Thursday, May 27, 2010

Winter Wonderful… Cosmopolitan Bride Winter 2010 Issue

Given that bridal publications generally only come out four times a year at most, it doesn’t get much more exciting than when a fresh copy of Cosmopolitan Bride hits the news stands. Guaranteed to provide every bride-to-be with a wealth of information, including inspiration for all elements of the wedding such as invitations, cakes, cars, then there is the advice on dealing with all the tricky wedding politics, and all of this is surrounded by a sea of stunning gowns for every bride. Ladies (and gents) take it from us, the Winter 2010 issue of Cosmopolitan Bride does not disappoint.

First off Franki Hobson, the Cosmopolitan Bride Queen-Bee (also referred to as the lovely editor), kicks us off with her letter to the readers offering honest, helpful advice that every bride should consider and keep in mind during her planning journey. Two key points that we would reiterate here at Karen Willis Holmes are as follows:

1. ‘The Dress’ may not actually be ‘The Dress’ 
Franki wisely discloses the fact that many girls when going to try on gowns have a particular style in mind, but often find that there is a completely different style that is actually more flattering for their body shape. Like Franki, we advise that you definitely try on a few different styles to find the right match for your figure, because no two gowns ever look the same on any two people, so please trust us when we offer you a few extra options to try – you never know what you might find!

2. Prioritise your planning.
Again, pearls of wisdom shared to benefit the bride-to-be, two key elements that have the ability to determine the rest of your wedding are the venue and your dress. Once these have been decided upon, you can really begin to visualize the big picture. We often find it easier if brides know their venue before coming into the store to pick their gown. Some venues have a historic feel that works well with a vintage-looking gown, or a beach venue can sometimes call for a more relaxed style of gown. Whatever your venue, we can help you try and find the perfect dress for you, but the more of an idea you have the better off you are for making decisions and being able to eliminate gowns along the way.

After Franki’s disclosure of wedding expertise it didn’t take long for the pretty pages and informative articles to begin flowing. One of our favourites is ‘Award-winning Dresses’ (page 32), which offers a fabulous double-page spread, showcasing gown matches straight from the red carpet. Four Karen Willis Holmes gowns are featured offering alternatives to a shimmery number adorned by Katy Perry (Claudia), a stunning fishtail gown as rocked by Melissa George (Maddison), the fairy princess look a la Miley Cyrus (Ribbon Corset), and finally a simple strapless style worn by Penelope Cruz (Joy).

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Claudia’, ‘Maddison', ‘Ribbon Corset and ‘Joy gowns.

Cosmopolitan Bride love to feature Real-Brides, which frequently offers the most inspiration to those planning their wedding. To be able to see all the elements come together for the big day can make such a difference and help you to start visualizing your wedding. 

One of our brides has been featured in this issue - Samantha Gibbens with her husband True (page 94) shared their amazing wedding experience with the magazine and its readers. Samantha wore our Joy gown with the Cleo overlay and finished it off with a gorgeous black sash that was hand-beaded by her grandmother – a lovely, sentimental piece on her wedding day.
We have featured Samantha’s wedding photos on our blog before, but this spread really captures all the elements and shows how lovely the wedding was.

Karen Willis Holmes Joy gown with Cleooverlay

“Your Head-to-Toe Bridal Wardrobe sorted” is a bit of a one-stop-shop article. It provides excellent ideas for brides when it comes to finding the perfect gown, underwear, accessories, veils and cover-ups. Karen was able to offer some of her expert advice in this article, with tidbits of information to help brides in their quest for the perfect dress. The Bacall gown from Karen Willis Holmes was featured here as an option for hourglass figures.

Karen Willis Holmes Bacall gown.

The Paris Feather Vest was also featured in the cover-ups section. This piece is an excellent option for brides wanting something with a bit of drama and to save them for the chill of the cool night air. This vest looks fabulous over a simple, streamline gown.

Karen Willis Holmes Paris Feather Vest

The editorial in this issue is simply exquisite with a tennis themed shoot “Love All” (page 120) showing a range of gowns hard at work, including Karen Willis Holmes couture gown Ava.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Ava gown

Another gorgeous editorial came in the form of ‘Field of Dreams’ (page 62) with a gorgeously soft and romantic feel being channeled with the Karen Willis Holmes Violet gown.  

