Tag Archives: Paddington boutique

The Bridal Series Sydney: MOIRA HUGHES

This week’s designer for The Bridal Series Sydney is Paddington’s Moira Hughes.


And was shot by Angela Rose Photography and Natasha Foster.

One would say that having incredible talent, passion and drive alongside being warm, energetic and fun is a winning combination… Profiling Moira Hughes, I discovered she is just that combination!


The British-born designer has always known she wanted to design wedding gowns and spent years working with some of London, Dublin and Sydney’s best designers before creating her own label and opening her Paddington Boutique.


Starting every day with a cup of tea (she has never had a cup of coffee!), Moira says that designing is something that has always come naturally.

“I have little sketches of wedding gowns everywhere- even without realising it I suddenly have little brides spinning around a notepad.”


Moira’s boutique, nestled in the heart of Paddington, is a merging of New York loft meets Parisian chic. A converted barn with exposed brick, high ceilings and raw finishes, her space cleverly combines the finest components of classicism with an elegant and refined twist. The boutique is light, airy and modern, yet very intimate.

“The beautiful space has the convenience of being near the city combined with the romance to reflect the craftmanship of our gowns. Each bride has the whole boutique to herself, it adds to the experience.”




With such an enthusiasm and genuine love for her craft, Moira says the best part of her job is meeting with brides.

“The excitement in designing a gown she will remember forever and feel the best she has ever felt is infectious! I find myself thinking of brides and their dresses on the weekend, particularly on their wedding day. It is a whole journey I am so grateful to be part of.”



When asked about her inspiration, it all comes down to brides and fabrics!

“Meeting someone who is newly engaged, hearing about their wedding and learning about their personality. A picture starts to form and excitement between us builds on the perfect wedding gown.

Seeing all the new laces come through from Paris is incredible and sparks so many new ideas. Sometimes a unique lace will stay in my mind just waiting for the right dress and when it all comes together this is really inspiring.”


A Moira Hughes bride is…

“…a bride who wants everything! They want the timeless gown to love in 50years time but also a dress that is young, modern and unique. She wants to look incredible but also be really comfortable to drink, eat and dance her night away! She is not afraid to stand out but also wants that romantic elegant and demure silhouette.”


I ask Moira how long her gowns take to make and what the design process involves and am thrilled to learn that all dresses are made in Sydney (pretty rare in 2016!).

“A couture gown is usually started about a year in advance. The first step is securing the fabrics and laces from Paris, ensuring the time for the gown to be created has been booked out and everything is ready for the bride. Closer to the wedding the fittings start, the last taking place just two weeks before the big day to make sure the fit is really perfect.

The fact that everything is made in Sydney means we have complete control over each design and can create dresses really close to a bride’s wedding date, allowing her as much time as possible to get her ideal wedding day body!”


With the bridal industry being no stranger to trends, Moira gives me her predictions of what we can expect to see in bridal couture.

“Its all about the back! Low, low backs, higher necklines and more detailing. Other tones are starting to creep in too – bridal blush and dove greys are emerging for the more fashion-conscious bride.”

And finally, Moira’s advice for a woman deciding on her dress…

“Stay true to your personality, perhaps pick out a couple of words to describe yourself on the day. If it is classic, modern, pretty or glamorous- use that as a guide. You will regret wearing a dress you were talked into, hair you never usually like, shoes that are too high or make up much heavier than usual. Stay true to yourself and you can’t go wrong!”

Together with Kirsty our model, Angela Rose and Natasha Foster behind the camera, Moira’s styling and myself on hair and makeup, this is what we created.

Some highlights…






For a description of how I styled the hair and makeup as well as an insider’s look at which Indeed Labs, Make Up Forever, Ardell and Label M products I used, click here.

And now for two minutes of fun with Moira Hughes…

What is your party trick?

I can make the best Whisky Sours!  Always popular at parties.

