Exclusive Interview With Royal Couturier Stewart Parvin

When you think of designer wedding dresses, one of the first names that springs to mind is Stewart Parvin. The master of understated, elegant designs, Stewart's dresses are the ultimate in bridal sophistication - exceptional quality garments that truly flatter the female form.

In this exclusive interview with TheWeddingVine.com, Stewart tells us all about his new 2013 collection and offers some essential words of wisdom for brides to be searching for their perfect dress!

Above: Touch Me When We're Dancing

You have been designing bridalwear for 13 years now – what made you want to move into bridal design?

I’d been designing couture womenswear for a number of years when one of my private clients approached me to design her daughter's wedding gown. It was a real privilege to be involved in her wedding preparations and once I’d worked with that particular client, more and more started coming to me for one off wedding gowns, so I worked on a full collection to show in my boutique. It's really refreshing to work with clients who may not be used to having their clothes made for them and working on a gown that is going to bring so much joy is a real honour.

How would you describe your signature style?

Elegant, chic, understated glamour. My gowns are all about the cut, the quality of the fabric and the construction. The design work in the gowns is very fresh, very clean and pared down, I don’t complicate dresses for the sake of it – when I’m designing each dress every decision I make has to be right for the good of the finished product – it has to be perfect, even if that means leaving ideas out and letting the cut speak for itself!

Above: Justify My Love

How much do current fashion trends translate into your bridal collections?

Trends don’t have the same obvious impact that you see on the high street, but as a designer I can’t help but be influenced by the real innovators in the fashion industry – we keep a careful eye on all the fashion week shows and take real inspiration from the masters of the craft such as Dior, Valentino and Oscar De La Renta.

My bridalwear is classic, in the sense that its timeless, but there are most definitely nods to what is happening in high end couture fashion in there. This can be a double edged sword – because we make everything in our studio in London we can react quickly without the constraints of offshore production – but because the high street takes a while to catch up it can be too early for our clients. Some of our most successful dresses only really take off after being in store for a year, when the fabric used, or a new silhouette is really understood and embraced.

Above: Wild Horses

Tell us about your new bridal collection – where did your draw your inspirations from?

The gowns really begin with the fabric. We source from Paris twice a year for womenswear and bridalwear and whilst on the buying trips ideas will be starting to form already! We found a fantastic brocade last year with birds of paradise woven into the fabric, such a beautiful fabric - and I knew straight away the style of gown I wanted to make from it. That ended up as our finale piece on the White Gallery runway show in May. I also get lots of feedback from brides that I see on the designer days that the boutiques who stock the collection hold – from practical ideas about the sort of coverage they want, to the size they want the skirt on a ball gown style dress to be – everything gets locked away in my head and it filters into the collection when I’m designing for the new season. We always want our clients to listen to our advice, so why wouldn’t I pay attention to the girls who are actually wearing the dresses?!

Who is the Stewart Parvin bride?

The Stewart Parvin girl is self-assured and has a confident sense of her own style.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

Opening my second boutique on Beauchamp Place was fabulous – we had been selling both womenswear and bridalwear from Motcomb street, but it got to a stage where we felt that both collections needed their own unique space so that our clients could have the most comfortable experience possible. So we made the decision to move bridalwear into its own boutique and fortunately found a property in the perfect location! It's been fabulous to see our brides having such a gorgeous experience with us there.

I’ve also been lucky enough to work with some absolutely wonderful clients over the years which has been a real privilege. Seeing my outfits on the clients, either womenswear or bridal, is a real thrill.

Above: Crazy Love

What tips would you give to brides to be searching for their perfect wedding dress?

First of all, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, its easy to get overly stressed about looking for a dress when it should be a fun part of the wedding preparations! With the guidance of a good boutique it will quickly become obvious which shape / neckline / fabrication is best for you, which significantly narrows your options and sets you a “criteria” for your final dress selection.

Finding a team of staff in a boutique that are really going to look after you is as important as the dress I think – the service you will receive will make or break the experience for you.

Whatever you do, don’t take too many friends or family members dress shopping with you. Too many opinions in the changing room can be confusing and potentially upsetting. It's tempting to turn dress shopping into a fun day out with your mum and six assorted siblings and friends, but you are never going to focus enough to make a decision about choosing a dress. Go to your first appointments with one or two people you REALLY trust, who can be honest with you without being upsetting, and whose feedback you will really value - don’t make it harder on yourself than it needs to be.

Once you have found a dress you love, buy it, stop looking and focus on the rest of the wedding!

Above: Yesterday Once More

To see the full 2013 collection from Stewart Parvin, visit our Wedding Fashion pages where you can scroll through each gorgeous gown and find the perfect one for you!

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