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Interview: Sally Wright, Phase Eight bridal designer

We talk to a high street designer and pick their brains about wedding dresses

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Sally Wright has been a bridal and occasion wear designer at Phase Eight since 2012, following 12 years experience working in luxury ready to wear and couture with brands including Jenny Packham, Vera Wang and Philipa Lepley.  Here, she describes the new Phase Eight SS15 8 Bridal collection available online at phase-eight.com and in Phase Eight bridal boutiques in James Street London, Winchester and Edinburgh.

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Where has the inspiration come from for this new collection?

Fabrics and key embellishments are my main source of inspiration. Once I have found the fabrics, I take inspiration from these and design beautiful shapes that will enhance the female form. A key designer I look to for inspiration is vintage Valentino as he always uses beautiful fabrics and knows how to dress the female body. I am particularly interested in 1920s delicate layered beading and embroideries and have recently purchased the most amazing beaded bag that I will use as inspiration for a forthcoming piece.

What kind of personality do you think your dresses reflect?

I would describe the collection as ultimate femininity, with a glamorous and whimsically beautiful vintage feel. Real wedding dresses that are soft and special to wear with delicate detailing, lots of beading, fringing and lace.  

We always try and ensure in every collection that there is something for every bride, whether it is a town hall, church or a country wedding. I feel each dress is timeless, elegant and more importantly affordable without losing any element of uniqueness and beauty. Attention to detail is paramount to ensure each dress is fitted to perfection, and looks absolutely amazing. Key elements of the collection combine pearls, exquisite beading and delicate buttons down the back to make sure the bride feels beautiful, especially when all eyes are on her! 

When designing each piece I always think about how flattering the fit would be and how comfortable it would be for the bride to ensure she feels relaxed, confident, happy and glamorous on her special day. My background is in bespoke couture bridal wear and I always try to bring an element of this into each style. I want each bride to feel the best she has ever felt and select special hand beaded laces, delicate scalloped lace and beautiful bespoke embroideries from all over the world to offer each bride something utterly unique.

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If you could dress anybody for their wedding day, who would it be?

I would love to dress Rosamand Pike, I feel she is incredibly ethereal and feminine. She isn’t afraid to try new shapes or colours and brings class and elegance to whatever she wears.

The trend for high street bridal is ever increasing – why do you think brides should locate their dream dress here rather than in a designer boutique?

I was attracted to join Phase Eight as it renowned for its high-end approach but accessible high quality garments. We are passionate about offering our customers a constant range of new and exciting garments that are flattering to wear and suit every occasion. Everything is designed exclusively in house. Each season we travel to Paris, New York, Hong Kong and India in search of the most amazing vintage pieces or exquisite embroidery that can then inspire a beautiful dress. Once we have sourced all of our fabrics, the design and buying teams discuss the collection, listening carefully to feedback from our stores and customers. I then draw up each piece, making sure that the inner construction and fit of every single dress will help each bride feel wonderful in her dress on her big day. 

Once each dress is made we carefully fit them in-house to ensure absolute technical perfection. It typically takes around 9 months of very hard work from the dedicated Phase Eight team from initial sketch to the dresses sitting in our bridal boutiques.

Any words of wisdom to pass on to a bride-to-be looking for the perfect wedding dress?

Relax, you will find the perfect dress! Know your budget and try lots on. Phase Eight has lovely bridal boutiques in London, Edinburgh and Winchester where you can visit and have one on one help and advice about what is most flattering for your figure. Work out what suits your figure – you might be surprised that a really fitted shape or a slightly fuller shape looks amazing on you. We also sell the complete collection online, so what is really lovely is that you can order your dress and try it on in the comfort of your own home. 

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Also wear good supporting underwear so that when you try on your dress it falls perfectly smoothly on your figure and gives you lots of confidence. I always recommend taking a really close friend or relation rather than a big group of people when you try on wedding dresses as it gets very confusing with lots of peoples’ opinion. It’s also great to keep a little mystery about the dress so it’s a surprise for all on the big day.