Bringing out a new collection is such a lengthy process that it seems like an age since I actually designed this season’s bridalwear. It’s wonderful to see Folie Frocks finally available at Ian Stuart stockists nationwide – and of course at our very own Blewcoat store.
There is no theme as such. We just made a conscious decision that this collection would only include pieces that carry my signature styling and scream Ian Stuart loud and clear!
They are structured, high fashion gowns that create a dramatic silhouette – a strong contrast to my last bridal collection, Le Jardin, which is more dreamy and romantic.
I’m always asked what the inspiration was for any given collection and on this occasion I can honestly say it was the real brides that I meet at The Blewcoat. I love chatting to them face-to-face to understand what they dream of for their big day and it was such an honour to be recognised for Best In-Store Design at this year’s bridal Bridal Buyer Awards.
The current trend is for ethereal, boho-style wedding dresses so I like the idea that Folie Frocks is a sassier, more glamourous option for brides who want an alternative to the vintage look. This new collection offers a wonderful palate of colour options, luxurious fabrics and as always, the potential for each gown to be customised to the individual.
Folie Frocks has options for brides that are marrying in a cathedral, on a beach, in a town hall or at a woodland festival. I have to bear in mind that we have brides who are in the 60s getting married for the first time. Not everyone wants a Cinderella ball gown which is why diversity is so crucial.
When we first released images from the Folie Frocks photoshoot, the reaction was amazing (particularly to the more dramatic dresses like Flamingo Flair, which is the one that looks like it’s covered in feathers!) It means we can all breathe a sigh of relief after months of hard graft. I sincerely hope that the reaction to Licence to Frill, my lastest Occasion Wear collection, is just as encouraging.
I hope you enjoy the Folie Frocks gowns, whether or not you are getting married!
What a memorable summer this has been!
The Channel 4 show about my flagship London store finally aired after months of nervousness about how it would be received. And just to add a bit more pressure, we had two days of catwalk shows to launch my latest Occasion Wear collection, Licence to Frill! Not to mention the photoshoot we had to organise for Folie Frocks, which is next year’s bridal collection.
I’m extremely happy (and relieved) that the response to The Posh Frock Shop has been so overwhelmingly positive. Up to a million viewers tuned in each weekday to see what goes on behind the scenes at The Blewcoat (the most common complaint being that the half hour show wasn’t long enough!)
There were so many memorable, funny, tear-jerking moments and I’m really proud of how our small team coped with the pressure of filming on top of running the business as usual. It was stressful at times, but also a lot of fun.
We are used to people getting their kit off at The Blewcoat, but burlesque dancer Miss Strawberry Moon took it to a whole new level! And who could ever forget the Chihuahua bride, or Belinda, who needed an outfit to match her parrot?!
We are lucky to have such a unique mix of clients and hopefully the show portrayed us as real, down to earth people who genuinely want to help women look their absolute best. I think our passion for the job was evident.
Lots of women are daunted by the idea of going to a ‘posh’ boutique which is one of the reasons I agreed to do the show. They will often say to me; “I’d love to wear that if only I was younger/slimmer/taller/more confident.”
Experienced designers know how to dress ANY body shape and there should be no snobbery about who can and can’t shop in boutiques like mine. I honestly believe that anyone can look incredible given a bit of help from the experts.
I am very aware that not everyone can afford designer clothes, but cost aside, my collections are accessible to all women, irrespective of age, shape or size. Each dress is a labour of love and the amount of skill and time that goes into making them is reflected in both the quality and the price.
Lots of you are asking whether there will be another series of The Posh Frock Shop and the honest answer is that we really hope so. The production company has announced that they are now planning the next series so it looks promising. We will let you know when there is any update.
You can imagine how nerve-wracking it was to open ourselves up to criticism, so I want to say a big thank you to each and every person who has been in touch to say how much they enjoyed watching us. I have been so touched by all the supportive messages and words of encouragement. I’ve even had gifts in the post, such as the adorable hand-knitted scarf I’m wearing in the photo. I never expected viewers to be so thoughtful and generous.
Thank you once again for all the love and loyalty shown to me and my team. Hope to see many of you at The Blewcoat sometime soon. You will always get a very warm welcome.
Not long now until the wedding of the year and I for one, cannot wait to see that dress! Whatever Meghan wears, it’s safe to say that it will be seared in our collective memories and will become an icon of its age. Who can forget Diana’s puffy sleeves that so perfectly capture the essence of 80s style?
A wedding dress is symbolic of an individual’s sense of self, which is why it’s so important to work with a designer who understands who you are and what you are about. You might have your heart set on a dress you’ve seen in a magazine, but it takes someone with years of experience to really know how to make the best of a woman’s figure.
