The Helen Rhiannon Designer Label is based in Swansea, on the edge of the beautiful Gower Peninsula. The label is run by 34 year old Helen Rhiannon Gill, an award winning designer, who designs and hand makes the dresses so they can proudly display ‘Handmade in Wales’ on the woven label.
The Helen Rhiannon Designer Label has recently just celebrated 10 years in business. The anniversary saw a sophisticated evening of celebration with a selection of the most memorable dresses on display along with the most recent Bridalwear collection.
In 2013, Helen won the ‘Best Designer’ award in the Welsh Fashion and Beauty Awards and was also a finalist in the Welsh National Wedding Awards under the Best Bridal designer category. In 2014, Helen scooped the ‘Best Independent Bridal Designer’ award at the Welsh National Wedding Awards.
Over the last 10 years, Helen has worked on a huge range of projects from prom dresses, to National Costumes for pageants, bespoke dresses for Cardiff Singer of the World finalist, Natalya Romaniw, and also the international opera star, Katherine Jenkins.
With a love of making beautiful, timeless dresses, Helen decided to specialise in Bridalwear and launched Helen Rhiannon Bridal in 2010. With a reputation for quality and perfection, the label has grown extensively and Helen continues to make classic, sophisticated dresses for the bride who wants something truly unique and handmade in Wales.
If a bride chooses to have their own unique dress designed and handmade from scratch by Helen, then they will embark on a truly wonderful journey. Their wedding dress will be the only one in existence and the bride will play a big part in the design and fabrics, making it a unique and memorable experience.
The Helen Rhiannon Designer Label is also exclusively stocked in the Rachel Burgess Bridal Boutique, in Penarth. The boutique stocks a collection of over twelve dresses. Each dress is based on flattering silhouettes and made up in a range of carefully picked satins and lace with delicate trims and finishes to complete the overall timeless look. Brides also have the option to have their dress handmade by Helen from start to finish.
Top Tips if you choose to have your dress designed and made in Wales.
Even if you know what you want, always go and try on a few wedding dresses as it is such a different dress to anything you have in your wardrobe. Try on a wide range of styles as the style you may think will suit you, may not be the one!
If you have a dress designed to fit you, then there is no need to crash diet. The dress is being made to fit you, not you fitting the dress. The right dress should fit you comfortably and flatter you in all of the right ways.
Invest in comfortable and well fitted underwear as then you will feel fantastic on the inside as well as look amazing on the outside!
We all know Wales has talent and earlier this year, a Pembrokeshire lass with the most extraordinary gift for designing wedding dresses launched her first collection. Believe me, Amy Mair is a name to remember! Her debut collection, Freda May was launched exclusively at White Bride in Narberth in the spring of this year and, following its success, she is now developing her next collection.
If you’d like to get to know Amy and her designs, I recommend following her on Facebook. Not only will you get to see her progress and designs but you will also get a unique insight into her creative mind. She welcomes comments and questions and it’s a great way for you to interact with the designer. Amy produces the loveliest sketches – her sketchbooks are just beeeeeautiful! She is a true creative and is so much more than a fashion designer. With Amy, you get a dress created by a fine artist and a sketch of your dress to prove it, to hang proudly on your wall for years to come. With touches like that and beautiful dresses, what is not to love? :)
Her current collection houses five designs – Aster, Bluebell, Lupin, Mallow and Mallow with Wrap.
When looking at the collection as a whole, the first thing I noticed was the exquisite lace and detailing. The designs just scream couture! They each have their own personality and identity and that is exactly what Amy was hoping for. They are designed for a bride wanting and hoping for something different and unique. Her collection was photographed by the wonderful O&C Photography and the images really are worth a gander. Shot in the beautifully whimsical Bosherston Lilly Ponds, Stackpole Quay and nearby woodland, the collection looks spectacular.
With any collection, I have my favourite, and in this case it is Aster. I adore the femininity of it, created beautifully by the scalloped lace on the sleeves, the lace detailing leading up to the neck and the womanly silhouette she creates. Whichever angle you choose to view the dress from, there is detailing you can’t help but stare at. The dress surprised me and I liked that. I could not predict the back when looking at the front and I was equally as astonished by the attention to detail from all angles. I was truly blown away by it. Amy recently created a beautiful veil using delicate lace and silk tulle. Teamed with Aster, you have a match made in heaven.
