Tag Archives: wedding couture

The Bridal Series Sydney: ADAM DIXON

Drawing to a close, the final designer in The Bridal Series Sydney is Woollahra’s Adam Dixon.

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All photography is by Natasha Foster.

Stepping into Adam Dixon’s Woollahra boutique is like being transported into 18th Century Paris. A keen eye for interiors as well as design, Adam Dixon’s self-styled boutique is ethereal, eclectic and an ode to forgotten grandeur. An impressive array of antiques collected over the years, furniture, homewares, fabrics, textures and colours… every glance reveals another secret.

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Adam Dixon grew up painting and drawing as a child. It was no surprise when his grandmother bought him a sewing machine at the age of 14, that Adam knew it was his calling

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Adam’s portrait was taken by Julia Pavel for this blog series.

He went on to study a Diploma of Arts/Fashion in Brisbane and moved to Sydney 20 years ago where he started his first business in evening wear. Six years ago Adam transitioned into designing and creating couture wedding gowns and combined his love of interiors by also branching into homewares, gift registry, scented French candles, furniture, lighting and mirrors.

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Inspired by old classic movies and Hollywood starlets from bygone eras like Greta Garbo, Adam says working with clients and meeting interesting people at a wonderful time in their life is one of the favourite parts of his job.

His approach to designing is very organic and he finds inspiration by truly living in the moment and embracing whatever comes his way, “an idea, a fabric sample, chaos…”. Adam explains that all of his gowns are custom made with an average of 5-6 fittings, or “as many as it takes”.

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Adam Dixon’s couture gowns.

“Fun loving women who know who they are” is how Adam Dixon describes his brides. He tells me they are strong women who want to look the best version of themselves. His best advice to any woman deciding on her dress is to look at the occasion (are you getting married on a beach or in a castle?) and make sure it is to your taste.

Together with Natasha Foster behind the lens, Adam Dixon styling and our beautiful model Tanja from Ava Model Management this is what we created…

The highlights…

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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 Adam Dixon…

What do you think about when you’re driving in your car?

I’m always singing!

How do you make a chicken sandwich?

Chicken, whole egg mayo, crushed walnuts, avocado.

Which two celebrities would you pick to be your parents?

Joan Rivers as a single parent.

What was the last photo you took with your phone?

Kevin my dog.

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A story about Adam’s boutique wouldn’t be complete without his  dog Kevin, who almost stole the show during our shoot!

Thank you Adam for taking part in The Bridal Series Sydney and for letting us shoot in your beautiful boutique.  You have a wonderful eye for detail and were great fun to profile.

You can follow Adam Dixon on Instagram and Facebook as well as visit his website for more information.  The boutique is located at 90 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW 2025.

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I hope you enjoyed this final post for The Bridal Series Sydney, a project very close to my heart.  If you missed any of the other designer’s profiled, you can find them in the links below:

The Bridal Series Sydney: KAREN WILLIS HOLMES

The Bridal Series Sydney: RHONDA HEMMINGWAY

The Bridal Series Sydney: MOIRA HUGHES

The Bridal Series Sydney: JENNIFER REGAN

The Bridal Series Sydney: MIRA MANDIC

And the dedicated hair and makeup posts for each designer here:

Karen Willis Holmes: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

Rhonda Hemmingway: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

Moira Hughes: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

Jennifer Regan: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

Mira Mandic: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

As always, feel free to leave any comments or questions below.  Which was your favourite designer post and why?  Which makeup look or hairstyle featured in The Bridal Series Sydney would you be most keen to try?…

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© 2016 Sonia Allen MakeUp.  Do not copy, reprint or republish content and/or photos without author’s written permission.
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The Bridal Series Sydney: MIRA MANDIC

This week’s designer for The Bridal Series Sydney is Double Bay’s Morgan Mandic of the Mira Mandic boutique.

 

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And was shot by the multi-talented Angela Rose Photography.

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When I first moved to Sydney, the Mira Mandic boutique was one of the first bridal labels that I really noticed. Such a prominent position on New South Head Road, something about this flagship space had me intrigued and naturally I wanted to know more.

And so I met Morgan Mandic…

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The first thing which grabbed me when I entered, was the décor of the boutique.  It has a very zen and almost meditative minimalist design with warm natural woods and plenty of space. It feels open, warm and airy and the gowns certainly take centre stage.