That dress you are yearning for is not always the one that flatters you most, so my advice is to opt for a designer that you identify with and trust completely. My clients know that I am 100% committed to making them look and feel fabulous, not least because how they look is a reflection of me as a designer.
Ms Markle is a force to be reckoned with and a breath of fresh air for the Royals. I hope to see her in something a little bit edgy to reflect a new era of British royalty. Rumour has it that she may even wear two dresses on the big day. This would give her scope to keep the traditionalists happy with something demure and romantic for the ceremony, followed with a sexier, more revealing number for the evening, just to make clear her intention to be a thoroughly modern member of the Royal clan.
I’m a firm believer that brides should not feel restricted to wearing ivory or white, but I think perhaps one of my statement black gowns would be a step too far for a royal wedding, even for a modernist like Meghan. She is said to be a fan of the whimsical, romantic look so she would appreciate my current bridal collection, ‘Le Jardin’ which is all butterflies and meadow flowers with dreamy, romantic veils. The royals love a tiara so I’m willing to bet Meghan will be wearing one, in true princess style.
I hate to bring it up, but we have Meghan’s first wedding to go on, which gives us a clue to her sense of occasion. As this was a beach wedding in Jamaica (a far cry from St George’s Chapel), she chose a simple, strapless gown – a paired down look, perfect for a non-traditional ceremony.
I’m known for customising and accessorising my designs to make them unique to each bride and Meghan’s first wedding dress is a classic example of how a dress can be elevated with something as simple as a sparkly belt. I love her jewel encrusted version which made the dress that extra bit special (even if the husband didn’t turn out to be Prince Charming after all!)
Come May 19th, the eyes of the world will be on Meghan and I’m sure she is really feeling the pressure to get her look just right. The power of a dress means that we will be talking about it for years to come.
I relate to Harry with his cheeky sense of fun and down to earth approach. He seems completely enthralled with his sassy bride-to-be so I wish them lots of love, luck and laughter.
Enjoy the celebrations,
Hello 2018. It’s certainly going to be a biggie for me so let’s hope it’s a memorable year for you too (for all the right reasons, of course!)
I have been sworn to secrecy for months, but can now FINALLY reveal what 2018 has in store (The Blewcoat store obviously!) for the world of Ian Stuart.
Channel 4 has commissioned a documentary series entitled ‘The Posh Frock Shop’ about my flagship London store, which just happens to be housed in an exquisite Grade One Listed, National Trust building dating back to the 18th Century.
If you have not yet had the chance to visit The Blewcoat, you’re in for a real treat. The show will access all areas, giving you what I hope will be an honest glimpse into my life, my business and the world of couture fashion.
Viewers will get to know the different characters that make up my trusted team and will be introduced to some of my favourite (and not so favourite) clients and their entourages.
I was so excited to be asked to do the show, but I have to tell you that the 16 weeks of filming was full on. The cameras were with us for up to six days a week so that’s a fair bit of pressure in an already busy life. A lot of fun at times, yet stressful too.
I have no say in how the show will be edited so there is obviously an element of nervousness about opening ourselves up, warts and all. I operate in a glamourous world of high fashion, but I’m hoping that the show will also highlight the amount of work and talent that goes into each collection, each and every dress.
The hardest part was trying to ensure minimum disruption at The Blewcoat – our priority, as always, is to provide a top notch, luxury shopping experience for women with fabulous taste.
We are small, tight-knit team at The Blewcoat and I’m proud of how we coped with filming on top of back-to-back appointments with clients all wanting the dress of their dreams.
The show will be aired from 11 June so look out for it on C4. I have put a lot of faith in the production company and I just hope the series is a fair representation of the Ian Stuart brand and of my loyal and dedicated team. I owe a huge thank you to all my wonderful, crazy clients who so generously agreed to be filmed at their fittings.
The Frock Shop show is my big news for this year, but alongside all that excitement I have been working away on my new collections. All will be revealed soon.
I feel inspired when I visit my flagship London store, The Blewcoat – mainly because of the women I meet there – but also because the exterior is a living work of art created by Danish florist, Jens Jakobsen.
Jens is a trailblazer in the field of floral construction and has worked on my catwalk shows and photo shoots for many years. I can come up with any theme and he instinctively understands the vision and builds on it to create a stunning backdrop to my gowns.
The Blewcoat is a beautiful National Trust building made all the more exquisite by Jens’ living and breathing, outside installations. The flowers constantly evolve with the seasons, reflecting my latest collections and events in the year, such as Valentines Day.