Karen Willis Holmes Violet gown

In addition to the divine editorials, there are plenty more beautiful pages for us to pore over, including pretty bridesmaid options in ‘Gelato Girls’ and ‘Bright Babes’ (page 28),

Great advice is offered for the woman with plenty on her plate already with ‘The Busy Girl’s Guide to planning a Wedding’ (page 44) – which will assist every bride in keeping her plans in check, especially when utilizing the ‘Wedding Planner’ that is also provided (page 203).

Whether you need help locking down your vows, getting your skin in perfect condition, or finding a fantastic honeymoon to suit your budget, Cosmopolitan Bride has all the help you need in their 258 page Winter issue.

Now we have to contain our excitement and countdown until the release of the Spring issue.

All images have been scanned from Cosmopolitan Bride Winter 2010

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Breaking down Bridal... Ready-to-Wear and Couture.

Breaking down Bridal…
The difference between ‘Ready-to-Wear’ and ‘Couture’

In Bridal, (and also in high-end fashion), most designers produce two types of collections, ‘Ready-to-Wear’ and ‘Couture’. While each of these terms are thrown around quite often in the media, stores and in general conversation, it can be difficult to understand exactly what the difference is between the two and exactly what it is that you are paying for with each option.

When it comes to the creation of these collections, you will find that the interpretation and ways of completing each type of work will differ from designer to designer. At Karen Willis Holmes, we offer both a Ready-to-Wear and a Couture option for the benefit of our brides. Given that there is so much to think about when you are out trying on gowns (especially in the early stages), we thought we might offer an explanation on the difference between these two options for you, so you can have some idea before trying to decide which option is best suited to your needs.

With a Couture gown, there is the freedom to have ANYTHING at all. Starting with a personal consultation, Karen works with you to design the perfect gown, made specifically to meet all your requirements. The tailoring of the gown is made-to-measure, fitted to your unique figure through a detailed process including a calico toile and five fittings. All the fittings and consultations are with Karen herself, ensuring that the gown fits perfectly and the final result will be the gorgeous 'dream dress', exactly how you had envisaged it.

If you are not sure about shapes and styles, there is a range of gorgeous Couture gown samples available to try on. If you have pictures of gowns that you love, (even if it is bits and pieces of different gowns) an original design can be made for you specially. Bring all your inspiration and ideas to the table, and Karen will help to work out the best possible option for you, tying in all the elements that you love for your perfect wedding gown.

With such a unique and personalised service, there is a higher price tag involved in Couture. All Couture gowns range from about $5,500 to $14,000 for designs similar to the styles we have. The time that goes into the detail of your gown, the amazing quality fabrics, the exceptional fit, personal fittings with Karen – all of this and more ‘behind the scenes’ action, add to the cost. The manufacturing of a bridal gown can take from 40 to 100 hours to complete to make sure it is absolutely perfect!

If you are seeking an experience with exceptional service and an exquisite one-off gown, then the couture option is for you!

Karen Willis Holmes 'Couture'
Maddison, Gabriella and Angelica

Ready-to-Wear gowns are sometimes referred to as being ‘off-the-rack’. Basically this term is pretty self-explanatory, meaning you walk into a store, try a few different sizes on, and buy a gown straight off the rack (the same as buying a casual summer dress for instance). With Karen Willis Holmes Ready-to-Wear gowns, the process is much more personal than this. The stores only have sample gowns for you to try, we design these samples to be as flexible as possible so we can pin them in or let them out for all different sizes and body shapes to try.

Once you have found the other big ‘one’ in the wedding process – the gown - and decide to purchase from the Karen Willis Holmes Ready-to-Wear collection, we then make a gown for you. They aren’t mass produced and waiting for purchase out the back – they are made to order. All Ready-to-Wear gowns are made in a standard size, but we are a lot more flexible with changes that can be made. You can get ‘split sizes’ which means you can order a gown with a size 10 bust, size 8 waist and size 12 hips. This allows for a lot more flexibility with your personal body shape (as not many people are the same size throughout their body). You can also get necklines altered slightly, add extra beading, or in some cases change the fabric the gown is made of. Let the store assistants know what you are loving about the gowns when you try them on and don’t be afraid to ask questions, as there are a lot of options for you to personalise your Ready-to-Wear gown to make it just right. Similarly if something doesn’t feel quite right about the gown, be sure to vocalise this also, as there may be options we can offer for your consideration to fix the gown to be just right for you.

Included in the price of your Ready-to-Wear gown are two appointments with a fitter, in which they work to hem the gown to the right length for you and also to correctly fit your bustle. We are happy to do any other work for you if needed to fit closer to your body shape and we charge accordingly.

