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All Things Bridal With White Dossier's Gabrielle Taylor

Emily John
 
 Lela Rose Bridal 

Lela Rose Bridal 

 

As the Royal wedding bells are ringing, it suffices to say we are all in the mood for a bit of bridal bliss. Enter White Dossier: a bridal concierge service set up to guarantee that when you walk down that aisle, you feel the very best version of yourself. We had a little buzz talk with founder Gabrielle Taylor on all the latest in the world of bridal so read on to meet your new well-connected, stylish best friend! And for a flash of inspiration, head over to their divine Instagram account @whitedossier that’s sure to take “put a ring on it” to a whole new level.

 White Dossier founder Gabrielle Taylor wearing Inbal Dror at her wedding in Tel Aviv

White Dossier founder Gabrielle Taylor wearing Inbal Dror at her wedding in Tel Aviv

The idea for White Dossier came about not long after I got engaged; after working as a fashion designer for over a decade I knew exactly what I wanted. Despite my clear vision, I really struggled to find what I was looking for and it made me wonder how difficult it must be for brides who don't even know where to start in their search for 'the one'. My own dress hunt highlighted just how useful it would be to have guidance and help to navigate the bridal market- in essence a bridal fashion ‘planner’.  

As a bridal concierge, we want to elevate each client's experience and, of course, enhance their style on the big day and any other events around their wedding. We approach bridal from a different perspective; while respecting its traditions we also encourage our brides to not be governed by them. It’s very common for brides to fall into the trap of settling for a wedding dress they didn’t actually want. It's great to be different and wear something unexpected so we work a lot with both bridal and non-bridal Ready To Wear brands and we often encourage clients to consider the latter as a wedding day option. Sometimes that’s a sure-fire way of achieving a less traditional ‘bridal’ look that’s so in demand right now. Essentially, we want to make the experience of shopping bridal much easier.

Everything is so accessible in the age of social media, but in the same vein, there can be a distinct lack of practical information. Sometimes inspiration really isn't enough; brides need to be able to locate and buy what they've seen online, whether it’s on a Pinterest board or Instagram wall and that's where White Dossier comes in. We cut through the clutter to present brides with carefully considered and genuinely exciting outfit recommendations along with the vital information of the price and the place to get that dream look from. Another facet of the business is our support for emerging and lesser-known designers. Danielle Frankel is for instance a brand we brought to the UK for the first time through a Trunk Show at The Wedding Gallery and who’s also stocked on Net A Porter. She is a great example of the emerging bridal designers we’re supporting and drawing attention to.

We’ve recently noticed an increase in brides who are after wedding dress alternatives like jumpsuits and tailoring. These make for great city and civil wedding options, as well as post ceremony bridal attire. We love when brides with multiple wedding functions really mix up their looks. Brides who don’t want to wear traditional bridal are very much on the rise. They want our help finding a truly beautiful Ready To Wear look that can work as bridal and then enjoy wearing again. It’s always best to buy a wedding shoe you will be able to throw on with your favourite pair of jeans and a classic t shirt long past the wedding day, as the idea of buying a white satin shoe you’ll only wear once seems both dated and a waste. The same goes for bridesmaids and is it’s why the Paris based brand Les Heroines is proving to be quite popular with our clients. It’s not just about the wedding dress anymore; it’s about the entire wedding wardrobe. Although the main focus remains on the special day, the modern brides' needs now extend to pre and post wedding day functions - especially with the rise in popularity of destination weddings. Whether it’s a weekend in the UK or a few days abroad, couples now want to celebrate over an extended period, and that means there are a lot more looks to consider and put together.

 Prada Feather Trimmed Sandals SS17

Prada Feather Trimmed Sandals SS17

 Emilia Wickstead SS18 

Emilia Wickstead SS18 

A very current bridal trend we are seeing is a shift towards two in one dresses and detachable skirts. From Oscar de la Renta to Berta and Suzanne Neville, a lot of brands are now offering a detachable fuller skirt, enabling the bride to change up her look pre and post ceremony. These individual pieces allow brides to have 2 completely different looks within their wedding day. It’s also a great middle ground if you love the idea of an outfit change but feel it's a little bit too indulgent to have a second outfit while you are about to invest in something you’ll only wear once. If that’s the case, the two in one dress certainly seems to be the answer to your prayers!