Describe the colour white to somebody who is blind?

White is the colour of peace, innocence and a blank canvas.  It is the colour you see if you stare at the sun and also of a bride walking down the aisle!

What is your favourite 90s jam?

November Rain- who doesn’t love Guns n Roses?!

If you were 80 years old, what would  you tell your grandchildren?

Do it! Make things happen and if you make a mistake it is better to learn from it than to always wonder would have happened.

Moira you were an absolute pleasure to profile and I can see why your brides adore you so much!  Thank you for taking part in this blog series and allowing us into your beautiful boutique.  I wish you every continued success.


You can follow Moira Hughes on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest as well as visit the website for more information.  The boutique is located at 2c Heeley St, Paddington NSW 2021 (just off Five Ways roundabout).

I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the designers profiled in this Bridal Series!  So far we have featured:

The Bridal Series Sydney: RHONDA HEMMINGWAY

The Bridal Series Sydney: KAREN WILLIS HOLMES

And showcased behind-the-scenes of the hair and makeup products and techniques used:

Rhonda Hemmingway: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

Karen Willis Holmes: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

Be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the designers profiled in The Bridal Series Sydney on Instagram, Facebook and of course, the blog. Three down, three to go!  And as always, feel free to leave any comments or questions below.


© 2016 Sonia Allen Make Up.  Do not copy, reprint or republish content and/or photos without author’s written permission.
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Moira Hughes: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP By Sonia Allen

In this post I will talk through how I created the hair and makeup for Kirsty, our model when I profiled Moira Hughes for The Bridal Series Sydney.


Hair and makeup by Sonia Allen using Make Up Forever, Indeed Labs and Label M. as photographed by Natasha Foster.



When styling short hair it’s hard to go past the pixie crops of the 1960s and 1990s for inspiration.


Left- Actor, model and socialite Edie Sedgwick circa 1965 with the one and only Andy Warhol and Right- Actor and activist Jean Seberg circa 1960.


90s icons- Linda Evangelista, Winona Ryder and Halle Berry.

I wanted to style Kirsty’s hair with texture, separation and definition.  I wanted it to look effortless yet polished and very feminine.

Like this…


Flower comb custom made for this shoot by the lovely Nicholas from Pollon Flowers in Paddington.

This was a relatively quick style to create and can easily be attempted at home.  I started by spraying Kirsty’s hair with the Label M Blow Out Spray and alternating between blasting my hairdryer from all different directions and gradually layering more of the spray for UV and heat protection as well as volume and separation.

Once I was happy with the volume I’d built I worked the Mesh Styling cream in between the palms of my hands and worked it through the hair side to side to get an even distribution.  Using my fingertips, I then pieced out certain sections for definition and built some extra texture at the crown.  I love the slight shimmer this gave to Kirsty’s hair and there was no need for hairspray.


Hair styling products from LabelM.



Kirsty’s skin had a wonderful texture but was dehydrated (not dry) and so I applied the Indeed Labs Hydraluron Mask for five minutes before commencing with the rest of the prep.  The masks come soaked in a hyaluronic acid solution (one of the best hydrating ingredients) and deliver in a slow release.  Once I removed the mask, I massaged in the remaining serum and finished with a dab of the Eysilix eye cream and the lightweight Hydraluron Moisture Jelly moisturiser.


Skincare by Indeed Labs.



Moira Hughes Couture is all about femininity and exquisite design yet there is diversity amongst her designs.


Moira Hughes Couture – the Indianna gown (left), the Belle gown (centre) and the Charlotte gown (right).


When creating the makeup for Kirsty, I was torn between doing something really soft and subtle or taking the makeup into a more high fashion direction because Moira’s gowns lend themselves equally to both styles.  Having trouble making up my mind, I did both!


