Interview With Bridal Headdress Designer Polly Edwards

Bridal headwear has come a long way in recent years and leading the movement is the fabulous Polly Edwards, a true pioneer in headdress design.

Gone are the days when a bride’s only option was a traditional tiara. Now the discerning bride has a multitude of glamorous pieces to choose from, from delicate combs, to stunning asymmetric bands and bold statement pieces.

Designed and handcrafted in the UK since 1991, Polly Edwards headdresses are, quite simply put, amazing, and we are delighted to be offering our wonderful readers the chance to win one of Polly's beautiful headpieces, worth up to £300!

The Wedding Vine recently caught up with Polly to bring you an insight into the creation process and what makes a Polly Edwards headdress so special.

Above: Blossom and Issy by Polly Edwards

How did you get into headdress design?

I was always interested in art and eventually went to Art College where I did fashion design. That sort of veered towards millinery and as I left college I was making hats and different things. Over the years that turned into working with a wedding dress designer. She was quite an outrageous designer and always wanted unusual things for the headdresses so it was a great opportunity to try lots of fun things! But then I thought, ‘actually I think I’ll do this for myself’ and I started making headdresses. It just seemed to be a good way for me to work because I work in a 3D way rather than 2D and it was just that natural progression. One of my very old dear friends lent me the money to do my first Harrogate [bridal show] and the rest, as they say, is history!

Your attention to detail is legendary – how do you go about designing such intricate creations?

I sit down with a desk covered in beads and bits and anything that has taken my fancy and just mess about with it until it starts to come together in different shapes. I look at drawings, such as botanical etchings and that kind of thing as well as using the Internet. They give you the idea of form and a sense of how things flow. I also look at artists - the Czech artist, Alphonse Mucha, is one of my particular favourites. I derive great inspiration from 20th century designers such as Christian Dior, Madame Gres and Madame Vionnet. Just inspirational!

I also look at accessories in general; not bridal as a rule, but shoes, bags etc. I look at the techniques used and then I just interpret them in my way to make beautiful products for people to wear.

So do you take a design from paper to the real thing or is it all very hands on?

No, if I draw something I try and make what I’ve drawn which is never a good idea! When you are making something it’s really hard to assess the proportions from a piece of paper. You need to do that by eye and then think ‘actually, that needs to be wider here, longer there, more filled in there…’ and you don’t get that when you are drawing it.

Above: Amour and Athena by Polly Edwards

What are your favourite materials to works with?

It has to be Swarovski crystal in all its shapes and glories and colours and different ways of putting it together. I’ve not particularly been a magpie but Swarovski is definitely the thing for me. Also, when I was making hats I used a lot of leather, so I’m starting to introduce bits of that mainly to support the pieces in the background. It’s a really versatile medium.

How would you describe your signature style?

I suppose I have a graphic quality to my work. I don’t really particularly do very delicate, fluffy things. I like shapes and patterns and form and combining those three things. If you look at the things I first started making 20 years ago, they were huge, pearl encrusted pieces (and I mean big 10 mm pearls!). Now it’s come down to anything you can wear on your head, which I love - I love the fact that it isn’t just a tiara. I hardly every make any tiara shapes any more - it’s all sorts of everything else, everything else it can be.

Where do you draw your inspirations from and how have they changed over the years?

I don’t know that they have changed. I think you have your fundamentals and for me it’s plants and flowers and organic things. You can see patterns in anything: you can look at a tiny piece of bark and see a pattern or you can look at a map of the earth and see a pattern. I look at allsorts, I’ve always looked at fashions, I’ve always read Vogue magazine. I like photography. Inspiration can come from anywhere. It’s whatever strikes a chord for you.

I don’t think about it that hard, because otherwise that can be quite stifling. You can almost give yourself designer’s block if you think too hard about it. You’ve just got to let it flow and I think there is a natural progression from one design to the next. Sometimes [you create] something completely different, but quite often they are linked in some way. I think ‘I love that, what would happen if…?’  It’s about that organic growth of a design as well as complete inspiration from other sources. I love looking at books – photography, old fashion books… I’ve got lots of books about the designers of the 40s and 50s. Dior is my particular favourite, even up to today post John Galliano who himself was an inspiration.