Another re-occurring trend is pearls, and while they might have had an old fashioned connotation once - especially in relation to bridal- that’s definitely no longer the case. Used unexpectedly, they can be such a luxurious detail. Danielle Frankel’s bridal collection features a jumpsuit and an off the shoulder gown where pearls are used within the straps or as buttons, adding beautiful colour and texture. These pearls are large and irregularly shaped, adding a very modern touch. When used in a contemporary way, pearls can also make for stunning wedding jewellery. Made out of mismatched pearls, Sophie Buhai's choker is a fine example of a fresh way of incorporating pearls and adding a stunning dimension to your look.

The off-shoulder neckline is more of a staple and less of a trend and we love how designers keep modernising this silhouette. Galvan's debut bridal collection features a stunning full lace off the shoulder gown that is high on the wish list among our clientele. Similarly, capes are having a major bridal moment; short and structured or soft and billowing, they create a serious statement when walking down the aisle and could also be a great two in one piece for your wedding day. And sure to be popular with brides, we expect to see a lot more of beaded capelets as the Art Deco era of the 1920s that was a huge bridal inspiration for SS19.

 Chanel Haute Couture SS13

Chanel Haute Couture SS13

 Danielle Frankel Bridal

Danielle Frankel Bridal

 Miu Miu Glitter & Pearl Sandals 

Miu Miu Glitter & Pearl Sandals 

With the upcoming Royal Wedding and taking into account all the current trends, we can imagine Meghan in a beautiful structured cape for the ceremony and we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some modern pearl accents. If White Dossier had had the honour of styling Meghan we would have commissioned Stella McCartney to create her dress. She is a designer that stands for sustainability- a cause both Prince Harry and Meghan are committed to- she is British, female and we think this would have been a great alignment for Meagan in all respects. We’d love to see her in something modern and minimal but with a standout detail. 

Engagement and pre wedding parties are such exciting occasions to celebrate with friends and family while the bride often feels more relaxed and carefree. There is only one rule for your engagement, and that’s anything goes! Bride should opt for something flattering that they feel great in because they will be the centre of attention. Our primary advice to clients who are having a pre wedding party is to choose something that’s quite different to their wedding dress. Of course nothing will outshine your the dress and everybody has a personal style but there is something nice about keeping the outfits really separate so your final look feels as unique to you and your guests as it should. For example, if you are wearing a more traditional gown on your wedding day, why not go for a beautifully tailored jumpsuit, or a flirtier mini dress?

When it comes to accessorising, you can look at your wedding in sections: ceremony, party, after party. So you can change up your accessories to suit. How about some great statement earrings after the ceremony for when the vibe is more relaxed and easing into the party? We love helping our brides to mix up their looks without them having to change their dress. We also advise them to buy into their accessories with a long-term vision. A recent client bought a pair of Valentino Rockstud kitten heels and they just peeked out of the bottom of her dress. It gave her look a little bit of a rock and roll edge. Those are shoes that, with a little re-heel and refresh here and there, will last forever. Wedding accessories can actually turn into a great investment, as you’ll wear them again and again. It’s a brilliant excuse to buy a pair of designer shoes that you’ve always wanted!

Once your wedding is over, it’s essential to bring your dress to a qualified dry cleaner as soon as you can. Wedding dresses get marked and the longer you wait, the harder it is to get stains out of the delicate white material. And when you do go to the dry cleaners, talk everything through and make sure they are confident in handling your wedding dress. Some beading for example cannot be dry cleaned as it may melt and it’s always good to be informed of the risks so you can make a decision or take it to a place that is better suited to cleaning your dress. 

