Forget London 2012, the real Olympics are this summer. The fashion Olympics that is. From rock n’ roll Kate Moss to royal Kate Middleton, the UK is churning out glamorous brides-to-be at an unprecedented rate and there is just one question on everyone’s minds: who will design their wedding dresses?
It remains to be seen whether East End label Alexander McQueen is behind Middleton’s dress, but if so, it should be noted that another Kate – Katie to be exact – actually beat her to east London cool ages ago. For her wedding last year to cage fighter Alex Reid, glamour model and television personality Katie Price got her dress from a shop in south east London.
Deco Brides in Lewisham supplied her with the decadent, white couture gown by Dizzie Lizzie, even adding customised bling to the bodice. So with wedding season in full swing I spent a morning at the shop, in the name of research, to find out exactly what it’s like for London brides-to-be this Spring.
First my hair was pulled into a quick, glamorous up do, a service they provide for all brides on the most important shopping spree of their life. I then tried on a sample of the dress worn by Katie Price, and I can tell you right now those other ‘Kates’ have a tough act to follow; this is the biggest, baddest wedding dress in London!
Shop owner Halil Dervis said: “We went to Katie’s studio first of all, she was having a photo shoot and she quickly tried it on there and then, and fell in love with it. ‘That’s the one,’ she said, that’s the one she wanted. A member of staff then went to her house, and eventually she did come to pick up the dress, have the alterations, extra beading and things.”
With everyone talking about My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, I asked Dervis if he thinks wedding fashions will be influenced by the brides on the show. “I don’t think anyone will be influenced by that, although we have done a few of those sorts of weddings,” he said. But if they want 30ft trains or flashing lights sewn into the petticoat, they’ll have to go to a specialist dress-maker.
When it comes to finding the perfect dress, for most brides it’s more about personal taste than following the latest trend. “It varies,” said Dervis. “Generally you can find different cultures like Turks or Greeks, they want to go for the big dresses, and if they’re younger, generally younger although that’s not always the case, they go for the big, puffier dresses.”
While a lot of Asian brides opt for traditional cultural clothes, many then come to Deco Brides to get a white dress for the civil wedding service. “Everyone deserves to get married, if you believe in marriage,” says Dervis. Although they have yet to have any male clients, he says: “If a drag artist walks in we’ll be happy to serve them.”
The fact is, long before this year’s wedding boom, fashion-conscious brides have flocked to London from all over the world. “We’ve sold dresses abroad as well,” said Dervis. “One particular couple, they were getting married in Poland if I’m not mistaken and they ordered the dress from Australia, flew to London and picked up the dress here, and then from here they went to Poland.”
Deco Brides has been in the family since 1965, having started as a simple barber’s shop by Dervis’ father. “We did have other bridal shops, but we sold them and just focus on one location now,” he said. “Something’s got to give. If you’re running three businesses, that means the children will be missing out. I don’t want to be a rich man and have a dysfunctional family. I’d rather be a comfortable man and have a happy family.”