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Label Love

BEST OF BRITISH: SASSI HOLFORD

13th August 2018 | Julia Braime

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Editor-In-Chief Julia Braime worked with an exclusive edit of Sassi Holford 2018 collection gowns for UNVEILED’s Issue 09 ‘Put A Spell On You’ fashion editorial.

Julia was granted a special audience with the eponymous British bridal design icon; designer to royalty and the stars.

How did your bridalwear label begin – tell us a little about your journey so far?

I offered to design a friend’s wedding dress 37 years ago and had no idea that it would be such a defining moment in my life. Just 17 years old, with no formal training and the dress was such a success! I started to get requests from other friends and brides to be, eager for me to design their gowns as well.

I have enjoyed numerous internationally acclaimed collections, opened a new flagship London store and have a Royal Wedding under my belt! I can’t believe how fast time has gone, I’ve loved it all and can’t wait to see what’s next!

What is the ethos behind the Sassi Holford brand?

Our ethos is to create an apparently effortless style, empowering confidence and making women feel their most beautiful.

What are the key changes you have seen in the bridalwear industry in the 30 plus years that you have been a designer?

There are so many options now for the venue and destination – from a beach wedding via a chic city soiree or traditional church ceremony to name but a few. As a designer it has given me the opportunity to design so many different styles.

Recently, with so many online platforms, its easy to be overwhelmed by choice, but the plus side of this is the access to inspiration. Still, it’s not until you try a dress on that you get to know what feels right.

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What are the key characteristics of a Sassi Holford gown?

I tend to go with the ‘less-is-more’ philosophy: letting the lines of the dress fit and flatter. The bride should feel and look the best version of herself. After beginning the design process we then source the most amazing fabrics before putting a new collection together.

Where do you find your design inspiration?

Nothing is more inspiring than the person who will be wearing it and their story, so I start the design process with my brides in mind.

My favourite part of designing a new collection is seeing the finished garment all come together after creating the pattern, choosing the fabric and laces.

Do you have any role models who inspire you and your designs?

My mother brought me up to embrace life and to its opportunities, she had such an impact on my outlook. It’s empowering to be brought up knowing that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Tell us a little about your latest collection?

The 2018 collection offers a true diversity of designs and styles to suit each Sassi bride. Within the collection I can identify three themes: city, country and classic – this allows a reflection of destination and a selection of silhouettes from dramatic ballgowns and fishtail dresses with beautiful trains to simple elegant A-line gowns.

Can you tell us about the fabrics and detailing?

The English Lace capsule collection designs have deliberately been created to celebrate UK textile manufacturing and lace artisans. I chose the famous English cotton lace from Cluny Lace, who started making lace in the 1760s, at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Throughout the last one hundred and fifty years Cluny Lace has continued to develop their beautiful lace patterns, combining the best of old traditions with new technology to produce a wide range of exquisite designs.

My capsule collection is a celebration of British traditions and craftsmanship upon which my own business is based.

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Which design would you say is your most memorable to date?

Creating the dress for Autumn Kelly for her wedding to Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips was a true highlight of my career. Designing and creating the dress was such a pleasure. She had definite ideas about the style of dress she wanted: one that would befit a society wedding but also reflect her own style and personality. I was on hand to dress Autumn at Windsor and met the Queen who had viewed the dress beforehand and approved it!

What advice would you offer to our readers when shopping for their own dream dress?

Remember that the most important thing about any dress is how the person feels wearing it. Trust your instincts…. and of course, your chosen designer! Dresses needs to be fit for a wedding but also feel like a dress that can take you to the party of a lifetime.

Other than designing, what are your passions in life?

My enthusiasm for creating beautiful clothes is still as strong as the day I started! I now share it equally with spending time with my family, cooking for friends, gourmet dining and travel.

What does the next year hold for Sassi Holford?

We are busy working on new Occasion and Eveningwear collections. The reaction to the bespoke evening wear has been incredible! We have had the pleasure of dressing Holly Willoughby, Helen Mirren and Darcey Bussell over the last year.

Finally, what is it that you love most about your role?

There is nothing like the adrenaline rush of creating a new design; after the time spent sketching, pattern cutting and sewing it, finally seeing it completed and on a mannequin is immensely satisfying. What’s true bliss is when you see it on a bride, watch their face lighting up and looking amazing!

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