Whether you’re the bride, groom or guest, The Restory offers professional dry clean advice and restoration services on all wedding attire and accessories. You could re-colour a clutch or even reimagine your wedding shoes by adding beautiful beads and stones as a detail. Book a pre or post wedding collection https://www.the-restory.com/book or email our Client Services Team on service@the-restory.com

 
 Chosen By One Day SS18

Chosen By One Day SS18

 

Azzedine Alaïa: The Last Great Couturier

Emily John
 Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier exhibition at The Design Museum

Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier exhibition at The Design Museum

If you admire Alaïa as much as we do, chances are you are well aware of The Design Museum in London opening a new exhibition this week dedicated to the late fashion designer. Or you might remember that epic scene from Clueless where Cher refuses to lie down on the filthy pavement while being robbed at gunpoint, exclaiming: ‘ You don’t understand, this is an Alaïa!’ Either way, make sure to pen down Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier in your diary as Alaïa himself co-curated the first ever UK exhibition on his legacy.  The exposition focuses on his journey from sculpture to couturier from 1980’s to 2017.  And with more than 60 couture pieces on display, rather than just a retrospective, it will shed light on the brilliant technique and craft that was applied in creating his pieces.

 Alaïa with Linda Evangalista at his atelier

Alaïa with Linda Evangalista at his atelier

Born in Tunis, Azzedine studied sculpture at Ècole des Beaux Arts before choosing to apply his self-taught skills in fashion design. He moved to Paris in 1957 and started working for Christian Dior and collaborated with other esteemed designers like Guy Laroche and Thierry Mugler, before opening his own atelier in 1979.  He invented the body-con style and enhanced the female form through his designs; created on the body instead of a sketch table. His work was made to be worn by Amazons so it was no surprise that the original supermodels of the ’80s specially flew down to Paris to walk his shows. No small feat considering that New York was the centre of the fashion industry during that time.  

Alaïa was widely known for his hospitality as he fed all his guests and workers at his apartment in the Marais, which also served as his atelier, shop and showroom. He was an absolute perfectionist who could spend 5 weeks or 5 years making a dress and he was adamant about doing everything himself, from cutting and fitting to sewing samples. He even altered all the patterns after the catwalk shows so his designs would fit the more average figure of a woman; usually carried out by fashion technicians specialised in this field. He didn’t accede to commercialism and refused to move to the incredulous speed of the fashion system.  Nevertheless, his designs were equally celebrated in Hollywood as in fashion; his impressive client list included Michelle Obama, Greta Garbo and he even dressed Grace Jones as May Day in the Bond film A View To A Kill.

With Alaïa, quality was definitely over quantity and each garment was carefully constructed and finished by his own hand seeing that he was always perfecting his own technique as opposed to following trends.  In continuous pursuit of innovation, he used stingray to construct bra tops and created dresses out of raffia and horsehair. He also laser-cut leather and fabrics to create his signature accessories and fitted silhouettes. He entered into a successful partnership with Prada in 2000 and the brand introduced a line of accessories with perforated bags and studded platform heels that are highly coveted to this day.

Alaia boots.JPG
Alaia bag.JPG

Alaïa’s leather creations are, just like his clothes, made with a sculptural approach and astonishing attention to detail.  His timeless designs are often considered heirlooms that should be preserved for future generations. “Once you start wearing Alaïa you just never stop” For this reason, we are always excited to receive Alaïa's work at The Restory atelier as we can help refresh the colour of your laser-cut leather tote or keep the studs of your platform boots in place! Please contact service@the-restory.com for details. 

- Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier will be open until 7th October 2018

 Azzedine Alaïa with one of his couture pieces

Azzedine Alaïa with one of his couture pieces

Elvis & Kresse: Winning at Sustainable Luxury

Emily John
 Elvis & Kresse

Elvis & Kresse

Ever thought it was possible to create luxury handbags and accessories out of fire hose? Neither did we. At least, not until we met Elvis & Kresse, who founded their ethical brand to rescue and transform London’s fire hoses into sustainable luxury pieces with great design to boot! As supporters of sustainable fashion our interest was more than piqued. So we had a talk with co-founder Kresse about the heart of their business and how they landed a long-term partnership with Burberry.

