So, you’ve just set a date – Congratulations. And you’ve started to have a sneaky peek at dresses. After all what could be more exciting (and more daunting) than choosing the dress to wear on the most important day of your life. Well fear not because I’ve been out to ask the experts what’s trending in bridal wear and accessories for 2014. I spoke to the lovely Claire of Claire Louise Brides to get the lowdown on what’s hot and what’s not. From the minute you step into the bright, airy and beautifully decorated boutique you can tell it is a very special place. There’s something magical about wedding dresses, like a fairytale waiting to happen, and when you are surrounded by so many beautiful gowns it must be pretty hard to know where to start. Claire stocks some of the most exclusive bridal wear in the country including Suzanne Neville, Paloma Blanca & Kate Sherford alongside accessories from Miranda Templeton & Benjamin Adams.
So Claire tell me a little bit about Claire Louise Brides:
Originally the business was run from home in a dedicated bridal suite but due to our growing success and limited space we took the decision to open our existing boutique, which over a period of time has been enlarged to accommodate our growing clientele and private fitting suites. We are very much a family business as my Mum (Judith) and I own the shop and our weekend sales assistant is my very beautiful cousin Hannah. Customer service is the cornerstone of our business and as a team we pride ourselves on this, and are lucky enough to count many of our past brides as friends.
What inspired you to open a bridal boutique?
Following my own experience as a bride to be some 12 years ago, I was keen to be able to offer a more personal experience along with exceptional customer service. In a nut shell we wanted to be able to offer the “Pretty Woman shopping experience” in luxurious surroundings. My Mum Judith has a background in textiles as she taught the subject for many years and so we had the expertise we needed to complete our service. Two years later Claire Louise Brides was born and it’s fair to say neither Mum nor I have ever looked back.
What bridal designers do you stock?
Our current bridal collections include leading British designer Suzanne Neville, Augusta Jones, Paloma Blanca and Watters Bride. Alongside our bridal collections we also carry a large range of bridesmaid gowns/occasion wear from Watters and more recently Two birds bridesmaids. Miranda Templeton is our chosen accessories collection; her designs are exquisite and all made locally. Supporting British designers and companies is very important to us.
How did you go about choosing your designers?
Choosing our designers has been relatively easy as we know exactly what we love in terms of style and just as important to us customer service. We have been very selective and chosen only the very best companies to work with and over the years have built strong relationships with them all. We love to support British designers and those who have an ethical view on working conditions. We are very lucky to not only have great collections but amazing teams behind them all.
Who is your favourite bridal designer and why?
This is probably the most difficult question of all, as we love each of our designers for different reasons. Suzanne Neville offers the most amazing silhouette whatever your shape or size and her gowns go from simply breathtaking to sassy city chic. Paloma Blanca use such beautiful fabrics and have such a classic, elegant look. Augusta Jones is a little more romantic with beautiful laces and Watters have such a fashion forward look with quirky details. So the answer to the question …..we don’t have a favourite, we love them all.
What do you think are the key trends for bridal wear for 2013?
The vintage look continues to be a strong influence on all things bridal, therefore lace features in all our collections. Sleeves, straps and boleros are all very popular and give the bride an option to create a look of her own. Delicate silk tulle and georgette alongside the structured look of zibeline feature in some of our most exquisite gowns. Brooches, belts and sashes are in all of our collections and help to personalise the look.
And looking ahead to 2014?
We are very excited about the 2014 collections that have already begun to arrive. We have classic shapes, subtle lace, exquisite fabrics, incredible silhouettes, stunning necklines and the introduction of the most beautiful capes from Paloma Blanca. Accessories are going to be huge for 2014. We are like children in a sweet shop when the new collections arrive.
What about trends for accessories?
Belts will continue to be a success story along with head pieces and combs to complement or provide a statement. Our collection from Miranda Templeton covers all of these aspects, providing dramatic sidebands, delicate lace pieces and the most beautiful combs. Veils are ever popular for the classic bride and the new designs from Miranda Templeton and Paloma Blanca are sure to add the perfect finishing touch.
How far ahead should a bride look at buying her dress?
We would recommend brides start to look for their gown around 8 – 12 months in advance of their wedding. Depending on the chosen gown it can take months for them to arrive. We do however have a reputation for never turning a bride away and have been known to have a couture gown made and delivered within 4 days. Do you think there are any rules to choosing the perfect dress. Honestly I don’t think there are any rules as each bride will make the decision in her own way. I do however believe that you should go with your heart and not over think it. You need to put on your gown and feel incredible and never want to take it off. I see little point in worrying whether you will like it in 10 years’ time. Love it now and you will forever remember how you felt when you wore it.