Posts written by Ian Stuart

Coloured silks, taffetas and laces are to me what his oils were to Monet. I’m not suggesting that I’m making masterpieces, (although… I think a few dresses have come close if I do say so myself!) simply that there is an essential elements to creating your greatest work, and for me, that is colour.
blogLooking back, it was seeing this very picture as a design student that sparked my love affair with soft colours and ball gowns. There is something very MGM, very Dior and very Princess about the combination. When I started by own label, it was this unashamedly romantic mood that mystified me as a teen that I wanted to re-create with my dresses. Colour became my trademark.

Make it Pink! Make is Blue!
Can you remember that fabulous scene from Sleeping Beauty when Flora and Merryweather are fighting over the colour of Aurora’s dress? I will confess, I can relate to those fairies much more than a man in his mid-forties should be able to.

I use my signature colours and fabrics in each collection, and offer a designer in around 4 colour-ways, so when it comes to deciding what two colour ways to make the sample dress in, those damn plump little fairies take residence on my shoulders. For days I toy between pale lilac, rose, powder blue, gold, taupe, honey, porcelain, the list goes on.

I’ve illustrated some examples for you below, to better understand my pain! You can see how dramatically different, and distinctively beautiful the same dress in a different colour can be.
Chiquitita double
Pracatan-doubleThe moral of the story: if you find a great style but aren’t keen on the colour in the shop, don’t disregrd it yet! Ask the boutique if they can loan an alternative colour option, it could be your dream dress. Learn from Flora and Merryweather here, they both adored and despised the same gown due to their penchant for pink and blue!

Dramatic Colour 

A strong colour is a fabulous way to express your unique sense of style, and really go again the traditional grain. Do you think Gwen Stefani and Dita Von Teese would’ve been able to stay true to their alternative looks in an ivory dress? Me neither.

And I come baring good news if you don’t happen to have Galliano of Westwood in your contact book. I have a big repertoire of diverse fabric colours, so you are not limited to a bridal spectrum of colour with me!

If you find a style you love, it can be made in an alternative colour than the listed options. This gorgeous bride for example had Vanderbilt made in black!

Think Bigger Picture

As a crusader for colour, I love a well thought out colour story.

A coloured dress takes centre stage for building your colour story, but it does require you to think a little more about your wedding party photographs. Here is my advice for avoiding a colour clash that will haunt you forever.

Match men’s ties/cravats/waistcoats with your gown, consider having them made in the same fabric as your dress. Your boutique can help you with this. Unless your future hubby has frequent “Llewelyn-Bown-isms”, giving him a colour swatch and asking him to ‘tone it’, is a risk I wouldn’t take. May ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ serve as your warning.

Tone in the matriarchs. God forbid your gorgeous pastel blue gown is stood next to Debenham’s latest hot new shade of sludge brown for the rest of your life. She will understand why a subtle silver was gently suggested!

Invite your guest to carry the colour story through, give them several suggestions that will enhance your vision. They don’t have to adhere to it, they just need not complain when the wedding photos come out and they don’t seem to be in many, or ask how on earth their fabulous coral dress is now slate grey!

Don’t let your bridesmaid overpower you, bright colours don’t tend to go well with coloured wedding dresses.

If you are already familiar with my designs, you’ll know how much I love big wedding dresses! It is my passion and my forte. The theatrical nature of them is what got me into bridal in the first place, and why I’ve stayed designing them for over 25 years!

What is it about a big dress that I love? The DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA, and did I mention the drama!? And I don’t mean ‘Drama Queen’, I mean ‘so jaw droppingly beautiful, powerful and iconic that you almost choke on your own gasp’ kind of drama. And I truly believe you can only get that with a big wedding dress.

Princess Feeling 

I’ve still not come to terms with the fact that I will never get to walk down the aisle in a big, ‘F’ off wedding dress, and feel that magical feeling that so many of my brides have felt. I’m sure my secret envy is palpable whenever I go to a wedding and the bride rocks up in a big dress!

