I’ve had one corset in my life. It was a charity shop gem of a find about ten years ago. I wore it around my flat and felt sophisticated and uncharacteristically curvy. It was the business. Before I had the nerve to wear it outside the comfort zone of my home, my curves and I sadly outgrew it. Thanks, 30s. I will buy another one that fits my newer shape at some point because a corset has a way of making you feel like the most beautiful, powerful and slinky thing alive. Until then, I’ll adore from afar the options.
The corsets at Sparklewren are definitely on this covet list. Jenni Hampshire, the corsetiere behind the label, began her business in 2009. It’s grown to be recognised worldwide as a go-to place for heirloom quality corsets, ‘wearable works of art’ as her website rightly says.
And for you brides-to-be who are looking for something different and unique, there are opulent and show-stopping gowns, incorporating materials such as lace, Swarovski crsytals, ostrich feathers. Each design is unique, which is just even more special.
How Sparklewren brides choose their gown
My designs are entirely bespoke, so we don’t select a gown or corset so much as let it develop together. Generally, my clients see a piece in my portfolio and have a very strong feeling towards it. Then we take that as inspiration, considering practical considerations (such as ease of dressing or wear) and aesthetic concerns (colour, etc.). It’s a very organic process.
Who is a Sparklewren bride?
My ‘key’ customer is the ‘corset collector’. She is a lady who adores couture, craftsmanship and corsetry, and who brings these loves together for her commission.
What made you get into designing wedding dresses?
Bridal is a natural progression from corsetry, for me. My primary concern is to make something beautiful, for someone who will feel beautiful wearing it, and bridal allows this to happen.
Light and Lace Photography featuring Cloud gown
Whose work do you admire?
Dior (under Galliano), Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood… and the gentleman who is behind the couture corsetry for all of these brands, Mr Pearl.
What inspires your designs?
Materials. My work is always a product of the materials and their characteristics. I love structure and surface detail.
What words or inspirational phrases do you live by?
Any words that inspire me to remember kindness. I think kindness is everything…
To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.
~ Gautama Buddha
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
~ Maya Angelou
If you could dress anyone for their big day, who would that be?
The most fun is working with people who are open and happy, like sunshine. Otherwise, I don’t care who I work with. That said, I can imagine Kylie Minogue being a little ray of sunshine, and having the necessary boldness to carry off corsetry (as proven on her Showgirl tours!).
What do you read?
I do enjoy novels for escapism, and turn to certain classics for inspiration quite often (Wuthering Heights, The Eve of St Agnes, etc.), but often I don’t have as much time as I would like for this.
What would your own dress look like?
I’ve been with my partner for 13 years, but have never wanted to have a wedding! I feel we are bound together already and would hate to be the centre of attention on a wedding day. This is partly why I work for other people: I prefer to hide slightly and let the work take centre-stage. Making for other people is far more pleasurable than for myself.
What music would you choose for your own wedding?
If we were to marry, I think we would choose Let’s Stay Together by Al Green. Or I would vote for Something Changed by Pulp. They are my two favourite love songs.
What’s next for the business?
I’ve recently moved premises, from a petite pop-up boutique to a vast studio and showroom! My hope is to be able to continue expanding my design skills with more opulent gowns and more exquisite corsetry.
How did you come up with the company name?
Sparklewren is simply a more sparkly version of Jenni Wren, which was what my mother always called me.