High Drama wedding dress.
As the former Miss Universe GB, there was only one possible brief for Clair's wedding dress - "High Drama". Every detail was to be as bold as can be!
Clair loved Guipure lace and had sourced the perfect deep lace trim that was to be used for the main lace embroidery design. The only additional lace that we bought were two geometric grid mesh style laces, to act as a fill-in where we wanted lace coverage, but not the density of the Guipure, and I added some slightly bolder leaf shapes from another Guipure lace that I already had also.
The main dress has an internal corset in power mesh, with and illusion tulle neckline and sleeves. The high neck is lightly boned to keep it's funnel-shape, and embroidered solidly in lace, which then swoops down over the decollete like a statement necklace and embroidered with Swarovski pearls, before forming a sweetheart neckline shape over the bust. The Guipure lace was cut into pieces, choosing only the pieces of lace design that flowed in the way that we wanted to lace embroidery to take form symmetrically across the body, and the dress. The idea was that the lace was positioned in a sculpting kind of way, I guess like what you might see on a vase (remember Mary Katrantzou's most notable couture print dress collection?). I try to do that a lot with lace embroidery.
The lace on the sleeves started just below the shoulder curve, giving the impression of a wide and elegant, off-shoulder effect.
The skirt was to give the impression of a large 'poufy' over-skirt, with a slim lace skirt underneath, split to the thigh at the front (and to be worn with thigh-high leather boots!!). But the skirts we actually attached together as one skirt, and never intended to be removable.
The slim 'underskirt' was made in nude-coloured tulle (layered up for modesty), and embroidered with lace and mesh in a matching design to the bodice. Originally, we were going to embroider the bodice and underskirt in lace to look like one dress that flowed straight through, so no waistband, but Clair had a semi-last minute request for a giant bow, which of course I couldn't resist adding!!
The surrounding 'over-skirt' is made in silk Ziberline, one of my favourites for light reflecting qualities, and especially so in the colder light of December. It was reasonably simply cut, in straight lengths, and shaped at the hem, and then layers of soft and stiff tulle added to the waist attachment point (to make it stand away from the waist), which made for some difficult gathering. I tried all types of strong sewing threads, but eventually, had to make a trip to the fishing tackle shop to buy some super strong fishing line that could hold the layers together!
As a final dramatic detail, Claire had requested a cape. We weren't sure exactly what it might be at first - only that it should have some daringly large, sculpted and pointed shoulder pads, and be embroidered with lace and heavily encrusted with pearls. The idea developed so that the cape was made in strips of silk Georgette that draped down the front and back of the shoulder, shorter at the front for better proportion.
I hope I've not missed anything! There was so much cool stuff going on with this dress!!
Clair married at St Stephens Church on Rosalyn Hill in London, where they were able to host a stunning ceremony, and meal, before heading off to a nightclub in an ultra cool jumpsuit.
All photography is by Matt Tyler
Floral design by Gwenda at Bohotanical