This week we were lucky enough to get an exclusive with Bridal wear designing mother and son, Jack and Wendy Sullivan. The pair are both due to show their Bridal wear collections at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival next Tuesday evening, with Jack showcasing his debut in evening wear design at the group show on Thursday.
We stole some time with Jack and Wendy among feverish sewing sessions …
Allie: Wendy, can you tell us a bit about how you got started in bridal wear design and the launch of your label, Brides Desire?
Wendy: Working from a small shop house in Paddington Brisbane I launched my design label , then known as Airs and Graces in 1983. As a self-taught designer I would create hand dyed, eclectic, one only lace dresses. Possibly getting by and surviving more on my passion to create and a strong will to succeed than on my limited technical sewing skills. I was often asked to change the colour of these gowns to ivory or white so as they could be worn as wedding gowns, and so there began my life of bridal design.
Allie: Jack, how does it feel to show your new collection alongside your mum at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane again this year?
Jack: I love it, it’s really fun. Whilst Mum and I have separate labels, we still are exceptionally close and get along well. It is always fun to see what she has come up with for her new collection and nice having someone showing that can help out.
Allie: Jack, what is the most valuable lesson your mum has taught you about the industry along the way?
Jack: I think the most valuable lesson has been, not to try focus to much on what other people are doing and create your own style and own “signature” in your gowns.
Allie: Wendy, can you tell us a little bit about the new collection you will be showing at MBFF next week?
Wendy: The current Brides Desire collection features some double layering of mixed lace components and soft sequin lace underlays to create a delicate shimmer on movement. I am also showing a new colour tone on some of the laces, these will be in the shade of “oyster”, a delicate tone that will work well over champagne, ivory and platinum tones. Fabrics will be soft and
flowing, giving great movement and shape on stage.
Allie: Can you explain how your designs have evolved over the years?
Wendy: Over the now 31 years of designing bridal gowns they have certainly evolved from my self-made one only pieces. Now under the label “Brides Desire” the collections are showcased in more than 60 Australia-wide boutiques and now also gaining popularity throughout the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The focus is now on creating exquisite ready to wear bridal collections with a strong designer look signature.
Allie: Jack, in addition to showing in the bridal show, you will be launching your first collection of evening wear during the festival. Can you give us a little bit of insight into what we might see?
Jack: Well the gowns are still going to show my signature style of blending colour tones and multiple laces. The fit, structure and quality of the gowns will be very similar to my bridal gowns.
Allie: How does your creative process differ when designing evening wear and which do you prefer?
Jack: The process was very similar actually; pain staking attention to detail and hours upon hours in the studio working on the collection. I can honestly say I have put as much time and effort into each one of the eveningwear gowns as my bridal gowns.
Allie: Wendy, can you tell me what you love most about your job?
Wendy: When I first started our business I would always dream that one day I wouldn’t have to “work”, and I could spend all day every day designing and creating beautiful gowns. Now that time has come, and I know how fortunate I am to be living this dream. It’s a true indulgence and I thank my husband Graeme and son Jack for working so hard to make this possible for me.
Allie: And what do you feel makes your collections unique?
Allie: Jack, how does this year’s collection of bridal wear differ from last year’s? What trends have you employed and what have you enjoyed most, creatively?
Jack: There has been a few changes, I have started drifting away from heavy bead for and opted for a more subtle use of textured laces and to add depth and texture to the gowns.
Allie: What is the best thing about being in the same industry as mother and son?
Jack: Having someone’s opinion that you can fully trust and turn to.
Wendy: I know how fortunate I am to be able to work with both my husband and son. I take great pride in watching Jacks exuberance and passion for the business. His drive to succeed with own designs and the direction and development of his label is incredibly strong. We have some fun times working on our collections together, often relying on each other’s design direction when needed. It is so good to have his youthful outlook on life, business and design; it inspires me to continue with my love of bridal design.
See you at the shows …
Images by Michael David
* Wendy and Jack will both be appearing in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane on Tuesday night 7.00pm Monili Jewellers Bridal Group Show. Tickets and more information is available from www.mbff.com.au.