 

Please tell us about how the label started and explain to us a little more about what you do?

In 2005 we had a chance meeting with the London Fire Brigade and a very emotional response to their damaged, decommissioned fire hose. It was too heroic and too beautiful for landfill. Somebody had to do something and it was going to be us, Elvis & I. We mounted a rescue, and over the last 13 years we have saved all of London’s hoses, transforming them into a range of luxury accessories and donating 50% of the profits to the Fire Fighters Charity. From the first day we had a unique DNA: rescue, transform, donate.

 

What does sustainable luxury mean to you?

I think the best way to define sustainable, is by defining its opposite. An unsustainable thing or activity is one that ‘can’t be maintained at the current rate or level’. Many of our human activities are essentially unsustainable: anything that relies on fossil fuels, or requires large amounts of land, water or toxic chemicals is most likely not sustainable, at least not in its current form. We take this concept a bit further; for us, if it doesn’t make the world better for other people’s grandchildren, then it isn’t sustainable. We built our entire business on this idea. This is why we don’t follow ‘seasons’ or trends and instead focus on utilitarian classics. Although I think luxury is up to the consumer, our products are all hand-made by highly skilled and well paid craftspeople.  We believe our products represent sustainable luxury because they make the world better, not worse, and their quality and integrity ensure that they will have a long second life.

 

What inspired you and what was the most interesting thing you discovered when working with raw materials from fire hoses?

The problem is always the inspiration, and the problem is more than just the material. We fell in love with the hose, that was the spark, but we also needed to understand it. Where does this problem occur, and why, and in what amounts, and what is fire hose anyway? What is it made from, what are its properties, what is its maximum future potential? The most interesting thing that we continue to discover is that waste is a design flaw, it really doesn’t have to exist at all.

 Hose drying

Hose drying

What kind of challenges did you face setting up a sustainable brand?

We face the same challenges that any brand would, but then add to that the reality of using completely novel materials, having to develop new techniques and often equipment and ensuring that our whole business is run and managed according to a strong set of environmental and ethical principles - it practically doubles the workload. However, the real reward that comes with the genuine satisfaction of ‘doing good’ makes these additional challenges all the more worthwhile.  

 

Tell us about your collaboration with Burberry & what prompted this partnership? 

No matter how carefully patterns for leather goods are planned, high quality, unused, freshly tanned and dyed leather falls to the cutting room floor as seemingly unusable pieces. Globally this amounts to 800,000 tonnes each year. We have designed a system to transforms leather fragments into components which are then hand woven, piece by piece, into whole new hides. When we decided to tackle the leather problem, we knew we would need a brave partner. We are grateful for the support of the Burberry Foundation to address this issue together. Late last year, we launched our 5-year partnership and we are truly excited to scale this solution and magnify its impact. This is the kind of work we are made for and it’s the kind of partnership that will change the future of luxury.

 

 Bag made from hand-stitched leather pieces in Burberry collab

Bag made from hand-stitched leather pieces in Burberry collab

Donating 50% of your profits to charity is no small feat, what made you decide this is the way forward and how has this impacted your business?

When we first found the hose and took it home, we promised that we would share half of our profits with the fire service community. It was a snap decision, and certainly one of our best. The hose comes to us from a heroic community that we instinctively knew we needed to honour and include in our project. Sharing, is genuinely important, why else would society spend so much time teaching children to share? Profit is a surplus; it is what is left over at the end of the year. It is important to reinvest half of this in the business but why shouldn’t we also reinvest half in our community of stakeholders. The donation has also allowed us to open up in more helpful ways; both the Fire Fighters Charity and the London Fire Brigade have access to our books. This openness was also instinctive, but it has made us one of the most radically transparent luxury brands, and given us a unique platform to communicate the inherent value of transparency.