What is that “Princess feeling” anyway? I do wonder what chemical reaction is going on in the brain and what emotion is flooding the body that makes someone embody a feeling of being royal. And God I’d love to know what it feels like!

I can only assume that it borders on a special kind of Disney ecstasy, if it is capable of making one both cry in joy and radiate with magical energy at the same time!

Myth of the Meringue

OK, we all saw and loved My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but I doubt anyone has a picture of Toula on their Pinterest board. I actually think films and shows depicting ‘meringue horror’ scenarios have put a lot of brides off wearing a big dress. The fear of looking like a 80’s throwback, cheap Diana knock off is very real, but darlings, don’t fear big dresses today are much more stylish than you think. w

I’m on a misson to bring back the #BigDress love. I want to see your big dress inspiration, whether it’s from bridal, the red carpet, costume from film or theatre!

Take a look at some of my favourites from my archive, I hope they inspire you:

Top tips for wearing a big dress:

1. Make sure the bodice fits like a glove, the last thing you want is to be constantly pulling the dress up because of the weight of the skirt.

2. Get a bustle put in for the evening so you can dance within 3 feet of your guests!

3. Wear shoes you are super confident to walk in, no one will see them anyway, you are having to contend with a mammoth gown.

4. Then practice walking in it, you should NOT have to touch or pick up your dress when you walk. (Biggest bugbear on a bride)

5. Bigger is always better!


We want to know your story, how did you meet?

James and I met in high school when we were set up on a blind date for our Senior Prom. The dance was held at Villa Siena that year. So it was very special for us to get married at the same place we had our first date.

Danielle wearing Everdina

How did he propose?

Well it is a very long story…. James had a very elaborate plan to propose during the Fireworks in San Diego on 4th of July, however when all the fireworks went off at once and the show went from 20 minutes to 10 seconds, he had to change his plan.  Knowing I suspected a proposal, he tried to throw me off by proposing on the beach the next morning with a pair of shoes, asking me to be his Cinderella, and marry him. I was very confused but accepted. Once in the car on our way from San Diego to Newport, I wanted to call and tell my family but was confused since he had gone ring shopping with her sister. I was worried they would ask to see the ring then James would feel bad about not having it. James asked me what was wrong, she started crying and felt bad and was just really confused. James pulled out the ring while driving down the freeway and proposed right then and there. He had planned on asking her at dinner that night, he just wanted to throw her off, but couldn’t take her being sad or crying.

Like I said it’s a very long complicated story. You can just say he proposed on the beach in San Diego it that is less confusing.

Danielle wearing Everdina

How did you know that your Ian Stuart Dress was the right choice for your big day?

Part of it was the name. I always wanted my dress to look like my grandmother’s gown from the 50’s. Her name is Evenjelina, I loved how similar Everdina’s name was to hers. It was also a similar shape to my grandmother’s dress. I knew I wanted to add the long sleeves to match hers, but I also wanted to make the dress my own make the dress my own. I felt Everdina was the perfect canvas for me to do that.


Was there a theme/colour theme at your wedding?

We got married around Christmas, we wanted the wedding to feel festive and inviting without being too literal. We used a mix of metallics and rich greens, reds, and taupes.

Danielle wearing Everdina

Did you incorporate any specific traditions in your wedding, such as ‘something old, something new, borrowed and blue’?

I would say our wedding was very traditional. We both come from large families and wanted to incorporate them as much as possible. In the weeks preceding the wedding, I was having a very hard time missing my grandfather, who was more like a father to me.  On my wedding day I hadn’t yet picked my something borrowed. The whole morning of the wedding we were searching for a something for me to borrow, then I went in my grandmother’s room to see if she had a bracelet or something, and on her dresser was a pin of angel wings and a feather with a poem saying someone special is looking down on you on your wedding day.  It was just what I need to know he was there.

