Belle & Bunty is an award-winning British bridal label that was spawned from the creation of just two wedding dresses.
“Belle” and “Bunty”.
After helping each other to design their own wedding gowns, ever-stylish Creative Directors, Hannah Coniam-Thomson and Alice Shreeve, who had set up their ready-to-wear collection in 2003, launched an offshoot bridal brand in 2010.
Since then, they’ve gone on to build on their signature collection of “Flirtatiously British” wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, win a slew of awards, and appear on television, in magazines, and on red carpets, with some of the UK’s biggest celebrities and most stylish brides loving their work.
Belle and Bunty’s latest capsule bridal collection, “Lady Zelle” is vintage-style selection of gowns laced with understated glamour.
Lady Zelle is inspired by the early 1900s and the exotic Dutch dancer-turned-spy, Mata Hari.
A free-spirited bohemian, her style was dark and seductive, while she was a strong and courageous lady and a vigorous women’s rights advocate.
Known for her love of jewels, ornamental arm details and headpieces, Belle & Bunty’s new collection features authentically vintage silhouettes, and the same opulence and luxury, with silk satin that flows like liquid and pretty lace that adds a delicate touch.
The campaign editorial reflects the glamour of a historical starlet waiting back stage, while contrasting with the gritty reality of a showgirl lifestyle.
And the results are pretty gorgeous!
With the launch of the fabulous Lady Zelle Collection, we thought we’d sit down with Hannah and Alice, and get their insider tips on the next big trends, finding the perfect wedding dress, and how they went about designing their own.
Scroll down for their beautiful new collection, their bright and colourful bridesmaid dresses, and some unique insights into the inspiration behind the dresses…
Tell us about your process for designing a new wedding dress, do you get an idea from somewhere, or do you simply sit down and start sketching?
We get inspired by lots of things, from art and films to street style and social media.
It could be seeing a look on Instagram (we are obsessed!) or a beautiful swatch of lace that triggers off ideas. We also listen a lot to our brides who give us feedback on what they like and don’t like in a dress, and then from there we work everything into new styles, bouncing ideas off of each other.
How is your personal style reflected in your dresses, or do you keep it separate from your bridal designs?
When we were thinking of the name for our brand and came up with Belle & Bunty we liked how there could almost be two different sides to the line; reflected in our personal styles.
A more feminine side in Belle and a unique, quirky side in Bunty.
We both have similar personal tastes in colours and key pieces with Alice being slightly more classic and traditional and Hannah more boho and fashion led so all elements of these are reflected in our designs.
We both designed our own wedding dresses, which are still popular selling styles today, so there is definitely a lot of ‘us’ in our designs.
What are your top tips for a bride beginning her dress search?
Don’t bring everyone you know to an appointment, bring a few people who’s opinion you trust and know your style well who will help you make a decision rather than being too opinionated or confusing you further!
There is so much out there to help brides research nowadays with magazines, blogs and Pinterest so enjoy the whole process of searching for your dress. It should be fun!
How does a bride know her dress is The One?
We think a bride should feel completely comfortable in her dress and like herself but on a really good day!
It’s a really good sign if you are reluctant to take it off!
What advice would you give alternative brides who feel that the classic white dress isn’t quite for them?
There are lots of dresses nowadays that come in a huge range of colours, however if you don’t want to push the boat out too far, opt for colours that are similar to white such as cream, champagne and blush. These still have a bridal feel but also feel unique too.
How should a bride accessorise her dress to let it reflect her personal style?
Choose accessories that you feel comfortable wearing and you think emphasise the theme and look you are going for with your dress.
Accessorising is one of the really fun bits, it’s your wedding day, so if you want to wear a full length veilor a large floral crown then go for it!
We’ve noticed a move towards unique dresses recently, do you think brides are getting more daring in their choices?
Yes! Brides are definitely looking more towards having weddings that really reflect their personality and style, as opposed to traditional weddings and with that there has been lots of brides wanting something unique which we think is great!
What do you think are the next big trends in bridal attire?
There is a huge rise in demand for different coloured dresses, and over the next few seasons it is sure to become more and more popular.
Whether it’s a brighter colour that you can wear again or a subtle shade of blush, pink, grey or gold we think there will be more and more different shades coming through.
You also create bridesmaid dresses, are there any new trends you’re noticing, or popular colours or styles?
Nowadays we are seeing bridesmaids are wanting dresses that can be worn again, so dresses that are in more fashion forward styles and colours do very well.
Girls don’t want to buy something that will just sit in their wardrobes afterwards gathering dust, they want a dress they love wearing and feel great in.
You both made your own wedding dresses, did you know what you wanted immediately, or what was the process behind them?
We both knew that we wanted something very elegant and simplistic and as we both got married so close to each other, it was an evolving process with both of us helping the other design their dress and deciding together what looked good on each other.
We did have some things we both knew for certain though, Alice always wanted a red slinky dress and Hannah wanted something floaty in a champagne. The rest was a very organic process!
What makes Belle & Bunty “Flirtatiously British”?
We like to think that our dresses are fun and flirtatious as they have a lot of movement and elegance to them, without being overly sexy or revealing.
And of course, everything is designed and produced in Britain!
Who are your style icons, are there any brides, Hollywood starlets, or people in your life who have inspired your your designs?
We are fortunate to have had some super stylish ladies wear our label but we love the way Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Olivia Palmero always look so polished and well put together, of course Alexa Chung just exudes that cool factor and we also adore Stevie Nicks’s boho style too for inspiration.
Such beautiful dresses! I love bridesmaids in bright hues, and the Lady Zelle Collection is just divine.
Thanks so much to Hannah and Alice for sharing their top tips and insights too – so helpful!
The Lady Zelle Collection starts from £1450, and for more information on Belle & Bunty’s flagship boutique, and to get a closer look at the gowns, visit the Belle & Bunty website, or keep up with their daily musings on Twitter and Instagram.