Friday, 29 April 2011

The florist is from Belfast!!

Prince William wore the uniform of the Irish Guards with a shamrock embroidered on the collar. His choice of florist is Irish too.
Shane Connolly ,the 47-year-old flower designer said he will be treating the occasion “like any other wedding” and felt lucky to be involved after being asked by Prince William’s office in December last year.

Mr Connolly insisted fulfilling the expectations of his royal clients was his number one priority. “The pressure from the world isn’t important, it’s what they think that’s important,” he said.

He runs Shane Connolly Flowers with business partner Jamie Marlar in west London and holds a Royal Warrant awarded by the Prince of Wales, which marks him as the official supplier of flowers for royal events.

Not unfamiliar to the pressure of grand events, he was commissioned to arrange the flowers for the marriage of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2005.

Originally from Belfast, Mr Connolly read psychology at university before moving to London in 1986.

The importance is in the detail.

Once you see the veil I have embroidered for my bride for the 30th of April hopefully you will understand why I would have loved to have had the opportunity to do Kate's veil. For safely reasons I would have done two!! I would have loved to have suggested some Irish shamrocks, Welsh daffodils, Scottish thistles and of course English roses. I was commissioned by our then Secretary of State, Peter Brooke, to do an embroidery piece in mermory of Sir Ian Gaw. This I did and got to take it to Stormont one day.
Maybe I missed my chance when Princess Dianna visited the University of Ulster Art and Design Centre and I was meant to met her and show her my work . Then I might of had a chance that someone would have remembered my embroidery at this time. I just hope that when we eventually hear about the details of the embroidery that it tells a story.
The overall notion of the wedding is very femine and pretty, much as I would have expected of Kate's taste. She has had a big part in the design. The neckline was the same "V" as her dress for her engagement photos. The lace sleeves and deatil on the dress where exactly as I had predicted. The similarity with Sarah Ferguson's dress which was such a sucess has had an influence on her I think. The flowergirls dresses where very traditional and the pageboys reflected Williams military ties.The uniform draws its insignia from the Irish Guards, whose Colonel is Prince William.
Yet I expected Sarah Burton would have taken it up one notch more. I long to hear that there is something unique and one off. I hear that Kate had Pippa's dress lining embroidered with the date. I wanted more detail seen. Fergie's dress had the personal touches embroidered into it for all to see. I think Kate has got everything perfect and loves detail, I just wanted more detail, lace is lace, I wanted the embroidery to tell a story. When someone says to a bride they love your dress I want the bride to say will we did this because.

The Dress finally

The Wedding Dress
Some interesting facts, but with time to take it all in, it is just to easy for me to copy. I wanted something unique something one off. Cutting out bits form lace and hand sewing them on is traditional and a bit done. However it is unmistakingly beautiful just a bit less creative than i had expected from Sarah Burton. Yet it is typical Kate so at least it reflects who she is and her personality.
Miss Catherine Middleton’s Wedding Dress has been designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.

Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing. Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterises Alexander McQueen’s work. Miss Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress.
The dress epitomises timeless British craftsmanship by drawing together talented and skilled workmanship from across the United Kingdom. The dress design pays tribute to the Arts and Crafts tradition, which advocated truth to materials and traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often Romantic styles of decoration. Ms Burton’s design draws on this heritage, additionally giving the cut and the intricate embellishment a distinctive, contemporary and feminine character.
The design