Danielle wearing Everdina

 Do you have any advice to share with women who are about to embark on this incredible journey of planning their wedding and selecting their wedding dress?

Don’t worry about the little things. Remember what the day is truly about, the love between you and your partner. As long as you are happy and feel good about your dress that is all that matters.

Danielle wearing Everdina

Ian Stuart Bride: Danielle Ashworth
Groom: James Ashworth
Bridal Gown: Everdina, Frill Me Collection
Boutique:  Mariee Bridal, Scottsdale
Wedding Date: December 6th, 2014
Location:  Villa Siena, Gilbert, Arizona

A little off the beaten track, hidden away beneath modern skyscrapers and surrounded by some quite impressive Victoria architecture, you walk through London’s past and future simultaneously.

However, this is not the reason I think it’s such a fab location. The Blewcoat is quite literally a stone’s throw away from several of the most beautiful 5* hotels in London. (We are neighbours with the queen after all!) To me this means being a stone’s throw away from several of the most fabulous bars to have after work drinks in!

In a concerted effort to get to know my neighbours, I have dutifully frequented them, and have built up quite a rapport. (I suspect I’m known as the eccentric designer in the grand old building across the road!)

In these ‘dutiful efforts’, I’ve become well acquainted with Marion at The Taj, who organises special events at the hotel, (we actually used their beautiful courtyard for our most recent occasion wear photo shoot. Sneak peak below – you can see my PA recreating the shoot!) So who do you think she called when she needed to dress the hosts for a Mad Hatters Tea party she was organising? The mad eccentric man across the road of course!



I was so excited about it when she asked me, anything to get a little theatrically creative (if you have read a bio on me you probably know that I wanted to be a costume designer). It felt very Project Runway-esque!! With only a two week turnaround and 8 girls to dress, my pattern master stayed tucked firmly away in its draw, the scissors, hot glue and haberdashery came out. We did some serve customising of old samples and on off gowns. I’m not sure Tim Gunn would’ve approved!11951991_1006252602759862_3634883577103270667_n
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But with the addition of some wonderlandy tights, and fab hair by stylist Dar, I think we rose to the challenge! And the girls did indeed look like they had gone down the rabbit hole.
I also think I may have been inspired with a mood for the next collection!

Why are you an Ian Stuart stockist?

I wanted to become and Ian Stuart stockist because it is such an amazing label. It creative, with a recognisable style that stands out from all the other bridal labels. Ian doesn’t conform to trends and make his own rules. He creates a fairytale fantasy for each bride.

What is your favourite Ian Stuart moment?


Paradis – Runway Rebel 2016

My favourite moment is going to London to see the new collection. I get to see Ian and his team, or as I like to call them Ian and the family. They have a genuine passion for what they create as well as being a collective unit. Ian is so modest in relation to his talent, but he is always full of passion and genuine.

What is the ethos of the boutique?

Here at Ti Adora we believe that every bride is special, our bride comes first. I have nearly twenty years of experience within the industry so I feel that I can observe a brides colouring, body shape, personality, but more important listen to her and create a look that is perfect for her. I also love to have fun with my brides and try to create something that is truly unforgettable.

What is your favourite Ian Stuart gown?


Flowerbomb – Revolution Rocks

Hand down, without question or hesitation, Flowerbomb! Its creative, funky, has an amazing upper body shape and is full of drama.

What do you like more about the bridal industry?

I love meeting people and them saying, “The bride was stunning, I knew she got her dress from you”. We are a small shop and we work individually with each bride, we are not about numbers, we are able people.


Marie Fennelly wearing Coco Rico Ti Adora Bridal Shop


Ti Adora
Ti Adora Bridal
26th to 27th of September

Why are you an Ian Stuart Stockist?

