Ian Stuart talks new-season wedding trends and tells all about his new occasion wear store, Blewcoat
Nestled a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace and house inside a stunning Georgian building, Ian Stuart's new occasion wear boutique, Blewcoat, has to be visited to be believed.
Home to oodles of fabulous outfits for mums, maids and guests galore, Blewcoat also offers a sparkling selection of accessories to complete the look. We caught up with Ian to find out more...
What was the inspiration behind Blewcoat?
We’ve always wanted our own store, where we can service brides and clients and where I can push my creativity; a designers playground essentially. But we wanted to wait for the right time. We celebrated our 10th Anniversary last year, and in the same year we discovered the disused and almost derelict Blewcoat school, we knew immediately that time was now.
The property is gorgeous. Tell us a bit about it?
The Blewcoat is a very special 300 year old building, it was built as charity school for orphaned boys, around the same time as St Pauls was constructed. Many suspect it was designed by Christopher Wren because of the date and the may similarities in style and features. It’s truly breath taking when you walk through the door, I still can’t believe that my designs are showcased in such beauty. It also holds a Grade I listing due to the rich history, and owned by the National Trust, we are the essentially ‘guardians’ of one of London’s precious architectural gems, which is a tremendous honour.
What can we expect to find in-store?
The concept of the store is to celebrate women of all generations, who want to look fabulous and feel like a million dollars at their special event. Women are getting married and going to glamourous parties from their teens into their nineties, so we offer a fusion of bridal, special occasion and red carpet gowns perfect for any age. We provide exclusive designs and bespoke services to ensure all of our clients find the perfect look unique to them.
What advice would you give to a mother-of-the-bride looking for the perfect outfit for her daughter's big day?
Your confidence is the most important thing you will wear on the day, so ensure you feel great in whatever you choose. Take direction on colour from your daughter, remember it is her day, but don’t worry if she asks you to wear a colour you’re not used to- there are so many different shades and tones; bright, muted, pastel, you can find one in any colour that suits you. But always honour your own body when it comes to choosing your silhouette, this decision should be yours alone.
Any trends you're seeing for mother of the bride outfits?
Sheer jackets and sheer sleeves in dresses are becoming increasingly popular. A lot of moms don’t like to expose their upper arms. Wearing a jacket all evening can be too restricting, and going sleeveless simply isn’t an option, so a sheer sleeve is the perfect solution, it provides movability and coverage.
Ditto, for a guest of any age looking to find the perfect piece for a wedding - what should she consider?
To look like a guest, and not be mistaken a mother of the bride or groom, simply opt for a fascinator or ‘hatinator’ for your headpiece, and wear a dress with sleeves instead of a jacket- it takes the formality from the outfit.
What are the most important things a woman should consider when choosing a special-occasion outfit?
Find a dress you love and make it work for you! If you find a design that you love, but there’s something you would like to change or tweak- with this type of luxurious clothing, there are more possibilities to make it perfect for you- possibly by adding or removing decoration. And I highly recommend getting your outfit tailored to fit you like a glove- not only will it give you extra confidence, you will also look undefinably better than you ever have done, and no one will know quiet why!
How important are accessories when it comes to completing a look?
Accessories are such a personal statement, it’s what testifies your individual style. Some women will be understated and classic, others adventurous and daring. My golden rule when accessorising a wedding gown or special occasion outfit, is stay true to how you normally accessorise. If you love to accessories- reflect this in your choices, but if you don’t, don’t feel pressurised to complete the tick box of what you should wear just because you think you should.
Your wedding dresses are what we primarily know and love you for - and your 2015 collection looked stunning at White Gallery! What's your favourite new-season gown?
Thank you! I actually think it’s my best collection to date! My favourite though changes as to what mood I’m in- there are so many different looks and personalities covered in my collections- a mood for theatre, for whimsy, for romance or sexy fashionista. I do have a special place in my heart for my finale gown Papillion, which I featured in a multi-coloured version on the catwalk. I love colour- and I used almost every one on this dress!
Finally! It's not just about the bridal party at Blewcoat - tell us about the service the boutique offers brides?
The service will be a reflection of the surroundings, special, luxurious and personal. One thing I cannot abide is pushy sales people, or those who look down their noses. We spent a long time choosing the right people for the boutique. Krishma, Ruth and Irene were all chosen for their warm personalities, creativity and expertise in personal service. You can also request private consultations with me, a service I have been so excited to be able to offer now that I have my own home.