I studied acting and dance at Italia Conti Drama Academy, and everything in my life growing up was related to the crafts. My mother taught me to sew when I was five years old and by the time I was ten I was making clothes for myself. My idea of fun was to travel to London to shop at Liberty and purchase fabrics so I could make clothes in my summer holidays.
My career started when I was twelve years old and the BBC offered me a role in a television play, I started acting professionally and went on to star in a number of films and TV series through my teenage years.
It was only when I was twenty two that I started to wonder what else was out there for me. It didn’t enter my head that I would go into wedding dress design! I came up with the idea of Survival Kit, a kit of high fashion sportswear and dumbbells to travel with, which sold exceptionally well. Before I knew it I was living in Miami, designing and manufacturing active sportswear – I was the first person to come up with g string leotards!
Once I knew my career was going to be design focussed I decided to really consider where my talents lay and it didn’t take long to realise that it was in wedding dresses. I began the brand Caroline Castigliano and I opened my first store in Esher in Surrey in 1991.
Nothing is more special than being a part of the most important day in a woman’s life. The wedding dress embodies everything about the person – to make a woman feel and look better than she ever has before is very satisfying.
I think our gowns are usually a year or two ahead of the industry with ideas and style, bringing elements of fashion and fusing them with classic design and couture techniques. Our gowns stand out because of how they are cut to create beautiful movement in luxurious fabrics that just bring the designs to life.
The first bridal gown I designed was a silk satin faced organza skirt gathered into a duchess satin corset with a dropped v point on the corset and straps, it was really pretty.
There is no question my designs have moved on over the twenty five years, but I have stayed true to my beliefs and have always designed gowns that are classically based and clean cut with contemporary highlights. I started with integral corsets and they are still the foundation of my designs.
Love is in the Air is all about romance and femininity. I have moulded Chantilly lace over the base corset and then hand appliqued guipure lace over the top – it gives a stunning, feminine silhouette and the lace trickles down onto the skirt.
I designed gowns in silk Mikado with strong, deep sweetheart necklines underpinned with silk tulle – this creates a playfully sensual feel but is really wonderful on brides with a fuller figure.
There are a lot of jackets in the ‘Love is in the Air’ collection so you can change the overall vision by simply changing the jacket you wear. The jackets come in a number of laces – some are high necked with long sleeves and others less covering.
The ‘Love is in the Air’ collection includes all silhouettes, from full skirts to fishtails – lace to georgette – it is about enjoying being a woman – understated, feminine, glamorous and effortless.
My favourite gown in the ‘Love is in the Air; collection has to be ‘Tertia’ – it is everything the brand stands for. I layered a soft mocha base with Chantilly lace and hand appliqued guipure lace to the corset, it has a circle, tea coloured, silk organza skirt. It speaks of understated style, modernity and femininity and it is truly beautiful.
The fit is everything, a gown has to fit amazingly and balance a person’s figure. The key is to bring out all the fantastic elements and play down the things they don’t like so much.
The simplest design comes to life as soon as the foundation and structure are right – this comes from under-pinning, a great cut and of course our corset – a well cut gown will move beautifully.
Without question the Castigliano brand has a signature style – understated, effortless glamour: clean, classic lines with contemporary touches.
I am quite simply inspired by making women look and feel beautiful – nothing is better than seeing a woman walk towards the mirror watching her reflection and full of confidence. My whole focus is classic gowns with a taste of fashion – bringing the two elements together creates perfection, beautifully cut with a great balance – it inspires me to do more.
I love seeing gowns that were once just ideas in my head transformed into actual products. It is wonderful to launch a collection and all the buyers, magazines and bloggers come to the launch and love it – I get a great night’s sleep after that!
I love creating individual gowns because the process is so specific to the bride’s personality and style. The creative part is all about realising the bride’s dream and being able to achieve that, which creates an enormous amount of excitement and satisfaction.
To be a part of the most important day in a woman’s life is very special and I am honoured to have been able to take this role in so many brides’ lives.
When I assist a bride the most important thing on my mind is understanding the vision she wants to create – what does she want everyone to see when she arrives at her wedding? I then relate that vision to her figure and height and this helps me to collaborate the vision with the correct silhouette that will balance her figure.
A bride wants to look good from every angle – with the Caroline Castigliano corset she doesn’t have to worry – our corsetry works like magic.
Accessories are very important to finishing off a look for your big day, but always make sure that your accessories do not overpower you.
Accessories can make the simplest gown look glamorous. A favourite of mine is a silk crepe fishtail gown with a long two-tier veil, a beaded belt, drop earrings and a matching bracelet: simple, stunning and glamorous.
I would love to dress Adele. I love everything about her, the voice, the face – she is a great role model, a truly amazing performer and a fabulous star.
Simple is the big word in bridal now. Beautifully cut, clean dresses in fabulous fabrics – the dress will be without detail and accessories can be added or removed to create different effects.
My 2018 collection is all about finishing touches. I am using special techniques with beautiful laces and crepes that will be unusual, light, pretty and all about softness and movement. Watch this space!
To find your niche, to stay completely focused and true to your beliefs and to be prepared to work all hours! I’ve definitely followed that one.
There is a lot going on at Caroline Castigliano. We are soon to launch our e-commerce site and will be selling handbags and accessories for bridal such as headpieces, belts and veils.
There will be a number of launches throughout the year – watch out for luxury lingerie in wonderful soft silks and a Little Black Dress collection. The plan for the next five years is to expand on our collections and develop the brand abroad in a number of key territories.
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