For us, Ian Stuart bridal gowns are like chocolate – irresistible! Our favourite days in the bridal calendar include choosing our new season dresses at Ian’s fashion show, (we have added a further 10 dresses to our collection) and our designer day’s when you can see Ian’s entire collection in our boutique.
Limelight OccasionsWhat is your favourite Ian Stuart Gown? 
Too difficult to choose just one!
We love Flowerbomb and we are thrilled to have Chiquitita in our new collection.
Our best selling dress over time has been Peaches, so I guess this is a favourite among our brides – so pretty and elegant.
Our personal favourite right new is Pracatan – so Ian Stuart!!!

Chiquitita, Runway Rebel Collection

Chiquitita, Runway Rebel Collection

Tell us about your boutique?

When you first step onto the catwalk, under the crystal chandeliers in and Ian Stuart bridal gown you get the sense of how you are going to feel on your wedding day. The Boutique is spacious and, along with our Ian Stuart gowns, we also stock mother of the bride/groom, bridesmaid dresses and formal menswear, so we really do cater for your whole bridal party. As a team we have won national bridal awards for our boutique and website and have been featured on national television.
Limelight Occasions

What is you favourite thing about being in the bridal industry?

The fact that every day is different. We enjoy the creativity of working with our team, our brides and our designers so we never have that Monday morning feeling.
We never get tired of discussing the latest bridal trends and opening boxes when our samples from the new collections arrive, it always feels like Christmas.
The very best bit of our day is hearing from one of our brides telling us about her wedding day and sending us pictures which we always put proudly on display on ‘Our Bride‘ gallery.
Limelight Occasions

Limelight Occasions Designer Weekend
19th to 20th of September

We want to know your story, how did you meet?

We met through a mutual friend at a party when we were both 17 on Christmas Eve. I was at college and Tom had just started his professional career. Tom asked our mutual friend for my phone number when leaving the party and contacted me straight away to arrange our first date. We have now been together for almost 10 years.

How did he propose?

It was in August 2011. Tom arranged an overnight stay in a hotel where we had visited on one of our first dates. We arrived at the hotel and got ready to go out for an evening meal. As we were about to leave the room, Tom said he needed to ask me something before we left. I turned round to find Tom down on one knee holding “the box”. I cried and was completely shocked and put the ring on, but I’m told in all the emotion that I didn’t actually say yes for quite some time! When we arrived at the restaurant, Tom had booked a private booth and the table was decorated with rose petals and there was a nice bottle of champagne waiting for us.

How did you know that your Ian Stuart Dress was the right choice for you big day?

When I started looking for my wedding dress I knew I wanted something different. I tried on dresses by different designers, however, nothing compared to the design and quality of the Ian Stuart’s gowns. I attended an Ian Stuart designer day in September 2013 and tried on around 6 of his amazing gowns from the Frill Me collection. When I tried Nova Scotia on I knew instantly that it was the dress for me. The shape of the dress and the colour (honey metallic lace) suited me perfectly. It was exactly what I had imagined for my wedding dress. The matching Ian Stuart long veil was incredible and just finished off the look perfectly.

Lynsey Clarke Wearing Nova Scotia

Was there a theme/colour theme at your wedding?

I based the theme and colour theme of the wedding around my dress which was traditional and elegant. The bridesmaids wore full length flowing light grey dresses which complimented my Ian Stuart dress perfectly. The groom and groomsmen wore black tie which looked super smart. The theme was romantic with lots of candles scattered around in large lanterns, hurricane vases and candelabras. My flowers were pastel pink and cream roses and hydrangeas.

Did you incorporate any specific traditions in your wedding, such as ‘something old, something new, borrowed and blue’?

‘Something new’ was my dress and my shoes. ‘Something blue’ was a garter bought for me by my chief bridesmaid. ‘Something borrowed’ was a hair clip from my friend that she had worn at her wedding. For ‘something old’ I had my grandma’s necklace sewn into a pocket in my dress. I was very close to my grandma who sadly passed away in June 2013.