The manufacturing of a wedding gown this way is of the same quality and fabrics as a Couture gown, but being made to a standard size and design takes much less time, hence the competitive edge in pricing.

The price of Ready-to-Wear wedding gowns start at $1489 and go up to approx. $4000.

Karen Willis Holmes 'Ready-to-Wear'
Roberta, Sophia and Emily (with Amy base gown)

All of our Ready-to-Wear and Couture gowns are made using the finest imported fabrics, laces and beading and all manufacturing of the gowns is completed in our Head office and studios in Newtown, under the strict direction and supervision of Karen.

If you have no idea yet whether you are after a Couture or Ready-to-Wear gown, this is not uncommon! It is absolutely fine to feel completely lost at the start of the process – you will have a better idea once you start trying different styles on and working out what you love in a gown. If this is the case, we do recommend that you head to one of our Ready-to-Wear stores first to get a feel for the shapes and styles of our gowns, and then we can help you either find the right gown for you in the Ready-to-Wear collection, or help you organise to book an appointment with Karen for a Couture appointment.

To view our collections, head to our website

The gowns on the site are only a selection of each collection, with more options in the stores, so please feel free to come into our stores and see the full range.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Cannes Cannes Cannes...

Cannes Film festival - Red carpet 2010

The Cannes film festival is always a feast for the eyes, providing a fantastic platform for celebrities to shine in true couture fashion.

The glamorous gowns on the red carpet opening were no exception.

Kate Beckinsale
Karen Willis HolmesGabriella’ gown

Looking absolutely amazing as always, Kate Beckinsale gets top marks for a fantastic choice of gown finished off with impeccable jewellery, hair and makeup.

Karen’s Pick – For a long bodice with dramatic ruffles in the skirt, ‘Gabriella is the one. Shoulders capped with sweet, tulle sleeves, along with the cascading ruffles, this is one jaw-dropping gown.

Karen’s Tip – For a gown with so much detail and fabric, keep your hair up and make up fresh to give an overall perfect look.

Danielle Spencer
Karen Willis Holmes ‘Naomi’ gown

Wearing a simple halter neck style, Danielle Spencer personifies pretty in a gorgeous soft rose-pink shade, donning the perfect accessory – a man in a tux – husband, Russell Crowe.

Karen’s Tip – ‘Naomi’ a gorgeously simple halter neck gown suits girls with smaller busts. Pair with a beautiful lace veil to add an element of understated detail.

Lea Seydoux
Karen Willis Holmes ‘Maddison’ gown

French actress, Lea Seydoux, opts for a muted peach-tone for her stunning pleated tulle detail gown. Keeping her look youthful, Seydoux wears a pretty plaited updo.

Karen’s Pick – To match the pleated tulle feature go for the Maddison gown, or you can opt to wear it as a bolero over a simpler gown.

Karen’s Tip – Keep hair up and back when wearing such a dramatic neckline, not only will this help to not overwhelm but it ensure that your hair does not push the soft ruffles down.

Salma Hayek
Karen Willis Holmes ‘Michaela’ gown

Looking stunning as usual, Salma Hayek swished down the red carpet in a rich ruby-red one-shouldered gown with diamante detail.

Karen’s Pick – ‘Micheala’ is a striking gown with ruched georgette and gorgeous diamante brooch features. A fantastic flattering shape, perfect for a simply glamorous look.

Sara Forestier
Karen Willis Holmes gown and Infinity Photography

Sara Forestier in a classic black gown with a pleated neckline – a simple feature that adds a gorgeous feminine touch.

Karen’s Tip – To add a touch of pretty detail, take cue from Jade Hawkins (one of our real brides pictured here by Infinity Photography) and insert a little bit of pleated tulle into the neckline to soften the overall look. Be sure to keep it thin and fine, so as not to detract from the shape of the neckline.

Eva Longoria and Aishwarya Rai
Karen Willis Holmes ‘Adele’ gown

Eva Longoria and Aishwarya Rai both wore amazingly full-ruffled gowns. The texture on both of their gowns was phenomenal and would look fantastic in movement!

Karen’s Pick – For a dramatic look, try the ‘Adele’ gown with matching ‘Butterfly’ train – a gloriously long ruffled train that is detachable for ease when dancing later on in the night!

Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren looked fabulous! In a sleek, black, off-the-shoulder gown, she looked sophisticated and stunning, topped off with some matching diamante earrings and cuffs.

