Nicki Macfarlane, official designer of the royal bridesmaids dresses, speaks to 5 Star Weddings about the big day and working with The Duchess of Cambridge. Nicki Macfarlane is a leading designer of exceptional dresses and outfits for bridesmaids, flower girls and pageboys. We find out about her latest prestigious commission and what styles are desirable for 2011/12.
5 Star Weddings: Congratulations Nicki on your success in being chosen to design the bridesmaids dresses for the Duchess of Cambridge – what were your thoughts when you were first asked to take on this high profile opportunity?
Nicki Macfarlane: Thank you! My daughter Charlotte and I were first contacted by Carole Middleton back in January and following a few telephone conversations and a meeting with Carole, Catherine and Pippa, we were finally asked to create the bridesmaid’s dresses in a phone call from Catherine herself. We were completely thrilled but of course, we had to keep it under our hats as we weren’t allowed to tell a soul!
Nicki Macfarlane: Catherine came to us with a clear vision of what overall look she wanted for her bridal party – un-fussy and sophisticated. She also wanted to echo the design of her own gown so our designs for the bridesmaids’ dresses were created organically. The colours were agreed early on, but the fabric came about later, once Catherine and Sarah Burton had selected their fabrics.
5 Star Weddings: How long did the dresses take to design and what detail was involved?
Nicki Macfarlane: Although we started designing the dresses in February, as with all our bespoke clients, we didn’t start making the dresses until a couple of months before the wedding as little children do have a habit of growing! We had a few fittings with the girls which were wonderful, happy occasions.
The dresses had so many lovely details. The ballerina length skirts were box pleated ivory silk satin gazar, layered over organza, wild silk and petticoats, this gave them their sculptural quality and depth of colour. The skirts, neckline and sleeves were trimmed in the most beautiful English lace. The sashes were made in pale gold wild silk and were tied in the back in a sumptuous bow. As a special memento, we hand embroidered the little girl’s names and the date of the wedding into the lining of the dresses.
5 Star Weddings: Was the Duchess of Cambridge involved in choosing the styles and designs herself?
Nicki Macfarlane Yes, The Duchess was involved at every stage of the design process; she attended every fitting and was open to our suggestions. She was an absolute joy to work with.
5 Star Weddings: What styles have become desirable recently for bridesmaid and pageboy outfits?
Nicki Macfarlane: Since the Royal Wedding, we’ve had a lot of enquiries from future brides who loved the style of The Duchess of Cambridge’s bridesmaids’ dresses. We are forecasting a move away from the frothy, floaty look of recent times towards a more structured, sculptural and sophisticated look.
5 Star Weddingsl: How far in advance do brides need to contact you before their wedding, if they want a made to measure design?
Nicki Macfarlane: We need at least three months for our bespoke commissions.
5 Star Weddings: Do you have a personal favourite within your current collection?
Nicki Macfarlane: Well, I must admit to having a soft spot for the version of The Duchess of Cambridge’s dresses we created and I’m extremely proud of our new capsule collection we designed for John Lewis. I always love designing bespoke pieces for brides because you get to know them and their family and feel part of their special day.
5 Star Weddings: What is your advise to brides with young flower girls/pageboys in terms of practical dressing?
Nicki Macfarlane: I think that the most important thing is to make sure that they are comfortable. Ensure that their outfits are well-made, if possible lined and that nothing can irritate their skin or make them feel itchy.
5 Star Weddings: You’ve obviously just been involved in one of the most prestigious events of the decade but do you have any other wish list high profile weddings that you’d like to be involved in?
Nicki Macfarlane: I know it sounds ridiculous but working with Catherine and her family was just like working with any of my bespoke clients! Even on the morning of the Wedding at The Goring Hotel, it felt just like any other family wedding day -everybody was calm, excited and relaxed. Being with any bride in the build up to their marriage is an absolute privilege and I feel extremely honoured to be part of it – whoever they are.
5 Star Weddings: What in your opinion, makes a 5 Star Wedding?
Nicki Macfarlane: I don’t think there is a formula. I think that every wedding is wonderful!