Paris & Joe: The One With The Wedding Dresses

Paris&Joe

So I left my dress hunt having just had a wonderful, despite the bead-crushing, experience at Teokath in Canterbury. I knew the dress would be Jenny Packham but I didn’t want to go back to Teokath as I had my beady eye on a gorgeous number spotted on Pinterest, which I now knew they did not stock.

Unfortunately, it turns out the gown I was lusting after was actually a 2013 collection dress and I couldn’t find a boutique that stocked it, although I must point out that my “search” consisted of looking through each boutique’s online catalogue and you can take a guess at the accuracy of that. Eventually, out of sheer desperation, I emailed Pantiles Bride in Tunbridge Wells, a stockist of JP. Did they have the dress I was looking for? No. Could they borrow it? Yes!

And that was how the next phase of the dress hunt began, trekking up to Tunbridge Wells with my mum, maid of honour and sister on a Jenny Packham Designer Day, which not only meant heaps more Jenny Packham gowns than I could ever imagine but also a 10% discount if I ordered there and then. Imagine my disappointment when I arrived and found the one I wanted desperately to try had not arrived… Well actually I wasn’t that disappointed. It might have been the brightness of 30 glittering JP gowns, some I had never even seen, but I put the disappointment to the back of my mind and we got on with some serious dress trying.

Pantiles Bride is a genuinely stunning boutique, it’s all cream plush carpets, big thick drapes and you pad around in your socks. Fizz on arrival and (given that it was a rather cold day in April) the heating was on so I was lovely and toasty whilst hanging around in my beige granny pants. The thing I love most about Pantiles Bride, though, is Alex the bridal consultant who manages to inject a bit of humour and fun into what could be a really gushy serious affair. Don’t get me wrong I want the fluff that comes with buying my wedding dress, but I also don’t want someone who tells me I’m embracing all my bridal beauty when I clearly look like utter rubbish.

After much strutting and fizz guzzling we had managed to whittle the dresses down to two: Esme and Eden. Now these two are seriously stunning dresses and you only have to search “Jenny Packham” on Pinterest to catch a glimpse of the beaded beauties. But for some reason I just could not commit. I couldn’t pinpoint anything in particular but in hindsight I think I just didn’t feel a pull towards either of the dresses. Yes, they were lovely but I wanted to change little details and neither seemed like my perfect dress. We headed home on a promise to return at the end of the year, closer to the wedding when I might feel a bit more decisive and with an added bonus of Christmas shopping in Tunbridge Wells.

But it was not to be. I received an email from Alex in August to say that if I wanted the Esme dress I would need to place my order by the end of September as she was sadly being discontinued. All of a sudden the pressure was on. I began having Esme-related dreams and I knew I needed to go back and try it one more time, just to be sure.

So off we trotted on a sunny Thursday mid-September. By this point I was quite pleased having lost a stone since my last visit (I had also convinced myself that this was why I couldn’t make a decision) and the wedding was now less than a year away. Alex had told me that this time, the Jenny Packham I had wanted to try last visit would be in the shop. No pressure.

We arrived 10 minutes late, courtesy of Southeastern Trains, and at exactly the same time as my mystery dress. Alex had been hiding downstairs fearing my wrath at potentially a second disappointment of the dress not arriving. She took it out of its FedEx box in front of us and instantly I was in love. And luckily for me I loved it even more when I put it on! My mum had originally been rooting for Esme and my best friend’s vote was with Eden, but they both agreed that this was the best dress for me. Decision made, I couldn’t believe how easy that had been!

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Post dress purchase celebrations!

We dabbled with ordering it in Champagne, the colour that I tried it on in, but in the end my mum was quite set on Ivory and I didn’t care enough about having it in Champagne to dash her dreams of a blushing bride in white. I recently received a swatch of the material in the post and am super happy that I didn’t go for Champagne so I guess mum did know best.

I am now the most recent convert to believing in “when you try on the one, you’ll know”, having thought it was a complete load of rubbish before. Now I am just disappointed that I will only get to wear it for one day – I might have to organise an annual Friends-style gathering to stop the dresses gathering mothballs, or is that a bit strange??

Paris x

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Dress Crushing

And I don’t mean the type of crushing that turned Walter White’s  RV-come-meth-lab in to a piece of flat pack furniture, yo. I’m talking the kind of crushing that gets your heart racing and your pupils dilating. (Although, to be fair, the meth lab probably did that too.) The kind of crushing that I had on Jared Leto when I was 13 and on Leonardo di Caprio when I was… well, now.

My job in the bridal boutique means I turn up to work and am surrounded by gorgeous things. I get new crushes every day; when a bride shows me the most exquisite engagement ring, or when she puts on a dress and it just floors the entire room. Bridal boutique owners and employees are literally falling in love every day at the moment, and you know why? Because the SS14 dresses are arriving, folks. Never has the grumpy man from UPS been so welcome.

