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Suzanne Neville | The Interview

Suzanne Neville | The Interview

Suzanne Neville speaks to Buckinghams and gives a sneak peek into the designer life

Award winning British Designer Suzanne Neville is already known as one of Europe’s leading designers of bridal and evening wear. Her gowns have been worn by Tess Daly and Elle Macpherson to name a few. But now, talking exclusively to Buckinghams, ‘Nevsie’ talks about her likes, dislikes, love of the Quality Street green triangle and face-timing with Kate Winslet. It’s all in a day’s work.

Suzanne, tell us something about your background. How did you get started in the wedding dress business? “I began making wedding dresses for friends whilst studying at the London College of Fashion and it just grew from there. I started the business with a Princes Trust grant. It’s what I’d always wanted to do and it’s hard to believe it’s now 25 years ago. There are never enough hours in the day to get as much done as I would like because it’s always so busy. Creating patterns is my biggest passion and seeing brides on their big day.”

Does the responsibility of your business ever scare you? “It doesn’t scare me but I am aware of the huge responsibility it holds. It’s a real honour to dress so many brides for the most important day of their lives.”

How do you start your day? “I start my day with a coffee and a bowl of Granola. I’m a morning person so I’m often up at 5 am and find it hard to stay up past 10 o’clock!!”

What do you do to unwind? “I don’t really unwind. I’m a bit of a workaholic but I do have the odd glass of fizz. Champagne is my favourite tipple.”

Favourite meal? “A beautifully cooked lemon sole is my fave.”

Favourite colour? “Black. It’s pretty much all I wear.”

Favourite mug? “My Cath Kidston giant mug.”

Pet hate? “Things that don’t line up straight – I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”

Are you a dogs or cats person? “Cats! I have 4! They’re my favourite animal!”

Who is your favourite Avenger? Is Iron Man an Avenger?.. if so him as I love Robert Downey Jr.”

Do you have a nickname? My business partner calls me Nevsie!”

Favourite holiday destination? “Italy, New York, anywhere I can enjoy a short break.”

Favourite biscuit? “A bourbon.”

Favourite shoes? “My Valentinos!”

Favourite author? “I don’t have time to read!”

Which is your favourite Quality Street? “The green triangle.”

Coke or Pepsi? “Diet Coke; I’m a little obsessed.”

Do you like Marmite? “I love it!”

Can you cook and if so whats your speciality? “I can follow a recipe but I’m no Nigella.”

Who is the most famous person youve ever met? “I’ve met many celebrities but the only time I felt starstruck was when I was on face-time with Kate Winslet during a fitting.”

Secret crush? “Aiden Turner of course!”

If you could invite four people to dinner who would they be? “Valentino, Joanna Lumley, Graham Norton and Prince Harry.”

Favourite room in the house and why? “My bedroom because I love sleeping.”

What colour is your kitchen? “It’s neutral.”

Favourite household appliance? My Nespresso machine.”

Are you a gardener? “No, but I have a wonderful gardener! I love it because she plants all sorts of beautiful flowers and it’s a lovely surprise when they bloom.”

Can you keep a houseplant alive for more than a month? “Nope – that’s why I need a gardener!”

What do you want for Christmas this year? “Another diamond encrusted ring (I don’t ask for much!).”

What is your proudest moment? Having my children.”

Whats your favourite memory from your wedding? The vows, It was such a romantic moment. I had a winter wedding at Highclere Castle, otherwise known as Downton Abbey, and the setting made the whole experience even more memorable.”

If you werent doing what you do know what would you be doing? “I can’t imagine anything else. It would need to be fashion related.”

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? “I would be taller.”

How would you like to be remembered? “For making lots of people happy.”

Ian Stuart | Mother of the Bride

Ian Stuart | Mother Of The Bride

From bridal designer to MOB extraordinaire;

10 years ago, Ian Stuart launched his own bridal wear label, after a decade designing for commercial labels in NYC. He was tired of restricting his creativity to appease the girl next door. He wanted to design for modern brides who yearned for something different. His collection was an instant success, with the dresses in demand from brides around the world. Clearly, brides were ready for a change.

It didn’t take long before calls from exasperated mother came in, desperately searching for an outfit that complimented her daughter’s non-traditional Ian Stuart wedding dress. Cries of ‘I don’t want to look frumpy’ ‘I’m a trendy mom’ ‘I can’t find anything that suits my personality’ ‘Everything I’ve seen is boring’ were repeated again and again.

Ian began to create bespoke outfits for these mums, he loved the challenge of designing for a different age group, with different needs and body shapes. After many commissions, Ian saw there was an obvious need for trendy occasion wear.

In 2008, Ian Stuart-London was launched and was picked up by the most prestigious special occasion wear boutiques in the UK, and fashion starved mums finally had a designer to go to.

Who wears Ian Stuart?   

Due to the unique story of how the label began, Ian has always known that the type of mum attracted to his aesthetic is quite a distinctive kind of woman, but it was opening his own flagship store in 2014 that gave him a real understanding of the women buying his designs and what she wants.

He describes ‘The Ian Stuart woman is young in spirit, aged 35 or 95, she won’t be dressing like an old lady. Steering clear of the norm, she doesn’t want to wear the mother of the bride uniform.  Not afraid to make heads turn, she makes the most of her best assets and hides her worst, she embraces the amazing fit, walks with confidence and feels damn sexy!’

The hidden secret to his success:

Ian believes that confidence is what makes a women truly beautiful. His prerogative with his occasion wear collection is to make women feel confidant and emanate a sophisticated Sophia-Loren style-sexiness.

Over the years, Ian has refined his collection to what it is today, concentrating on flattering fit and covering up problem areas of the body, while keeping the designs hot, young and sexy. With hidden corsetry inside the bodice, every woman is given a nipped in waist, which Ian says is the key to feeling fabulous. He admits to getting emotional at the moment when a mum sees herself in one of his designs for the first time, ‘I see the same glimmer in her eyes as that of a child on Christmas day, a mix of joy, excitement and disbelief, rolled into one euphoric moment. Many of the women I work with haven’t seen their waist in years, or question if they still have one. My outfits help them to recognise the beautiful body that is always there, it has just been hiding behind baggy jersey tops’

Ian’s expert tips for Mums:

Alterations can make the world of difference. I always advise buying the size that fits the biggest part of your figure, whether that’s your bust, waist or hips, and having the rest of the dress tailored to fit you. Your figure is unique, and such a special outfit should be altered that way.

Spend some time in a dress when you are considering buying it, especially if you love it, but it’s not quite right. Talk through with your stylist where it feels comfortable and where doesn’t, discuss alterations there and then, more is possible than you may initially think. A nip in the neckline, a pinch in the back, creating a sleeve, tweaking the hem length and manipulating a silhouette can transform that dress with doubts into your dream outfit.

Find out what the colour story of the wedding is before you decide what colour to wear. Ask about flowers, bridesmaids, brides a groomsmen, it looks much better in photography if there is a correlation between the wedding party. There is nothing worse than standing out like a sore thumb. If in doubt, neutrals such as silver, gold, and platinum always work well.

Consider the wear ability of an outfit as well as the wedding you are buying it for. Could you wear the dress on its own for another occasion? Could you wear the shrug or wrap with white jeans?

And take sunglasses with you… nothing says glamour like big shades!

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