AN INTERVIEW WITH CHURCHGATE PORTER
Style-conscious brides will welcome the arrival of new bridal boutique, Churchgate Porter, which opened its doors in East Sussex in September last year. The boutique brings a chic, industrial vogue vibe, set dramatically against the backdrop of the quintessentially English countryside village of Fletching.
Fashion forward brides with eclectic and artistic tastes will be spoilt with a VIP experience and have access to some of the most unique international bridal designers such as Patrick Casey, Sarah Janks, Charlotte Casadejus and Anne Bowen.
We were delighted to chat to Louise Hill, owner of Churchgate Porter to find out more about her new shop, bridal fashion and wedding gown tips.
What makes your bridal boutique different?
I'd like to think that Churchgate Porter has created a boutique that hasn't been seen in the marketplace before. It was born out of a love of fashion and creativity and an understanding that not every woman wants the traditional, pastel pink wedding boutique that we all associate with buying a wedding dress. We have created a space which has a combination of exposed brickwork and industrial fittings, mixed with really beautiful fashion forward dresses by international designers that aren't necessarily stocked in boutiques all over the UK. Unique and fresh is how I think of Churchgate Porter.
Walking into a beautiful bridal boutique filled with gorgeous wedding gowns can be overwhelming. How do you help a bride that steps into Churchgate Porter to narrow down a selection of wedding gowns to try on?
When a bride walks into Churchgate Porter there is an air of excitement and anticipation, I love watching the bride looking through our gowns literally wanting to try everything on. I'm not sure you can narrow down her selection to start with, I always try to suggest picking 3 to 4 dresses initially to get a feel for what the bride likes. More often than not the dress she thought she would love is not the right dress for her. I can then guide her on dresses to try on based on my knowledge of how particular styles fit. I like the bride to try on as many as possible and get as many ideas as possible, although around 10 dresses is probably the limit before your head starts to spin!
How long in advance do you think a Bride should start looking for her wedding dress?
There are three main elements to consider when it comes to the timing of buying a wedding dress:
- Visiting boutiques of choice, and then re-visiting when you have found a dress you like.
- Being measured and ordering your dress. Dresses take approximately 3 - 4 months to be delivered at Churchgate Porter.
- Having any adjustments made by a seamstress such as hemline reduced or waist taken in.
This process can take up to nine months, depending on how quickly you find your dress. So I advise to try and allow this amount of time to avoid any last minute panics. Of course the whole process can be done a lot quicker if you don't have 9 months - it is just a guideline.
What are the latest wedding dress trends that you have seen recently and particularly loved?
I just love the idea of wearing colour, and I have a weakness for Vera Wang designs. The fact she can put black and white together in a wedding dress and make it look beautiful and a work of art just amazes me. She has designed a white wedding dress and then added long black leather gloves to accessorise. That's rock n roll for me. My particular favourite feature in wedding dresses at the moment is the low back. Patrick Casey has emphasised the low back in his Zelda dress with a lace trim which runs from the front of the neck line to the low back, it's such a unique design and really shows of the lower back designs that are currently in trend.
How much do you think fashion trends influence wedding dress trends?
There is an element to fashion influencing the wedding dress trends, whilst I wouldn't say it is very obvious there is a connection, if you look at the current peplum fashion with a pencil skirt you can now see this translated into a wedding gown with a white peplum and long white skirt, you also have the very current low back wedding dress, low backs are used so often in fashion dresses because they just look so chic. And of course the red carpet look has become very trendy, looking at beautiful celebrities in amazing designer gowns is seen throughout the media which woman aspire too. They will probably never get the opportunity to wear a similar gown unless its their wedding day and they want to feel and look as glamorous as the celebrities - so the dresses that they want to be seen in have to translate across from fashion to bridal.
What do you say to Brides who would like to stay ahead of bridal trends but would like to purchase the dress with enough time prior to their wedding?
If you really want to stay ahead of bridal trends then you will be the type of bride that knows exactly what look is coming onto the the boutiques next season. We are so fortunate to have the New York and London bridal shows which really don't hold back in setting trends. The bridal market is no longer a stuffy fashion arena, it's cool and fun and has such a fashion forward vibe to it. Brides can get so much inspiration from designers such as Vera Wang and Oscar De La Renta - there is no chance of failing to look the ultimate bridal fashionista if you really want to.
What is your advice in terms of finding the perfect underwear for the Bride’s wedding dress, whether she is busty or not?
Wearing the right underwear for your dress is so important and should be part of the process of your wedding dress fitting. The type of underwear you need all depends on the style of your dress, shape wear is very good and accentuates your figure and ofcourse hides any bumps. In terms of what bra to wear I always suggest where possible to have bra cups sewn into your dress, it just leaves out the fuss of showing straps and great for backless dresses. These cups can also be padded if you need an extra lift!
What is your advice on the Bride bringing an entourage with her when she visits your boutique?
Every bride is so individual and have different needs when it comes to taking advice on what dress to buy. Some like little or no advice and some need to hear everyones advice to make sure that they are making the right choice. For me, I think you need to keep your entourage to a minimum - two of your closest friends or family at the most. Two many opinions can be over bearing and distracting, trying on the dress should be about you, not who can shout the loudest and have the most valuable advice. Keep your entourage consistent as well, try to have the same people at all your first appointments.
In your opinion, who is your favourite iconic bride?
Kate Moss. She is just really cool and proved that it isn't necessary to have an over designed wedding dress to be a bride. Her Galliano wedding dress looked so natural and bohemian.
Do you have any news from Churchgate Porter you would like to share?
2014 is set to be a really exiting year for us at Churchgate Porter as September will see our first full year of trading since we opened the doors to the boutique back in September 2013 so there may be some plans in the pipeline for a party (or 2!). We also have some plans in the pipeline to take Churchgate Porter to brides on a concierge service, we know that our brides are often very tight for time and a lot of our brides travel to us from London and further afield so watch this space for more news on Churchgate Porter going directly into the homes of our clients!
MORE ABOUT FOUNDER, LOUISE HILL:
I first ventured to the small English village of Fletching in the winter of 2008, with my then husband to be. We enjoyed fresh bloody Marys by an open fire in the dimly lit 17th Century Inn and instantly felt at home. In love with the ambience and community spirit, we bought a lovely house called Churchgate Cottage and married in the village church in 2009. The day we married, I wore a simple but stunning Italian dress and skipped my way up the aisle in my bright pink Louis Vuittons to meet my husband Adam. My wedding was just the beginning of an incredible journey for me. Fletching, the scene of my own private fairytale, was the perfect place to showcase my love for the arts, fashion and all thing bridal in a super little bridal boutique: Churchgate Porter.
"Churchgate Porter was born out of a desire to cater to a bride whose niche interest are currently missing from the British wedding scene. A Churchgate Porter bride has an independent style and flair for fashion. She is not your traditional bride and has a real appreciation for creativity, innovative designers and international cosmopolitan style. All of our chosen designers with their eclectic styles and cultures and backgrounds, from Australia to Ireland to the USA and UK, have been handpicked with our brides in mind, and to bring global bridal fashion to UK wedding aisles."
Brides can make an appointment at Churchgate Porter for a one-on-one consultation, styling session and bespoke alterations by visiting www.churchgateporter.com or calling 01825 722083.