How did you get into bridal fashion?
As a child I took inspiration from my grandmothers, both of whom were passionate about fabrics and sewing. One was a court tailoress who had immense style and a true love of embellishment. It became clear to me from a very young age that I wanted to embark on a career in fashion design.
After studying at the The London College of Fashion I worked briefly for a London-based designer before launching my own bridal design business from a small atelier based in South Kensington in 1989. In 1990 I opened – my first shop on the Fulham Road, where the brand established itself, before moving up to the other end of the Fulham Road in 2008. Here we welcome people from all the corners of the world.
What are some of the signature design elements of Phillipa Lepley?
We are known for our incredible, body minimising corsets, which has been developed and finessed to leading levels over the last 30 years. Time and time again brides try on a Phillipa Lepley dress and they say they are hooked because of the beautiful silhouette created by the corset.
We are also known for our timeless, feminine, refined style and the way in which we combine traditional couture techniques with unparalleled attention to detail creating the next level in bespoke. You will find an extraordinary collection of heavily hand embellished thread and bead work throughout the collection.
How would you describe your stylistic approach and creative process?
Each dress is dictated by the bride. Brides can choose to buy a sample dress from our collection in the shop, however we are more known for our totally couture service. Clients are given complete carte blanche to pick and personalise every element of their dress. From full skirted ball-gowns or slinky draping to the sleeves and embellishment of other dresses, working together the designer and client co-create her personal vision of perfection.
Where do you start when you’re designing a bridal gown?
I find inspiration through the brides I meet, as well as from the incredible quality fabrics we use. I also find inspiration when I am out and about in the countryside where I live. More and more of my designs incorporate floral motives, scattered leaves and inspiring scenes from an English country garden.
Do you have a favorite dress that you’ve designed, either in your bridal or evening collections?
I am often asked what my favourite dress is and I my response is always “I do not have a favourite dress, we have a very diverse collection of over 80 pieces and each dress comes alive when it is on the right person. Only when it is on the right person is it seen at its most beautiful.”
Can you give us an inside look into how your virtual sample sales work? What are some of the benefits that brides can enjoy by taking a dress consultation from home?
We host two sample sales a year. The next sale will be in December 2020, for which initial virtual appointments will be set up followed by shop appointments. The next sale is set to be the most incredible sale we have ever done – further information will be released a couple of months before on our social media channels.
Whether brides are wanting to buy a sample dress in our sale, a new sample dress out of the sale or a completely couture dress, the journey now always commences with a one-to-one discussion via phone, email or video conference with a senior highly experienced member of the Phillipa Lepley team. During this the consultant will establish any details the bride already knows about her wedding day or special occasion, which will enable them to understand more about her personal style, vision and ideas.
She will be invited to share any images she may have, whether of the venue or of specific dress styles that has caught her eye – it could be the shape, fabric, embroidery or neckline that she is drawn to. At that point the specialist will give the bride some initial advice and guidance on the types of shapes and styles she may wish to consider and why, and where to view Phillipa Lepley inspirational images and videos for further ideas.
After the first virtual consultation a more in-depth video consultation can be arranged during which she will be talked through the many options available when having a couture wedding dress by Phillipa Lepley. Phillipa herself will then have a better understanding of the bride’s needs, and the first couture sketches can be drawn for review.
The whole virtual process is a joy. It is incredibly convenient, very inspiring and very special!
If you were to leave us with something to think about, what would it be?
My top tip for any bride looking for their wedding dress is to allow plenty of time so you can enjoy the whole process. There are endless possibilities! try and be super open minded. Have a virtual consultation from wherever you are in the world early on in your planning is key, during which you will see how many exciting options are open to you. The whole process is a joy from start to finish, so book now!
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