Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Niagara Dress

The Niagara dress was a couture design for our beautiful bride and model Nicole who was married just last weekend near Niagara Falls in Canada.

Nicole has the elegance and demure nature of Grace Kelly and after watching To Catch a Thief, it was the iconic sweeping chiffon gown designed by Edith Head that had to inspire this dress.
Constructed from a beautiful, finely textured silk chiffon with a hand draped pleated bodice and a scarlet red dramatic flare of colour.

Full length gowns are in the minority here at the studio but when I do design full length I'm always a little surprised how divine and goddess like they look and feel when complete. It's a fine balancing act of remaining elegant and almost regal with a gown design without tipping it over to be Disney ridiculous Princess or A-line average.
We got it just on with a little help from the great Ms. Head and beautiful Nicole.

Congratulations to Ed and Nicole! x

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

History of Fashion - The Original Prom Dress

This is my chance to share our vast collection of historical clothing and accessories that have been hoarded away at the studio. A few months ago we looked at the stunning seed beaded collar from the 1920s in a crisp powder white here and today I'm sharing the dress that started it all.

I bid for this American prom dress in my second year at uni and spent forever waiting for it to arrive in the post. Eventually a battered cardboard box arrived at the door and the old familiar musty smell wafted up my nose as I ripped open the box.
This smell is the vintage collectors Joy perfume, it's a first clue that the item you're looking at is the real deal from being packed away in the back of a wardrobe or suitcase in a damp garage or shed for far too many years. Its the smell of neglect, treasure and an imagined story.

So, to the dress. Its baby pink and white lace, the tulle is thin and scratchy, the lining is basic but it's an all American, middle of the road prom dress. Probably early 1960s with a skin pinching metal zipper fastening the side seam and a printed taffeta label reading 'An Original By Phyllis DANCE TIME'. 

I imagined Phyllis was a small town sewing entrepreneur making prom dresses for the high school girls from her side street store. Most likely Phyllis was a man with a factory downtown and a lot of ladies sewing these exact dresses.

The pink and white combination is the ultimate in debutant femininity with the pretty round flowers of the machine made lace and all those crimped ruffles are dream like prettiness. Slipper satin ribbon, the kind you can't buy anymore, is threaded through an embroidered slatted trim making a stripe design to the highlighted sections of the dress.

The overall design and proportioning is perfect to compliment the features of this petite figure. Ego boosting ruffles over the bust, a tightly nipped in bodice and waist, smooth hips and all the fullness falling from the top of the thigh.

Underneath there would have been a strapless bralet, a girdle, stockings and hopefully a whole load of underskirts to plump out this tiered skirt. The proper foundations to make this dress something special.

The whole outer froth of tulle and lace is built upon a rayon taffeta base with a full skirt and sweetheart bodice. Inside bones are exposed and the jagged edge of the pinking sheer has finished off the facing.
It sounds like a nightmare but this is dress production on a budget before overlockers (sergers) made it to the mainstream and its honest. You can see what what and why make it more bulky than needed?
The finest parts of this dress are the very slim straps and neatest of turned hems with closely spaced stitches.

This is the dress that inspired my first prom dress, it's developed over the years with a beautiful silk dress base, covered and fully lined and with a beautifully soft tulle. The principles of this original prom dress formed a wealth of construction knowledge to learn from as can each and every garment you see.

Now I wonder what the story is behind this dress. The waist is tiny but that's all we can know about the American girl who wore the pink and white prom dress. Was she prom queen, did she have a date, who chose this dress?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Tropical Autumn Cocktail Dress

Introducing a new one of a kind cocktail dress inspired by the tropics.

I first found this small piece of beautifully printed fabric a few years ago in a vintage store and immediately thought of 1940s post war movies set in Casablanca or the South Pacific. A bombshell in cottons and khakis, singing in bars surrounded by grinning GI's. 

The dark army green of the print is decorated with tropical birds of paradise and pastel florals which make this all the more interesting as you look at the dress. There was just enough to design the skirt which was complimented by a golden silk bodice. Green crystal glass beads were then hand embellished over the bodice here at the studio and blended at the waist. 

The design is subtle at first and slowly draws you in as you pick up the details with a hint of sparkle. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Glitter Black Bow Tie

This bespoke glitter bow tie was made recently for a very important wedding. See important wedding in the New York Times here. 

Lined in silk with a double bow and silk band, this bow tie has a traditional shape with the added matte sparkle creating an elegant textured alternative to the standard satin design.

We always welcome bespoke commissions for important occasions, just drop us an email at

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Lindsey and Rich's Amazing DIY Wedding

Lindsey came to me last year looking for her dream wedding dress, I'll share more details on the wedding dress later. I have to say Lindsey has been one of my all time most enthusiastic and engaging brides to work with, always with a smile and wanting to get into everything at the studio. Mainly the rhinestones! 

So after a few months of making, gatherings of the bridal party at the studio, a lot of cake and tea, we had a collection of five fabulous maids in pinks and blues, a divine purple mother of the bride dress, a hen party and honeymoon dress and finally the wedding dress. 

Lindsey made a huge amount of gorgeous things for her wedding which you will be able to see in the photos. The crockery is Lindsey's signature piece, then Rich and Lindsey together made the bunting complete with sequins and Lindsey even made here own beaded belt. I was amazed that after only a few basic tips from me, these incredible beaded belts turned up for the next fitting looking absolutely stunning and far better than mine! 

It looks like the days was a wonderful success and not only a big THANK YOU to Lindsey for working with me on her outfits but CONGRATULATIONS to such a brilliantly inspiring pair of people. x

Here are the contributors of the day. 

Hair - Adria Williams, my usual hairdresser from Hush Hairdressing in Bristol (she fulfilled our 'messy 50's brief beautifully!)
Car - Karma Kars Cotswold
Venue - St Helen's Church, Clifford Chambers & King's Hotel, Chipping Campden

Lindsey wore blue glitter shoes from Carvela and Rich's blue suit was from Reiss. We made the spotty silk tie and pocket square.

 Lindsey then changed to silver glitter Anna shoes by Kurt Geiger (one of the most perfect shoe designs, wish they still sold this style!)

                                                               Inside the beautiful Karma Car!

Lindsey and Rich made the bunting together, this is most definitely the best bunting I've seem with a mix of bright prints and hand sewn sequin letters.

The hand covered buttons on the dress each had a rhinestone to match the belt Lindsey made to match.

Leandra modeling the second phase of her bridesmaids dress, her full skirt was removable.

Lindsey as the bride sppears to have served her guests with a pinny on! Also loving Beth's massive heart earrings that match the pink of her bridesmaids dress.