WEDDINGS

supplier spotlight: miss bush bridalwear {inside the boutique}

Happy Friday lovelies! It’s been a pretty amazing week here at b.loved, I’ve loved reading your comments on Kate & Andy’s Paris engagement shoot, and hope some of you have been inspired to think creatively for your own love shoot.  And for those of you already married, you don’t need an excuse to get dressed up and have some special photo’s taken with your beau, get out there and celebrate your love somewhere special!

To round off the week, I am really excited to share some loveliness from inside the amazing Miss Bush Bridalwear.  A few weeks ago I ventured along to this uber-stylish boutique in the quiet and unassuming village of Ripley, Surrey to get to know a little more about the shop, and it’s fabulous owner Emma Meek.  I brought photographer Anneli Marinovich along to capture the evening, and in true Miss Bush style, Emma coordinated her own mini-shoot for us to showcase some of the unique features of the boutique, and a stunning new collection from Anoushka G.

Miss Bush has been in Emma’s family for many years, with her mother, and highly skilled seamstress, Gen Gilchrist working for the original owners since 1988, and being offered the opportunity to purchase the business in 1992.  With many years experience in the retail industry, it seemed like the perfect opportunity, and from the outset involved Emma in the business for her younger eye and different views.

“In 1993 Gen organised my wedding dress for me on the proviso I could have anything I wanted as long as it came back into the shop as a sample.  By pure coincidence, a bargain fixer upper house became available, and my pregnant self, aged 27 moved out of London to sleepy Ripley the same year.  Frankly I was bored! I had no friends locally, I had no car – not a problem in London – and I was pretty much broke. To alleviate this boredom – and remember this is pre internet, pre Sky, pre mobile phone – I used to push my napping baby to Miss Bush and hang out chatting.  A day nursery opened in 1995 and virtually on my daughter’s first birthday she was enrolled. I worked part time and much to the chagrin of the employees at the time I set about the place with the vigour and zeal of a religious convert.  It was a very sweet environment but had the air of a WI meeting. Regular coffee breaks and sit downs, leaving customers to browse alone and unguided, remnants of 80’s style collections immediately got a shake up. From my art college creativity via my slightly pompous university views to my hardened new experience of business development and account management in London I approached working at Miss Bush as I do any project – head on and ambitious”

Miss Bush collections reflect what both Emma and her customers love.  Listening to Emma talk about the industry it’s clear she has a huge knowledge and experience of the inner workings of each designer, and looks for masterful cutting and fine detail, often ignoring the ‘best sellers’ that invariably end up unloved in the boutique.  She is also keen to shop across brands and budgets, offering style without the expensive price tag.  At any one time Emma has about 5-6 favourite dresses in the shop, she is bitterly disappointed that her Jenny Packham favourite, Eve, has just been discontinued.  Her other favourite reveal a passion for varying styles, from the contemporary and clean lines of Jesus Peiro 165, to the glamour and tulle of Tara Keely TK2161 (a ‘baby’-Wang) and the short Lou Lou LB19 50’s style bargain!

“I would love to say my style is classic and timeless so as not to scare brides off. Frankly it is not true – neither am I a vintage-hound, though I own plenty of pieces and am always in charity shops. What I really am is an old goth/rock chick that has never given up on Crazy Colour. I adore Haute Couture and devour images of catwalk genius. At art college I wanted to be a fashion designer until realising I didn’t have the work ethic at 19 needed.  My designer on a pedestal is Vivienne Westwood, my fallen idol Galliano. My bridal crush for my ‘Euro Millions win’ shop – Oscar de la Renta. My crush when I was first in bridal wear, whose work I thought was genius, is Neil Cunningham.  In terms of the designers I work with now Suzanne Neville has got to be the finest couture dress maker available to a regular non-royal, non oligarch-marrying bride. Suzanne’s skill and quality are peerless. Jenny Packham’s designs have always thrilled me and Miss Bush have stocked her since Day One.”

It’s clear that for Emma, picking collections is part business, part lust!  She searches for highly skilled and professional companies she can be sure will provide the excellent service and quality her brides so deserve, but she’s also looking for innovation and a unique style.  The newly stocked Anoushka G collection is one that caught Emma’s eye, and it was one of these dresses she wanted to show off during my visit to the boutique.  The understated glamour and sparkle of ‘Elenorie’, combined with smooth, silky lines and the most beautiful cowl back detail worked beautifully with the our model Hannah’s delicate features, the soft and romantic hair, makeup and pretty interior of the boutique.