Now I may be biased but I’m going to put it out there and say that Blackburn Bridal has The Best Dresses. Bohemian romance, old-school glamour and total originality are what we do, and today I thought I’d share just some of the sumptiousness that is brand new in for the upcoming season.

Brides-to-be, I am so jealous of you right now.

Jenny Packham

I don’t think there’s a person in the entire world who hasn’t heard of Jenny now, thanks to a certain Duchess. Her gowns are glamorous, luxurious and totally timeless. She has created some absolute beauties this year but my favourites have to be Genevieve for it’s simplicity, feminity and intricate, opaque white beading, Tilly for it’s nod to 1970’s bohemia, and Kathleen, because it’s slouchy. And covered in beads. ‘Casual-glamour’ would be an accurate description for this Boudica-esque beauty, I feel.

Genevieve by Jenny Packham

Genevieve by Jenny Packham

Tilly by Jenny Packham

Tilly by Jenny Packham

Kathleen by Jenny Packham

Kathleen by Jenny Packham

Leila Hafzi

Leila Hafzi is a new and very welcome addition to the boutique rails. These dreamy, bohemian, feminine gowns fuse high-end fashion with sustainable, ethically produced garments… so perfect for the stylish, eco-conscious bride! Made from the lightest silk chiffon in either ivory, champagne or the palest of pinks, my favourite is Fariba. Wear her with bare feet and a big old flower crown and you can’t really go wrong.

Fariba by Leila Hafzi

Fariba by Leila Hafzi

Charlotte Casadejus

Oh man, we love this lady. And her collection of original, vintage-inspired gowns were a no-brainer when we spied them at The White Gallery in May. Charlotte LOVES genuine vintage and antique fabrics, so when it comes to lace sleeves and belt buckles, no two dresses are ever the same- which is something I find very exciting! Cecile is the epitome of 1930s glamour, whilst Coco is… well, Coco is just fabulous. Utterly niche and too cool for school, we can’t wait to meet this bride. (Or should I say ‘anti-bride’?)

Coco by Charlotte Casadejus

It’s a shirt dress! Coco by Charlotte Casadejus

Claire Pettibone

Does Claire really need an introduction? I wore one of her gowns myself and she has boho brides travelling to us from all over the world to try on her stunningly romantic designs. Her Découpage collection consists of only six pieces, but the stand-out has to be Wren. A beautiful guipure and chantilly lace top, fluid silk skirt, and a keyhole back to make all other keyhole backs feel totally inadequate; this dress is going down a treat in the boutique right now, and it’s easy to see why.

Well, I feel much better for getting those out of my system. I must confess to having tried all bar two of them on… (well, when you work in a bridal boutique it would be rude not to, right?) and they feel as good as they look. There are a few dresses to come in still, meaning I will have more to share with you in the coming weeks courtesy of Suzanne Neville, Clinton Lotter and Sarah Janks, but for now I want to know… which is your favourite??

I’m going with Genevieve. No, Wren. No, Geneveive… gah!

Sama xxx

The White Gallery, Jenny Packham and Cocktails at The Connaught

So on Monday we shut up shop and headed in to town to spend a day feeling glam and important at The White Gallery– a buying exhibition where bridal designers present their next seasons’ collections to the press, stockists and other industry folk.

I went last year for the first time but having only just started working at the boutique I was a little overwhelmed and far too shy to enjoy it properly. Thankfully I was a bit more confident this year and had fun playing with accessories and feeling fine fabrics and keeping an eye out for my dream dress. (It wasn’t there- although there were many, many beauties!)

We were invited to go and watch Ian Stuart’s runway show- my first ever fashion show experience and a brilliant one to start with as Ian’s dresses are so theatrical and- let me tell you- his runway show was no exception. I’m talking opera, Beauty and the Beast, pumping house and Mary Poppins… and that was just the soundtrack! I apologise for the less than professional pictures but here are a few snaps to whet your appetite…

The front row.

Love the ombre effect

Feathers!

Kate Beckinsale look-a-like…

The money shot and finale dress.

The model in that last dress sashayed down the catwalk to the sounds of Julie Andrews singing ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’.  Isn’t it just so camp and outrageous and brilliant??!  How commercial it is I’m not sure, but if you have a big personality and want some drama on your wedding day than Ian Stuart is definitely the man for you!

After much wandering, oohing and ahhing, a £7 bagel and more air-kissing than at The Baftas, we jumped in a cab and headed to Jenny Packham HQ in Mayfair where we were to view her 2013 collection.  Her ready-to-wear boutique where the viewing was taking place is just STUNNING, with more sparkly, colourful, glamorous creations than I have ever seen in one room.  Sadly I couldn’t take pictures of the shop itself, but we snapped away downstairs where the buying took place.  I can’t give too much away yet, but here is one of her beautiful new gowns due to arrive in store in the autumn…

‘Mimosa’ from the 2013 Jenny Packham collection

Honestly, it’s even more beautiful up close.