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For over two decades, the Mira Mandic design house has been one of Australia’s prominent bridal couturiers and I discussed this with now lead designer, Morgan Mandic.

How did you get started in design?

“My mother, Mira Mandic, was the original designer who created ‘Mira Mandic’ in 1994. She had a studio at home and I grew up constantly surrounded by her sketches and patterns, fabrics and laces, always mesmerized by the intricacies of her creations. After learning the craft from my mother, I became the head designer in 2009.”

Sharing a passion for travel, we talked about all the wonderful places we’d love to shoot editorials…

What is your favourite part of your job?

“Finding inspiration for upcoming collections and sourcing unique fabrics and laces from different parts of the world – and then seeing the gown I envisage realized on one of our beautiful brides.”

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‘Mira Mandic’ has a permanent design studio in Paris where Morgan often travels for work. I also love this city, it was where I was born and I can never get enough of it.

Morgan says a Mira Mandic bride is “a confident, strong woman who wants to look and feel modern and timeless” and predicts a return to a “classic yet modern take on minimalism” as the next trend we can expect to see in bridal couture.

How long does a Mira Mandic gown take to make and what does the design process involve?

“We offer our clients the unique experience of a custom made, Couture gown. Each gown design requires 6-8 months, involving 4 personal client fittings at our flagship boutique.”

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

Some highlights…

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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 Mira Mandic…

Rollerblades or rollerskates?

Rollerblades

Can you flip a pancake?

Unfortunately no :/

If you could join any band which would it be?

The Strokes.

Best advice for a woman deciding on her dress?

Choose the gown that makes you feel amazing that you do not want to take off!

Thank you Morgan for taking part in this blog series and for letting us shoot your beautiful gowns.  You are an inspiration to have already accomplished so much and I wish you continued success.

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You can follow Mira Mandic on Instagram and Pinterest as well as visit the website for more information.  The boutique is located at 220 New South Head Road, Double Bay NSW 2027.

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

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: JENNIFER REGAN

The Bridal Series Sydney: MOIRA HUGHES

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:

Jennifer Regan: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

Moira Hughes: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

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 last designer to be profiled in The Bridal Series Sydney on Instagram, Facebook and of course, the blog.  And as always, feel free to leave any comments or questions below.

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© 2016 Sonia Allen MakeUp.  Do not copy, reprint or republish content and/or photos without author’s written permission.
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The Bridal Series Sydney: JENNIFER REGAN

This week’s designer for The Bridal Series Sydney is Newtown’s Jennifer Regan.

 

And was shot by Natasha Foster and Angela Rose Photography.

Newtown local Jennifer Regan is known for a very particular style of gown. If you like simple design, clean lines and a feminine silhouette- Jennifer Regan is the designer for you.

With over three decades in the fashion and bridal industry, Jennifer’s celebrity clientele and beautiful brides are testament to the designer’s unique approach to design and creation.

As I sat in her peaceful and intimate Newtown boutique, I literally could not stop admiring her gowns and my appreciation only grew as I learned all about her intricate design process.

Get to know Jennifer Regan…

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Photography by Angela Rose and makeup by me for wedding gown designer Jennifer Regan.

Where do you get inspiration for your new collections?

I love the woman’s silhouette and so I am always thinking about how to make a woman look beautiful and feminine. My head is always full of ideas which may come from fabrics, nature, a mood… anywhere really!

What is your favourite part of your job?

Working with clients and designing for new collections.

Describe the ambience in your boutique.

Calm, relaxing and personalised. We’re very caring and nurturing, providing support and reassurance to brides while they’re planning their weddings. Lots of clients will often say to me, ‘Jen it feels like I’m the only bride you work with’ and to me that’s really beautiful.

Who is your favourite style icon and why?

The women of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s because they were very elegant in that time. Come the late 1920s, women got rid of all the corsetry for the very last time and embraced their natural shape. That’s what I really love from that era onwards because they’re what I’m about- making a woman look and feel like a woman.

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How long does a Jennifer Regan gown take to make and what does the design process involve?

The process definitely starts with the idea. Then I decide which fabric it will be in, I create the patterns (even though I am the designer, I draw all my own patterns!), toile is made, patterns will be adjusted and so on.

