As her Twenty18 collection launches, iconic UK bridal designer Sassi Holford talks to us about changes in the industry, being inspired by her mother's ballgowns and the importance of celebrating British textile manufacturing
You celebrated 35 years in bridal last year. What do you believe has been the secret to your longevity in the industry?
Staying true to myself whilst also adapting to the changes in society that have influenced the wedding market. The bridal industry has changed significantly in the past few years with the greater influence of fashion, but that has only helped me to evolve as a designer.
We love the Twenty18 range, it has such a variety of styles. Did you have a particular type of bride in mind when you were first sketching the collection?
My brides are so diverse now it gives me great scope when designing.
Within the 2018 collection I can identify three themes: city, country and classic. What would you say was the inspiration behind the 2018 collection?
I'd say it was probably the wonderful fabrics, which were sourced mostly from Italy, France and the UK. Though inspiration arrives from many diverse places, my designing is often initiated by the fantastic cloths I find at international textile shows.
You've included a capsule collection to pay homage to UK manufacturing – can you tell us a bit more about your reasons behind this?
This set of designs has been deliberately created to celebrate UK textile manufacturing, and lace artisans in particular. I chose the famous English cotton lace from Cluny Lace because it's owned and managed by the eighth and ninth generations of the Masons; the family started making lace in the 1760s, at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Throughout the last 150 years, Cluny Lace has continued to develop its beautiful lace patterns, combining the best of old traditions with innovative technology to produce a wide range of exquisite designs. So, my capsule collection is a celebration of British traditions and craftsmanship upon which my own business is based.
What do you think of the current UK bridal market?
The market's been flooded with imported dresses, so there's a growing appreciation of beautiful, hand-crafted gowns, which makes me very happy.
You've also launched an occasionwear line, what was the inspiration behind this?
The relocation of my London store to larger premises has been the key to launching my occasionwear line. I've always offered a bespoke service to my private clients, but now I'm able to offer my occasionwear pieces on a wider scale. On a personal level, I take inspiration from photographs of my mother wearing her own handmade ballgowns in the '50s. My couture occasionwear collection redefines classic elegance with fabric combinations and flattering silhouettes to create a contemporary feel.
Do you have a favourite piece in the Twenty18 collection?
I'd have to say Cordelia – it's such a classic style of gown and one that takes people's breath away.
How do you feel bridal fashion has changed since you started out?
Wedding traditions have changed so much, and in many ways an increasing move to informality has encouraged a much wider range of designing. However, I find the majority of brides still want the gown of their dreams to be classic and timeless, so it's my enjoyable task to achieve that with contemporary styling that echoes the bride's own style and personality.
Do you have a dream celebrity bridal client for the future?
The actress Emma Watson.
What is the ultimate wedding fashion faux pas?
Oh, it must be not turning up – that's definitely the worst thing!
Sassi Holford www.sassiholford.com