Charlotte Balbier - a decade designing dream wedding dresses
PUBLISHED: 00:26 29 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:57 29 January 2014
2010 © Frank Hoefsmit
Charlotte Balbier celebrates a decade creating beautiful bridal gowns and she's looking forward to the next ten years
You celebrate 10 years as a bridal designer - what is the key to your success?
The key components are determination, commitment, passion and complete dedication. To make your brand and business a success you have to live and breathe it 24/7 and 365 days a year… it’s non stop!
How did you start designing?
I am a third generation bridal designer in our family; I was born into bridal heritage with both my grandparents being in bridal design, manufacturing and retail between the 1960’s-1990’s. My grandparents had several bridal boutiques across the U.K and a manufacturing business that supplied independent boutiques both in the U.K and Internationally. My mum is award winning bridal designer Amanda Wyatt who is celebrating 20 years at the forefront of British bridal with her own brand Amanda Wyatt. Bridal has been a family business and it still is, even my grandfather still works in the business.
We know a bride’s main concern is to look her very best but what other concerns do today’s brides have and how do you deal with them?
I think the stress of planning a wedding is a big concern and I know first hand as I myself was a 2013 bride. Most brides work full time and have busy work and life schedules, adding into the mix planning a wedding are like then having another full time job as it takes up so much of your time. My top tip... Get a wedding planner!
When you started what was the fashion look?
I set up my own label 10 years ago. My main aim as a designer was always to create fresh and exciting designs that still remain true to the brand identity and that are instantly recognizable as a ‘‘Charlotte Balbier.” I decided to do this to make the bridal industry fresher and young as what I found was the fashion and trends 10 years ago were very traditional. I have achieved this and grown and evolved the brand from a brand new brand in 2003 to now in 2013 it being one of the U.K’s best known and loved British bridal brands with over 40 stockists.
What are the trends in gowns for spring and summer 2014?
For 2014, it is all about embellishing definitive looks with modern touches. Brides to be are all about back detail with low cut backs, cutaway daring designs and sheer lace backs all very much on trend. The grandness of the Great Gatsby and the flapper style embellishments has certainly had an influence on bridal trends and a nod to the 1920’s is apparent, lots of feather accessories, metallic embellishments and beautiful beading are hot for 2014.
What in your opinion will be the next big thing?
I think we are going to see the simple silhouette make a big comeback, classic designs, fabrics and shapes. Equally though I see big tulle ball gowns on the horizon, that’s what I love about bridal, it has so many trends.
How can a bride express her individuality on her big day?
Staying true to who you are, bringing out your personality and style through your wedding gown and wedding day. The way you accessorize your gown and how you style your hair and wear your make up can define your individuality.
What should a bride look for in her designer?
Listen to the stylist in the boutique, they are experts and know what will work for your body shape. They may suggest a gown that you would not usually try and it could be “the one”. Keep and open mind as you could be surprised! Also wear good underwear for your bridal boutique appointments, a good fitting bra and knickers and a smooth fabric and nude shade are essential.
Love the Whimsical Wonderland imagery. What is the inspiration behind your anniversary collection?
My latest collection is the marking of my 10th anniversary. One of my goals for this collection was to draw on the last nine collections, also my brides over the last 10 years as they are truly amazing all so different. Taking what I have learnt and evolving the brand and gowns I set to work to create a new collection that would move not only Charlotte Balbier but also bridal trends in a new direction.
Every day brings a new lease of inspiration and ideas. My Charlotte Balbier brides are amazing and I love to hear from them with all their wedding news and journeys. I’ve built up a large Twitter following and feel privileged to be able to stay in touch with my brides every-day. I relax away from work by taking my dog Buster for a walk and mull over new ideas in the countryside. I have a big passion for haute couture, and keep an eye on new trends. I will be launching a new dress collection soon so keep your eyes peeled for this.
Who is the typical Charlotte Balbier bride?
Gone are the days where everything has to match, a Charlotte Balbier bride is confident and daring in both her wedding dress style and style of wedding. Whether you’re a relaxed boho bride whose bouquet choice is wild hand picked rural flowers to your city fashion forward bride who keeps in minimalist and chic. Some brides like a theme and some like to keep it eclectic, it’s a personal style and choice and both are gorgeous.
Do you have any memorable moments in your career? Any brides who you remember for any very special reasons?
My Summer of Love collection that I launched in 2007 put me on the map so to speak. This was my 5th collection and I really pushed myself and the boundaries to create a collection that was really different. I also produced a photo-shoot that at the time was very different to what anyone has ever done before in bridal. The location, model, styling and photography was amazing and I still love it now five years on! Another turning point was that when I started in 2003 there was no lace dresses in the market, my first collection and every collection since has always had lace pieces and it’s so lovely to see it now so popular, my first two shows I did so many people said to me “ooohhhh lace won’t sell it looks too vintage and bride’s don’t like vintage or lace” I’m glad I stood by what I believed in and pushed the boundaries.