This is modern bridal. Very modern, indeed. In fact, I will go as far as to say it’s boundary-pushing. The shapes, the fabrics, the overall look, none of these are traditional, yet you can instantly recognise it as being bridal wear. That is skill. For every contemporary bride-to-be out there, let me introduce you to your new favourite designer: Velvet Johnstone.
“Fusing luxurious and hi-tech new fabrics and styling with the harder, masculine edge of tailoring to create complex yet feminine collections and bespoke designs…”
What I love is the contrast, from the fluidity of the softer designs (found in those long, long skirts), to the structure of some of the dresses where impossible shapes enhance curves and create a daring silhouette. And yet even with these striking looks, there is a wearability about all of the pieces – you probably aren’t a wallflower if you’re choosing one of these designs, but you don’t have to be a show-off, either. These clothes are inclusive as much as they are innovative.
“The label was established in 2010, following a decade of design work by its founder with some of the industry’s biggest players. Velvet Johnstone encapsulates the best of British-made fashion traditions paired with a forward-thinking approach to design and use of print and fabrics. An approach that gives its collections and private commissions that heady mix of tailoring and attention to detailing, all with a perfectly balanced aesthetic of feminine modern luxury.”
And there’s a pretty cool list of those who have worn the designs: Kylie Minogue, Lorde, Eliza Doolittle, Little Boots, Jessie J and Kelly Rowland. In fact, a quick look at the ‘about’ page on the website revealed a list of some of my favourite stars and publications, all adorning or showcasing the beautiful designs.
ABOUT THE BRIDAL EDIT
“From bespoke bridal gowns to comfortable pre-wedding day apparel, the Bridal Edit features a range of designs and inspirational pieces to establish a unique alternative to more conventional wedding attire. With the likes of their long flowing tulle skirts with delicate lace and beading embellishment available made to measure, Velvet Johnstone includes its clients in every step of the process to deliver both a modern, seductive twist on the traditional bridal gown, and a perfect bridal look in one sumptuous package.
Velvet Johnstone prides itself on making dream creations a reality, whether that’s the perfect gown for walking down the aisle, knock-out frocks for your rock ‘n’ roll wedding guests, or the ultimate evening outfit as she and her sweetheart dance off into the sunset together…”
Now you know about this incredible collection, here’s a little interview I did with Cheryl, the designer behind the label…
WOW: What’s your tip for choosing a dress?
VJ: I am a massive romantic, so as much as I do say that the dress (or separates, as the case may be) chooses you, that something clicks and you just know… my tips are very practical.
First up, don’t be a slave to what you always thought you would wear pre-question popping. Chances are you aren’t the same girl that used to run around with that tea towel veil on your head. Both you and times have most likely changed, so be prepared for a curveball. Secondly, and most importantly, you need to feel like a million dollars. You need to feel beautiful, relaxed and comfortable in whatever you choose, be it a huge gown, a delicate vintage slip, a simple shift, an über cool playsuit, or anything anywhere in between. Going all out or super low key, the most important thing is to feel like the best possible you. Thirdly, enjoy yourself.
WOW: Describe the bride who chooses your designs?
VJ: The VJ bride is always pretty cool, in once sense or another. She is looking for something that will make her feel amazing and express her true self and inner dreams, and that’s what I’m here for. I offer a full bespoke service so brides come to me knowing that they’ll have something designed especially for them and perfect for their choice of wedding.
WOW: What made you get into designing wedding dresses?
VJ: It’s been a very natural and magical transition into bridal. My work has always had a feeling of modern romantic nostalgia, which I guess is why people started to ask me to make their wedding dresses… That’s what started this journey, and I absolutely love it!
WOW: What inspires your designs?
VJ: I have a very emotive approach to design. People, music, film, science, nature, everything inspires me, but it’s the emotion, the daydreams, memories and feelings that are translated through my work.
WOW: What words or inspirational phrases do you live by?
VJ: Dream with your eyes wide open.
WOW: If you could dress anyone for their big day, who would that be?
VJ: Kylie! And maybe Elsa…yes, from Frozen!
WOW: What books/magazines/websites/art do you read?
VJ: I am an obsessive collector of Vogue. I fell in love when reading my mam’s as a child, and I have every edition since 1997 (my first subscription, which she bought as a Christmas present), including many classic vintage Italian, French and Japanese editions. I love Ballad Of magazine and its dreamy approach, fusing art and fashion perfectly. And I love instagram. It’s such an easy and visual way to keep up to date with all the blogs, designers, artists, brands, etc., that I love. Hence the name velvet_hearts.
WOW: Do you design other things apart from bridal wear?
VJ: Yes, bridal wear is quite a recent thing for me. I also work on special projects and bespoke commissions; I’ve had the opportunity to create for Kylie, Little Boots and most recently Anna Calvi, which has been amazing. Also, aside from Velvet Johnstone, I am one half of She’s Lost Control, a fashion and lifestyle brand, fusing fashion with modern mysticism. Launched last year with my good friend and jewellery designer Jill Urwin, it has been a real soul project, and I’m loving the journey it’s taking us on.
WOW: What did your own wedding dress look like?
VJ: I never really had a dream dress while I was growing up, so when it come to designing my own wedding dress, I had two very different ideas in mind, and in fact complete opposites to each other. I had the fabric – embellished vintage tulle – for months, but just couldn’t decide which way to go. As the wedding grew closer, the choice became really natural and I absolutely loved my dress (below); it had a really positive impact on how relaxed I felt on the day…anyway, I can always make the other one, too…watch out for my new collection!
WOW: What music did you choose for your own wedding?
VJ: Music was a key part of our wedding. My husband Simon DJs and produces music, so he programmed and curated the music throughout the whole day into evening. We walked down the aisle to Cloudbusting by Kate Bush, which Simon edited slightly to make the perfect time. We signed the register to Take My Hand by Moloko, and walked out to Heart by Pet Shop Boys. All very significant songs in our lives and relationship. We didn’t have an official first dance, but I guess in one way our first dance was when Simon played Kylie’s What Do I have to Do? and I ran to the dance floor!
WOW: What’s next for the business?
VJ: Next is the launch of my new collection. It’s building on the bridal edit available now, introducing new key separates and dreamy gowns. It’s the first collection designed specifically as bridal, so I’m really excited to share it. It’ll be launching at A Most Curious Wedding Fair and Chosen Wedding Fair both in London this March, with a little sneaky peek on the catwalk at A Most Curious Wedding Fair Norwich in February!
WOW: What websites and social media can we find you on?
VJ: You can keep up to date with all things Velvet Johnstone on Facebook and Twitter. Instagram is more behind the scenes, things I like, inspiration, what I’m up to, sneak peeks, things like that. You can also find me on Pinterest, where I create lifestyle and dream moodboards.