A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Catherine Hunter from Blades Bridal Couture at her luxury studio in The Stables, Ashford Hill, near Newbury. The Blades Experience had begun.
Catherine has designed her studio so elegantly with soft pinks, pretty chandeliers and the most stunning feminine mirror against a lipstick pink flock wall. It’s really lovely to spend time in such a beautiful space where so much creativity and design takes place. Loved it.
I have wanted to chat with Catherine for some time about the experience she provides to her brides to be, so I asked her “why bespoke and not off the peg?” Catherine very proudly explained her passion for providing a unique special experience to her brides. She wants to design their dream gown making it personal, no one else has one just like it or ever will.
With that in mind I was curious to know how Catherine and her team provide such an experience, what makes Blades Bridal so special that a bride would want to book? We talked through the Blades Experience from first enquiry to collection; her passion impressed me so much I felt obliged to bring it to you.
Brides usually find Blades through Google or Instagram and get in contact initially using email. Catherine is keen to meet clients in her studio so she can start the journey of getting to know their personality and dreams for their dress. Meeting the first time is a non-committal free consultation where Catherine hopes to inspire and excite by understanding their vision.
To be pampered in the Blades studio by its pure elegance is just the tip of the experience. Chatting about what each brides vision is for their dream dress is absolutely key to perfecting the design, fit and shape to each individual curve.
Sketching and being shown fabrics and laces inspires and excites the brides creative mind irrespective of budget, ‘the love is the same’; personally I think is marvelous.
With over 16 years of experience creating and fitting dresses to some of the most well known faces in the celebrity world, Catherine is no stranger to the word ‘bespoke’ or ‘unique’. She just loves to make you feel special and beautifully elegant by wearing one of her stunning gowns made especially for you.
At the end of the first visit, Catherine will have sketched out an outline design of your dream gown and advises all her clients to go away, think about how they feel and what they want, sleep on it and then let her know their decision.
Whats not to like here, you have to be crazy not to want a unique gown for your special day, lovingly created, sculptured and shaped just for you. Naturally most brides call back to go to the next design stage of design before which a 50% deposit is taken in order for the work to begin.
The Toile Fitting
Brides are full of excitement and ideas and can’t wait to see what happens next.
This is where the magic starts to happen. Catherine starts to shape the gown to the brides body by using a Toile which is essentially a mold using satin like fabric from where a pattern is made.
The table is laid out with the designs fabulous fabrics and lace, allowing Catherine to confirm the design before beginning with the Toile.
She tells me that Toile fittings are usually quite intense as she confirms her understanding and works with the brides vision of her dream dress. She wants to make sure that all the bits of her body fitted perfectly.
The Toile gives the opportunity to create the flow around the body, visualising the shape, curve and form. The Toile will not be part of the end result, its a physical pattern creator giving an accurate representation of the woman’s shape. This session usually takes between 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
The next meeting is arranged based on the wedding date and if any weight is to be lost. Catherine works backwards on the calendar to figure out how long it will take to create the dress and fit it to perfection in readiness for the big day.
The Second Fitting
Catherine tells me that this fitting is when brides are the most nervous. They arrive with a mixture of anxiety and excitement. Brides may want to share this experience with their Mum, a close friend, or a bridesmaid; its a very special time where many happy tears have been shed!
By this fitting, the dress has been cut out, molded and partially stitched. As soon as the dress is fitted on the bride there is huge sigh of relief. She loves it and feels total relief. Catherine tells me the bride needs to come to terms with the way she looks and how she feels, this amazing feeling usually happens very quickly!! The dress is still evolving at this point, it’s left open for design changes, tweaks and pinches here and there, maybe the odd bone inserted to ensure the best fit.
This is usually the last fitting unless the bride is planning on loosing a huge amount of weight. All that’s left is the fastenings and final finishes.
Collecting your bridal gown is probably the most exciting thing in a girls life. With Blades you know its been designed just for you, its completely unique and was made with a huge amount of love and attention.
Brides usually collect their gown the day before their big day so they know it has been kept in a safe place and is ready to go. All brides receive their gown in a Blades Bridal dress bag, receiving also a framed, signed design illustration of their dress as a gift to keep forever.
As you can imagine, this day is very emotional, with lots of hugs and kisses before the bride says goodbye and heads off to the biggest day of their life.
Catherine and her team love to receive photographs of the wedding to show the gown off in all its glory. She never posts pictures of any gown until permission is gained from the bride and always personally checks on a 1 to 1 basis before using any images for her own marketing purposes.
What an fantastic opportunity for any bride to experience. You will be treated with respect and love from design to delivery and is always made to feel special. You are given time to be nervous, time to adjust and time to be excited. I just wish I had found Catherine for my wedding gown.
I would be really interested to know your story of buying a gown, whether its off the peg or designed just for you. Write your experience here, its good to share and help others make the right choice for their wonderfully special day.