Rosemary Mac Cabe

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Interview with Suzanne Neville, wedding dress designer

This time last year, I met Suzanne Neville, wedding dress designer extraordinaire, and Deirdre Kelly, owner of Kadee bridal boutique, to talk all things bridal over coffee and cookies at the Dylan Hotel in Dublin as Suzanne launched her 2012 …

Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 07:30

   

This time last year, I met Suzanne Neville, wedding dress designer extraordinaire, and Deirdre Kelly, owner of Kadee bridal boutique, to talk all things bridal over coffee and cookies at the Dylan Hotel in Dublin as Suzanne launched her 2012 collection. I since lost my dictaphone – I know, tragedy – but it turned up approximately a week ago and I’m finally getting down to the nasty business of transcribing interviews. So apologies for the delay, although luckily, weddings aren’t time-sensitive.

Fash Mob: How did you end up designing wedding dresses?

Suzanne: I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I did a course in fashion and decided to go into bridal because I really loved pattern-cutting. Bridal and evening wear are really the only things you can work on using those skills. I still design every dress and make the first pattern or every dress now. And I will spend hours perfecting it. I have a pattern cutter who assists me with the made-to-measure [dresses], but I do the first cut. I know, from my drawings, what the vision is. And I’m still very involved with the brides – I’m still there on Saturdays doing fittings, so I know what are the bits that make a girl go “ew”. I want that girl to feel fantastic, so if that means the shoulder line is an inch higher or lower, or the sleeve needs to cover a part of her arm … on the Garbo, for example, I deliberately designed a little frill to go at the top of the arm.

FM: Deirdre, what do Irish brides look for?

Deirdre: Simplicity always wins out. I think a lot of people want capped sleeves. And we’re moving away from the strapless bustier dress; everyone likes some kind of built up neckline, or capped sleeves. Lace is very popular, and fitted dresses. Since Kate Middleton, everyone wants lace. But 99 per cent of the time, girls leave with something they said they didn’t want. I nearly know when they come in the door what kind of dress they’re going to leave with.

FM: Suzanne, who is the ‘Suzanne Neville’ bride?

Suzanne: I design for a woman with a bust, a little waist, but curves as well. It’s about making dresses that fit and flatter every size, shape or height. And you can tell, when a girl puts a dress on, in her body language, whether she loves the dress or whether she’s confident in it or not. If she puts on a dress that shows off her figure in the best way, she will feel confident in that dress, even if it’s not the dress she came in for. And I specialise in corsetry. Once I get a girl in my dress and make that waist two inches smaller …

FM: Do you design for all sizes?

Absolutely. These days, girls are all shapes. I recently had a girl come in who was 5 ft and a size 32. By the time I’d finished with her, we’d sculpted every millimetre, she looked and felt amazing.

FM: Some of your price points are quite high – how can these be made accessible for the everyday woman?

Suzanne: I have dresses in my collection that are seven plus thousand pounds. They are lovely for the few girls who can afford them, but they can also be watered down. Change the fabrics, change the beading, and it can make a vast difference to the price.

FM: Did you wear a Suzanne Neville design for your own wedding?

I got married last year. I think you really know who you are, in your 30s, you know … I designed my own dress, and it was very stressful because everything else came first. And I had so much choice, trying to choose what to have was really, really hard. In the end, I mixed three of my dresses together and one of the girls made it for me two days before. It was very, very stressful.

Suzanne Neville designs are available at Kadee Bridal in Athlone. Tel: 0906-498355 to make an appointment. 

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