Bridal legend David Emanuel discusses dress shopping and reveals how he could help you find the perfect gown in his new partnership with Bromley Brides. Words by Anna-Marie DeSouza
You can’t think about the history of British bridal fashion without thinking about arguably the best-known name in the business – David Emanuel. Famous in the 80s for creating one of the most famous wedding dresses in history, he became much loved by the younger generation, too, after presenting the UK edition of Say Yes to the Dress.
And now… David is working alongside one of the nation’s leading boutiques, Bromley Brides, and meeting with their brides-to-be to help them find their perfect dress.
Can you tell about the VIP Platinum Appointments you are working on with Bromley Brides?
I was delighted to work on a launch event with Bromley Brides in August 2020 – it was for The Wonder Room, a luxurious new suite. Now I am returning to consult with real brides and help them find the dress of their dreams in the perfect ambience and setting.
2021 marks 40-years since the magical wedding day of Princess Diana, a monumental occasion that I was honoured to be a part of. Designing wedding dresses has always been such a passionate and personal experience, and I am delighted Bromley Brides has recognised this attribute in serving future brides.
I will be hosting private appointments in The Wonder Room alongside a lead sales consultant. I can listen to the bride and curate a beautiful collection of wedding gowns tailored to her unique needs. Together with the consultant, I will identify the right selection of dresses that fit the bride’s requirements and style accordingly.
My role is to guide the bride in her choices, ensure she feels beautiful and help her say Yes to the Dress!
What do you most look forward to when meeting the brides-to-be?
I enjoy meeting each and every bride and finding out more about their big day and individual stories. The aim of my consultation is to bring together all the elements of their dream day, including their wedding season, venue choice, dress size and style preferences – I use this information to find a beautiful gown that is the perfect match.
Bromley Brides has a beautiful collection of dresses for me to curate. I look forward to styling these timeless designs to ensure every bride feels beautiful!
When you meet a bride, what are the questions and discussions you like to have in order to find out what type of dress she is looking for?
I always ask their style preferences in case they have a dress style and silhouette in mind, and I also find out their budget. This will determine the range of designer dresses at their disposal.
One thing I tell my brides: it is important to keep an open mind. They may have an idea of what looks good, but could be completely surprised by a different style. Also, if something does not work, it does not work, we move on…
What sort of questions do they ask you, and what do they want help with?
Brides will often ask for guidance on the silhouette of the gown to harmonise with their shape, size and frame; they often have preferences and dislikes to the materials and level of detailing required.
It’s my job to guide brides in their choices and provide a range of suitable options of designer gowns. At Bromley Brides, there is a vast array of dresses ranging from the top end including Signature by Justin Alexander, Lazaro and Hayley Paige, through to Morilee and Adore.
In terms of trends — what do you think brides are looking for in the 2021 and 2022 wedding dresses?
In addition to the royal influence on brides, there are certain trends that remain timeless classics and others that offer more of a fashion-forward approach. For example, the bride-to-be holding a summer wedding is influenced by the lighter weight fabrics, a fit & flare silhouette and off-the-shoulder “Bardot” neckline for a more Boho-chic look.
For a castle or manor house wedding, the fabric is often soft satin in an A-line ballgown, for a romantic fairy tale entrance.
And accessories? How important are these to a bride’s overall look?
I think accessories are very important and can instantly transform and complete the look. For example, a cathedral length veil worn with a boho-chic lace dress can offer a touch of drama and elegance.
Bromley Brides has a wide selection of tiaras, veils and wedding shoes to choose from which match perfectly to every style and silhouette.
What’s the one thing you wish all brides knew about dress shopping/picking a dress?
It’s important to keep an open mind, as often the very dress they fall in love with ends up being completely different to the original dress they had in mind. Dresses can also look very different to their magazine images once tried on. I always say, if a gown is not working, move on. This is a vital part of the process to find the dream dress.
How did you work with the costume designers on The Crown to translate the iconic gown?
The invitation for Netflix came from the production company based in Elstree Studios; I met with the award-winning costume designer Amy Roberts.
For guidance I supplied a copy of the official press release showing sketches and suppliers. I also gave her a copy of my book ‘A Dress For Diana’. Much to Amy’s relief, I selected the shade of ‘Ivory’ for the silk taffeta used for the wedding gown.
Were there any secret touches to Diana’s dress? Do brides ask for secret touches or bespoke personal details now – is that common?
We went down the traditional path:
- Something old: Queen Marys antique lace on the bodice
- Something new: Silk Taffeta and a 25 foot train.
- Something borrowed: Spencer family diamond tiara
- Something blue: We sewed a blue bow into her garter.
How much of an influence on brides do you feel royal wedding dresses are on brides?
Royal brides dresses have an enormous influence not only here – but around the world. Back in 1981 Diana had an enormous crinoline skirt!…and brides still ask for that romantic silhouette and skirt, even now!
There is always an influence, through the style and key elements like the neckline, sleeves, material used and the train length, which makes the most impact visually. Some brides like to integrate certain aspects of the design that particularly stood out as being the most memorable.
To find out more about how you can shop for your wedding dress with David Emanuel, make sure you head over to Bromley Bride’s website.