FIT FOR A PRINCESS; THE DESIGNER WHO CREATED LADY DIANA'S WEDDING DRESS NOW HAS DESIGNS ON SCOTS BRIDES Elizabeth Emanuel has launched a new range of high street bridal wear.
CELEBRITY fashion designer Elizabeth Emanuel created one of the most famous wedding dresses of all time for Lady Diana Spencer in the early Eighties. Now, for the first time, she has launched a bridal collection on the high street.
With price tags into the thousands and tens of thousands, Elizabeth Emanuel's bridal gowns have only been worn by the rich and famous - until now.
After teaming up with high street store Bhs, Elizabeth's dresses are now available for under pounds 500.
Dubbed the Art of Elegance, the exclusive capsule collection - which is only available in Scotland at Bhs's Glasgow (St Enoch Centre) and Edinburgh stores - includes four gowns fit for a princess.
The designer revealed: "Honestly, blood, sweat and tears have gone into these dresses. I have been involved in every single bit of it - from the design stage, right through to making the patterns, creating the original sample, to packaging and presentation, which has been fantastic.
"The dresses don't look like anything else on the market. They look even better in the flesh than they do in photographs.
"If we were to make these dresses in the studio, they would be at least a couple of thousand pounds to make from scratch.
"Bhs organised all the production and they have done a fantastic job. I was very pleased with how they made them look."
All four of Elizabeth's wedding gowns in her Art of Elegance collection are ivory in colour, not white, something the designer thought carefully about.
"We use this colour all the time. I don't like using white whites because it's not suited to the British complexion and drains you," she said. "Ivory is much more flattering."
Although they are affordable, the gowns are not "cheap and nasty", insisted Elizabeth.
"These dresses are all different sides of romance and are very feminine," she said.
"One is a very elegant look, one is very romanticand fairy-tale-like, with Swarovski crystal on the front.
"One is like a Gainsborough painting with a built-in sash and a beautiful, long, trailing bow at the back and there's one with a little lace over the bust cups.
"They look fantastic on girls of all different shapes and sizes. They hoik you in at the waist and they have boned corsets, too.
"They go up to a size 16 but I think, as we add to the collection, we will go bigger because I think it is a shame bigger girls are excluded.
"These dresses are made for girls with curves."
For her own wedding to now ex-husband David Emanuel, Elizabeth opted for a white chiffon designer gown created by English fashion designer Zandra Rhodes - a dress now in London's Victoria and Albert Museum.
But when she walked down the aisle in 1976, she was unaware that, a few years later, she and David would design one of the most iconic wedding gowns of the century for Lady Diana, who married Prince Charles in 1981.
That dress turned Diana into a fairy-tale princess and catapulted the Emanuels into the international spotlight.
Since then, Elizabeth has been continuing to create headline-grabbing dresses for clients.
She designed wedding dresses for Sarah Greene when she married Mike Smith, one of the Duran Duran girls, actress Sophie Ward and was stylist for the Bransons' wedding.
The 54-year-old fashionista's other celebrity clients include Sharon Osbourne, having designed the dresses she wore at the Brits and the X Factor finals. She also designed Paula Abdul's red dress for American Idol Gives Back and a gown the singer wore at the Emmy Awards.
"I've been very lucky. I have worked with some lovely people. I do get a thrill when I see them wearing something I have created with my team," she said.
Last year, Elizabeth and her team of designers at her Art of Being studio created Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton's dress when she married Ordinary Boy, Preston.
But now her creations are available on the high street for all women.
Coincidentally, ex-husband David has also launched a collection in conjunction with a high street name.
In 2007, his new range for women aged 45-plus went on sale at Bonmarche.
Already, there has been a positive response to Elizabeth's bridal collection at Bhs and brides-to-be are saying "I do" before they even walk down the aisle.
Elizabeth added: "We've had such a cross-section. We've had very young girls interested and I have had women on their second and third marriages.
"One girl was getting married in Italy. Another was in tears as she had just bought a discounted dress for pounds 500 at a wedding fair.
"And another girl turned up saying she was going to get one anyway, even though she didn't have anybody in mind."
When Elizabeth suggested I try one of her creations on for myself, I couldn't resist.
I opted for the one with lace on the bust cups. I stepped carefully into it and was very surprised at its weight - despite costing under pounds 500, there is a lot of material and layers to it.
It sounds cliched but this gorgeous gown did make me feel a like a princess - I wonder if this was how Diana felt as she tried on her dress before her wedding?
For the money, there is nothing else like this on the market. Now I have found my dress, I just have to find my Prince ...
ELIZABETH'S ADVICE FOR BRIDES TO BE
Spend time trying on different styles and shapes
Go for something classic that doesn't date
Choose nothing too different from what you are used to
Don't buy the first one you see, go away, try on others and then go back
Make sure it is comfortable, beautiful and photographs well
'These dresses don't look like anything else on the market'
DREAM DRESS: Record girl Laura Coventry tries on one of the new Art of Elegance bridal gowns, with a little help from designer Elizabeth Emanuel. The four dresses that make up the collection, right PIC: PAUL CHAPPELLS; ROYAL BRIDE: Lady Diana in her gown in 1981; HITCHED: Telly stars Sarah Greene and Mike Smith