Well there is no pretending that for most of the world 2021 was another challenging year in many ways just like 2020. Also it was a difficult time to make plans due to frequent pandemic surges & related guidance updates, but I was determined to make the best of it like everyone else!
Although the first few months of the year were not as hectic as in previous years where work was concerned, it certainly wasn't entirely uneventful by any means due to having some family things to deal with instead!
For me the year started slowly but gave me a chance to absorb various fashion shows online especially the couture shows in Paris which always inspire me. The usual fashion calendar had been disrupted and was readjusting to the global events which still loomed over everything until the first vaccines were available & subsequently gave us more freedom to mix.
There was a growth in the interest of creative programmes like The British Sewing Bee & Repair Shop during lockdown as making, altering & repairing clothing & other items was now trending as well as the growth of swapping & selling second clothing apps like Vinted & Depop...
If you didn't know already, I can also offer an alterations & repair service for those people who bring shop bought clothing to me. Off the peg or ready to wear clothing is great value and can offer the latest styles, but often if you don't fit the standard sizes, the garment can look cheap simply by fitting badly.
It can be useful to find a local dressmaker, like myself, who can fit the garment properly to you, even an inexpensive dress looks much better if it fits properly. If you want to look your best, having a good fitting garment for a special occasion will always improve the finished overall image of the wearer.
I was grateful this year to celebrate my seven year business anniversary which could only happen with the help my loyal client base. I am lucky to have several returning clients whose projects are unfortunately sometimes projects I can't share with the public due to client confidentiality & sometimes it feels like I have nothing to show for myself but this is obviously a necessity in the fashion industry!
I have completed two such projects which can take several weeks or months to complete. Both projects were for British fashion brands & it's great to be part of the creative development of these brands.
Speaking of British brands, in July I was really lucky to show my own capsule collection at The Oval in London in association with #kiaovalevents #creativeuk #fashionshowlive & #londonfashionweek.
Although the timing slightly threw me as it would ordinarily be held in February, due to the pandemic it was put back to July. The next show was September reverting back to the normal fashion show schedule, but I decided to wait until next February 2022 before I show my next collection so watch this space!
Sustainability & ethics are important in the creation of my occasion wear brand & critical in decision making as I develop my business, it's at the heart of everything I do.
I feel it is an important value to have in everyday life as we all should try to think of ways to reduce our waste, our carbon footprint & to be mindful of our impact on the environment, especially in a year which dubbed COP26 as our last chance to save the planet...
For my latest collection Spring Summer 2022, I mainly focused on using deadstock or circular fabrics, although it was mainly silks, which are already made & within the supply chain & often left over from production runs from big brands. I can source these fabrics fairly readily at limited quantities, however I had sourced some new gen fabrics to use in this collection but have decided to use them on future projects instead.
I created a simple silhouette to make the pieces have a more classic, wearable & interchangeable feel as well as exploring ways in which to use smaller usually wasted fabric scraps within the design.
My Spring Sumer 2021 collection is available on a made to order basis to reduce waste rather than cutting fabrics which might be wasted.
I had spent some time during the spring months working on my online shop & website with some other exciting planning going on behind the scenes for the coming year too!
Moving fast forward now to some of my favourite bespoke projects of the year & it turns out that November & December ended up being the highlight of my year! I was thrilled to be asked to make a bespoke gown for the Love Island finalist Faye Winter in collaboration with the celebrity stylist Jeff Mehmet who has styled many of the Love Island contestants plus many more celebrities. The event was for ITVs Palooza event in November which was a star studded red carpet event!
Pictured here is Faye winter in her bespoke silver bustier gown with Teddy Soares if you didn't know that already!
Finishing the year with a lovely winter solstice bespoke wedding was perfect although I usually say to people I don't really do weddings... but what I love is working on unique modern stylish weddings & garments which this absolutely was!
Not only did I make this gorgeous ivory satin strapless swing dress but I made a matching satin and velvet hooded cape, long velvet gloves, his & hers matching face masks & a tie for the groom.
This dress to the untrained eye looks very simple and perhaps some might think easy to construct, however underneath the full circle outer layer is all the hidden work to make the dress not only hang perfectly but to give the support & structure necessary for the brides comfort & modesty. This was a great project to work on & I am grateful that so often word of mouth finds me interesting people & projects to work on!
I hope you enjoyed my brief round up of the year 2021 in my studio.
Thank you to all my clients & everyone else who has who has helped make it a great year for me, I wish you all a happy new year!
I look forward to 2022 with gratitude for the past & positivity for the future.
photo of me @janemucklowphoto
The year 2020 will not be forgotten in a hurry and has certainly changed many peoples lives forever, unfortunately not in a good way. I have decided to do a positive round up of my year in the studio and how world events took over my plans...