Nearly two hours later we emerged, a little bit sparkled out and in dire need of something alcoholic.  Cue a pop across the road to The Connaught Hotel for a cocktail…

Smug? Moi?

I had never been to The Connaught before, but please please please can I go back? What a luxurious treat- I’m talking marbled floors, wood-panelled walls and proper old-school decadence.  The Connaught Bar (tucked away at the back of the hotel) is super stylish, with monochrome furnishings and an emphatic nod to the twenties.

Inside the Connaught Bar

On sitting down we were treated to an amuse-bouche (I’ve no idea what was in it but there was definitely some sort of banana liqueur)  and an assortment of nibbles which was a very nice touch.  We made our cocktails last (well, at £16 each we were hardly going to neck them) but our nibbles were constantly re-filled and when we eventually asked for the bill we were each presented with our own cocktail’s recipe card to take home. Very. Nice. Indeed.

Oh to be one of the world’s elite and do that sort of thing every day, eh?  But all in all it was a very fun day out and a reminder of just how lucky I am to be working in such a fab industry.

And for those of you getting married next year, there are some STUNNING dresses arriving in store in September.  Including one that might be The One for me… hmmm, we shall just have to wait and see.

Have a lovely day!

Sama xxx

If Money Were No Object: The Dress

Hello again! I hope wonderful weekends were had by all… If you missed Friday’s post (which you may well have done- I posted it at the ridiculous hour of 10pm), do head over and take a read as it’s a good’un even if I do say so myself- a little bit of inside info on the minefield that is Dress Shopping.

I thought I’d stick with the dress theme today and share some images of what’s floating my boat dress-wise in the wedding world at the moment.  Now I haven’t bought my dress yet, but working in a bridal boutique I’m fortunate enough to have tried a fair few on and I have a good idea of what suits me and what I’m after.  I do want to be a bit different; the dresses that I like tend to be a bit more red-carpet in style than the traditional wedding dress.  But I’m not restricted to evening-style; it just has to speak to me somehow whether it’s uber-romantic or structurally sensational.  Take a little goosey gander…

Bohemian beauties for under £2k

The Bunty (by Belle & Bunty)Belle & Bunty

The Bunty is pure bohemia in all its floral, floaty glory.  If I was getting married outside or in a field somewhere I would wear this.  I’m not sure how able it is to hold boobage that requires support, but it’s oh-so pretty it makes the list anyway.  And at under £1500 it’s a great price as well.

Neri by Lara HannahLara Hannah

Oh, hello Neri, you goddess of old-school vintage glamour.  Your beading is beautiful and you hang like a dream.  It’s a shame you’re strapless as I’d prefer something over the shoulders, but then again I can wear a strapless bra with you!  I’d wear you with flowers in my hair and no jewellery to keep you simple and beautiful.  (You’re also a fraction over £2k but I’m over-looking this as for all that beading, you’re still a bargain.)

Mid-range mirages: £2-£4k

Amoret by Temperley Temperley London

Ok, so firstly I scoff at £3750 being ‘mid-range’ too, but that’s what the bridal mags say!  Negativity aside, this is lace elegance at its most beautiful, is it not?  I love how it falls over the hips and the capped sleeves are too cute for words.  There is a tad more shoulder coverage than I would like seeing as I can look a little ‘bulky’ up top, but it really is a stunningly beautiful (and rather sexy) wedding dress.

Luna by Jenny PackhamJenny Packham

Now this is one sparkly dress, and I never thought I wanted sparkle!  But I have tried this bad boy on and she really is a boho-glam beauty. The crystal embellishment is carefully placed to draw in the waist and flatter over the hips, and she’s a really unique pale blush pink in colour.  I’m not sure she holds my boobs up enough but there’s a recurring theme here, is there not?  And she’s only a nudge over £3000. Gulp.

Full-on drama: £5k and upwards

Lihi

Oh Mira Zwillinger… What are you doing to me with this exquisite creation of sheer, hand-embroidered lace and luxorious swathes of silk chiffon? Why are you priced at £5,500 and therefore way out of budget?  Fortunately (for my bank balance and my sanity) this beauty doesn’t look capable of housing one breast over a B-cup, let alone two.  So it’s not the end of the world that I can’t afford you.

Here’s a close-up anyway:

Lihi by Mira ZwillingerMira Zwillinger

And for the finale…

Hayden by Vera WangVera Wang

I don’t usually fall in love with Vera Wang gowns as I find them a little big and OTT.  This beauty though literally blows my mind.  It is structured and soft all in one, in a beautiful shade of nude.  For some reason it reminds me of the Will Smith film ‘Wild Wild West’; perhaps it’s the ruffles and the structure but I can just imagine Salma Hayek rocking this down the red carpet!  Stopping just short of £5k it’s actually not too expensive for a Vera, but still too expensive for me.  A girl can dream though…

What do you think?? Do these float your boat too or are you a more traditional bride?  Let’s talk dresses on this dreary Monday afternoon…

Sama xxx