The lace appliqué for the bodice and skirt was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace. The lace design was hand-engineered (appliquéd) using the Carrickmacross lace-making technique, which originated in Ireland in the 1820s. Individual flowers have been hand-cut from lace and hand-engineered onto ivory silk tulle to create a unique and organic design.
Hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace has been used throughout the bodice and skirt, and has been used for the underskirt trim. With laces coming from different sources, much care was taken to ensure that each flower was the same colour. The whole process was overseen and put together by hand by Ms Burton and her team.
The dress is made with ivory and white satin gazar. The skirt echoes an opening flower, with white satin gazar arches and pleats. The train measures two metres 70 centimetres. The ivory satin bodice, which is narrowed at the waist and padded at the hips, draws on the Victorian tradition of corsetry and is a hallmark of Alexander McQueen’s designs. The back is finished with 58 gazar and organza covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops. The underskirt is made of silk tulle trimmed with Cluny lace.
The Fabrics
French Chantilly lace was combined with English Cluny lace to be hand-worked in the Irish Carrickmacross needlework tradition.
All other fabrics used in the creation of the dress were sourced from and supplied by British companies. The choice of fabrics followed extensive research by Sarah Burton and her team.
The Royal School of Needlework
The Royal School of Needlework (RSN), based at Hampton Court Palace, assisted the Alexander McQueen team in accurately cutting out the delicate motifs from the lace fabrics and positioning the lace motifs with precision into the new design. The lace motifs were pinned, ‘framed up’ and applied with stab stitching every two to three millimetres around each lace motif. The workers washed their hands every thirty minutes to keep the lace and threads pristine, and the needles were renewed every three hours, to keep them sharp and clean.

The RSN workers included existing staff, former staff, tutors, graduates and students, with the youngest aged 19.
The RSN’s work was used primarily for the train and skirt of the Bride’s dress, the bodice and sleeves, the Bride’s shoes and the Bride’s veil.

Veil and Jewellery
The veil is made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers, which was embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework. The veil is held in place by a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, lent to Miss Middleton by The Queen. The ‘halo’ tiara was made by Cartier in 1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King.
The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now The Queen) by her mother on the occasion of her 18th birthday.
The Bride’s earrings, by Robinson Pelham, are diamond-set stylised oak leaves with a pear shaped diamond set drop and a pavé set diamond acorn suspended in the centre. Inspiration for the design comes from the Middleton family's new coat of arms, which includes acorns and oak leaves. The earrings were made to echo the tiara.

Wedding Shoes
The wedding shoes have made hand-made by the team at Alexander McQueen and are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.
The bouquet contains stems from a myrtle planted at Osborne House, Isle of Wight, by Queen Victoria in 1845, and a sprig from a plant grown from the myrtle used in The Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947.
The tradition of carrying myrtle begun after Queen Victoria was given a nosegay containing myrtle by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Gotha in Germany. In the same year, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought Osborne House as a family retreat, and a sprig from the posy was planted against the terrace walls, where it continues to thrive today.
The myrtle was first carried by Queen Victoria eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, when she married in 1858, and was used to signify the traditional innocence of a bride.

The Bridesmaid's Dress

Miss Philippa Middleton’s dress was designed and created by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. It is of a heavy, ivory satin-based crepe, with a cowl front and with the same button detail and lace trims as the Bride’s dress.
The Young Bridesmaids’ Dresses
The young Bridesmaids’ dresses were designed by childrenswear designer Nicki Macfarlane to echo the Bride’s dress. The four dresses were hand-made by Ms Macfarlane and her daughter Charlotte Macfarlane at their homes in Wiltshire and Kent.

The Bridesmaids’ dresses have been created using the same fabrics as the Bride’s dress. The ballerina-length, full, box pleated skirt gives the dresses a sculptural quality, with the layering of ivory over white satin gazar adding depth of colour. They have all been hand-finished with delicate English Cluny lace, which is visible under the skirts, and four layers of net underskirt. The puff sleeves and neckline are trimmed with the same English lace as the Bride’s underskirt. The backs have been finished with the same button detail.
The sashes are made of pale gold, wild silk, which is tucked at the front and tied at the back in a sumptuous bow.
As a special memento, the Bridesmaid’s name and the date of the wedding have been hand-embroidered onto the lining of each dress.

Capes (These may or may not be worn dependent on the weather)

The waist-length capes, also created by Nicki Macfarlane, are made from ivory Yorkshire wool, edged in fine English lace and tied at the front in the same satin gazar as the dresses.


