Who designs, makes and sells the best wedding dresses in the UK?
We asked Annabel Beeforth, the founder of the acclaimed bridal media brand Love My Dress to share with Tythe her favourite independent British bridal designers and the bridal boutiques that should be on your must-visit list.
Interview by Jade Beer.
‘They represent the best of beautiful, simple, minimalist design. Andrea, the founder, works with her husband and they have an amazing team. All of their designs are infused with their love and passion. They are a very ethical brand and they always have been from the off before it became trendy and now a necessity, to be to ethical and sustainable. They are London based and all about a slick, sleek, paired down look but with proper couture production. I love them and they are a fantastic British brand to get behind.’
Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire
‘I adore Lyn Ashworth England. The designer behind this label is Sarah Barrett who is immensely talented – and incredibly lovely. Sarah’s design aesthetic leans towards the more traditional silhouette – but not exclusively and in the latest collection, Mabel, Sarah has introduced more youthful and modern design detail, like puff sleeves and interchangeable separates. It is a modern meets classic triumph of design, using the most sumptuous fabrics and detail. The whole collection is really stunning – and I tend to avoid that overused adjective, but it truly is. These are deeply feminine and romantic gowns, crafted using traditional couture techniques at the design studio and atelier, based in the idyllic Staffordshire countryside. If your original question to me was ‘what brands do you think all brides should know about’ then Lynn Ashworth England has to be on that list.’
‘Kate was the very first designer I wrote about back in 2010 and she was the first to really pioneer the idea of interchangeable bridal separates and I think she has done it so well. She’s created such a desirable brand and she truly understands the female form. Kate is really into making any woman of any size or any shape feel beautiful and confident on their wedding day. Her gowns do that. Her boutique is also divine, she’s taken over that whole of Woburn Walk in Bloomsbury now. Her atelier is there so everything is made in England. She just feels like such a wholesome British brand and everything she does is just so beautiful. She’s also an incredible interior designer and that is reflected in the style of her boutique, she’s constantly decorating it to keep it fresh and updated. It feels very style and fashion driven but also very welcoming when you arrive. She knows what she’s doing, and she has an incredible team around her. We feature so many Halfpenny London brides on Love My Dress and they constantly rave about her. Every time she releases a new collection it feels so different to anything else, yet it honours all of the pieces in her archive collection too. Every bride needs to have Halfpenny London on their list.’
‘She brings something very fresh to bridal. What she does is playful and light and fluid and she’s a very good designer. You’ll find great shorter pieces in her collection, and those that move really beautifully, she’s all about fluid movement. She has a peaceful, very calming studio in West London, and she is also stocked at The Wedding Club who have two locations in London and another in the Midlands. If you’re thinking about working with an independent designer who can create something bespoke for you or you want to support a younger designer who is more at the beginning of her career, then Rita is definitely someone to look at. She is full of so much energy and positivity and whenever I chat to her, I feel so uplifted. I really love what she does.’
‘Sally is very couture focused. She has experience of working for Phillipa Lepley and Jenny Packham, so she really knows her stuff and technically she’s superb. She’s all about feminine, voluptuous glamour but it’s the couture that really matters here because these are really beautifully crafted dresses. They will be more pricey, but you get what you pay for and the whole experience will be very personal. She’ll be creating a dress that moulds your body and will fit you perfectly. I love what she’s doing right now, I think she’s having her moment. She’s recently moved into her own dedicated studio space and it feels like a very special experience to go to someone like Sally and have your dress designed from scratch. Her vision is amazing, and her talent is second to none.’
‘She’s an independent designer who is based in Sheffield, she’s been around for a number of years and everything she does is very ethical and sustainable and very feminine. Kate’s very into creating for women of all shapes and sizes. Often brides will have big body hang ups when they have to think about the dress, we all do, but Kate is very good at empowering her clients. Her dresses are very flattering. I’ve worked with her for some time and I absolutely adore what she does. I’ve watched her business grow from this small idea after she got married and now she’s flying with her own team of seamstresses and couture assistants. She is just brilliant.’