Karen’s Tip – When wearing a soft jersey fabric, make sure to wear the right underwear – seamless! (Unless you have a smoking figure like Helen!)

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day

We are so lucky here at Karen Willis Holmes, when our brides send us in photos of their weddings so we can get a chance to see the finished product and share in their joy from the big day. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we thought it might be a nice opportunity to share some pictures, which have beautifully captured some of those special moments shared between mothers and daughters on their wedding day.

Samantha’s mum (in the background holding her veil) looks lovingly at her daughter, no doubt admiring how beautiful she looks.

Lauren shares a special moment with her mum (and dad) before choosing to walk down the aisle arm in arm with both of them – we love that idea of having both of your parents walk you down the aisle, mums and dads are equally important and no doubt want the be involved on their daughter’s wedding day.

Amy waits patiently, while being buttoned into her dress by her mum.

Laura’s mum, after tying her sash, gives it a final once over to make sure it is perfect.

Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day!

Love the Team at Karen Willis Holmes xx

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Karen's Diary - 'Bride to Be' May Issue Launch

Karen's Diary - 'Bride to Be' May Issue Launch...

On Monday, I was invited to Bride to Be’ magazine’s May issue launch.

Held in the amazing Orient Room at the Observatory Hotel, it was a High Tea event such a lovely way to spend an afternoon in fine company.

We were thoroughly spoilt, as were our tastebuds, spending our time sampling little sandwiches, cakes and pastries while discussing the content of the new issue of the magazine.

The ‘Bride to Be’ team also briefed us in about their new online shop –

The bridal magazines do get to see some of the best things in the industry, and before anyone else, so for them to be able to offer an online service that brides can click on to find some of their wedding needs (such as bonbonnieres and invitations, as well as wedding cake toppers!) is fantastic and such a great resource for brides in planning mode. With the prestigious standing and history of ‘Bride to Be’ magazine, it is even better as you know that they are a reliable source who know their stuff and will only put forward the best of the best.

We here at Karen Willis Holmes have been featured in this issue, so make sure to pick up a copy next time you are out and about so you can indulge in the beautiful pages, see our fabulous gowns, and get ahead with their master offering of tips and tricks for all the brides to be out there.

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Rosemount Australia Fashion Week - Day Four...

Rosemount Australia Fashion Week – Day Four… 

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Raya’ gown

Dion Lee is a talented young designer, who constructs striking garments, that have quite classic silhouettes, but with a bit of a twist. In his Spring/Summer 2010/11 collection, there were literally lots of twist knots in his pieces, each adding fabulous detail with such simplicity. Every piece showcased on the runway was gorgeous and we are all lusting for a bit of Lee in our wardrobe next season.

Karen’s Pick – A classic strapless, gown, ‘Raya’ is gorgeous with a twist knot feature in the centre of the bodice, which draws the eye to where the waist has been cinched.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Hannah’ gown

The intricate draping on this Dion Lee dress is fabulous, with different coloured fabrics really emphasising the detail featured. We love that nude palette too – fabulous for summer.

Karen’s Pick – Grecian inspired ‘Hannah’, draped in soft georgette, has twists around the bust to fall beautifully in the skirt in fluid movement.
Karen’s Tip – When having a gown with so much detail, opt for minimal accessories and let the gown be the hero.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Chantilly Bodice’ and ‘Pleated Skirt’

Gail Sorronda’s ruffled dresses are divine and instantly grab your attention, without being over the top! The hair and headpieces were fantastic in this show, simple yet such a statement – a Karen Willis Holmes favourite.

Karen’s Pick – For a ruffled, layered tulle look, the ‘Pleated Ruffle Skirt’ in our couture collection, worn with a petticoat underneath is fabulous. The petticoat with layers of tulle that has satin ribbon edging is a favourite – it creates another feature to the skirt altogether.

Karen’s Tip – with such a dramatic skirt, keep your top simple and fitted, otherwise it will be too much. The ‘Chantilly bodice’ is the perfect options for a pretty, yet low-key style top.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Rachel’ jacket.

Necklines are such an important feature to a wedding gown and we are always on the lookout for something a bit special in a neckline, which is why the ruffled detail on this Gail Sorronda dress particularly caught our attention.

Karen’s Tip – If you want a ruffled neckline look, but want to keep your dress simple, opt for a little jacket like ‘Rachel’ with a cute ruffle collar – practical as well for brides getting married in the cooler months.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Rita’ gown and corset

Gary Bigeni’s gorgeous draped looks are so relaxed, yet sophisticated. This outfit is the perfect type of outfit to wear to a ladies-only high tea.