As 2020 started I was designing pieces for my next collection and deciding which fashion show I would take part in, but that never happened.
As the world pandemic began to dominate the news, fashion shows and other global events were cancelled due to the virus and fashion shows were moving to showing online only with no celebrity audiences attending. This was to become a theme of the year, shows and other events without audiences even on tv... it seemed like nothing would ever be the same again.
In the end I decided to hold back on my designs until I could grasp the implications of the pandemic, after all my designs were still there but people weren't going anywhere or allowed to socialise in the normal way and so I held off creating anything until I could see a way forward.
My designs are all created for those special occasions when people are dressing up in their best and so this was an odd time to be thinking of partying, loungewear was the latest fashion and sales of pyjamas outselling everything else in clothing.
Realising I could not take part in any shows, even though during the year events kept being optimistically planned and then again cancelled, I found myself not even being able to produce a photoshoot with real models in the end!
Fairly quickly we all had to rethink our everyday life as we were all made to stay inside and the world of online meeting began to evolve for our social lives and business meetings. I shifted my attention to working on my website which I probably would not have otherwise and decided to create my online shop.
This was a big problem, how would I go about it without being able to use live models, so I got creative and photographed my garments on the mannequins or flat which is not as easy as it sounds! My mannequins don't have legs and so I could not photograph trousers or jumpsuits as easily! I actually have enjoyed the challenge of working out creative ways to show my garments although nothing can truly replace the lovely models we use.
I have realised this is something I really enjoy working on, probably because it was a new creative outlet for me and a much needed one for me at that time and one I probably would not have discovered if we had not had this time to ourselves.
On a positive note I did celebrate my 6 years in business this August and the fact I am still going is a massive achievement for me, so not to be overlooked, especially as the year has been devastating for many businesses big and small. On that note I wish to thank all my loyal customers and followers for your support!
As images started emerging of hazmat suited medics and Chinese citizens out wearing masks, I thought perhaps I could do something to help due to talk of a shortage of PPE in the UK.
I made some prototype masks, initially for myself, family and friends. After researching the type of water repellent fabrics which could be used to help prevent water droplets be absorbed when breathing, I realised although this fabric technology is available but rather costly.
Next I spent a while developing shapes of masks and came up with different styles to make, only in the end deciding to use cotton fabric, with a pocket opening to add an extra filter for protection if required.
I had been working on my masks when I came across a Facebook post from a nurse who had finished an exhausting shift at her work when she had no clean scrubs available. She had began to sew her own scrubs and was looking for help.
I was following this post and saw within a week she had several thousands of followers and offers of help to make masks and scrubs for hospitals and carers around the country. Soon after she set up a group called 'for the love of scrubs' and there were subgroups set up across the whole country.
I joined a local group and made some sets of scrubs and masks for my local hospital. I was still following this thread and seen she has motivated nearly half million people across the country to sew scrubs which was a remarkable achievement and a very quick response from the public in this time of need!
This inspired me to make a blog for my followers on how to make their own masks and do something to help. It was quite a desperate situation for a while when elastic supplies had run out across the country and stocks of polycotton fabric were being used up.
The facemask was being sold by all the top fashion houses as well as ready to sew kits being sold, probably the years most sold accessory...soon after the government had ordered millions of pounds worth of PPE supplies and this I hoped would be manufactured in the UK as the factories would have a new source of work.
I was also inspired to write my own A to Z relating to my ethical luxury business as seen on Instagram tohelp clarify my brand values.
Much of my work in previous years has been bespoke clothing for wedding or party related garments, for example mother of the bride, bridal gowns or party dresses but this has all been unable to take place as I could not work face to face with my bespoke clients and no events were taking place.
Luckily I still have other types of clients, some of which have their own brands that I freelance for. I help them with their collections and the skills I have as a pattern cutter and machinist meant that I still had some income during the year as well as selling my own facemasks.
I also designed some smaller pieces for my online shop that would be great gifts for people who want to buy something beautiful, ethical and luxury from my online shop.
As well as working on new designs, during the last year I also spent some time researching more new fabrics. There are new fibres and fabrics being developed all the time and new ways to make use of old fibres which will be helping reduce our carbon footprint in the years to come. Look out for more about that during the year...
I am looking forward to people being able to meet up face to face again and to really celebrate our lives, making people happy by making beautiful clothes for their special occasions and events.
My collections are all about dressing up, looking and feeling your best, but all in an ethical and luxurious way!
I am looking forward to this new year positively and I hope that you all have a healthy and prosperous year!