‘Her work just takes my breath away. She is the very high-end couture level of the spectrum so obviously more pricey. At her atelier I was lucky enough to gain an insight into the whole white glove couture production. There was an incredible dress, laid out on the pristine clean floor and a seamstress sewing in handcrafted silk flowers and they had embroidered the train of this dress with very personal details to the couple like places they’d been, dates that mattered to them and objects that meant something. It was a real moment for me to see that. To be able to appreciate that level of couture where everything is so clean and the delicacy with which it’s being created is phenomenal. Hermione is a true visionary. She’s very botanically and florally inspired, the translation of flowers into her work us beautifully done. She is couture through and through, she lives and breathes it, it’s the very essence of her brand. She’s at a level all of her own and truly inspirational.’
‘This is a much more free-spirited brand for the careful bride. From the very beginning, it’s founder and designer Hayley has been very passionate about sourcing ethical and sustainable fabrics, recycled fabrics that have been made from plastics – the look and feel of the gowns operates like pure silk – and that has been her thing from the start. Her pieces are very wearable and she’s also more affordable. She’s just launched a new collection on Love My Dress.’
‘An independent designer who has worked with Jenny Packham and Marchesa. The designer, Charlotte, is very talented and knows what she’s doing technically when it comes to designing and producing gowns. She understands fashion and form, her work is very romantic, nostalgic and era inspired. What she does very well is bring a little bit of vintage without it feeling too contrived. Sometimes vintage can feel a little dress up and she does it in a really beautiful way. She should be on your radar if you’d like something bespoke but a little bit different from the norm.’
‘This is such a brilliant British brand that have dominated their niche so well. They are all about era-inspired glamour, think red carpet 1920s and 1930s glamour. They are about to launch a new collection and have started to preview some of the designs so expect pieces like long-sleeved, wide leg jumpsuits, sequin covered but completely backless, really sensuous and glamorous. They are a brilliant British brand for people who are looking for that level of glamour.’
Lewes, East Sussex
‘A completely independent-designer based in the South East. Her work is all about the fluidity and the movement and these beautiful peace silks – that’s a very ethical way to produce silk that doesn’t harm the silkworms in any way, they’re just left to keep eating and produce their silk. She’s travelled the world to find the peace silk farms that she feels are right for her to work with on a very ethical basis. Her work is so feminine and romantic and pure. She was featured in French Vogue and her brand has really taken off there now. If you want a head-turning silk gown you really need to look at Luna Bea Bride and its phenomenal pieces. She’s very heart-led and spiritual and everything she creates reflects that.’
‘It’s founder, Sigita Janelionyte, is brining something incredibly new and fresh to the market. She has experience of working with some very well-established designers, her silhouettes are exquisite and her production clearly very high quality. She has some beautifully cut coats and gowns that wouldn’t look out of place in London Bridal Fashion Week. Her look is very bold and I’m watching her all the time, excited to see where her brand is going to go.’
Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire
‘Lovely Bohemian pieces, very free-spirited, very wearable, ethically designed and sustainably produced.’
‘A relatively new boutique, it opened in 2020 and its founder Lyndsey is working with some of the super exciting international designers like the Manhattan-based Danielle Frankel and J. Andreatta and Harriet Gordon. She is doing an amazing job of redefining bridal fashion and what weddings are all about as well, she’s a real innovator and visionary, just brilliant.’
‘Founder Emma Marshall is celebrating 35 years in business in 2023 and anyone who has worked in the wedding business that long and is at the top of their game and keeps pushing forward and reinventing themselves like Emma does, is a business you need to have on your radar. She has some fabulous classic designer brands like Jesus Peiro and Suzanne Neville but she’s very fashion driven too and likes to experiment with newer labels like Sophie et Voila and Yolan Cris. You have to go there for the experience because I don’t think anyone does classic, cool, edgy and traditional all at the same time as good as Emma does. She’s an amazing person and it’s a fabulous boutique.’
‘A really longstanding bridal boutique. There are lots of amazing international brands there like Pronovias and Vera wang. Because they have been around so long, the experience is incomparable.’
‘They are embracing the uber glamorous Naeem Khan which is so exciting, as well as lots of big name international designers including Costarellos, Berta and Monique Lhuillier.’
‘A completely different vibe, very bohemian and free-spirited, stocking labels like Rue De Seine, Moon Child and Lovers Society, they’re lesser known brands but no less beautiful for it.’