Jens describes it as creating a fairytale as the perfect overture for what is coming next as you enter the store. This all fits with my dream of an unforgettable shopping experience for visitors to The Blewcoat.
Since these incredible floral creations adorn my place of work, it won’t surprise you to hear that my latest bridal collection is called ‘Le Jardin’. The dresses are undeniably whimsical with lots of pretty meadow flowers and butterflies – very different to some of my edgier, sassy designs. The collection will be available in boutiques from October so more on that nearer the time.
Back to The Blewcoat and why it inspires me…..the store has been open for three years now but still feels new and exciting because it enables me to spend time with the women I am designing for. Interacting with them and hearing their stories helps me to understand what they want from my designs and has taught me a lot about body shapes and how they can change.
I love it that my clients are so open about what they like and dislike about themselves. They tell me what they want to cover up and what they want to show off. All my dresses are made to order which means they are customised to the individual. Clients get EXACTLY what they need to feel incredible in my designs (which of course, is why they keep coming back!)
I wasn’t able to engage with women so directly before we opened The Blewcoat and I think my designs have become more wearable as a result.
Shopping at The Blewcoat is by appointment in order to guarantee a truly personalised service, although drop in visitors are always very welcome too. Seeing it for yourself will help you understand why, three years on, I am still buzzing about The Blewcoat and the opportunities that have come with it.
Being a well-known designer within the wedding world, (not quite a household name yet like those designers at Debenhams), I’ve been regularly approached to make an array of TV appearances.
Most are ridiculous and I turn them down straight away. As much as I fancy myself as the Gok Wan of bridal, I’m not prepared to commit career suicide for my 15 minutes of fame.
OH NO… MY DRESS IS ON MY BIG FAT GYPSY WEDDING!!!
I learned the negative impact of TV when on of my dresses appeared on My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Imagine my horror when I was indulging in every wedding dress designer’s guilty pleasure, secretly watching Britain’s latest reality TV craze, bitchily critiquing each gown as if I were a judge on ‘Project Runway Bridal Special’, only to be faced with my beloved Dauphine ready for roasting.
And whilst she was probably one of the most reserved brides on the show (ever!), due to the stigma of the show, we had brides calling our stockists the next day cancelling their beautiful dresses!
OMG…MY DRESS IS ON THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF BEVERLY HILLS!!!
Across the pond was a different story. I received a call from our American office to tell me that Pandora, daughter of ‘Beverly Hills Housewife’ Lisa Vanderpump, was getting married in one of my dresses, it would be broadcast on American TV, and that it was Dauphine, yes, the very same dress! She looked jaw droppingly sensational, and thanks to several mentions of my name, brides went mad for that gown, and it became our US best seller and also ended up being very popular in the UK!
These parallel instances taught me the ‘make or break’ power of TV. Understandingly, I’ve been very wary ever since.
‘IAN STUART…WOULD YOU LIKE TO APPEAR ON THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF…’
The Vanderpump wedding spawned my obsession with the whole ‘Housewives’ franchise. So when I was asked by the TV company making the UK version of The Real Housewives of Cheshire, if they could bring Magali in to my shop to look for a wedding dress, I almost burst.
I know Cheshire isn’t exactly the UK’s answer to Beverly Hills. McArthur Glen Cheshire Oaks is hardly Rodeo Drive but I do love a glamorous, sassy, diva no matter where she resides! I think you can tell that I don’t get inspired by the latest boho barefoot folk singer…NO! I’m Dolly Parton, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Beyonce… MEGA DIVA GLAM all the way!
I didn’t hesitate to say yes! I couldn’t wait to welcome some housewives into my shop.
But I must say, I was surprised (and slightly disappointed) at the lace of Diva Tantrums. I was quite looking forward to witnessing some behind the scenes dramas, and having something to gossip about. I was quite hopeful at first as walking in they all looked like super sex Glamazons who could go all Naomi in a flash!
INSECURITIES… LOOKING LIKE THAT… SERIOUSLY??
Magali was wonderfully down to earth, we hit it off straight away. Sharing Dutch heritage, we bonded over a love of the salty liquorice from our homeland! And, despite her gorgeous body, face, nails, skin, hair, boobs, once in the changing room, like any other bride, she had her own insecurities that she wanted to hide on her wedding day.
I couldn’t get over how someone so fabulously diva glam could be insecure about anything. I learned that no matter who the bride is, or what she looks like, the story is always the same.
DON’T WORRY, A WEDDING DRESS WILL FIX THAT!
And so… the beauty of the wedding dress… it is designed to remove those insecurities for one day and make you feel as beautiful on the inside as you look through the eyes of others.