Welcome to the place where my heart and soul reside! This is where I come to write about and showcase ALL things that make a mark on me – things that are chic, beautiful, inspiring, and totally unique in the Luxury Wedding and Event Planning industries! This is also the place to find inspiration and tips from our Creative Partners. Often, the wedding and fashion worlds intertwine. So occasionally, I’ll include my favorite fashion finds, trends, and current obsessions. My desire is to give you a peek into a world that has always fascinated me and continues to excite me! Welcome to The Bridal Circle blog.
We’re thrilled to launch our new fashion series: PerfectlySTYLED. Our goal is to get off the runway and out of the bridal salon to better understand the inspiration behind some of today’s most sensational bridal gowns. And who better to share those inspirations than the bridal gown designers themselves? Our first designer is none other than Claire Pettibone.
TBC:How did you get started in bridal fashion?
CLAIRE: I developed a love of fashion from a very young age, and studied art and graphic design in college before going on to a degree in Fashion Design. My husband Guy Toley, is the one who really inspired me to design my own collection. He had a business background and we started the company together the same year we were married.
When my husband and I began our business, I had no idea I would end up designing bridal gowns. I always had a very feminine style, and lingerie seemed like a natural starting point. But now when I look back at drawings that I did at the age of 4, they were all brides! The bridal collection, for me as a designer, is the ultimate creative expression. I work with the world’s finest laces, embroideries, and fabrics to create that “once in a lifetime” gown. I find it such a fulfilling, exciting process, and then you add the bonus of the appreciation and joy that my work brings to my clients, and it doesn’t get any better!
TBC: Tell us about Claire Pettibone, what inspires you, where do you draw your fashion inspirations from, what do you love?
CLAIRE: I am constantly inspired by art, all eras of costume history, from 1920’s clothing and accessories, to 40’s wall paper, to lace from the 1800’s. Nature and flowers, birds, butterflies, clouds…the natural world is such a rich tapestry of color and design and is a reoccurring theme in my collections. I research and collect objects related to a specific theme as a starting point for developing a collection.
Ultimately, the theme is just a starting point for me to draw from, and my goal is to make a woman look absolutely breathtaking. I feel with a wedding gown, a sense of timelessness is important. I want my brides to be able to look back on their photos and almost feel that the photo could have been taken in a bygone era. I love combining inspiration in an eclectic way that is vintage inspired, but fresh and a bit unexpected.
TBC:What makes your designs appealing to brides?
CLAIRE: It used to be the non-traditional bride that loved the collection, but now, getting married in a garden, field, barn or vineyard is very much in fashion, so the idea of tradition has definitely changed in the 7 or 8 years since I first introduced my collection. I always found this concept of “tradition” to be a bit limited, since to what era are you referring? The 1950’s? Then, yes, a satin ball gown is traditional, but fluid silhouettes, delicate laces and cotton were completely in fashion for bridal gowns of the early 1900’s and into the 1920’s, which are both points of inspiration for my work. I have brides who get married in the most wonderful venues, in all styles of weddings, from forests and beaches, to castles and lofts. The bride who wants to create a mood and express her individual style is drawn to my collection.
TBC:How would you describe your style and what type of bride do you cater to?
CLAIRE: My collection is romantic, ethereal, vintage inspired, with a modern twist. Every bride is different, but they do share a desire to have a truly unique gown that expresses their personal style. If that happens to be feminine, timeless beauty, then that’s my bride! My clients seem to really connect with my work and are so emotional about it. It’s a great feeling to know that the heart and soul that I pour into my designs resonates in a very personal way…it’s not just a dress, it expresses who they are, and to me, that is the most beautiful thing!
TBC:What would you tell a bride who just got engaged about Claire Pettibone bridal designs?
CLAIRE: Each gown is made to order, so we recommend brides plan ahead, and allow about 6 to 8 months for the process of ordering a designer gown. The couture laces and embroideries come from all over the world, many of them made exclusively for me, so that is part of the exclusive quality of my collection.
TBC:Who is your favorite designer?
CLAIRE: Alexander McQueen for his poetic, dark beauty, and pure artistry.
TBC: What is your favorite place to visit?
CLAIRE: The South of France.