“I was aware of the Anoushka G label but hadn’t really stopped to look until suddenly I was wandering through a trade exhibition and was startled by their Farrow and Ball Dead Salmon/Smoked Trout colour dresses. I hate to use the ‘V’ word – but they did have a feel of Great Gatsby style flapper dresses. They were also a very reasonable £100- £1400 SRP. On the model on the trade stand they sat well and moved beautifully and with the stellar Jenny Packham collections jumping to an average price nearing £3k I really wanted to be able to offer a similar stylish alternative. Jenny Packham dresses are undoubtedly more ground breaking and complex in their design and beadwork however the Anouska G is fabulous alternative for brides that have a £1000 budget and don’t want strapless and ruching”

If your vision of a wedding boutique owner is all pink dresses and lace, then be prepared, Miss Bush is of course pretty, romantic and full of gorgeous dresses and accessories to make you swoon, but Emma also strives to be a little different, to stand out from the crowd and offer her brides something a little different ~

“I have never sought or wanted to be involved in the ‘wedding industry’. I have only thought about Miss Bush and our brides. I have deliberately never set foot inside another wedding dress shop. I failed to stay in our trade association because I found them boring, irrelevant and unstylish. I have until my recent sojourn into social media never communicated at length with any other service provider ever.  Being involved in a bridal shop means having your own beautiful sanctuary where real life gets dropped off at the door and where I can be involved in the relatively shallow pursuit of playing dress up and beautifying.”

Venturing upstairs, there are two fitting rooms, elegantly furnished with antique mirrors and artfully draped tape measures, who have seen the excitement of so many brides-to-be throughout the years.  In the next room is the Bridesmaids Boutique, forget cramped and sweaty high street changing rooms, this is a space to enjoy with your best girls, with rails of gorgeous dresses in all colours and styles, with plenty of room for trying on, and sashay-ing, in a pretty and relaxed environment just for you.  Our beautiful model Hannah wears the pretty lace Alvina Valenta Style 9176 from JLM Couture.

Then there’s the Bush Chapel.  Literally a Chapel, on the opposite side of the road to the boutique where literally, the magic happens.  Rows and rows of beautiful dresses hang waiting to be altered and handed lovingly to brides before their big day.  With a team of excellent and experienced seamstresses on hand, under Gen and Emma’s perfectionist eye, you know your dress, whatever it’s style, is in the perfect hands.

“All kinds of women find their dress at Miss Bush regardless of age, size, class, sexual orientation, religious, civil or destination wedding. The unifying factors that bring this disparate group together would be brides wanting something ‘different’. Beautiful but not standard issue wedding dresses. There is for me a very fine tightrope when buying dresses for the shop – too different and they become ‘un-weddingy’ too safe and they are just dull. I guess Miss Bush is also a safe haven for the meringue-averse”

For all of you about to start your dress shopping, what can be a very exciting, yet daunting experience,  I asked Emma what to expect ~

Honest and professional advice. I sell dresses with passion and integrity and tailor my advice accordingly. My brides are so diverse and individual that handing out sweeping advice sits as uncomfortably with me as rehearsed sales patter. I could never ask my employees to sell through the learned lines approach. The ‘tell me your vision, close your eyes, pretend you’re walking down the aisle’ approach shows contempt for customers.  I suppose to allay the fears of the daunted – remember at Miss Bush we’re dress geeks with varying figures that would be juggling budgets if we too were getting married too. We don’t bite, we try not to swear too much, we love a gossip and we, too, throw everything out of our own wardrobes declaring there to be nothing in there. We loathe Spanx, love a good bra and are here to help not to horrify. We can help you save or justify your splurge and we’re here to hold your hand until the last minute.”

Listening to Emma speak, so passionately, candidly and openly about her business and the industry is something unique, and inspiring.  She is clearly hard-working, and brings integrity and honesty to her business, her brides, and the many industry professionals she now deals with. It’s important to point out that Emma regularly collaborates with other wedding suppliers, showcasing her beautiful dresses and accessories, but also helping to showcase new, talented wedding professionals, and is supportive of their businesses too, regularly inviting them to host ‘pop-up shops’ and to display their products in the boutique.

But really, to sum up the whole experience best I’ll leave you with just a few words from Emma on what Miss Bush is…

“Frank, fun and inspirational”

For those looking for something extra special, and maybe a little different and unique, check out the Miss Bush Sample Sale starting on Saturday 2nd June

***

Credits

Photography: Anneli Marinovich // Hair Stylist: Wonderful Hair by Sharon Roberts // Makeup: Clare Pinkney  // Flowers: Fairynuff Flowers // Candy Bar: Creative Candi // Stylist: Amy Plank (contact via Miss Bush) // Model: Hannah Curtis (contact via Miss Bush)

Louise

After a decade-long career in corporate interior design, I took a giant leap of faith, left the security of an office job, and founded B.LOVED in 2011 as a platform for romantic and beautiful wedding inspiration. Thanks to a whole lot of creativity, hard work and passion, my gamble paid off and B.LOVED became one of the leading wedding blogs in the UK.

You’ll also find me working as an Editorial Stylist, where I design and curate beautiful photoshoots for wedding and lifestyle brands, as well as contributing as a founding member of bridal inspiration hub Aisle Society, and running wedding industry community the B.LOVED Hive from our super pretty base in London. Yep, I definitely have the best job in the world.

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