24 Couture Gowns a year, for 24 Brides.
Once upon a time I ran my business from a beautiful bridal shop in London – near Mayfair and just around the corner from Selfridges on New Quebec Street. We created stunning bridal gowns that our clients adored, dressed a number of well known celebrities and regularly featured in all the best magazines. We were incredibly busy which was exciting.
I knew then, that when I returned to my passion of making beautiful wedding dresses – once my children were old enough, as they are now – that I would do things differently.
I decided that I did not want to make hundreds of wedding dresses. I wanted to concentrate on making a few perfect dresses for a few exclusive clients. That’s where the idea of “24 dresses” started. To deliver the kind of service that I want to give to each client, I will only make 24 dresses for 24 brides each year.
I want to make the experience of creating a wedding dress just for you to feel as enjoyable, exciting and uplifting as the wedding itself.
I also want it to be stress-free. To do this, I want every bride to be to feel at home during each consultation and fitting. So that’s where I’ve built my new studio, in my newly renovated home in London. It’s here that we will meet and plan your perfect wedding dress in peace.
The dress that I’ll create for you will be the most beautiful you will ever wear. It will also only ever be one of 24 couture bridal gowns I make each year.
I only make 24 Couture Bridal Gowns a year, for 24 Brides, so you will always deal directly with me and I will always be there at the end of the phone or an email should you have a question about the design process or an idea about your wedding dress that you’d like to share with me. Equally if you have a couture bespoke evening or occassion wear item made it will be me who you see.
“I felt so privileged that you did the fitting personally and was exceptionally impressed with your customer service and friendliness. I will always recommend you to friends who are looking for a luxurious dress and first class service.”
Many of my bridal clients come for an initial consultation having spotted one of my dresses in a magazine or fallen in love with one they’ve seen on this website. Most have a good idea of what they like and what they don’t. We discuss this and everything else about the wedding at our first meeting. I’ve set out below how the design process will typically run.
I look forward to creating your perfect wedding dress for you.
This is where I get to hear all about your plans for the wedding, the season and the setting and your aspirations for your wedding dress. We’ll discuss designs, shapes, fabrics, beading, colours, corsetry and accessories. I’ll also take all your key measurements. This will give me everything I need to prepare some initial designs and a quote for your exclusive wedding dress. Sometimes this quote can be completed at this initial consultation depending on the design chosen.
2nd Meeting (+1/2 weeks)
Here we’ll review and finalise my design ideas for your wedding dress, as well as the details of the creative process: timings, costs and next steps. A deposit is paid at this stage to book having your gown made with me of one third of the total.
Toile Fitting (+1 month)
I will make a full mock up of your wedding dress in cotton. This will give you a good idea of how it will look but as importantly it will give me a framework from which I can make more detailed adjustments and amendments ahead of creating and cutting the final patterns. At this stage the next payment is made of another third.
First Dress Fitting (+2/3 month)
This is always an exciting moment, when you get to try on your wedding dress for the very first time, in the right fabric. There are still adjustments to be made and details to be finalised but at this fitting, you’ll be able to see how you will look on your wedding day. Third and final payment for your gown is made at this point.
Second Dress Fitting (+1 month)
This fitting takes you one step closer to the final wedding dress. All the major adjustments from the first fitting will have been made: we’re down to the final details at this point.
Final Fitting (+1 month)
Any changes at the final fitting will all be about the very tiniest details – making sure that everything is absolutely perfect.
Collection (within 2 weeks)
I will store and pack your dress perfectly for you, ready for you to collect in good time, ahead of your wedding day.
All of the above are approximations to give an idea of how the design process works. More or less appointments may be required dependant on gown designed. More time may be required between appointments dependant on fabric and finish chosen.
I also design dresses and separates for special events. If you are dreaming about the perfect outfit for a party, red carpet event, special celebration or just want the best cocktail dress or suit then we can work together to do just that.
I have an enormous selection of fabrics but also will source from selected suppliers in London who get fabrics from all around the world. Occasionally I bring clients to Joel & Son if it works better for fabric selection and we choose and create designs together.
Everything can be specially tailored to meet client’s needs for a bespoke design.