This process to get the very first design ready is often six times repeated because I like to get everything perfect.

I work with a real model when working with the toiles and that is a real point of difference. Two hours every Friday I spend working with a model who is picked to have feminine dimensions.

I take photos during the fittings with the model so that I can go back and look at it. When you’re in the moment, it’s hard to be judgemental of all design elements but when I look at a photo, I can see the overall picture and what needs to be adjusted.

 It’s approximately 80hours minimum for each gown.

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Unable to contain my excitement to shoot the gowns with our model Milena and photographer Natasha Foster…

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Love LOVE this gown!

This is what we created…

Some highlights:

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Milena wears the “Uma” gown from the “Dusk till Dawn” collection.

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Milena wears the “Brigitte” gown from the “Dusk till Dawn” collection and Hollywood Navette earrings (available from the boutique).

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Milena wears the “Jacyln” gown from the ready-to-wear collection.

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Milena wears the “Jerry” gown from the “Dusk till Dawn” collection with the “Madonna” French lace veil and Nicole Winkler earrings (available from the boutique).

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 Jennifer Regan…

Where did you catch your first airplane to?

It was a joy flight with my parents when I was young.  Something weird like Bankstown airport to Mascot! 

What’s your current desktop picture background?

It is an image from the Cerrone jewellery campaign where they borrowed one of my gowns.  It’s a really beautiful shot and I love it.

What is your favourite thing about living in Newtown?

There’s never a dull moment!

You can follow Jennifer Regan on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest as well as visit her website for more information.  The boutique is located on 412 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042.

Thank you Jennifer for sharing your space and beautiful designs with me and for taking part in The Bridal Series Sydney.  You’ve given me one more thing to love about Newtown!

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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: MOIRA HUGHES

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:

Moira Hughes: THE HAIR AND MAKEUP by Sonia Allen

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. Four down, two to go!  And as always, feel free to leave any comments or questions below.

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© 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: MOIRA HUGHES

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

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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!

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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!”

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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…

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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.

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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.

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© 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.

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

 

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

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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.

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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…

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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.

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Hair styling products from LabelM.

 

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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.

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Skincare by Indeed Labs.

 

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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.

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© 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: RHONDA HEMMINGWAY

This week’s designer for The Bridal Series Sydney is Darlinghurst’s Rhonda Hemmingway.

 

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And was shot by the multi-talented Angela Rose Photography.

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Rhonda Hemmingway truly is Australian couture royalty. With a career spanning decades at the forefront of the Australian fashion and bridal scene I knew interviewing Rhonda would be nothing short of fascinating. Full of surprises and great stories, enjoy getting to know the one and only Rhonda Hemmingway.

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Located in Darlinghurst, Rhonda’s new boutique is in a fabulous creative building on Oxford Street shared with the likes of graphic designers, production companies, fashion designers and PR firms. As soon as you step into the beautiful lift (like something out of Narnia!) you know that you’re about to discover something truly special.  Rhonda’s space is intimate, comfortable and very inviting.

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Truly blessed to have known her calling from the young age of eight, Rhonda’s story of how she got started in design was a delight to listen to.

“My father worked a second job at The Roxy Theatre in Parramatta and we used to go and watch movies on Saturday afternoons. I was totally mesmerised by that 1960s period of beautiful dresses and gowns.

Mum would come and pick us up when she finished work in the afternoon and by then everyone would start arriving for the evening cinema sessions. And they sure did dress! Women wore fur stoles and great big tulle skirts while the men would come in bowties and suits. It was just gorgeous and I used to love watching that. Then I’d go home and do little sketches as an eight year old and make clothes for my doll.

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The art deco Roxy Theatre building in Parramatta in the 1960s. Image courtesy of Cinema Treasures.

I was also the youngest cousin on both sides of the family and attended so many weddings when I was a child and became obsessed. I always knew I wanted to get into it.

We lived in a street that was all girls (only two boys at the bottom of the street- who had runny noses and weren’t very nice!) so we had a little club of girls, all older than me and I used to make them ball gowns.

From a really young age that’s how I found my calling.”

