime theme and whatdaya know, they had V necklines in the 1940s too!

The cut of the dress with the hourglass fit, soft tea colour and Katie's incredible look with Forties red hair and lipstick, there was no way this was going to look anything cheap or copy like. Sometimes you have to trust a bride too, they are ones who are going to make the dress come to life. And she looked stunning, and by far the best Katie to me!

Here it comes to life, more photos from the incredible wedding tomorrow ........................................

A sneek peek at Katie in her dress - photograph by Matthew Wiseman

A little note on wedding dress buying ......

For me, it's a really great way of working when you have lots of interaction from a bride, I know some people may think it's annoying but really it's like you have an extra helping hand, and being involved in the design of your dress makes sure you get it how YOU want it. I generally will only say no to something if I think it will look bad or won't work, or obviously if it's copying.  Having a good relationship with the person supplying your dress is quite important and you can trust them to be honest with you too. 

So when getting a dress made or even buying a dress from a boutique it's important that you think about it, ask millions of questions if you really need to and speak out if you are not completely happy about something. If you are getting overwhelmed (I sure did) just walk away and take a break from wedding dresses until you clear your head a little. I know some of us know exactly what we want and others haven't the foggiest, and that's ok.
A good supplier or designer will be wanting you to be reassured, for you to trust them and for you have the most amazing day in your perfect dress. Don't ever feel like you're being a pain.  ( please don't ever be rude though, you may have your dress sliced in half! :) )

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Bows, Bows, Bows

As you might be able to tell I love LOVE bows. It's our logo, It's tattooed to my arm (I may have to get the actual logo tattooed somewhere if I'm feeling brave again), nearly every dress is tied with a bow and my favourite words in Mad Men were said by the gorgeous Roger to the even more Gorgeous Joan ' I love that dress with the bow on it, it makes you look like a Christmas present'.
I know some people may think this a little anti-feminist or derogatory making women look like presents be consumed, but I think it's pretty adorable. Why not look like a exciting present, and if you want to be unwrapped, then you can!

We made these super festive, Victorian, vintage fifties style bows with long tails. I know there are lots of pinched/pleat bows out there like our logo so keeping the forked tails made these a little more present like.
I then studded them with our wonderful metal rhinestone clasps and spangly crystals in different colours. I also managed to find these amazing glass cabochon's from a vintage bead seller on Etsy which have golden Queenies in the middle! I only had six of these and I must keep one.

I like to wear mine on the back of my chignon or bun (I love my bun ring that makes it super big too) but as it has a barrette clip on the back you can fasten it to the shoulder of your dress, a bracelet on your wrist or to a  belt. I think it's quite a versatile little accessory really and we all need bows in our life don't we? Even clipped on to old pair of torn Levi's looks pretty cool.

Horst's stunning picture of Gabrielle Chanel with bows in her hair.

I also made some Alice bands that reminded me of Coco Chanel's hair bows she wore amongst her curls. Now that's how you style a bow and it's not even that girly! This is what I'm off to do right now ....... bye

Saturday, 22 October 2011


 After visiting the costume museum and viewing Princess Alexandra's Victorian era tartan party dress, using plaids for the Winter collection was a must.
The silks are so highly saturated in colour and gorgeously festive rustling as you walk. It's Victorian, Royal and traditional on one hand but tartan also is about rebellion, punk and  identity too. It's certainly not just reserved for Princesses.
I wanted to use a real Scottish wool tartan for the skirt, the weight is wonderful and heavy like a kilt in the form of a Fifties swing skirt. The added blush nets underneath for structure give a really cool colour contrast which makes the red pop even more.
I imagine this skirt with a white sweetheart bodice too which would make awesome festive party attire!

Our homage to Norman Rockwell which inspired this skirt too.
So here's our tartan offerings for the Winter. Warming, nostalgic and fabulously Victorian. There are so many versions and ways to wear this pattern, I wish we had our own in my family. How amazing would that be to make a collection from? Who else has their own tartan and how do you style yours?