Designing couture for brides-to-be

Susie Stone grew up surrounded by fashion. Her parents both worked in the industry, and her grandmothers’ effortlessly polished sense of style would become a reference point for her designs some decades on when she herself launched into that very same craft – designing couture.

Susie’s bespoke wedding dresses, with their flourishes of feathers and pearls attached to immaculate vintage-inspired designs, are now the talk of fashionistas and brides-to-be. Khoollect spoke to Susie about her influences and what it’s like to design THE most extravagant category of garments.

A Day in the Life of Susie Stone

You design some gorgeous clothing – how long have you had your own line for?

I opened my first atelier on Bermondsey Street in June 2010 and have been creating made-to-measure clothes ever since.

Do you have a background in the fashion industry?

My parents both worked in fashion so I grew up surrounded by design and retail. I always knew I wanted to create a label that had an emphasis on British style, UK manufacturing and a bespoke service, so after I left university I worked on saving enough money to make that happen.

What’s your most adored item you’ve made?

We work with a lot of brides so it’s almost impossible to choose one – every garment is so special. My SS15 couture collection has a special place in my heart; it consisted of three exquisite gowns each highlighting the couture techniques that made our atelier unique. The collection included a dress hemmed with a flurry of ivory feathers, and a gown encrusted with more than 1000 pearls that took three weeks to hand sew.

Are you working on any new projects right now?

I mainly work on evening wear and bridal couture, so most of my designs are top secret until the big event. This means my lips are sealed until they’re complete. This year, however, I’m planning to work on a few projects that involve collaboration with other brands and designers that I admire, which is always a fun experience and makes a change from the bespoke process.

What inspires your designs?

My grandmother was a big influence on me growing up as she had an innate sense of style and sophistication. Her look gave me an appreciation of fashion from the 30s, 40s and 50s and I always admired the effortlessly chic style of stars such as Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall and Rita Hayworth.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that fashion gives me the opportunity to create, but in a practical way. If you make a piece of art it exists mainly to be viewed, whereas clothes are useful as well as beautiful – everyone needs to wear them.

What’s your biggest achievement?

Considering I started out as a fashion designer, winning ‘Best Newcomer’ at the 2014 Perfect Wedding Awards felt like a big achievement. The award was voted for by the public, so we were honoured to win against such big, established bridal brands.

Susie Stone Bridal

 

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few … 

Predictably for a designer, I collect vintage clothes. To me, fashion is cyclical so I like to look back for my inspiration going forward… and it is also a very ethical way to shop. In New York recently I picked up an exquisite emerald green Yves Saint Laurent blouse for a bargain (and it made me extremely happy).

What’s your favourite item in your #khoollection?

I think my photos and albums are my most treasured items. I have always been into photography and used to develop my own prints before the digital revolution happened, so I have boxes of albums documenting my travels and times spent with friends and family. I still print all my photos because it’s never the same looking at them on a computer.

A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?

Enjoy the moment and don’t be afraid to make mistakes – you learn something new from every experience, good or bad.

Your absolute favourite piece of clothing to wear?

Luckily I can design my own clothes so I have lots of favourite pieces. My go-to standard outfit is a classic full circle skirt with a neat little t-shirt or blouse. I always feel that’s a silhouette that suits me and can take me from day to evening with a change of shoes.

Who’s your #khoollectcrush?

As mentioned before, I have always admired stars of the silver screen from Grace Kelly to Audrey Hepburn. In terms of modern style crushes, some of my favourites are Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Diane Kruger and Lupita Nyong’o – the common thread to their style is confidence and individuality.

Urban Favourites

Where do you call home?

I live near Bermondsey Street in South East London. It’s near where I grew up so feels like home and is incredibly creative with lots of small, independent shops and cafes.

Best spot for dinner?

Casse Croute is a tiny but incredible bistro that feels like you’re stepping into Paris.

The best nook in the city for getting your zen back?

Southwark Park is my local and I always find it calming, but Regent’s Park or Greenwich Park are equally good for getting your dose of ‘zen’ in the city.

How do you spend a lazy Sunday?

I am always interested in going to galleries and exhibitions, or if it’s sunny I’ll just walk around London. The city has so much gorgeous architecture, and there’s so many hidden spots to explore – every journey can hold new adventures. Being a designer it’s important to keep your mind open to inspiration wherever you go and the city is often my muse in the most unexpected ways.

Music, film or art – which couldn’t you live without?

I go to the cinema every week and I studied art before I did fashion… but I would have to choose music – I listen to music constantly whether I’m working or at home.

If not there, where would you be?

I love travel, so could imagine myself happily in lots of places around the world. I used to dream of living in California or New York but think I’d miss the ease of travel we have in Europe. Recently I’ve been spending time in Madrid which is a fabulous city and I could get used to eating pasta and designing clothes in Italy…

Photos courtesy of Susie Stone.

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Read Susie’s top spots for getting your fashion fix around London, or her tips for owning your style.

Visit the Susie Stone website.

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