Karen’s Pick‘Rita’, with its asymmetrical draping in burnout satin, creates a bit of relaxed sophistication, with a belted ribbon to accentuate the waist.

Karen’s Tip – For a more fitted look, go for corset bodice (right) with curved draping on the torso to really accentuate and give you shape. 

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Bacall’ ensemble

This Gary Bigeni number is yet another example of his relaxed, sophisticated style. It looks like a simple T-shirt dress, but it is so much more with a bit of complex draping and a cute little belt to finish off the look. (Love the shoes as well!)

Karen’s Pick – There is no rule that says a wedding gown has to be a one-piece dress, and the ‘Bacall’ jacket and skirt combination is a perfect example. A silk jersey jacket-style top, with a liquid silk satin skirt creates a beautiful outfit. The wide belt with round buckle completes the look.

Karen’s Tip – This is a great option for a cocktail-style reception, accessorise with some feathers in your hair, or a net birdcage veil for a classy, vintage look!

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Kate’ gown

Kirrily Johnston’s long empire line dress accessorised with an eye-catching yellow necklace screams tribal chic, but is also a great shape idea for brides-to-be.

Karen’s Pick – For a similar look, opt for ‘Kate’ with an empire line and soft georgette ribbons wrapped around the bust and falling down from the centre front. Finish it off with some crystal beading at the centre front, or a diamante brooch for an overall polished look.

Karen’s Tip – Empire lines are a great choice for petite girls. This design is also good for girls with slightly larger busts as the ribbon detail around the bust area creates a bit of a slimming effect.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Theresa’ gown

Kooey swimwear creates fantastic options for a simple, yet sexy bathing suit. This one-piece costume, with a plunging neckline and ruffle collar, it is so cute and chic, while still being right on trend.

Karen’s Pick – Go for a soft georgette ruffle collar, like ‘Theresa’, for a more modest option for a wedding that will still look just as sexy and sophisticated.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Gina’ gown

Layered ruffles again! We just can’t get enough and this little swimsuit from Kooey, it is adorable.

Karen’s Pick – Layered ruffles on the bodice look gorgeous and has a bit of a quirky vintage feel. ‘Gina’ (right) with layered georgette ruffles is fantastic with its simple satin skirt.

Karen’s Tip – Girls with larger busts should avoid this sort of feature, but it is perfect for girls with smaller busts who want to create a bit of volume. Finish it off with an embroidered or diamante belt for a complete vintage look.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Collette’ gown

It is safe to say that this RAFW has been all about the soft draping, as it is not only a stunning visual but is also flattering on so many body shapes. Michael Lo Sordo’s softly draped nude dress is so feminine and chic, a great one for a girl’s night out.

Karen’s Pick – The ‘Collette’ gown has a very similar cross-over draping on the bust line – so pretty.

Karen’s Tip – The heavier draping across the bust with the ruched georgette, is softened with the delicate lace cap sleeves on ‘Collette’. When going for a ruched detailed bodice, it is good to stick to more delicate sleeves, if having any, or keep it nice and clean with a strapless look so as not to have too much bulk around the neckline.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Anna’ gown

Ruby Smallbone’s grungy, body-hugging dress uses ruching and side panels to draw the eye in and create the illusion of a slimmer bodyline – isn’t that what we all want?!?

Karen’s Pick‘Anna’ is ruched to one side with a sequinned panel to give a really flattering look and creating a more forgiving shape out of a fabric that normally shows all the problem spots.

Karen Willis Holmes ‘Carla’ gown

Such a contrast from the tight structure of the previous gown, Ruby Smallbone also utilised to key season trend of draping using super soft fabrics for a gorgeous finish.

Karen’s Pick – The sexy, silk jersey gown called ‘Carla’ is beautifully draped and just hangs delicately from the hip.

Karen’s Tip – Soft draping in a knit type fabric can show all your bumps, so choose the right lingerie. Those body stockings/seamless corsets are great to get a fabulous shape and a clean finish.

The panel lines on this sexy Ruby Smallbone number again bring the eye to the centre, which we have mentioned is so flattering for most body shapes. We are also loving the colour scheme used here – the black on nude dress, with the peachy-orange coat works wonderfully.

Karen’s Pick – One of our new lace bodice corsets features lingerie style panelling super stylish and sexy, while helping to create a fabulous shape through the torso.

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