The Wedding Edition’s fashion series enables you to experience the best bridal boutiques in the UK, before making an appointment. This week our Fashion Editor, Alessandra Frame, has spoken to the talented team at Andrea Hawkes Bridal. Read on to discover what to expect from this creative British brand that offers a no-nonsense approach to bespoke.
Andrea Hawkes’ journey began in a bridal boutique where she gained a wealth of knowledge and experience; including a technical understanding of couture. During this time she kept meeting brides who were struggling to find the same thing: a contemporary, beautifully designed dress made from high-quality fabrics. This initiated her design ethos, which is about simplifying the bridal experience and offering an honest and un-intimidating approach to having your wedding dress made.
Today, as Andrea Hawkes Bridal celebrates its 10th year in business, the brand is recognised for its dedication to beautiful design, high-quality fabrics and service. Andrea will only use the finest natural materials such as silks, tencel and cottons. “My preferred dress materials are all natural. It’s so important for us to create designs that are sustainable, breathable and comfortable to wear,” she explains. All of Andrea’s designs are made in-house at her London studio with painstaking precision and care, in order to bring her brides’ visions to life.
A snapshot of the space:
The Andrea Hawkes Bridal showroom is set back on a quiet residential road in Islington. Away from the hustle and bustle of Upper Street, this is a personal and private space for brides to visit with their guests – it’s meant to feel like a home away from home, and it does.
The showroom is a warm space with a beautiful fireplace, parquet flooring, a picture wall depicting the history of the brand and an abundance of textural materials. Dresses adorn a single long brass rail, the idea being that brides can browse freely, discovering their preferred fabrics and styles and fully immersing themselves in the world of Andrea Hawkes. Upstairs in the studio, brides can catch a glimpse of the pattern cutting table and witness part of the dressmaking process in order to spark creativity and interest.
Being based in Islington, there are a multitude of wonderful places to visit before or after your appointment. A visit to local haunt Pophams Bakery is highly recommended – although it’s so popular you may have to join a queue!
Who is dressing you?
You’ll be greeted by a personal stylist on the day. This could be Andrea herself, or either of her highly trained styling team, Siobhan and Maryann. Every appointment begins with refreshments and a relaxing conversation about the wedding day, dress ideas and a real focus on what’s personally important to you as the bride. You’ll then have a chance to explore Andrea’s beautiful creations while your stylist supports you with recommendations along the way.
Andrea Hawkes doesn’t believe in limiting the number of dresses a bride tries on when visiting her showroom. Appointments last one hour (for bespoke you have 90 minutes) and brides are encouraged to explore. “Some brides want to whizz through lots of styles to get a feel for what they love, while others may try three to four dresses and focus on adaptations and changes in a slower-paced appointment,” says Andrea. “Our stylists will adapt with each bride to ensure they have the best experience possible.”
It’s recommended you bring up to two guests, as any more can feel a little overwhelming for brides. However, the decision is up to you and if you want to bring more people you can.
Prior to your appointment, you’re encouraged to do some research on styles, concepts and fabric preferences. “It’s great for our brides to look to their personal style and their own wardrobes for inspiration,” explains Andrea. “Is there a neckline that makes you feel incredible or a sleeve shape you love? Having some initial thoughts is super helpful.”
Brides are advised to book an appointment eight to 12 months in advance of the big day, as that allows a nice, relaxed amount of time to find the one. Dress orders require a minimum of six months so the experience isn’t rushed.
In her 10 years of business Andrea Hawkes has never discontinued a design, which means you have an entire archive to explore. In a true nod to just how timeless Andrea’s designs are, some of the boutique’s bestselling looks are from her earliest collections.
Also on offer are made-to-measure and bespoke services. Made to measure means you can have one of Andrea’s designs made specifically to your measurements. This ensures a perfect fit and also allows you to make design changes such as lowering a back, adding sleeves, changing a neckline/fabric or putting the bodice of one dress with the skirt of another.
Alternatively, the bespoke service is perfect for any bride wishing to bring their own idea to life. This often starts with a mood board, an in-person meeting with Andrea, sketches, fabric samples and an ultra-personalised service throughout the dressmaking process.
Part of both of the made-to-measure and bespoke services is a toile fitting. This is a calico version of the dress that you try on before the final version is made, allowing you to make any final tweaks or changes.
“The fit of a dress is so important, and we always encourage our brides to go for made to measure or have their fittings in-house with our expert team. Having a made-to-measure wedding dress is such a wonderful experience and will ensure your dress fits you perfectly. It also allows you to customise your design, making it entirely personal to you. Having your fittings in-house ensures you’re working with the same team who made your dress, know the fabrics and know how to alter them in the correct way.”
You’ll be able to discover a beautiful selection of veils, bridal jackets, capes, belts, bows and overskirts. These pieces are an amazing way to personalise your bridal look while creating opportunities for stylistic day-to-night transitions.
Andrea Hawkes Bridal also sells beautiful pyjamas for you and your bridesmaids to wear on the morning of the wedding – these come with complimentary personalised embroidery.
With sustainability always front of mind, you’ll also find a variety of post-wedding services on offer. The most exciting of these is a repurposing service that allows you to have your wedding dress remade into a piece you can wear again in the future. Previous brides have had their dresses shortened to midi length or even turned into a skirt and top – what a way to make the most of your dress!
The booking fee for a one-on-one hour-long appointment is £30 and bookings can be made on the store’s website. Bespoke appointments with Andrea are £100 and last for 90 minutes.
Collection Pieces sit between £1,850-£3,600 for a standard UK size. There is also an in-house alterations service, which is priced individually based on the amount of work needed to fit your dress perfectly. The Made to Measure Service starts from £650-£850 in addition to your dress price. The Bespoke Service starts from £5,000.
If these prices are a stretch for your budget, ask the team about their amazing selection of beautiful, well-cared for samples. These are available to try in Andrea Hawkes’ London showroom by appointment on Thursdays and Fridays. Pricing sits between £600-£1,500.
020 7704 0236, 36 Danbury Street, London, N1 8JU
[email protected] , @andrea_hawkes_bridal
Samples in store range from sizes 8-24 UK. It has always been important to Andrea to have size-inclusive samples for brides to try and feel totally at ease in.
Andrea Hawkes Bridal is offering priority bookings for subscribers of The Wedding Edition. The normal wait time is two to three weeks for a weekend appointment and appointments are held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Book now and mention this offer.
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