A similar process applies to bespoke commissions as having a bridal gown made but is slightly shorter in time frame depending on the scale of the design.
Orders can range in time to produce depending if its a perfect pair of trousers to a couture evening gown.
“I can’t find the right words to express how totally fabulous I felt in my wedding dress. It is an exquisite work of art and I shall never part with it.”
Suzanne Kellaway Scothern
Fabrics are to a Couture Wedding Dress Designer, what ingredients are to a Michelin Star chef. We will only ever use the very best.
There are many similarities between what we both do but one main exception: they produce the same exquisite dishes for everyone, whilst each dress that I create is only ever tailored for one bride and one unique occasion. So I choose my fabrics accordingly. I will often specify the exact weight of the fabric to suit both the dress design and the bride herself, so that they drape perfectly.
I source the best silk, duchesse satins and highest quality chantilly, guipure and corded lace, zibeline, organza, ghazzar and crepes from the finest fabric houses in Italy and France.
The fabrics that I love to use have a unique fluidity and lustre. I have worked with some of these mills for many years and know their work intimately. They are master craftsmen and the quality of their work is astonishing. Quite often they will create lace to my own design and use specific beads and sequins of my choosing. Where possible I will source fabrics that will be exclusive to me, and the brides that I dress.
I go to great lengths to ensure that the fabrics I use are also made up in exact colours and dyed to my own specification. It’s often the colour of a duchesse satin that will make a wedding dress of mine so sought after.
When you come for a consultation, I’ll show you some of the beautiful fabrics that I love to work with, as well as the intricate lace detailing that I’ll use to create your perfect wedding dress.
“Thank you so much for making the most divine dress. My husband was thrilled with it and I had so many compliments on how exquisite the fit was.”
When you buy a couture dress from me, I design the dress around you. You are my mannequin. The cut of the dress will be designed to fit you perfectly and to enhance your figure.
The next part of the couture process is the physical cutting of the pattern, the toile and then finally the cutting of your gown using the final fabric.
What’s critical here is making sure that the pattern cutting into the fabric, matches perfectly with the design of the gown that I’ve created for you and is balanced throughout the dress. I know precisely where the seams, closures and other detailing will sit, so I can make sure that the cut of the gown is created to perfection.
Most importantly, I not only design each and every one of my dresses, I usually cut my own patterns and fabric too – something I’ve been doing for 20 years for my clients.
My machinists are highly specialized in the art of making couture gowns. They use couture dressmaking techniques, embroidery, beading, lace making and hand finishing artistry, which are so vital for the expression of design in each of my gowns.
Of course you’ll probably never have the need to explain all this to anyone else – they’ll just be wowed by how beautiful your dress is and how perfectly it fits you. But you’ll know the attention to detail that’s gone into making your wedding dress and will love wearing it all the more as a result.
“It fitted absolutely perfectly and although I was a little worried about how comfortable I would be in a corset – I was so comfy and didn’t notice it at all on the day. I did not want to take it off at the end of the wedding day!”
The Sharon Cunningham Corset is an integral part of every structured wedding gown that I create and make for each bride. They are the secret to the perfect silhouette. Structured with boning and laced on the inside showing on the outside no clue as to what lies beneath.
The way the bustier is made will make sure everything is pulled in in the right direction whilst ensuring the right external look from every angle. I can reduce waists by inches! I can also add to your figure if required. It’s all hidden on the inside of my gowns.
I work closely with every client to make sure that their gown is supremely comfortable and can be worn for hours – many brides have remarked that it almost feels like a second skin. It will fit so perfectly and sit so comfortably with your body that you won’t need to wear any other additional or uncomfortable underwear.
By contrast most ready-to-wear wedding dresses will have very little boning or internal corsetry and some will have none at all. But then most brides can’t wait to get out of their wedding dress – my brides don’t want to take theirs off!
Of course some wedding gowns may not need corsetry, as they’ll be designed to be fluid unstructured designs. If in these instances underwear is required I will be very specific about what you should wear to ensure that it compliments and supports your dress.
This is where you will meet with Sharon to create your dream dress. You can choose to try some of the gowns in the collection of sit with her to work out your design. Sharon will then sit and sketch out your wedding dress.