Charlotte Simpson is truly unique in the world of bridal, her dresses are just so clean, elegant and sophisticated and we love her minimal styling. Those of you who follow RMW religiously will recall we featured Charlotte’s French chateau wedding recently and as you can imagine, it was simply beautiful. Charlotte designed and made her own wedding dresses, so along with details of her gorgeous new collection, I thought it would be really interesting to interview her – finding out about the creative process of making your own dress and also whether it has changed the way she now works.
It was a pleasure to learn more about Charlotte and her work, so I hope you find this a throughly interesting read! And if you’d like to see more from Charlotte and our other favourite designers, then don’t forget to visit our Look Book.
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a designer. I vividly recall following my Mum around the shops and being fascinated by the clothes she was looking at – I would examine them intently – closely looking at the types of fabric used and the construction details. Learning to sew at a young age (around 12) is another clear memory that really cemented a deep desire in me pursue becoming a designer.
I studied for a degree in Womenswear at Northumbria University and the logical next step was to undertake a Masters in Womenswear Design at the London College of Fashion, a course which I thoroughly enjoyed. I undertook a number of internships following university but I knew deep down that I wanted to start my own fashion design business and so I decided to take the plunge and start my own brand, specialising in evening and cocktail wear.
White is, without doubt, my favourite colour and in each collection I always included a long white dress and over time these dresses kept being requested as wedding dresses. It quickly became apparent what the future direction of the business should be and since 2014 I have focused exclusively on bridal design, which I have enjoyed immensely.
Inspiration & Influences
For me, inspiration is all about interpreting details into hand embroidered textures and in that respect I’ve had inspiration from a number of divergent sources. My most notable influences are below:
So as you can see I’ve a myriad of influences. Fundamentally, it all boils down to being able to interpret minor details into hand-embellished creations.
Charlotte Simpson Bridal
Fluid silks accented with uniquely refined textural embroidery epitomise my approach to modern bridal luxury, creating an accessible and contemporary way to wear embellishment. In essence, the collection is all about minimalist elegance combined with intricate hand embroidery. Modern design and exquisite craftsmanship ensure classic, enduring style.
The Charlotte Simpson Bride
We have a variety of brides and also differing style of weddings; everything from large cathedral weddings to small beach elopements. Whichever style of wedding my bride is having, the one resounding point I hear time and time again is that they want to feel like themselves, they want to be comfortable and wear a dress that reflects their style. They want to be able to move, dance and enjoy their wedding meal without worrying about the dress.
We require a minimum six month lead time for our dresses. Our couture brides experience a full toiling process, their chosen design is mocked up in an alternative fabric, this is then refined and altered at two or three fittings before the silk dress is made, this ensures the perfect fit once the dress is constructed. Due to the hand crafted nature of our dresses our couture designs can take on average 200 hours to complete.
Designing My Own Wedding Dresses
I really enjoyed the whole process. It did sometimes feel quite strange to be the one in the dress at my fittings rather than the one doing the pinning and altering but it was great fun. It also meant that my Mum could be very involved in the process, it was a lovely time for us. She helped me make all the final decisions like exactly which embroidery to choose and exactly how the dress should fit. I loved both dresses when they were finished and enjoyed every minute of wearing them.
I always knew what my wedding dress would be like – a high neckline and low back with a soft skirt and a good size train – I love a train! I really wanted the shape of the dress to combine my personal style of minimal tailoring with a soft train that draped beautifully when I moved. I didn’t want anything too stiff as I think being physically comfortable in your dress is very important. The dress was made in a beautiful light ivory silk crepe and had a hand embroidered herringbone detail at the waist. The only part of my bridal style that changed throughout the process was my veil, I found a beautiful gold headband at Fenwicks, which I stitched onto my veil and wore at the back of my hair.
Designing my wedding dress was easier than I thought, so much so I ended up designing two! I designed myself a second dress to wear for the evening part of the wedding. I wasn’t originally planning to have two dresses but I loved the idea of wearing something heavily embroidered for the night time. I designed a more fitted shape with an open back and a shorter train. The dress was made from the same silk crepe but the fabric was completely hand embroidered in tiny white beads, it glinted its way around the dance floor which I absolutely loved.
A New Approach To Designing?
Designing my own dress and veil has really helped me to appreciate the delicate balance often facing a bride when she is trying to decide on her wedding day style. Does she want her look to be modern, classic, vintage, glamorous or a combination – there are a lot of options. For most women achieving an enduring bridal style that they can look back on – and still like – in years to come definitely factors into the decision making process when choosing a dress. The process of creating my own dress has definitely helped to cement my belief that modern bridal style isn’t about being groundbreaking and avant-garde; that often it is best achieved by creating a subtly current version of classic simplicity.
The New Collection
The new collection is our first Made to Order range of dresses, with prices starting from £2,350. The style builds on the existing pieces that have proven very popular with brides based in both the UK and overseas. In essence, the collection is a continuation of my signature style of minimalist elegance with intricate embroidery. It is, a theme based on modern, refined and exquisitely crafted gowns.
- Dresses Charlotte Simpson