Antonia Pearce, bride-to-be and editor of The Luxury Channel Magazine, meets bridal couturier and fashion designer Bruce Oldfield….
What is your design philosophy?
My design philosophy (as I am sitting looking at some very ornate dresses!) is to keep things simple. The whole idea of a dress is to enhance and to follow – to some extent – the form that we are clothing. I largely eschew anything unwanted or unnecessary. I like a streamline silhouette. I like embellishment, but I keep it as part of the actual construction of the garment. Keep it simple, keep it streamline, and keep it elegant!
Is a wedding dress an opportunity to respect classic design rather than trend-led fashions?
It should be. I always say to brides, don’t go for the latest trend. The latest trend is going to be the last trend in a few months. There is nothing worse than looking at your wedding photographs ten or twenty years down the road and thinking, “ Did I really wear that?!” A wedding is a fantastic opportunity for a bride to look at herself and say, “I have got really great eyes – let’s make them look even better!” We try and do this with the wedding dress – to bring out the best in the bride. That is why I say, no conical breasts and no padded bums. Actually, padded bum looks alright – that can work! But the dress should be classical and thoughtful – something that is actually personal to you.
In your opinion, who was the world’s most beautiful bride?
History does not tell us really, as bridal-wear as a concept was Victorian. However, I think Mrs. Charles Sweeny looked really lovely. She became the Duchess of Argyll and was later cast out of society for some rather scandalous photographs (and subsequent court case). She originally married Charles Sweeny in the 1930s in a gown by Norman Hartnell. She was a great beauty. Her dress was a simple bias cut dress. It was the society wedding of the day. Who else looked gorgeous? I think the Queen Mother looked fantastic and then of course, Grace Kelly.
How should a woman choose a wedding dress? Is there a step-by-step guide or, like love, should it be left to the heart?
First of all, you have got to look at the magazines and make your mood boards. Many turn to Pronovias and Rosa Clara. If you come here, it is only me, it’s only made here and it’s only sold here. You are not going to get a Bruce Oldfield dress unless you come here. You then need to take a good hard look at yourself and eliminate options. For example, if your hips are 12″ bigger than your waist – you are probably not going to look great in a bias cut or slinky dress. If you have got a very big bosom, you should also discount a slinky dress because it will not work! I think that the key (which a lot of girls don’t seem to take on board) is that when you are getting married – this is not an everyday occurrence. Have a train, hook it up, take off sections – be creative!
What do you suggest brides do with their dress after the event?
It is very difficult. You can have them dry-cleaned and vacuum-packed but I have never seen one when it has been unpacked. I have got a horrible feeling that it can’t do them much good! Never consider dying them. It does not work, as every dress, certainly a couture dress, has many different elements.
What has inspired your current collection of wedding dresses?
Every collection is timeless. I take elements and techniques forward so that the next collection is a logical next step. However, I do not need to do that many dresses. Ten couture dresses is quite enough and downstairs there are 35 more custom-made. This is the starting point – it shows what we can do. All our wedding dresses are bespoke or custom-made.
And you now offer a wedding list?
I am actually doing a line – a small range of porcelain with an English manufacturer to be launched in the spring. We are currently selecting and editing some fantastic ceramics, glassware and top-end kitchen equipment. You have to edit it – it has to become tight, controlled and unique. There is no point in me doing things that you can then go and buy in Harrods! We always work to a very high standard. Everything is made here – underneath the streets of Beauchamp Place. It’s very rare – you find it in couture, but rarely in the wedding industry.
You have just become a member of Walpole. What does this mean to you?
I had never considered it in the past. Now it is sensible for me to be having conversations with other luxury brands in the UK.
What is luxury?
True luxury is timeless. Big luxury companies can eschew people’s ideas about what luxury is. I think the business of longevity is the key. A luxury product should last physically and in people’s consciousness until it becomes iconic. The ‘‘wow factor’’ is the antithesis of luxury. An item should not stand out because it is bling, vulgar or shiny – it should stand out because it is inherently beautiful, tasteful and gorgeous!