Brides adore Phillipa Lepley’s bridal designs and with good reason. Her beautiful wedding dresses let a bride shine on her most important day. Loved by celebrities and people all over the world Phillipa Lepley has become the go-to bridal designer for brides looking for style, elegance, balance and sophistication.
In this interview Phillipa Lepley talks about her designs, the latest trend in bridal wear and gives advice on how to choose the perfect wedding dress.
Can you describe your brand in five words?
“British, bridal, bespoke, luxury and OCDetail.”
You have been in the business for 25 years this year. How do you reinvent yourself after those years?
“The brides I meet everyday inspire my new designs. Seeing different shapes and bodies is very helpful and often determines what I want to do next. My job is to make brides look as good as possible and to define their shape and waist. People love our corsets!”
What’s the most challenging part about designing bridal wear?
“For me that would be running the business side of things, because I’m such a creative person. Also maintaining the level of quality in every detail, as we have always been a purely bespoke service, and keeping my hands on everything. Training the team is important too, and it can be time-consuming.”
What’s the biggest mistake people can make in choosing a wedding dress?
“Listening to other people too much can become very confusing for a bride to be. I always say come in on your own at first and then come with other people. If you come with a big party there are so many opinions which can complicate things. Just listen to yourself and go with your gut feeling.”
Can you tell me a bit about your new collection?
“We constantly create new dresses and our stock is always moving. Because Phillipa Lepley is a British brand and our studio is local to here, we can quickly bring in a new item to the shop’s collection and therefore never have to send away a frockless bride!”
What’s the latest trend in bridal wear?
“Although lace is still a trend we are now seeing brides choosing clean, plain dresses. Also dresses with elbow length sleeves, interesting skirts, layering, sparkle, glamour… and classic timeless dresses remain popular. It’s very diverse and we cater for everyone.”
What makes Phillipa Lepley a British brand?
“Our dresses are made in England. Phillipa Lepley is the only British couture brand that does completely bespoke bridal. Besides veils we don’t do accessories, mainly due to my love of creating the dress itself.”
What’s the greatest advice you have ever received and who gave it to you?
“My mum told me to always be yourself.”
What advice would you give to someone who is looking for the perfect wedding dress?
“Go with your heart, be very open, try as many different things as you can and don’t have preconceptions. On an initial appointment be as open as possible; don’t rush because if you make a quick decision 9 out of 10 times it will be wrong. Listen to your heart. If you’ve found a dress, keep trying it on until you are absolutely sure that it is the one. Sleep on it and don’t make the whole process a chore – enjoy it, because it’s over before you know it!”
What makes a great wedding dress?
“Being right for the person, and having a beautifully fitted dress. Whatever your size a corset can help to get the shape you love. And look at your body shape to determine where the dress should leave the body.
Also, find a store that takes the time for you. Here at Phillipa Lepley we love to look after brides on a one to one basis and find the dress that suits them. I like to begin by sitting down to talk about the wedding to get an idea of what kind of dress they are looking for. As an appointment is an hour and half we have time to do it properly. If a bride has a special idea we can cater to it, for example we recently designed a beautiful wedding jumpsuit for a bride! If brides want to come back to try different dresses we encourage them to do it. We have had brides come back 9 times before they make their decision.”
Phillipa Lepley has become the go-to wedding bridal brand for a lot of celebrities. Is it different designing a dress for a celebrity?
“It’s not very different. Like with all brides it’s about listening and catering to their needs. It’s all about them as it’s their day.”
What advice would you give to people looking to start out in this industry?
“Go for it! Gain experience with as many people as possible to learn as much as possible. If there is one thing I would have changed looking back at when I started out it would be that I only worked for one person before starting Phillipa Lepley. I would have loved to work for more bridal designers because of the learning experience. Don’t forget to enjoy the ride, have fun and see the big picture. My motto is think big and your sights high.”
What advice would you give to working women who are trying to juggle everything from career to family and children?
“As working mothers it’s important to keep yourself strong to keep everyone else in your family strong. Secondly, take your time and realise what your capabilities are. Simply try to be happy and healthy. Organisation is key so try to think miles ahead. I love to make lists and use post-it notes. Also try to keep calm and make time for your children. If you can financially afford it, try to delegate. But most importantly never forget yourself.”
On what items should people splurge and save on?
“Splurge on accessories like shoes, bags and jewellery and make sure you look after them. I always say ‘put your handbag to bed’; lay your handbags down just to make sure they keep their shape and look good. You’ll get much more pleasure out of your purchases if you treasure them. Save? I would say jeans. You don’t need to go to an expensive brand to find a great pair of jeans.
For bridal wear, definitely splurge on quality. If your budget doesn’t allow it, try to find a sample sale dress, but make sure it’s fitted. Save on shoes, underwear and the veil.”
Lastly, what do you have in your handbag?
“As I’m super organized I have lots of little bags inside my handbag. One of the brands I love is Bottega Veneta because they are handmade.” Phillipa rummages in her orange Hermès bag and gets the following out: a beautifully embroidered French linen tissue case, a leather Smythson tape measure, a Hermes globetrotter diary, and a little green leather pencil case filled with lovely ink pens and pencils.