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Harry & Meghan

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,
Ian x


April & Andrew

April & Andrew

We want to know your story, how did you meet?
We met when we were kids (at 5 and 6) and have been lifelong friends, we were just always meant to be together. Our Families were close and always knew we would end up together, even when we tried to tell them we were just friends. We started dating when Andy came home on leave from his tour in Afghanistan in October 2012. The first few months that he was out there made us realise just how much we cared for each other. We stayed in contact during his deployment and have been together ever since.

How did he propose?
He proposed on a weekend away in the Lake District. It was a beautiful autumn day and we had gone for a walk in Keswick. While we were walking through Hope Park he got down on one knee, before he could ask me the question I threw my arms around him and said yes.

How did you know that your Ian Stuart Dress was the right choice for you big day?
I had looked at so many dresses online but none of them jumped out at me. I wanted something different, something that stood out from the rest. I had opened a bridal magazine and there on the first page was the dress – Evangelista. I hadn’t even tried it on but I knew it was the one. I called our closest Bridal shop that stocked Ian Stuart Gowns and asked if they had it. Unfortunately they didn’t but they had a Designer Day scheduled in the coming weeks and could ask to have a sample of it brought up. The weekend I was go try the dress on I was unwell and had to cancel my appointment, I was devastated but the teams at Ian Stuart and Anne Priscilla organised to have the sample dress kept in the shop a bit longer so I could try it. I am so grateful that they did. The moment I tried the dress on I never wanted to take it off. It was perfect. All I had to do now was order it and wait the 2 years until our wedding date to wear it again.

Andrew & April's wedding day

Andrew & April’s wedding day

Was there a theme/colour theme at your wedding?
Our colour scheme was Navy Blue and Silver and the theme was The Movies. My husband and I are a bit geeky and big movie fans so it made sense for it to be our theme. Instead of classical music or hymns we had overtures and iconic tunes from movies played throughout the day, at dinner and in our service. We had Capella Quartet play at our service and our guests were pleasantly surprised when we signed the register to melody’s from Gladiator and Jurassic Park and we walked out to the Throne Room Theme from Star Wars. We wanted to have a day that was relaxed and fun so nothing was too serious. We also had a popcorn bar and Navy Blue and Grey M&Ms for Favours.

Did you incorporate any specific traditions in your wedding, such as ‘something old, something new, borrowed and blue’?
We did. I wore my mum’s veil as my something old. My shoes were made with My Husbands Tartan and had blue glittery soles, this was my something blue. My something borrowed was a beautiful Tiffany Heart necklace and bracelet that my Maid of Honour Linsey wore at her wedding the year before. My something new was a beautiful ivory fur stole from my Maid of Honour Fiona and staying with tradition my Maid of Honour Catheren gave me a sixpence for my shoe for luck. Quite untraditionally I had three Maids of Honour and Andrew had two Best Men, Matthew and Cameron. Andy and my brother Matthew have been friends since they were children so it was really nice to have him there supporting us both on the day. My Mum who is a minister with the Church of Scotland performed the wedding ceremony and Andy’s Mum did a reading that we had asked her to pick and would be a surprise for us on the day. The whole service was just beautiful and so personal having both our mums involved.

April & Andrew- Wedding Day

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?
I think the most important bit of advice I can give is the same advice that so many people gave me and that I struggled to follow, ‘This is you and your partner’s’ day, it is about your love, your partnership and celebrating the life you have and will continue to build together. Do it your way and stay true to who you are as a couple. Your wedding is just one day, you still have the rest of your lives together so don’t get too bogged down with the details because things in life never go to plan and that’s ok. At the end of the day all that matters is that you love each other. You can’t ever please everyone and no matter what, someone will always find something they aren’t happy about. Fill your day with love, joy and people that love you both and it will be perfect.’

And as for finding the perfect dress I can safely say from shopping for my own and a few of my friends ‘The right dress is the one you put on and never want to take off again, the one that gives you confidence and makes you feel beautiful’

April & Andrew's Wedding Day

Signing the registry

Brides Name: April Hickman (now Sutherland)
Spouses Name: Andrew Sutherland
Gowns Name: Evangelista
Boutique: Anne Priscilla Bridal Glasgow
Wedding Date: 6th January 2018
Location: The Lochside House Hotel, New Cumnock


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.

