Fresh from last night’s preview evening, we’ve reviewed the beautiful Brides the Show, October 2nd to 4th, Business Design Centre Islington.
Brides the Show is wedding fairyland; it has the sensorial delight of a flower shop, the atmosphere of a Christmas market, and the chic excitement factor of fashion week. The show is taking place this weekend, at the stunning Business Design Centre in Islington, a Victorian era display space with a cavernous, curved roof and enormous, wrought iron period features which add to the magical air of the show. I feel like I am either about to board a train to Hogwarts, or meet Jules Verne at the World’s Fair.
Compared with last week’s mammoth National Wedding Show, Brides Magazine’s live event has more of a luxury, boutique shopping feel to it. All exhibitors have excelled at personalising their display spaces, with beautiful furnishings, elaborately dressed mannequins, and enough flowers to rival Kew Gardens (who are, incidentally, here exhibiting as a wedding venue!) Design has been embraced by everyone, there is just so much to look at and admire. Blenheim Palace have created the most beautiful wedding dining table, complete with glassware and exotic florals. Ian Stuart has recreated his luxury Blewcoat HQ in situ, with rails and rails of beautiful dresses and ornate cabinets filled with bridal accessories.
Bobbi Brown, who are an official partner of the show, have set up a make over station with illuminated mirrors like those you’d find backstage in a theatre, and everywhere you look there are towering wedding cakes, buckets of champagne, flowers, and decorations – and in one stand, there is a suit of armor. Everyone’s welcome!
The first catwalk was a Jenny Packham exclusive, which is only running for one night which seems a shame. The catwalk area has been designed as a ‘secret garden’, where the models emerge from a clearing in between trees, to a grassy runway where they weave in between overflowing bushes of roses, to the haunting strains of Fairport Convention’s ‘She Moved Through The Fair’. It is absolutely captivating, as are Packham’s gowns. She always strikes a balance between ultra femininity – with blush tones and feather-light fabrics – and modernity, be it in dramatic lacing on the back of a classic gown, or an ombre effect on flowing skirts. She emerges at the end to well deserved, rapturous applause.
The main catwalk, at 8pm, was a showcase for a combination of designers. It was a beautiful show with stunning dresses, but it was not as optimised as it could have been. The catwalk was at ground level, and had very little seating around it, so most people were left standing, crammed into a tight space, and not really able to see the dresses properly. Also, while there may have been literature on the reserved seating to give a programme of what the dresses were, for anyone else there was no clue given as to who the dresses were by. Compared with last week’s National Wedding Show, whose highly visible, raised catwalk with plenty of seating was accompanied by a programme and a projection on the back wall detailing which designer’s dresses were on stage at the time – Brides The Show’s catwalk was almost a case of all style no substance. Style is all well and good for a catwalk show, but the point should be that the audience knows the designers they are seeing.
But the shortcomings of the catwalk pale in comparison to the loveliness of the rest of the show. It’s a beautiful space, and a highly interactive show with workshops (wine tasting, make up demos, Q&A sessions ‘on the sofa’ with industry leaders or interesting people) and fantastic, boutique style shopping.