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A lecturer at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), a photographer (early on in her career Rhonda used to make the gowns and then photograph the weddings on film!) and gowns now stocked in the prestigious ‘Bridal at David Jones’ suite,  I ask the hard-working Rhonda about her inspirations…

“It comes from everywhere. Like a door handle might inspire me… A tree might inspire me… I’m mostly inspired by Elie Saab. I love Elie Saab.   He does really simple designs, the same shapes every year but he changes his fabrics and I think it’s made me work harder with fabrics.

Obviously you have to experiment with design but he inspires me because he keeps everything simple and I think that’s what it is all about. Really beautifully cut, well-shaped, well-fitted but simple.”

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When asked about her favourite part of her job, Rhonda does not hesitate to describe the joy her brides bring her.

“I think creating a gown for a bride who, when starting off doesn’t really know what she wants and when she walks out the door, is overwhelmed at how amazing she looks… It gives you so much joy to see that.”

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Rhonda cites Grace Kelly’s wedding dress as her favourite celebrity gown.  She’s not alone there, I remember seeing this actual gown in 2010 at the “Grace Kelly – Style Icon” exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.  It truly was a work of art.

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Classic beauty: the dress designed by Helen Rose of MGM Studios for Grace Kelly when she married Prince Ranier III, Prince of Monaco, in 1956. Images courtesy of beyondgracekelly.com

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Featuring 125-year-old Brussels lace, meters of silk taffeta and thousands of tiny hand-sewn pearls, it took six weeks for 36 seamstresses to make the wedding gown. Images courtesy of beyondgracekelly.com

I ask about the photo of Carolyn Bessette which Rhonda has on display in her boutique…

“She changed wedding fashion forever. Because when she wore that dress, everyone was having strapless bodices, very boned, with massive beading, crystals and pearls and great big skirts. All of a sudden she came along in something very different and changed everything.”

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Carolyn chose (then un-known designer) Narciso Rodriguez, a former Calvin Kelin staffer to design her dress. She walked down the aisle wearing a fluid, bias-cut dress of pearl-white crepe. Image courtesy of celebritybrideguide.com

For someone who has seen her fair share of trends come and go, I ask for her favourite style icon and was not at all surprised when she named Edith Head- one of the most revered and idolised costume designers in cinema history.

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American costume designer Edith Head was nominated for 35 Academy Awards every year from 1948 through to 1966 and won eight times- receiving more Oscars than any other woman. She was a favourite among many of the leading female stars of the 1940s and 1950s such as Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwuck, Shirley MacLaine, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. Image courtesy of searchengineland.com

And finally, Rhonda’s best advice for a woman deciding on her dress:

“Listen to an expert and add your own touches.

I like people to add their own touches. In fact a lot of the girls come here and say, ‘I like this top and that neckline and can I have it in that fabric’. I’ll sketch it up and guide them as to what will work or what we could do differently.”

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Together with Amber our model, Angela Rose behind the camera, Rhonda’s 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.

Some highlights…

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And now for two minutes of fun with Rhonda Hemmingway…

Sunrise or sunset?

Both

Favourite pizza topping?

Peking duck!  Pizza Moncur- never tasted anything like it!

What is your most used word or phrase?

*Rhonda laughs… “beautiful”.  When I was writing my book my husband did a check on how many times I used the word “beautiful”… It was about 2000 times.  He said, “we’ve got to go back and find other words!”.

What fictional character do you wish was real and why?

Woody from Toy Story, he seems like a lovely guy.

After our interview, Rhonda kindly gave me a signed copy of her book Secrets and Confessions of a Wedding Dress Designer and it was full of great stories and anecdotes. If you’re after a great read, I highly recommend it!

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Thank you Rhonda for taking part in this blog series.  The joy you have for your work is contagious and your accomplishments are nothing short of inspirational.  Your vivacious personality is so much fun to be around and I wish you every continued success.

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You can follow Rhonda Hemmingway on Facebook and Pinterest as well as visit the website for more information.  The boutique is located at Studio 23 (second floor), 94 Oxford Street Darlinghurst NSW 2010.

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

I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to keep an eye out for the rest of the designers profiled in The Bridal Series Sydney!  Last week we showcased Karen Willis Holmes and talked about the hair and makeup in a behind-the-scenes post.  As always, feel free to leave comments and questions below.

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© 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.

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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…

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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.”

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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.

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“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:

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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.”

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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…

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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.

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