MY SHOP IS IN QUITE A FAB LOCATION
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!
AFTER WORKS DRINK = TIME WELL INVESTED
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!
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?
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?
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.
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.
What 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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!)
*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!
I always take a risk with my fashion shows and designs, I did too many ‘traditionally romantic’ shows and collections when I worked in NYC for a big mainstream bridal label. After 10 years, it got rather boring. There are only so many times you can use ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You, by Marilyn Monroe’ before it becomes a tired cliche, and only so many commercial looking gowns a designer has inside of them before it drains the life out of you.
When I started my own label, I vowed I would never present a cliched bridal show or collection again. Since then, I have pushed boundaries with my collections, and created exciting, unexpected shows. You could say I’m a bit of a ‘Runway Rebel’.
The risks haven’t always worked, sometimes people don’t get my music choices, personally, I think Dolly Parton is fabulous fashion show music! And I look back at some dresses and say ‘what was I thinking?’ but that’s part of the fun isn’t it!
My approach to bridal wear is quite rebellious in itself, I experiment with unusual fabrics and colours, I exaggerate silhouettes, I like messy, untamed textures as well as retaining that essence of 50’s Hollywood glamour.
I take risks so brides can take them. I’m unconventional so brides can be unconventional, and I’m a rebel so brides can be one.
RUNWAY REBEL is an embodiment of this tenacious attitude.
I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!