The Frock Shop

The Posh Frock Shop

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.

The Frock Shop

The Posh Frock Shop

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.

Happy 2018,

Ian x


It was obvious from a young age that I would have a career in fashion. What I didn’t anticipate, is becoming so tuned in to the female psyche! It’s not just how a dress looks that I’m concerned with, but what it says about a woman and how it can make them feel.

Ian Stuart- campaing image

I’ve been in the business for almost 20 years and my designs are sold in boutiques around the world. It’s only in the last few years, however – since the launch of my flagship store in London – that I’ve been able to interact on any meaningful level with the women I am designing for.

For this reason, I try and spend at least one or two days a week at The Blewcoat as it helps me better understand women’s body shapes and what they really want from my designs. It gives me that edge, ensuring that my collections are highly coveted and desirable, yet wearable.

The combination of Bridal, Special Occasion and Evening Wear collections means that my clients span a wide age demographic. It’s a thrill to be able to dress both the bride and her mother; each being at a different time in their life and wanting different things from my designs.

Personal shopping at The Blewcoat can feel a bit like being in therapy (though far more enjoyable obviously!) Clients feel so at ease that they really open up about their lives and how they feel about their bodies. It’s a privilege getting to know women from so many countries, cultures and walks of life – over the years I’ve heard SO many interesting stories about the women I dress.

Alongside the glowing brides-to-be and the ball-breaking diva types, there are just as many women feeling a bit down on themselves, perhaps because they no longer have the figure they once had, or because they’ve lost their way in terms of their personal style.

Our appointment service enables us to get to know the client and give them a different perspective on who they are and what works for them. Some can’t wait to try on my latest creations; others come with deeply ingrained ideas about what will or won’t suit them. They may need a bit of gentle persuasion to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.

It goes without saying that every bride wants to feel at her most beautiful on her wedding day. What is much less understood is the way the mother of the bride/groom feels about such a momentous family occasion.

Although mothers of the bride are usually happy and excited about the forthcoming nuptials, deep down they are often terrified about being “on show”. They feel under pressure to look fabulous without taking the limelight away from their daughter. They don’t want to get it wrong or feel like they have let their family down.

In the other camp, the mother of the groom can feel that she is somehow less important than the bride’s mother. It is all very British, not wanting to upstage anyone or draw attention to themselves. I find women can be anxious about committing a fashion faux pas such as colour clashing with the bride or bridesmaids, or wearing something too short/showy/shiny. It can all be a bit of minefield without help from the professionals.

My team at The Blewcoat have a wealth of experience and are highly skilled at finding what works for an individual (both visually and psychologically – it’s about looking AND feeling good). They are adept at making the whole shopping experience relaxing and fun. What’s not to enjoy about taking time out for yourself in such a beautiful, historic building?

We love having drop in visitors, but it’s much better to make an appointment to really get the most out of the experience. We need make sure the bubbles are on ice ready for you!

Although I joke about being a pseudo-therapist for clients, for now at least, I think I will stick to the designing.

Be good,

Ian x


Summer is officially over and it’s time to get those layers back on. I’m sure you’ve already put the sandals and sliders away and started wearing socks again!

I love the summer and miss it already. It went by in a flash this year after a busy few months at The Blewcoat. The season kicked off in early June with the industry launch of my 2018 Occasion Wear collection.

Move Over Darling

‘Move over Darling’ was revealed to fashion buyers in a series of catwalk shows at my flagship London store. This is the culmination of over a year’s worth of work, stretching back to when I first started sketching out design ideas. You won’t see it in the shops until October, so more about that next time.

People find it hard to believe that, even after all these years, I still get nervous about how a new collection will be received. I suppose it’s a good thing; if I were to get complacent it would mean I was playing it too safe. Sticking to a formula is not what excites me – I have to keep pushing those boundaries and trying new things.

Many of the buyers are like old friends as they’ve been supporting me for years and come to all the shows. One of them likes to remind me that she came to my first ever show and when we were introduced, I was shaking like a leaf!

