To be a wedding dress designer you have to be quite a special person. Brides are not your average consumers! The White Gallery, one of the UK’s largest wedding shows for buyers, was held in London last week and during this time it was the perfect opportunity for smaller designers to showcase their collections as well. I recently attended Sabina Motasem’s salon show at the Waldorf Hotel in and it was the perfect way to spend an evening: champagne, macaroons and beautiful wedding dresses.
How long have you been designing wedding dresses?
SM- Sabina Motasem has been around for three years now, and each year has brought lots of exciting new opportunities and wedding dresses for lots of lovely brides. I’m really proud of the dresses we’ve got in the collection and the new dresses that are about to be launched. Our collection is one that is going to grow and grow, I’d like to end up with a collection that is full of well loved best selling dresses. Really excited about the new dresses that will be launched over the summer. We had a sneak preview with a select few from the industry and press at the Waldorf with Lina, Ava and Lily dresses. They will be joined by 4 more exciting dresses, all inspired by the same understated elegance and listening to what my brides are all asking for too. There is a new range of day dresses coming and i’ve even designed a bra.
How does being a wedding designer differ from being a fashion designer?
SM- Being a wedding designer is pretty different to the fashion world. You can have one collection of select pieces a year, rather than two large ones. Popular dresses I designed years ago, like the Josephine dress, are still one of my best sellers so they will stay in the collection for as long as people want them. The dresses which haven’t performed so well, get sadly replaced, but with new exciting dresses developed from feedback we get from customers and developing our style and brand further. The outlay and costs are considerably less in bridal when you are starting out to a fashion label. You usually get a deposit from brides when they purchase which helps you to make and deliver the dresses too, so you don’t have to have huge investment. to start out and you can grow organically and slowly. I think its a good idea to grow that way, it really enables you to try out lots of ideas and figure out what works best for you. There is also a peak time for wedding dress purchases. I find that on New Years Day, most brides wake up from the New Year celebrations thinking "I need to find the wedding dress!". Those early months of the year, January to April are really busy. When summer arrives you start thinking about all the new dresses you’d like to add to the collection and concentrate on fittings. But at the moment we seem to be busy during summer too with sales and weddings, there’s a lot of winter brides at the moment, and destination weddings. Each year is never the same.
You didn’t start off as a wedding dress designer – how did you make that transition?
I love designing wedding dresses, but I didn’t start out in bridal, I fell into it purely by accident and I’m so glad I did as this is what I am meant to do with my life, I think. After spending time working on the high street, I became a graphic designer in media, pr, marketing, branding before I started being creative in fashion again designing cocktail dresses. It was around then, some 6 years ago, that friends of mine were all complaining that they couldn’t find a beautifully simple, classy, elegant dress to get married in, an alternative to the big traditional frou frou dress. So I started designing dresses for them, as extra special wedding gifts. Five wedding gifts later, it suddenly occurred to me, I used to make everything myself then, there could be a potential business here and probably a gap in the market too. The idea for Sabina Motasem was born, and I then spent years researching the idea, developing my style and finding the most talented people who could help me create what I have now. Not an easy task I can tell you, but through networking and trying out various different ideas, I have such a talented team of seamstresses and pattern cutters. I feel very lucky!
Where did you study?
SM- I spent four years studying knitwear at De Montfort University! My first job was in knitwear, but it really gave be the basis to build a design career on. Its a great place to study too.
Are you a romantic?
SM- I really didn’t think I was, I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy growing up and somehow I’ve found the romantic in me, after making wedding dresses for lots of Sabiina Motasem Brides. Our bride is the kind of girl who was probably a bit of tom boy too, who never thought she’d get married and when she’s engaged she has no idea what kind of dress to wear, been to odd festival or two, not overly girlie, but they are incredibly demure, independent and fun. Bit like my friends! So I forget sometimes I am supposed to be selling dresses and love hearing all the stories of how they met "the one". Who would have thought a tomboy became a romantic at heart. Makes my day when I get a picture from a bride of their special day in their Sabina Motasem frock.
What is the most challenging aspect about working with brides?
SM- The most challenging thing? Gosh, I don’t think there are many. My brides are really fun to work with. I guess the most challenging aspect would have to be when sometimes the laces and fabrics get discontinued and you have to find a new alternatives, that can be frustrating, also when I have to reign myself in when I come up with lots of new dress designs. Also, we have lots of brides who travel to us in London from all parts of the UK, so the most challenging thing would be making our dresses more accessible so things aren’t always London centric all the time. I’d love it if my brides who enquire about a nearby stockist, didn’t have to drive more than 3 hours to get to try on a Sabina Motasem dress wherever you are in the UK. At the moment we are stocked at four beautiful bridal boutiques: Lace Bridal in Hale, Cheshire; The Bridal Path in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire; Frillys in Drogheda, Ireland, and Swoon have all our sample dresses in Byfleet, Surrey. We’ll also be announcing new stockists in the Midlands and the South East very soon too, so watch this space!