 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

We started Elvis & Kresse to solve the problem of London’s fire hoses. Each day, kilo-by-kilo we are solving problems.

 

Your brand is dedicated to craftsmanship and durability; how do you apply this principle to your daily life?

The DNA of Elvis & Kresse is prevalent in a lot of our choices and possessions. We think twice, and buy once and always reclaim if we can. In 2013 we bought Tonge Mill, a former flourmill that was mostly derelict. We have converted it into our workshop and home by salvaging everything that was there and fitting out the interiors with items we have been collecting from skips, building sites, ebay or gumtree. Everything from the beds to the sinks, skirting boards, flooring, tiles and light fixtures are rescued. It was certainly a labour of love, but it is an extension of the same values that are at the heart of Elvis & Kresse.

 Elvis & Kresse weekend bag

Elvis & Kresse weekend bag

 The Tonge Mill

The Tonge Mill

What are your investment pieces and how do you look after them?

I inherited a pair of cowboy boots that my brother bought when he was 13. They are from an amazing Canadian brand called Alberta Boot. I look after them by resoling and repairing as needed and they are still going strong after 26 years of solid use.

 

What can you not live without?

Oxygen, water, food… and it would be really tough without Elvis.

Iconic Handbag: The Hermès Kelly

Emily John
 Crocodile Hermès Kelly

Crocodile Hermès Kelly

Before there was Birkin, there was Kelly- Grace Kelly that is. Apparently, Grace Kelly first encountered the ‘Sac à Dépêches’ on the set of To Catch a Thief, when the costume designer decided to dress Kelly in a few items from Hermès - it was love at first sight. After leaving Hollywood for the life of a princess, Grace Kelly stepped out in 1956 carrying a crocodile Hermès bag cleverly positioned to hide her pregnancy from the paparazzi. That exact moment was captured on film and helped solidify the name of the bag, which was officially renamed the ‘Kelly’ in 1977. But before we explore what many consider to be their ultimate Holy Grail handbag, lets take a moment and step into the luxurious time machine of the House of Hermès.

 Prince Rainier & Grace Kelly 

Prince Rainier & Grace Kelly 

 Grace Kelly carrying ‘ Sac à D  é  p  ê  ches’

Grace Kelly carrying ‘Sac à Dépêches’

Rewinding 140 years, it all started in 1837 when Thierry Hermès founded Maison Hermès after learning how to master the leather craft in Pont Audemer, near Paris. Originally a harness and bridle workshop, Hermès provided equestrian riding supplies to European aristocrats. Their reputation as one of the finest saddlery makers in the world grew and so did their business, as they went on to supply a Russian Tsar with a large quantity of saddles. Amusingly, it’s also said that Hermès’ first client was the horse.

 1957 Hermès Kelly Advert

1957 Hermès Kelly Advert

The house then started producing the Haut à Courroies, a bag especially created for riders to carry saddles and other riding accessories in, and even created the first leather garment with their patented zipper; a golf jacket for the Prince of Wales. Later in the 1930’s, Robert Dumas went on to design the Kelly bag as we know it by converting the original Haut à Courroies into a roomy travel bag with the name Sac à Dépêches.

Being the more discreet sibling of the two, the design of the Kelly is more formal and demure than the Birkin’s. It has a boxy trapezoid shape with a top handle accompanied by a detachable leather shoulder strap while the interior contains one large zip compartment and two open pockets to store away smaller items like your phone and favourite lipstick.

 

Les Ateliers Hermès

As to be expected from a brand of this magnitude, the quality and workmanship at Hermès is unparalleled. To give you a little clue: a leatherworker receives two years of training at the Hermès atelier supervised by an artisan before they go on to produce handbags. As one of the exceptions in the handbag industry, Hermès does not use any assembly lines. And a single craftsman takes 18 to 24 hours to create a Kelly bag from start to finish. Their attention to detail is equally astonishing: the hides for the bags arrive at the atelier symmetrically arranged and readied for the artisans to cut the leather and hand-stitch the pieces together. The goatskin lining of the Kelly is the first part to be sewn where after the base of the handbag is stitched with a wax linen thread using the double saddle stitch technique. This method guarantees that if one stitch loosens, the second will still hold.