Fashion buyers know the business inside out and are completely tuned in to current trends. Their innate understanding of what women are looking for means they can tell instantly if something will sell. Their reaction to a new collection is crucial. There seems less demand for jackets in the Occasion Wear market at the moment so it went down very well that ‘Move over Darling’ includes a lot of sleeved designs.

There were lots of frank conversations about how the dresses accentuate/cover/hold in/lift in all the right places. We all know that underwear is crucial to make or break a dress (thankfully, us men don’t have to worry about that) and my trademark is to have the bra built in to ensure a perfect fit with maximum support. A lot of work goes into the construction of the dresses. The exterior fabric needs to be fluid enough to move with the body, but the interior structure has to be more rigid to hold the curves and to create a beautiful profile. One buyer likened it to creating suits of armour that women feel invincible in!

These industry types are very straight talking and say exactly what they think which makes them great company. They come to London for my shows from all over the country. If there’s time I’ll take some of them to lunch or for a cheeky cocktail so we can catch up on all the industry gossip. One of them was telling me how she had dressed women for the Trump inauguration which was fascinating for me as I’ve been loving some of Melania’s outfits. I was also most interested to hear that a certain competitor has been slipping on quality control resulting in a lot of his designs getting returned as faulty. That would never happen on my watch – ha ha!

Bye for now,

Ian x


Ian against flower wall

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.Jens Jackobsen Floral Arrangements

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.

Jens Jackobsen Floral Constructions

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.

More soon.

Ian x


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!!!

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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.
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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.
JS74769401DIVA TANTRUMS?

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!
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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.
Magali
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.

I think Magali looked so incredibly beautiful when she renewed her vows, and I’m guessing by the look on her face she felt it too.
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We want to know your story, how did you meet?

We met at a ‘disco animals’ fancy dress party. Tom was wearing a monkey suit minus the head and feet and I was in leopard print and an afro wig. We spent most of the evening talking about our favourite Bob Dylan songs. The next day was his birthday so I took him out for a birthday breakfast and the rest is history.

How did he propose?

Tom proposed on a Tuesday morning in February. We were both getting ready for work, I was pulling my boots on when I turned around to find him on one knee! He proposed, I cried, and said yes and then we had to get the train for work! It was a complete surprise even though we’d been together for 6 years!3
How did you know that your Ian Stuart Dress was the right choice for your big day?

I had already tried on 30 dresses before I found my dress. They had all been quite floaty, unstructured dresses so this was my wild card dress and I tired it because I was really attracted to the layers on the bodice. When I tired it on, it all suddenly made sense!

It was just such an amazing fit, so surprisingly comfortable and looked so much better than anything else – I didn’t ever want to take it off. I felt really upright and self-contained in the dress and that felt amazing, and just what I needed on a nerve wrecking day. I still wish I could wear it everyday it’s so beautiful!

Was there a theme/colour theme at your wedding?

I did my doctorate in evolution and Tom is a keen gardener so we had a naturalistic/botanical theme, with things under bell jars as table centre pieces (shells, lotus flower heads, microscopes, phrenology heads to name a few). There were ivy trails everywhere and succulents for favours. It was just as we pictured and everyone was so curious about the bell jars!2

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

I’m Jewish, so we were able to incorporate some traditional Jewish customs, such as the breaking of the glass and our fathers recited a lovely blessing in Hebrew and English. The prayer is usually said to children on the Sabbath and wishes them wellness and happiness. It was a really special moment for us.

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 rest until you find the dress that is going to be with you on that day of transition from single women to married women. Even if you’ve been together for years, it really does feel different being married, so that day is so special.5

Bride: Tanya Carpenter
Groom: Tom Carpenter
Bridal Gown: Monet, Killer Queen Collections
Boutique: Fairytale Weddings, Towcester
Wedding Date: 24/05/2015
Location: Burloes Hall, Hertfordshire
Photographer: Michelle Lindsell Photography


Anastasia
You & Your Wedding Magazine
 September/October 2015
www.ianstuart-blewcoat.com


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