Do you have any advice to share with women who are about to embark on this incredible journey of planning their wedding and selecting their wedding dress?

My advice to brides to be would be to have a stress free morning getting ready with your bridesmaids. We were ready an hour before the ceremony and this allowed us time to have photos taken and have some champagne. I was really nervous leading up to my big day and having a calm morning helped me relax and enjoy the day. My advice for looking for your wedding dress would be to take your bridesmaids with you to help you choose the perfect dress. Have an idea of what you are looking for before you go to try on and find out where the stockists are for the designers that you like. I would definitely recommend to any bride to look at Ian Stuart gowns as they are all incredible!

Lynsey Clarke Wearing Nova Scotia

Ian Stuart Bride: Lynsey Clarke
Groom: Tom Clarke
Bridal Gown: Nova Scotia, Frill Me!
Boutique: Limelight Occasions, Huddersfield
Wedding Date: 6 June 2014
Location: Rudding Park, Harrogate

If someone would have told me how popular Flowerbomb was going to be when I first designed it, I wouldn’t have believed them, and if they told me that dress would be exhibited at the V&A, I probably would have slapped them for trying to delude me into thinking such a thing was possible. (I equate it as the bridal equivalent of winning the x-factor.)

I don’t shy away from the fact that I love and am inspired by historical costume, theatre, and any type of dress that falls into the category of ‘is it to much?’ (No is always the answer in my mind!)

So, in 2010, when the lacy boho mood dominated bridal fashion, which is obviously not my forte*, (believe me, I’ve made some chiffon disasters in my time!) I worried that my designs wouldn’t appeal to brides any more. Instead of trying to mould myself into something I am not, I thought ‘f**** it’! I’ll make the most outrageous dress with as many decorations on as possible. And the result? One of my best selling and favourite dresses of all time!


Flowerbomb was the star dress of the Revolution Rocks collection, so when it came to planning the photo shoot for it, we needed to find a theme that would complement this theatrical mood. It took about five minutes to decide ‘Marie Antoinette’! I’d longed to do a shoot that embodied that opulence of this ear, and I finally had the perfect dress to do it.

Photo Credit: Leigh Johnson

We took inspiration from the movie where Kirsten Dunst stars as the notorious Queen, creating beautiful scenes that looked like moments in a period film.


A chance meeting between my assistant and a staff member of the V&A (at amateur dramatics!) led to me meeting with Edwina Ehrman, who was curating ‘Wedding Dresses 1775-2014’. I showed her my work, and she immediately wanted Flowerbomb in the exhibition that told the story of the evolution of wedding dress design. article-2617077-1D7AFA4E00000578-342_964x628

I then had to wait for two years, and keep it a secret, until the opening of the exhibition, (and for those who know me, yes, that was difficult, and yes, it probably slipped our after a glass of wine once of twice!) When the night finally came, I really had to pinch myself. I used to go to museums as a fashion student for inspiration, and now I was part of its history, and inspiring others.

And if that wasn’t enough to make me feel proud of myself, Edwina loved the Marie Antoinette photoshoot so much, she included a picture from the campaign in her book.
You can buy her book here.

So Flowerbomb will be on coffee tables and bookshelves long after I put down my pencils!

I’ve been so delighted in seeing so many brides get married in an outrageous dress like Flowerbomb, and had my career highlight because of it. I took a creative risk at the time when I designed it, but it paid off. It restored my confidence in feeling that no matter what trend are hot or not in bridal, there will alsoway be the ‘Ian Stuart-Bride‘, and she wants a show stopping, look at me, diva bitch dress! (A la Daphne Guinness style, not Naomi Campbell diva strop!)

Moral of the store: Amazing things happen when you stay true to who you are!

*For the record: I am not adverse to the lacy, boho look, and I think brides who rock it look gorgeous. I am just more of a flowers, bows and sequins man!