The first look I designed was all about the eyes. Rich taupe and chocolate shades, kohl liner smudged around the lashline and some lengthening lashes.  I kept the base matte and ethereal (like the glow was coming from within) and I worked with Kirsty’s incredible bone structure to emphasise the cheekbones. For the first look I used a soft matte pink on the lips.


Then I amped it up for the second look by adding a bold red shiny lip and darkening the brows a fraction for balance.  The complexion was left the same.



My key makeup products from Make Up Forever:

Base: My tried and tested favourite, the Ultra HD Foundation was my base of choice and I only needed slight amounts of the Ultra HD Concealer to correct discolouration under the eyes.  I set everything with the Super Matte Loose Powder in “Ivory” to add that ethereal glow.

Blush & Highlighter: Using a light motion with my angled brush, I swept the Sculpting Powder Blush in “Satin Light Pink” blush upwards along the cheekbones and dusted the Star Powder in “Pearl Gold” above the cheekbones to highlight.

Lips: The soft matte pink I used for the first look was the Rouge Artist Intense in “Satin Fresh Pink” buffed in lightly with a lip brush, no liner.  For the second look it was a combination of the Aqua Rouge Liquid Lip Colour in “Red” and “Pomegranate Pink” and topped with a dab of balm for the sheen.

Brows: I worked with the Eyebrow Pencil to define Kirsty’s brow and when needed for the second look, I darkened them using some matte powder eyeshadows.

Eyes: The Eye Prime eyeshadow base went down first, followed by eyeshadow shades from the Artist Shadows 1 Palette . To achieve that definition near the upper and lower lash lines, I smudged the Kohl Pencil in “1k Black”  and finished with lashings of the Smoky Lash Mascara.


Tools of the trade with Make Up Forever.

Lashes: To achieve fluttery lashes that would compliment Kirsty’s eye shape, I chose the Ardell Glamour 103 lashes. They certainly added an element of drama to the eye design (which is great for photography) but brides after a more subtle look can opt for individual lashes instead.


This look is a great example of keeping all design elements in balance.  The texture of the hair works with the softness of the skin and the eyes meet in the middle- defined but earthy.  Using the two different lip shades on Kirsty is a great demonstration of the power of a bolder lipstick.  This could be something to discuss with your makeup artist if you are thinking about changing things up between the ceremony and reception (party time!).


I hope this post has left you inspired to try something new!  You might like to see which other products and techniques I used for the other the models in The Bridal Series Sydney:

Rhonda Hemmingway: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

Karen Willis Holmes: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

Be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the designers profiled in The Bridal Series Sydney on Instagram, Facebook and of course, the blog. Three down, three to go!  And as always, feel free to leave any comments or questions about the hair and makeup below.


© 2016 Sonia Allen Make Up.  Do not copy, reprint or republish content and/or photos without author’s written permission.
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The Bridal Series Sydney: KAREN WILLIS HOLMES

In every profession, there are always people you look to for inspiration.  Leaders in their field and great at what they do. For me, this was meeting Australian designer Karen Willis Holmes.


Accomplished, driven and fun; stepping into Karen Willis Holmes’ beautiful Paddington boutique was a re-affirmation of just how much this designer has to offer and is captured beautifully by the photography of Angela Rose.

Get to know Karen Willis Holmes, in her words as told to me…


Always interested in fashion, Karen studied fashion design and manufacture at Bentley TAFE in Perth. She worked for herself and another company before moving to London. It was her years in London working for companies specialising in evening and special occasion day wear that she really honed her skills.

“One particular person I met while I worked for Arabella Pollen in London taught me some of the best lessons. We would make the sample patterns in the studio and after the shows I took the patterns to this older gentleman (there was no other word for him) and he would tweak them and turn them into production patterns which were masterpieces, he had such love & passion for his work and showed me so much.”


Karen- “I have always been interested in, and focused on a high level of workmanship and focused on job opportunities that involved this craftsmanship.”

