For over 12 years local design Rachel lamb has been creating wedding dresses with her own unique style. She spoke to localsecrets.com’s Alice Toby-Brant about the new looks, the royal wedding and not least how to get the best wedding outfit for your own special day.
Firstly let’s get the royal wedding out of the way, do you think that Kate Middleton’s dress has heavily influenced design and style for future brides or conversely, have you found that women are doing all they can to differentiate their day from the Royal Wedding?
Kate slotted in with current trends rather than setting a whole new style. I've had no requests for copies, and if someone asked me to do so, I would encourage them to put something of themselves into the design as well. I chat with my brides about Kate's dress during fittings but on the whole everyone so far seems to talk about it like it was the dress of a friend - a lovely dress that suited the wearer and therefore not something they would want to copy… I think that the thing that most brides would want to take from Kate is the feeling of looking as fabulous in their own outfits as she did in hers, rather than the specific details.
Can you sum up in one word what your wedding dress should feel like when you put it on?
No! Comfortable (that's physically and psychologically - because if it looks good and feels right you can relax and enjoy yourself).
What has been the most popular trend in recent years in your experience?
Lace has been very popular, and continues to be so. Mermaid silhouettes have also been popular - fitted over the hips but with a fluted A-line skirt shape. Vintage looks.
What would you say is THE look for dresses this Summer?
Lace again, and some pale hints of colour.
What’s new and up-coming for Autumn/Winter brides of 2011?
Sleeves!! And more colour - not all-over so much as some hi-lights.
Would you say living and working in Cambridgeshire with all its history and architecture inspires your designs at all and if not where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from everywhere really and see inspiration in everything; but generally it’s a mix between influences of things I actually like to wear and see, what my clients say they like, what my clients bring … decoration or embellishment to their dress, for example.
… I try very hard to offer something different to what can be found in wedding shops (what would be the point otherwise?) so my inspiration can often be a rejection of what I'm seeing a lot of around me. As far as themes go, I'm always inspired by natural things - I love my garden and textures of natural stuff, so that is always in my mind and gets me started when I'm designing. I'm also very inspired by fabric - I love it, so I often let the fabric do the work and dictate the design. Architecture can inspire me, but not in a literal sense, as can cutlery, furniture, animals and recently, a wheat field.
Anything you’re not seeing (bright colours/meringue styles etc) that was very popular a few years ago?
Well for me, the thing I'm not really seeing is simple strapless A-line dresses, they were very popular a while back, but not so much so with my clients now.
It’s the eleventh hour/last minute wedding and the bride hasn’t got their dress sorted, what would you say is the most important thing to do first?
Make an appointment to see me! Concentrate! Be realistic about what can be achieved in the timescale and what you would like to wear, then in a calm and relaxed manner set aside a day to find your dress. Don't expect to fit in weeks of dress searching when you only have a few weeks/months to go, and be prepared to be flexible about your fitting dates if you are having something made for you.
Any predictions for Next Year?
Handmade touches, sleeves and soft colours, including pale greys.
With the ‘credit crunch’ hitting hard, what could you do for a bride that is on a low budget?
This is always a challenge because my service is about handmade gowns and the craft of making a bespoke dress which takes actual hours/days/weeks to make. However, this service can encompass the simplest design to the most elaborate, so I would advise keeping the design simple, the fewer layers of fabric involved - the less time it takes to make. I can use existing fabrics too, so often people come with a roll of something they've had for ages, this can often be incorporated if suitable. Also, I use a lot of silks, and these vary in price because of the different weaves - you can use a very reasonably priced silk for the same design as you would an expensive weave – it’s all silk at the end of the day and when the design is made it looks just as great. Also as I previously mentioned, brides often bring or make something themselves to go onto the dress. I had a bride last year whose friends made embroidered flowers for her dress - it was fabulous, they got to feel part of the creation of it and I attached lovely individual embellishments to the dress, but I didn't spent the time making them, which helped keep within budget. It was great!
If the sky was the limit what how opulent could you make your designs?
Difficult to say. I love detailed work, but I'm also a believer in all clothes being comfortable and easy to wear, and wedding gowns are clothing after all. So I'm going to sit on the fence and say, the sky's the limit - if that's what you want and I would thoroughly enjoy making it for you, but when I'm designing my own collection, I generally always have comfort in mind, combined with the practicalities of manufacture, price, individuality and style.
When you say ‘bespoke does that mean ‘made and designed' by yourself or a team?
A bit of both: always designed by me, fitted by me, pattern cut by me and generally made by me, but I have other folk who I can call on to help me with certain things if I need them, eg sewing or beading.
What sort of time scale is needed (realistically) for a: Bespoke Dress? Collection Dress?
For either, it depends on the time of year - for a summer wedding 6 months to a year lead-time is great. But it’s best to ask, I have worked miracles in the past. I made someone a dress in 6 weeks back in the winter, but I wouldn't recommend it!
How many collections do you have a year?
I don't really. I always add and subtract from my collection as the mood takes me. This is usually in quieter times after the summer rush. I keep a core of favourite dresses and outfits and add others when inspiration strikes. So on reflection, I probably add about 10 new dresses a year, which seems to work well.
What drew you to wedding dress designing?
How long have you got?! When I was studying fashion, I had no interest in weddings at all, but I was always interested in people and the actual craft of making. I always knew I wanted my own business, and that I wanted to make clothes for people I'd actually meet. As Haute Couture is beyond the budget of most people, it occurred to me that weddings were one of the remaining areas where one could make for and meet the client. I love the involvement and fun that I share with my clients - I get just as excited as they do!
Could you ever see yourself doing anything else?
Yes I could! But alongside, not instead of, doing this. I would not want to give up this work and have no plans to do so. I think I might find it difficult not making things, but I have many different interests in life and I think that helps me in my chosen work and keeps me mentally fresh, rather than being someone who is obsessed with fashion, which although fun, I'm not.
Do you ever wear your own designs?
Yes, but not the wedding dresses - I've done that bit, and I'm not sure it would be practical when working on my allotment!
Hard work! Fun, but not that important in the scheme of things. Having the confidence to go for what you love, regardless of what everyone else is doing. Creative. Wearable art.
What is good design?
Something that works and fulfils its functional objective, while being aesthetically pleasing and coming in on budget.
Rachel Lamb: http://www.rachellambdesign.co.uk/