This week we teamed up with the super talented dress designer Trish Irving behind the Francis Bridal label to bring you a behind the scenes guide on how she creates her unique dress designs from inspiration to execution. We love her simple, elegant and boho designs that are light weight and super comfy to wear. Plus her music choice is right up our street! Over to to you Trish…
I have quite an eclectic approach to designing! Sometimes I start with fabric, and the shape comes from that, and sometimes I think of the shapes first and then source a fabric to put them in. I always listen to music, it really helps me to concentrate and so my first collection was made with a lot of help from Yo La Tengo and Guided By Voices.
Part of the aesthetic of the brand is for the dresses to be a really cool dress that you would want to wear anyway, that just happens to be long and white. I’m not attracted to anything traditionally bridal (hello strapless stiff corseted bodice and shiny puffy skirt). I really love 60’s & 70’s shapes and have a small collection of pattern cutting books from back then which are constant sources of inspiration. I also really love looking at old fashion editorials from the 90’s, it was such a creative era in terms of fashion, photography and styling.
I sketch out the shape using some templates I’ve adapted. I’m actually terrible at drawing and my drawings are very practical, to communicate to the machinist how I want the finished dress to look, so its more about seam lines and positioning rather than nuance and mood on my sketches. While I’m sketching I also consider body shape, because a sketch that looks great could be really unflattering on the body, which defeats the purpose!
The fabric is so important, and I love using stretch silk satin, embroidered georgette, lace and silk georgette…. all of which are usually very fiddly and difficult to cut and sew, but its worth it. If the dress is being made in silk georgette I also prepare the fabric by hand washing it to shrink it, and then air drying it. When it is dry, I gently iron it to smooth out the surface. Its quite a long process, but ensures that the dresses are stable.
When I’m happy with my sketch and the fabric, I make the first pattern….. currently on my dining room table. Usually I check the pattern against my mannequin and will sometimes make a toile to check the lines. If the dress is going to be made in lace, I also decide how it is going to be cut to make the best use of the lace designs and edges. From this I make diagrams for the factory so they will know how to place the pattern on the lace. All of my lace dresses need to be cut in a specific way so its essential for the factory to know how to do it.
When I’m happy with the 1st pattern I take it to a local factory in London to have a proper toile made. (A toile is a mock up garment, made in substitute fabric, to check the shape and fit of a garment). I drop them off at the factory and explain the garment to the owner and give her a pack with my beautiful sketch, the pattern, and instructions for making the garment. We’ll discuss the best way to put it together and what kind of seams and hems they should use.
When the toile is ready, the exciting stuff starts… I fit the toile and decide if any changes are needed. If the pattern does need changes I will update it. Then I take it all back to the factory with the real fabric to have a proper sample made. Its always such a thrill seeing the dresses made up for the first time and I love seeing something that was just an idea in my head become a tangible thing. The dresses are made with a lot of care and attention, and I hope that one day they will become heirlooms.
Thanks Trish for an inside look at your design process and showing us how much love and care goes into each dress. If you want to know more about what inspires Trish take a look at our We Love Francis Bridal blog post or if you want to book an appointment to view the collection head over to the Francis Bridal website.