The Bridesmaids’ shoes were designed and made by Devon-based Rainbow Club. A shoe firm we stock in my shop. The classic Mary Jane style shoes are made from satin and finished with a Swarovski crystal buckle. Devon-based Rainbow Club have been designing, making and colouring handmade wedding shoes since the mid-1980's

Pages’ Uniforms

The Pages are wearing a uniform in the style of that worn by a Foot Guards officer at the time of the Regency (the 1820s). The uniform draws its insignia from the Irish Guards, whose Colonel is Prince William.
The tunic is Guards’ Red with gold piping, Irish shamrocks are on the collars and its buttons are arranged in fours, denoting the Irish – or Fourth – Regiment of Foot Guards. The buttons feature the Harp of Ireland surmounted by the Crown Imperial. The breeches are ivory and are worn with white stockings and black buckle shoes
The Pages will wear a gold and crimson sash (with tassel) around their waists. The sash is worn by officers in the Irish Guards when in the presence of a Member of the Royal Family.
The uniforms were designed in the Royal Household and were created by Kashket and Partners, who have also fitted Prince William’s uniform for his Wedding Day. The collars and cuffs were created by the Royal School of Needlework.

What is Katie going to wear?

My notion, it has got to reflect the bride's taste and the bride's personality.
A great day for British Fashion.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Who will be the designer of " The Royal Wedding Dress"?

I am so excited that this is the week that we will find out who has designed Kate Middleton's dress and what it looks like. In the history of royal weddings there has never been such speculation about not only what the bride's dress will look like but also who has designed it.
Bruce Oldfield would prove a link to the past and specifically to William's late mother or could it be one of Alice Temperley's modern fairytale dresses, loved by many upper-middle-class brides, would maintain the status quo of Kate Middleton's feminine and relatively safe aesthetic but if it is Sarah Burton that surely would be a bold gesture, announcing a fiercely up-to-date princess.
My excitement is mounting with the odds being on Sarah Burton. I just want sometime different, something special, something that makes Kate feel and look fabulous and something that cannot be cheapened by them coping it within hours. Please may it have unique embroidery and do something to inspire brides throughout the country to be daring to have something different and something personal to reflect who there are.
It has to be a British Designer,this is surely one of the few things we can assume about the dress. That is why I haven't listed Daniella Issa Helay,the Brazilian-born designer who did Kate's dress for the engagement day. It would be unpatriotic on a day when the whole world is watching Great Britain but also very "off-trend" - even Michelle Obama wears British designers these days. Of course, it's also traditional for a royal bride. As Joanna Marschner, the senior curator at Kensington Palace, points out, in the past royalty did everything it could to promote the "Made in England" message, utilising British-produced fabrics.
I was talking to one of the Bridal Worlds leading producers at the weekend and she said that surely it would influence our industry and give us a much needed boost. Princess Elizabeth's romantic Norman Hartnell dress lifted postwar Britain's spirits. Since Queen Victoria the 'best of British' tradition became standard practise. Then the queen and her advisors decided the entire ensemble should be British-made, and promote the country's arts and crafts and lace industry. Thus, the silk-satin was woven in Spitalfields; and the lace for the deep flounce to decorate the skirt, was woven in Honiton and Beer, to a pattern of exotic flowers and scrolling foliage, designed by the distinguished, Scottish, pre-Raphaelite painter, William Dyce, the head of the new Government School of Design, later to become the Royal College of Art. Royal weddings became an opportunity to promote the best of British industry. I wonder could Kate's dress have the same influence, I wish.
Already there is a race on to be the first with a look-alike. "When the dress hits, we will be right on it," says Jim Hjelm, a bridal designer in New York. "We'll be on the computer that afternoon,sending a sketch." The company's factory in China will return samples within 24hours. Forget the idea of copyright laws, so long as there are subtle modifications no one can stop them.

So please for the sake of us all can we have an edgier wedding gown for the future royal. "The Royal wedding will be magical. Kate's dress should be a modern mix of traditional and contemporary" Monique Lhuillier.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Of Course it was Catherine Walker!

