So with getting Ian Stuart gowns sent my way for a bridal themed photoshoot I wanted to create something with meaning. Something that stood out, but also represented Ian, his gowns and his ideas. After-all this was no ‘ordinary’ shoot, by far.
Ian started off first designing for the Royal family members and socialites and is well-know for this, mainly in the South of England. But Ian has since spread his clientele, winning Bridal designer of the year, numerous times, and with the brides of today having varied and vast taste in dresses, Ian proudly caters for all. We also want brides up north to also be familiar with Ian Stuart gowns and his amazing creations as there is definitely a dress for every style of bride. “The dresses I create are not just for divas, the dresses are for anyone.” ~ Ian Stuart.
Being an artist myself, of many mediums i.e. oils, acyrlics, charcoal, ballet dancing, playing musical instruments, poetry, enjoying all forms of art, I felt I could easily relate to Ian and his ideologies behind each and every one of his creations. I could feel the history, hear the music, vision the atmosphere… To me it was just magical to allow my artistic inhabitations shine throughout my camera.
I wanted a venue, not any venue, but one with history… real history and historic ambience. I searched high and low… until I came across the perfect place… Stamford Hall… WOW… This place is something else. I’ve been to plenty of Manor houses, stately homes etc… but when I caught sight of the building, standing alone amongst fields as far as your eye could see, with a ½ drive way and big iron guarded gates… I got serious goose-bumps.
I felt like I needed someone to jam my jaw shut, and I can’t say I’ve ever felt this way about a building before! This is a 17 Century Estate and was built in the time of William & Mary. “Stanford is the perfect William and Mary House. When seen from the road, the south front floats like a palace of romance across a distant meadow” - Simon Jenkins.
Ian states that in his inspiration he looks to periods in history. He looks to the past of old clothes, films etc… He emanates lots of ideas from historical dresses and re-creates them with a modern twist.
Everything about this house screams history! The ornaments, fixtures, fittings, and the amazing library!
My research coming into play.;
I chose two models. Both with strong and very different looks. Both dancers of different forms of dance (Argentine Tango & Oriental Dance), as I wanted to incorporate everything that inspires Ian, even down to the models. I wanted the models to feel the theme, to live it out loud whilst on the set and put real energy and emotion into the whole feeling of the Stamford hall, it’s history, art and ambiance, and of course into the gowns!
It was amazing. Once the models were wearing the gowns and were breathing in the brief & the whole atmospheric history of the place it felt like we had all gone back in time… wow.
The models told me they felt like princesses… walking down the long historic dramatic corridors holding the bottom of their gowns they looked like true Empresses, Ladies of the manor. With their posture straightened with the gown’s structured waist lines & their heads held high, they were re-living the Victorian woman; controversial bride newly empowered and oozing with confidence.
“Structured waist lines give you the posture to become a different person. You can be whatever you want to be.” ~ Ian Stuart.
When researching I looked to Paintings of Empresses to draw inspiration. I wanted to find something that would tie into an art form. I thought of violins. I found lots around the Victorian ere and women playing violins. Very interesting reads in fact. The people around, and before the Victorian era were not in favor of woman playing many instruments, especially the violin as they felt it represented a woman’s body shape. They were very aware of this fact and felt such an instrument needed to be “played” by a man. A woman who chose to play the violin, especially in public, was looked upon with disgrace. Some even said that she was playing the sound of her own love to the world and preferred this sound to that of her man’s.
“I have often wondered whether psychologically there is a basic difference between the woman’s relationship to the violin and the man’s… Does the woman violinist consider the violin more as her own voice than the voice of someone she loves? Is there an element of narcissism in the woman’s relation to the violin, and is she, in fact, in a curious way, better matched for the cello? The handling and playing of a violin is a process of caress and evocation, of drawing out a sound which awaits the hands of the master.” Yehudi Menuhin (1940′s)
For a woman to stand her ground and not let anyone stop her from doing what she loves, despite the controversy, to me represents great inner strength and determination. This fit perfectly with Ian’s theme of gowns.
I just so happened to have a couple of violins lying around the house so I brought them along, with creative intention. I wanted the models to ooze performance and play out the love & beauty both violin and women share. To show no shame in caressing the violin, and be proud of who she is. Both models acted this out with great success. And more importantly you and I believe their performance.
It has been such an honour photographing Ian’s gowns. Ian is 2005,2006, 2007 & 2010 UK bridal designer of the year with a catalogue of other awards. I am proud of the team, Jenn (the hair & MUA), and the models, and I hope we have done Ian Stuart proud too.
A few quotes from Ian.
“I see many brides wear my dresses that feel that they don’t have a lot of confidence, and like when wearing any item of clothing, they become someone else.”
“When choosing your wedding dress listen to your heart and listen to your gut.” Wise words Ian.
The gowns featured in this shoot will be listed in order as they appear;
Full of soft but dramatic detailing this gown has draped tulle featuring ribbon bows and a sequinned underskirt. The strapless sweetheart bodice is adorned with head beaded lace motifs.
Fabric: Shan silk & tulle.
This dramatic gown oozes indulgence. The strapless scoop neckline is heavily adorned with ornate beading and the heavily rushed ball gown skirt is draped at the front and features exquisite beading in large motifs that continue around the skirt and cathedral train. Wear with oversized sleeves to make the ultimate statement.
Fabric: Taffeta metal & beaded lace.
A show stopping gown in the tradition of a classic MGM movie. The striking back detail of this dress features oversized bow tails that waterfall down the flowing chapel train from a beautiful floral centre. The bodice is pleated to a point at the waist with a draped straight neckline and halter neck strap. The silk garza skirt has a whipped effect around the hips and flows into a soft A-line skirt.
Fabric: Taffeta suede & silk garza.
Capturing the vintage look perfectly this beaded lace gown has an off the shoulder portrait neckline trimmed with frayed silk, lace & roses. The bodice is finely draped with a scalloped trimmed waistline. The mermaid skirt has a distressed look with frayed roses and raggetty lace trim.
Fabric: Silk dupion & French lace.
Which is your favourite?
Many thanks to Ian Stuart himself for being so lovely and humble, encouraging and enabling the shoot to take shape. Many thanks to your team & especially Jo for being so helpful and super efficient. (see www.ianstuart-bride.com for local stockists near you. Email: email@example.com)
Many thanks to all of the staff at stamford Hall. You were all so helpful and accommodating, and the place is just out of this world. What a venue. I think I want to get married here! Who wouldn’t? http://stanfordhall.co.uk.
To my models: Agi & Helena, you were both truly amazing and I couldn’t have had any two better women. You both worked really hard and put so much energy into the whole creation, true Empresses without a doubt. I wish you both all of the successes with your dancing careers as you are truly amazing at what you do.
Emma & Rebecca from Emma’s Home & garden, wow your flowers are something else. A massive thank you for supplying and creating the flowers especially for the gowns used. You are both so talented and are lovely people too. Your efforts are greatly appreciated (please note Emma had a modelling career and met Ian Stuart when she was in New York in 1996, she squealed when she heard we were working with Ian as he is her favourite).
Nicola from silver six-pence in her shoe… thank you for the loan of your newly designed head-piece Delphine, you are incredibly gifted at what you do and your creations are stunning & made to perfection.
Jenn Edwards (super-star) Hair & Make-up artist. What can I say… Who needs photoshop when you have Jenn? Not me. Thank you so much for all of your support and help in making the shoot happen. You are so lovely and we make a great team (you can contact Jenn: firstname.lastname@example.org).
We are delighted to announce that we were featured on Brides Up North yesterday, thank you to the lovely Julia. Click here to see the full feature. Comments welcomed.