From bridal design concept to in-house collection

25 Mar 2019

Couture fashion and wedding dress designer Terry Fox outlines the steps you should take to creating your own in-house bridal collection

I have worked in the fashion and bridal Industry for more than 45 years. Although I have worked at every level from designing and manufacturing to selling, alterations and working as a boutique owner, my passion is still to inspire and train others.

Many a time I have seen shop owners who are totally exhausted, having shown every dress in their shop to prospective brides and yet not one proves to be the right one. We all know it is impossible to carry every design available...imagine the space let alone the cost. But there is nothing more deflating than the moment you have to say: "Sorry, we don’t have what you are looking for".

Nobody knows your clientele better than you; what sells, what doesn’t, what's needed. So are you ever tempted to create your own one-off gown, which you know will be a best seller? Or even create a mini capsule collection, which you can add to and grow the more confident you become? 

If you have the eye for design and the ability to sew. You can do it.

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My advice is to start small. See what works for you. From the moment you start, you won’t stop learning. And as long as you have the knowledge, you can do it with very little investment. This is also the perfect time to realise your dream. None of us knows what lies ahead, but the more in control of your supplies, timings, outgoings and clients the safer you are and the more spontaneous you can be.

I think we are experiencing some of the biggest style changes we have seen in a decade, mainly due to the prominent royal weddings of the last few years. The lines are much cleaner in cut, simple styles and yet contemporary with less lace. There is an emphasis on necklines, sleeves and immaculate silhouettes.

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One of the greatest challenges when defining a really great designer is the cut of their pattern. Remember, you want a good fit. I always quote ‘Seams Means Shape’, but these seams need to be in the most perfect of places to flatter.

If you want to give your very own gown a go, I would start with only one dress if necessary but certainly no more than five. You will also need seven ingredients to harmonise and ensure you are on to an absolute winner:

  1. Style: This reflects the market you are aiming at: contemporary, boho, romantic etc.
  2. Shape: Your understanding of the style. If you are creating a contemporary style, the shape needs to reflect this too.
  3. Cut: Where the seams are placed to give you the desired shape in the most flattering way possible.
  4. The fit: The balance of all the first four points with a pleasing aesthetic and good proportions. Then you can fit to the individual.
  5. The fabric: You need to research suitable fabrics so they work with current trends.
  6. The construction: Great construction is vital to your success. The techniques you apply need to hold their own against your competitors to create a fabulous form and comfortable gown.
  7. The finishing: Of course you want to create a beautiful finished garment and give your gowns a professional edge, from finely detailed fastenings to secure infrastructures.

When you are on your way to creating an in-house collection, you can look back and realise what a giant leap you have made. You really can do this... just slowly find your feet. Remember you are trying to master several really comprehensive skills all at once, so be prepared for feedback and listen and adapt. Take a moment, step back and just recognise how awesome you have become.

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Terry Fox offers a range of one-day and short comprehensive workshops or one-to-one tuition aimed at boutique owners, designers and experienced seamstresses. The workshops cover everything from creating a perfect fit, couture applications to mastering boned bodices for modern day brides, including working with specialist fabrics, fine finishing and embellishments. For more details please refer to the website terryfox.co.uk or contact Terry directly by email at thefabmissfox@gmail.com to discuss a more tailored package.

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