Upon her return to Australia, Karen started a store designing eveningwear. During this time people started asking her to make wedding gowns for them. When the lease finished on her store, Karen’s husband Geoff suggested she change direction and specialise in fashionable wedding couture. And that’s just what she has been doing ever since, both in Australia and New York.


“I love my job and all of the different levels of what it entails to run and grow a business. It is my full time commitment and love affair. Luckily my husband works in the business and supports me fully in this.”

A hard-working woman, Karen is driven to create a bigger and better business.  She can be found either in the workroom designing and sampling the new collections, or in the office planning trade shows, overseeing the boutiques and working on the new designs and paperwork.

Having an overseas presence means travel is also part of Karen’s work.

“I travel not only between the four Australian boutiques (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth) but I now also travel overseas a few times a year to visit the boutique in New York and to show at bridal market in New York and London. I consider all my trips working holidays so I like to try and block out a few days to go and explore – especially in the US!”

And together with my photographer Angela Rose and our model Renata, Karen styling and myself on hair and makeup, this is what we created…

For a description of how I styled the hair and makeup as well as an insider’s look at which Indeed Labs, Make Up Forever, Ardell and Label M products I used, click HERE for a dedicated behind-the-scenes post.

Some of the highlights:







Asking any artist what inspires them can be one of the most challenging questions to answer. However Karen’s passion really shines through when she shares with me her design process and from where she draws inspiration.

I always draw reference from the fashion period of the 1940’s. In particular, Christian Dior’s revolutionary ‘New Look’ in 1947, following the Second World War. The construction, fit and hourglass silhouette – cinching in and defining the waist, of the collection is always a source of inspiration.

Designing is not just for the outer aesthetics of a gown, you also have to consider how the design is going to work internally – on a structural level. I also take inspiration from the history and the art of making corsets, how they manipulate the body and how they work within a wedding gown.”

Sonia_Allen_Make_Up_The_Blog-KWH-13 Sonia_Allen_Make_Up_The_Blog-KWH-32

And now take a quick five with Karen Willis Holmes…

What special touches are signature of a Karen Willis Holmes gown?

Gowns from the BESPOKE Collection and the WILD HEARTS Collection are made in Australia. This is something I am extremely proud of, as it is becoming rare to have beautiful product made here. We also sew a blue bow into our gowns – it is our ‘something blue’ for our brides!

What trends can we expect to see in bridal couture?

I don’t believe lace will completely vanish and everyone is loving the bohemian trend at the moment, but I do believe that lace is slowly making way for luxurious simpler fabrics incorporated in to beautiful structured and flattering dramatic silhouettes. Think clean, tailored lines in fitted dramatic shapes or full ball gowns.

Who was your favourite celebrity wedding gown and why?

Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge) – I do love a Royal and I love the work Sarah Burton does with Alexander McQueen. This was a win for me, fashionable, it had to be so classical but then not boring. It was a perfect gown for a Royal Wedding.

What would you name your autobiography?

“Live the life you dream of and try and make it happen!”

Thank you Karen for collaborating on this project and for sharing your journey so far with us.  We can’t wait to see what’s next for Karen Willis Holmes!

You can follow Karen Willis Holmes on Instagram and Facebook as well as visit her website for more information.  The boutique is located on 13 Glenmore Road, Paddington NSW 2021.

If you are looking for a wonderful wedding photographer, get following Angela Rose on Instagram and Facebook or check out her website.

Many thanks also to The Print Room for allowing us to shoot in your space and for being so accommodating. I definitely recommend a visit to this restaurant/bar if you’re on the lookout for a unique drinking/dining experience. And if you find yourself there, be sure to let me know if you find this beautiful inscription…


I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the designers profiled in this Bridal Series as well as the behind-the-scenes hair & makeup post to learn more about which products I used for our model.  As always, feel free to leave comments and questions below.


© 2016 Sonia Allen Make Up.  Do not copy, reprint or republish content and/or photos without author’s written permission.
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