I just wanted to thank the lady in my shop today who was able to tell me who it was that did the brilliant dress that Lady Helen Taylor wore. That has been on my mind with all the talk of the Royal Wedding and for the life of me all I could remember anything but the dress! Thank you, I was very impressed with your knowledge of the fashion world. I do hope by chance that you go online and read my blog as I really wish I could have thanked you more.
For any of you who are crazy enough to read my blog let me tell you more.This lady called to find out more about my bridesmaids for a friend of hers and in the course of us chatting I realised I was talking to a very keen fashion knowledgable lady.
Yes she not only knew that it was Catherine Walker who was the fashion couturier for Princess Diana and Lady Helen but she also had had an outfit made by her. To my delight and amazement the Lady went home and got the outfit and brought it back to show me. Girls you know I get excited over anything to do with a needle and thread but this was a Catherine Walker dress and jacket and I had my hands on it. The beautiful embroidery was cleverly angled over the dress just to be so flattering to the female shape. The very buttonholes were hand sewn and every inside seam hand sewn to perfection. " If only!!"

However the story of Catherine Walker is a bit sad. She was French and met her husband while she was working in London at the French Embassy. He was a solicitor who sadly died in an accident at the age of 32yrs. Catherine was left alone with her two daughters, worried about purpose as well as money.
She studied fashion at night school and started sewing for her daughters, simple sailor dresses. She built up a clientelle in Chelsea near her daughters school and studied more and eventually set up the Chelsea Design Company. So there is inspiration for us all.
Old- fashioned Parisian couture had had its influence on her. She wanted to work directly with her clients, rather than showing a catwalk collection as a loss leader for a wholesale line. Paris had abandoned this mode of business by the 70's, but Catherine attracted customers who appreciated couture integrity. What was discussed between couturier and client was never repeated outside workrooms, so both could be honest about hiding defects and revealing assets.
By 1981, she had enough clients for viability, and then Princess Diana chose her with intuitve trust. She made her over 1000 dresses, not the low, short,tight, black "revenge dress". Such was their closeness that Diana's butler, Paul Burrell, phoned Catherine after the princess's death to ask how she should be dressed in her coffin. So she did her a black dress in which Diana went to her Althorp grave.
To finish this sad story Catherine Walker herself faced death, but referred to her surgery for breast cancer in 1995 as a "hiccup" that must not interrupt business. She sponsored the charity Breast Cancer Haven but sadly her cancer returned. When certain of imminent death, she trained a design team to succeed her and planned her company portfolio up to 2012. She remarried and lived to see a grandchild wear a Catherine Walker, but finally on 23 September 2010 she lost her fight with cancer.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

The more I am convinced it is going to be Sarah Burton who has designed Catherine's dress the more excited I am getting to see the creation.
Burton - who grew up in Manchester and graduated from Central Saint Martins in 1997 worked with McQueen for sixteen years. Having joined the brand in 1996, she has worked as head of womenswear design since 2000 and was credited with completing the designer's autumn/winter 2010-11 collection in time for Paris Fashion Week in March, following his suicide less than a month earlier.The appointment of Burton came as no surprise. She had been the late designer's right hand woman.
The collection received rave reviews!!
Did she catch Catherine's eye when she did the wedding of Sara Buys(Harpers and Queen fashion writer) and Tom Parker Bowles,the son of the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005. Sara wore a corseted strapless cream silk and tulle wedding gown designed by Alexander McQueen / Sarah Burton. Her wedding veil was sheer ivory lace with a scalloped floral border of cream colored roses. Or maybe Sara reccommended her. I know that sometimes an "old bride" of mine is kind enough to reccommend their friends to come after their experiences.

Miss Middleton being widely hailed as a new British style icon, however she was criticised for her conservative dress sense by Dame Vivienne Westwood at London Fashion Week last month. Not in my opinion if she has selected Sarah Burton as her designer for her wedding dress!! I am really excited, my expectations for this will be something different! I had thought it would be Bruce Oldfield and I had expected elegant and classy. But with Mrs Burton in the frame I have great expectations for something different.Burton, who is from Manchester, designed a billowing red and black dress worn by Michelle Obama to a state dinner last year and has also worked on one-off creations for celebrities such as Cate Blanchett, Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Check out any images you can find of her creations for way out shapes and styles and elaborate detail.