A Phillipa Lepley Bespoke Embellished Wedding Dress
Phillipa Lepley is famous for her ability to create a dress with completely bespoke embellishments, designed specifically for an individual. The embroidery and embellishments on her dresses have become a design signature, and one of the reasons why No.46-48 Fulham Road has become the go-to atelier for a couture gown.
From French lace with hand-embroidered pearls and custom diamanté detail, to a hand-draped silk-tulle bodice adorned with crystal and rose gold embroidery – it’s these artisan touches that take a tailored dress to the next level of beauty.
Once the shape and style of dress has been selected by the client, the bespoke embroidery process will begin.
Creating the paper pattern:
Through toile fittings, a basic cotton mock-up of the design is fitted to the individual to gain the style lines and fit of the required silhouette. This is then translated into a paper pattern, which in turn is then used in the making of the couture gown.
Developing a swatch:
If a bride desires a completely bespoke design, the Embellishment Team will meet with her at the very beginning of the process to discuss how she would like the ‘look’ of the fabric to be, demonstrating the various methods of beading, thread-work and embroidery. Swatches will be developed to demonstrate the techniques, placement and colours for the finished dress – all for the client’s approval.
Developing the artwork:
Our clients are given the opportunity to include the most personal of touches, whether that be an embroidered initial, a favourite flower or a special symbol. The Embellishment Team work closely with the client to create the perfect design for her, with the right amount of embellishments across the corset, shoulders, sleeves and skirt.
Once a bespoke swatch has been presented to and confirmed by the client, the embroidery design is either drawn out by hand or developed digitally in the London Atelier, and then scanned in and printed on a miniature scale. From there, it is skilfully cut out and carefully handcrafted into a beautiful Phillipa Lepley ‘paper doll.’ Presenting the finished artwork in this way allows the client to envision the completed dress in 3D – understanding the scale, placement, the flow of the final design.
Once the positioning of the bespoke design has been approved by the bride with the paper doll as a reference, the embroidery can begin. Where a ‘paper doll’ is used as part of the bespoke embroidery design process, the client will be gifted their Phillipa Lepley paper doll to keep forever.
The embroidery process begins with panels of fabric being placed within a ‘frame’ to gently pull it tight and secure, like a blank sheet of paper. The picture below shows a circular embroidery hoop being used to enable a seamstress to sew a small, detailed motif onto some fabric.
Various techniques are then used to create the embellishment, depending on the design. Tambour beading creates a superior finish for beaded gowns, and is a traditional French couturier technique not used very often anymore in UK ateliers as it requires a very specific skill, and a high level of experience. Beads are held underneath the fabric and a hook is inserted from above, to pull the beads onto the fabric (Pictured below).
For fine-detail thread work, we experiment to establish the best technique for the task. A small delicate flower may require a simple satin stitch, but a bold corded motif may require a specialist ‘wrapping technique’, which offers a defined detailed edge as opposed to a harsh solid edge.
Once the embroidery is complete, the fabric is taken out of the frames and cut.
Assembling the Piece:
The embellishment team sew the numerous panels of fabric together, and the final look designed starts to take shape. The seamstresses expertly hide all the joins in the panels, so that the whole dress looks like one piece of fabric, ready to be fitted on the client in Phillipa Lepley’s tranquil Chelsea space, The Conservatory, where they will see their vision come to life around them.
Having a dress created at Phillipa Lepley is an entirely unique and special couture experience involving meticulous craftsmanship, unrivalled attention to detail and impeccable service.
Phillipa Lepley is widely recognised as being the leading British couture wedding dress designer. Her wedding dress shop in London, Chelsea, has over 50 dresses, all of which have been made in England from start to finish at her atelier.