To date, brides have found Mallow to be the most desirable of the collection. She can be worn with or without a wrap, creating a completely different look, offering priceless versatility on your big day. Mallow’s ballerina wrap can been seen in her photoshoot. However, if the wrap is not to your taste, Amy recently added a new bolero to the collection, designed especially for Mallow so you also have options! With two styles of wrap to choose from this could be the most versatile dress out there! Even without a wrap, the sweetheart neckline and intricately beaded bodice are more than enough to carry you down the aisle!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with Amy both in person and over the phone. If you are fortunate and lucky enough to be buying an Amy Mair, I can assure you of this… you are in great hands. Her passion is infectious; each time we talk I leave feeling truly inspired. I can only image how a bride to be will feel having an appointment with her…
How did you get into the bridal industry?
My love of couture began at university. I studied Fashion Design at West Wales School of the Arts and graduated in 2011. I was then lucky enough to work for a couture designer where I expanded on my experience and knowledge. With a view to launching a collection in a boutique, I then moved to White Bride in Narberth. I was already working on and had been developing my own brand so this was a great opportunity for me. The Freda May collection launched in spring, 2013.
Where do you find inspiration?
Visually, I take inspiration from the coast and the outdoors but I really do find inspiration in everything, wherever life takes me. I’m inspired by things such as trends in fashion, art, and theatre and even from music but I truly adore the natural environment, especially the beautiful coast and landscapes of West Wales. I sketch, paint and draw and find an overwhelming beauty in nature. I was recently inspired by a photograph of a deer, something which a friend of mine had taken, so much so that I immediately started sketching up designs for my next collection.
Is Freda May someone you know?
Freda May is the name of my Nanan, my mother’s mother. Unfortunately she is no longer with us but when I was growing up she would encourage my sister and I to draw. Our Christmas presents always included art materials and I think she would be very proud to know that she inspired me, not only to be artistic but to go on to establish a career in Bridal Couture. It was an honour to name my first collection after her, she had a beautiful name.
Do you have plans to stock your collections in other boutiques?
At the moment I am working on getting my first studio set up in Cardiff in preparation of the launch of the next collection. My studio will be a haven of sketches, paintings, fabric samples and mood boards. I hope to have mannequins with silks draped over them to inspire new designs and toiles (mock ups) of dresses for the next collection everywhere!
I would love to stock my collections in other boutiques and my next collection will have a larger selection of dresses to do that with so watch this space!
Tell us about your next collection! When should we expect it?
I am always dreaming up new designs, it actually keeps me awake at night! I keep a note pad by my bed because I worry that I will forget them by morning, so I sketch it quickly. I often walk on the beach as it is so quiet and peaceful; it really helps to clear my head of everyday worries. It is in these moments that I find true inspiration and when a design pops in my head it feels so magical. I have some great ideas for the next collection. They need developing but I am bursting with inspiration for it! I am hoping to launch in May 2014.
How did it feel when you made your first sale?
Incredible. A bride-to-be and her mother came to the boutique I was working at and selected an array of dresses to try from the likes of Jenny Packham to Sassi Holford. When she tried on Mallow, her Mother started crying and she instantly knew she’d found the one. I didn’t let on that I was the designer but her Mother guessed. I was very proud indeed.
What is the price range of your dresses?
The current collection ranges from £1295 to £1375
Do you design bespoke gowns if a bride is looking for a one-of-a-kind dress?
I do, and have made bespoke gowns but it is a more expensive process. As a couture designer, I am aware that I will be asked to make bespoke, which I am very happy to do, that is, as long as it is a design that I believe reflects a little of my own style and brand.
Where is your favourite place to Cwtch?
Barafundle Beach in Pembrokeshire. I prefer to cwtch on the beach when it’s cold and dark because I love to look at the horizon, especially when the sky meets the sea and you can’t see the ending – it makes me believe I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
We were thrilled when Amy agreed to showcase her collection at the Cwtch the Bride launch party last week and her beautiful models were absolute showstoppers! I’ll be reporting back with a look at her next collection in the Spring so I wish her every success in the lead up to the launch and I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for her!
