Today I’m really happy to share a little behind-the-scenes peek at one of my favourite wedding industry people! Charlotte Garratt of Charlotte Bridal fame is someone I’ve worked really closely with in the past and have to say I’m astounded by her professionalism and drive. I caught up with Charlotte at her south London studio to chat to her about being a young designer and what a truly bespoke service means.
Charlotte in her studio
At just twenty one, Charlotte is the youngest independent bridal designer in the UK. After discovering corsetry at the age of sixteen, Charlotte trained at the London College of Fashion, with the aim of designing high-end bridal couture.
Charlotte Bridal’s offering is unique because Charlotte Bridal is run completely by Charlotte herself. Brides are guaranteed Charlotte’s first-hand experience, as she designs the gown, the pattern, cuts the fabric, assembles and hand finishes the piece. Chatting to Charlotte the whole process became really clear – the bride is involved in every aspect and works closely with Charlotte to make sure the finished product is their dream dress, giving them a rare sense of ownership. The service also brings a whole new meaning to the words “made to measure”, Charlotte takes over 30 measurements to ensure her dresses fit the bride – and only the bride – perfectly!
Charlotte says: “Brides have a really personalised experience when they come to Charlotte Bridal. They are able to present their ideas, likes and dislikes and we work together on an initial sketch, rather than just choosing from a template. It means that quite often I’m quite literally creating the dress of someone’s dreams, from the shape and design to the bride choosing from a selection of silk fabrics.”
“It’s an amazing process and I love being part of it from start to finish. The end product is a totally unique creation and one that’s come out of a really intimate process, it’s so flexible because changes can be made to the design until just a few weeks before the final touches. Getting to know the brides is a great privilege and it’s always so interesting to see how the finished design really reflects a bride’s personality and style.”
I can certainly see the appeal for brides – Charlotte’s studio is comfy and welcoming, with a real air of creativity about it. I gave up playing “count the wedding magazines” after a while, Charlotte has boxes and boxes of them, with inspiration boards, targets, sketches lining the room. There’s also a nice curtain rail so the studio doubles up into a proper changing room – with huge mirrors and flattering lighting. It’s such an intimate and personal way for a bride to go through the steps of choosing her dream dress.
Original Charlotte Bridal dress sketches
I was particularly interested to talk to Charlotte as another young woman in business. From personal experience I’ve found that being, or even looking, young can result in people taking you less seriously – something that can be quite disheartening when you’re first starting out. I asked Charlotte whether she thought her age was a pro or a con when it comes to bridal fashion:
“There’s a certain stigma associated with being young in this industry,” says Charlotte, “but I’m having a fantastic time proving myself and that age is just a number when it comes to design. I’m fully confident that having had such a head start it will mean big things for the future. In the long run I’d love to expand the business with a retail collection and a mother of the bride range. Another goal for the future is to take on an intern and to help them to develop their fashion career through hands-on experience and long-term career prospects at Charlotte Bridal.”
Charlotte’s dresses were used in a recent winter wonderland shoot styled by Under the Vintage Veil – Images © Babb Photo