Say Yes To A Bespoke Dress

Bespoke wedding dress designer, Martin Dobson, creates simply stunning haute couture gowns from his studio in Hollesley, near Woodbridge.

Martin originally started out as a bridal designer in Wales after graduating with a degree in Fashion and Textiles. He was then hired as a freelance designer by a number of large high street brands, but after years working in London, Martin was looking to move away from the pressurised environment of fast fashion and decided to settle in Suffolk.

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He had always loved the creative freedom associated with wedding dress design and his move to Suffolk has given him the chance to return to his roots and once again create one-of-a-kind gowns for brides-to-be.

When I visited Martin in his studio he explained that he rarely buys fabric that is already embroidered or embellished, instead he will design the embroidery work and beading himself, ensuring that each wedding dress is completely unique.

Martin believes that the process of designing and creating the gown with the client is just as important as the final garment. He designs the dress in collaboration with the bride and creates a booklet along the way so that she will be able to look back on the process and reminisce in years to come.

The creation of the dress takes between six to eight months; the same amount of time that you would wait for one to be ordered in from a wedding boutique, except, of course, Martin’s dresses are guaranteed to be handmade in the UK.

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The first stage of the bespoke process is meeting Martin for a consultation. This preliminary meeting will involve an in-depth chat about the bride’s initial ideas over a glass of bubbly and is free for those living in Suffolk.

The next time Martin meets with a client the design process will start, whether that will be with the embroidery, beading or the dress itself. Martin collates all these ideas and produces mood boards with fabric swatches for her to look through.

Once the fabrics have been selected the fun really starts. Martin will create a selection of exclusive drawings to share with the bride. There’s a common misconception with bespoke bridal that you will receive one design and that will be you dress, but this is not the case. Martin will sketch a number of options and then discuss with the client what her thoughts are. The bride may decide that she likes the sleeve from one, but the neckline of another. From this discussion Martin would produce another couple of designs.

The client will then select a final design and Martin will begin to make the toile (a draft version of the dress). At this stage the bride will come to Martin’s studio for fittings. He offers as many fittings as there needs to be to get this crucial stage just right. This would be the point where any changes to the shape must happen. There’s no going back after this!

Once complete Martin will start on the final garment. From his studio Martin designs any embroidery and will produce it on a machine before cutting it out and hand stitching it to the dress. When you see the gowns up close you can understand the time and care that goes into each piece. They are truly breathtaking and you can see why Martin describes them as haute couture.

For brides struggling to find ‘the one,’ then opting for a bespoke dress is a sure fire way to ensure that they are completely content when they walk down the aisle.

With bespoke bridal there’s no compromise like there may be at a boutique – you don’t have to worry about finding the perfect dress because you’ll be creating your own!

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All photography by Foyers.Photography