The handle consists out of 5 different pieces and is the most difficult part to construct. Due to the many internal compartments, it requires about 4 hours to complete. Once put together, it is then shaped by hand and covered with hot wax to protect the leather from soaking up moisture. After adding the front flap, each of the 4 metal feet is hand riveted to the bag body. Fun fact: Hermès actually irons their calfskin bags to smooth over any visible wrinkles on the surface. To finish off, the hardware and the signature gold stamp is placed onto the bag. The final step is to meticulously inspect the handbag for any faults- if an error is detected Hermès ensures the bag will never reach its shop shelves.

 Hermès Atelier in France

Hermès Atelier in France

 Crafting the Handle

Crafting the Handle

 Hermès Kelly Construction

Hermès Kelly Construction

The production process of a Kelly bag involves many more stages subject to that particular leather and we could probably dedicate a book to all their techniques. So let’s have a closer look at the two styles of the Kelly instead: the Sellier and the Retourne. The Sellier has a more formal appearance due to the rigid and structured look of its leather while the Retourne has a slouchier construction with softer leather, giving it a casual air. The most common sizes of the Kelly are the K28, K32 and K35; there are in total 8 different sizes available for purchase.

Veau Box

Mighty in all things leather, Hermès uses a vast amount of exceptional hides for their bags- varying from classic calfskin to more exotic varieties of alligator and lizard. The oldest leather type, and Grace Kelly’s personal favourite, is the Veau Box. A large part of her private collection was made out of this specific leather.  The Veau Box leather is made from the hides of male calves and uniquely treated to give a glossy and grain-less look. The skin is processed and buffed with a special oil and beeswax that gives it a luminous lustre. The Kelly Sellier is usually made out of this leather and comes with many advantages such as being lightweight; retaining shape and aging beautifully, though there are also certain drawbacks. Due to its smooth exterior the leather is more vulnerable to scratches and scuffs. Blisters may also appear on the surface if it comes into contact with water. But never fear, effects from outside elements and general wear can be minimized by reconditioning- just leave your bag in the capable hands of The Restory team!

Veau Barenia

Another popular leather type is the Barenia, which is smooth calfskin tanned using several oils and natural dyes. This type has a special way of aging as the leather darkens over time, creating a unique patina. It’s softer and heavier than the Veau Box and still used to create harnesses and saddles.

Chèvre de Coromandel

One of the most sought after Hermès leathers is the Chèvre de Coromandel; made from the skin of male mountain goats. Because of its robustness and textured grain, the leather remains unaffected by scratches and other blemishes. Soft to the touch, it has a lustrous shine and is lightweight to carry. All this goodness comes at a price, as this beautiful hide is also used on the more expensive spectrum of Hermès Kelly’s.

Just like their extensive techniques, the House of Hermès does not skimp on the quality and variety of hides used for their highly coveted handbags. There are many online guidelines dedicated to the specific leather types used by Hermès, such as this edit by the Purseblog. Apart from scarcity this is one of the many reasons why Hermès bags are continuously in high demand all over the world. The fact that their bags retain value and even appreciate over time is a phenomenon in the luxury leather goods industry that only Hermès is able to enjoy.

Hermes Birkin.JPG
Hermes Birkin The Restory.JPG

If there is one thing we can highly appreciate, it’s the art of the leather craft. At The Restory we frequently provide solutions for covering up scratches, stains and as well as re-edging. And if you are feeling particularly creative, we could also completely re-colour your Hermès bag- as shown below. Additionally, we are able to offer advice on general use and storage. Even if you don’t plan on reselling, it is vital to care for your Hermès bag in the best possible way so it can remain in great condition for generations to come. Your Kelly is an heirloom piece after all. Get in touch with our team today at service@the-restory.com