Above: Audra and Foxy by Polly Edwards

You work closely with a number of leading dress designers. How much do they influence your work and you theirs?

I don’t know that I influence them. You have different constraints to design within, because when you know someone’s style, it’s about creating within those limitations and sometimes it’s nice to have boundaries! If it were Sassi [Holford], for instance, it would be [working with] the lace and the structure. For Jenny Packham it was all about textured crystals. It just gives you different parameters and therefore a different way of working. I quite like that and I like working with designers I admire.  I’ve always enjoyed that. The work I did with Jenny was a while ago, and she has now obviously gone on to produce her own accessory collection. I’d like to think that I had some influence in how she produces the pieces. We worked quite closely on techniques and production and producing a quality product, because in the market we’re in that’s what it needs to be. It’s an investment piece, it’s an heirloom, it’s special, it finishes off an outfit – and it’s right next to your face! It gets photographed the whole time so it needs to be quality!

What are the latest trends in bridal headpieces?

I think that goes back to this thing about it being any shape - anything you can get on your head! It’s obviously quite difficult sometimes because you need to find a way to make them stay on your head, but once you’ve worked that bit out you can do anything! We’ve been doing the vines for quite a few years and that seems to be coming to the fore now, as well as headbands or more band like tiaras.

There are also still lots of side pieces, and whether your hair is up or down, there’s always something to go with it. You can wear anything. I’m really enjoying that fact because that really frees you up as a designer.

The other thing I feel is that the slightly warmer colours are coming through, so it’s less of that vintage feel, although I’m sure there is still a place for that. We’re not going back to the gold’s of the 80s and 90s which were quite brassy, but there are definitely some softer, warmer colours, which is great. Swarovski do some beautiful ones, so we’ve been using those.

Above: Michelle and Eloise by Polly Edwards

What advice do you have for brides searching for their perfect wedding accessories?

The best piece of advice is that you need to work with your dress and think through your whole ‘look’. It needs to have design qualities that work with your dress and not just be something randomly put on your head that has nothing to do with your overall look! It’s worth taking the time and the trouble to link in why you’re wearing a pearl and diamante piece with your lace dress or a statement diamante piece with your slipper satin bias cut dress. At the end of the day it’s down to personal preference, but you need to think about those things. Really, you’ve just got to love it!

Tell us about the new Polly Edwards collection!

We’ve done some really exceptionally huge Swarovski pieces that are major statement pieces! Then I think that lace has got quite a big story ongoing and so some of the pieces we have done really reflect that in the layering of sequins and pearls, diamantes and feathers. There’s allsorts in there, it’s all quite eclectic so watch this space!

Above: Tallulah by Polly Edwards

To browse more Polly Edwards designs, visit our on-line boutique.

To enter our prizedraw to win a Polly Edwards headpiece to wear at your wedding, click here.

  • 2 comments "Interview With Bridal Headdress Designer Polly Edwards"

    Add your comments

  • Pip says

    15th November 2012 at 10:28 am

    This is a great insight into how the pieces are made. Fascinating stuff!

  • Laura says

    17th November 2012 at 5:49 pm

    That last tiara is lovely and really unusual.

Post a comment

Thank you for posting a comment, all comments are moderated before going live, please check back shortly.

News & Offers

Buy Eclectic Mix Accessories
Related Suppliers...
Eclectric Mix Accessories Sassi Holford Couture Design, London Sarah Critchlow Wedding Photography Stanley's Exhibitions & Wedding Fayres Buy Polly Edwards Tiaras and Headdresses Martin Beddall Wedding Photography Pippa Mackenzie Wedding PhotographyMomentscaptured Wedding Photography Brett Harkness Wedding Photography