AMY MAIR COUTURE www.amymaircouture.co.uk Transparency about our ads & sponsorship is a key part of our ethos, so we’d like to let you know that this post was paid for by a Cwtch the Bride sponsor. We always strive to work with brands we think you’ll love & make sure that all sponsors are relevant to our readers & represent our philosophy.
We’ve got another fabulous Welsh vendor to introduce to you all today (I’m sure a few of you already know her!) – the lovely Hannah Bishop from Hannah Emily Bridal, a beautiful boutique offering bridalwear in Cardiff. Hannah is also one of our blog sponsors, you can find her in the sidebar to the right :)
Cwtch the Brides introduces:
We asked Hannah a few questions to help you all get to know her and her business a bit better :)
Welcome to Cwtch the Bride! :) Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I’m Hannah! :) I was one of those girls that loved dressing up, mainly in my mum’s dresses and heels – that’s where it all began! I knew from a young age that I would need to be doing something in the world of fashion but it wasn’t until I did some work experience in high school at a bridal shop in Penarth that I fell in love with wedding dresses. My ‘dream’ had begun and it was all so inspirational!
I had always excelled at textiles in high school and from there pursued fashion/design in college through to university as well as completing some styling courses along the way! I learnt a lot during this time about fashion in general, fabrics, pattern cutting, fashion eras, trends and fashion forecasting. It was hardwork but very influential in helping me to achieve my goal and what I needed to get to my dream job.
What made you decide to start Hannah Emily Bridal?
I met my handsome husband over a year and a half a go now, it was a bit of a whirlwind romance but when you know you know! I had 6 months to find my dress, which ruled out designing one myself as I wanted to be hands on with every little detail so I decided to go on my journey to find my dream dress.
I tried on several dresses in Cardiff but none that were what I was looking for, which then forced me to do more research. I then found a designer I liked and found the closest stockist to be in Taunton, Somerset! At this point I didn’t really expect much but the boutique there was so cute and I knew the sort of thing I wanted and there, finally, I found my dress!
It was even more stunning than I had imagined and it seemed ridiculous to me for Welsh brides to have to travel so far to find something a bit alternative and fashion forward, which gave me the final encouragment I needed to look into doing it myself with a little support from my husband.
Hannah Emily bridal opened in October 2012 and the boutique is just how I imagined! I had a strict vision on how I needed the boutique to look, and it really does look how I dreamt it.
What do you offer?
We offer our brides a exclusive, relaxing, friendly enviroment in a unique boutique with carefully chosen, truly beautiful collections and accessories (on occasion I do bring in my two little yorkipoos Conan and Rufio too!). We like to ensure finding your special dress is as special as you are, an experience you’ll enjoy and that will stay with you forever.
I love our dresses and meeting different brides-to-be and helping them find their dream dress is such a special moment to be part of. It’s always interesting seeing different wedding styles too – each bride’s style is always different which keeps things ever inspiring.
What size range do you stock?
At the boutique our samples range from a 10-16 (you can order sizes outside of this) and our prices range from £1185 – £3125.
Sweet Anniversary – Lyn Ashworth by Sarah Barrett. Part of a new collection that will be available at Hannah Emily Bridal in the upcoming months.
Gainsborough Garden – Lyn Ashworth by Sarah Barrett. Part of a new collection that will be available at Hannah Emily Bridal in the upcoming months.
Image from the Annasul Y collection – launching in the Autumn
Image from the Annasul Y collection – launching in the Autumn
What’s your favourite thing about working in Wales?
Our favourite thing about working here in Wales is that people are so warm and supportive – since we opened in Rhiwbina in October the other shops have been so lovely. There is a real community spirit here, Cardiff is such a beauitful city once you have lived here you never want to leave!
& now Hannah has some questions for you, our lovely readers! :) She’d love to know the answers so pop them in the comments:
Are you looking for a specific detail in your dress? Back detailing or a colour?
What would you like your chosen boutique to provide?
When looking for dream dress how do you mostly do your research?
Have you considered a budget for your dress before you begin?
Do you find designer days helpful?
Get In Touch
You can find Hannah only in various places, all listed below. Alternatively you can make an appointment to visit the boutique to see those beautiful dresses in person :)
HANNAH EMILY BRIDAL www.hannahemilybridal.com We regularly work with brands we think you’ll love. Transparency about our advertising & sponsorship is a key part of our ethos, so we’d like to let you know that we received payment for this post.