#newyear #newyearnewblog #fashionblog #britishmade #ethicalluxury #consciousclothing #carolinebrucedesigns
Hello everyone I hope you are all keeping well and staying safe. I decided to make a simple guide on how to make yourself a washable fabric face mask just in case you feel like doing something useful with all your free time, if you have any! I feel that soon we may all be required to wear a face covering to be able to go out to public places and so I hope this helps?
Please contact me if you need any further help...email@example.com
2019 seems to have flown by without me noticing and at the beginning of the year, as in previous years, I had set various goals for the business and personally. This year I can say it has been a good year, one where I feel I have had many challenges to overcome, but have celebrated an amazing 5 years in business which I am so pleased about! The blog I have created for the end of the year is to celebrate some amazing personal achievement's and some of my favourite fabulous client projects...
ETHICAL WEDDING DRESS
To start the year I was asked to design and make a very special wedding dress to be worn for a spring wedding in the Far East. The back has a simple cowl feature exposing the beautiful oriental print fabric underneath as a reference to the wedding location. I was particularly pleased that I could source all the silk fabrics from an organic silk supplier as the quality of the fabric was so important to the finish of the dress. Above are several views of the finished dress.
MRS JOAN COLLINS
It has been a real pleasure working for Joan Collins over the last few years, mother of TV celebrity Gemma Collins, as I never know what Joan has planned for her wardrobe! This year Joan was keen to have a few more beautiful styles made as she herself appears on several shows too and wants to wear her own commissioned dresses. Joan loves to be fully involved in the creative process and has many artistic influences which lead her to source unique fabrics and prints which I then make into the styles she likes.
THE MAGIC OF MOTOWN
This year I have enjoyed working with the creators of the Magic of Motown on several of the female singers costumes among other things. I really enjoy creating these glamourous pieces and being able to make use of my imagination for these show costumes. A little sneak preview here as the creators are working on a new show around the hits of Diana Ross coming soon and so I made this gorgeous silver gown for the singer!
DESIGNED BY JOSH
Some of you may have heard of Designs By Josh from previous events I have taken part in, but in September 2019 the 14 year boy took the amazing finale spot at the House Of Ikons fashion show in central London to display all his latest designs, which is where I also showed my latest collection. I am pleased to say that a few of his designs were made in my studio and have been delighted to work with him on some of his collection. It has been great to watch this young fashion talent grow from when I first met him a few years ago and look forward to see his career progress!
CAROLINE BRUCE SPRING SUMMER 2020
My first ethical luxury collection was shown in September at the House of Ikons Show in central London in September 2019 named 'What Lies Beneath' and I was there taking some behind the scenes pictures during the fittings.
Creating a collection for a catwalk show obviously has to have a high visual impact, but the show and the collection for me was also about discovering the ethical and luxury pathways available to me as a brand. I spent a couple of months early in 2019 researching the effects the fashion industry has on our environment and exploring positive ways I could create my occasion wear garments.
SPECIAL PARTY DRESS
I just loved making this sparkly little number for this young lady for her party with all the pretty trimmings and spent some time making sure the fabrics and trimmings would be right for such a special dress. I like to give my bespoke clients plenty of fabrics swatches to choose from and this helps them picture the finished garment. I have to say that being able to source the right fabrics needed for any garment can be very challenging and one of the most unexpected time consuming things to do even with my experience!
After the House of Ikons show in September I was interviewed by the Rebecca Davi online magazine, had my collection in Daily Mail 24 online, I had some of my designs in several publications, Runway Magazine, Avant Garde Magazine and to top it off, Tatler which really made my year!
2019 was a very busy year for me but I enjoyed working with and appreciate all my clients, not just those that I have highlighted here! I have also been working on a few more accessories for my online shop and will be continuing to develop my brand of ethical luxury occasion wear during 2020 which is my passion! I just want to take this opportunity to wish everyone an amazing 2020 and look forward to exciting times ahead. As we start the new decade I will be looking for ways to be innovative in my business which will improve ways we work together, respecting people and the environment.
Surjit Pardesi @pardesiphoto
Jane Mucklow Photography
#carolinebruce #fashionblog #blog #fashiondesign #madeinengland #bespokedresses #britishfashion #ethicalfashion #luxuryfashion #occasionwear
In September I had the pleasure of showing my first ethical luxury collection at the home of the emerging designer, the House of iKons fashion show. The show took place in the Hilton Metropole in London during London Fashion Week and it was their 5th anniversary show.
The theme of the collection is 'what lies beneath' drawing inspiration from the beauty of our planets fragile sea life. I found this also ties in perfectly with my ethical values and the current climate issues being highlighted with sea pollution, particularly plastics.
,The spring led to much research of the type of fabrics available to me, in which to develop my designs. I was aware that this would be a bit of a challenge and so I had an open mind. I knew that I could get ethical fabrics that would translate well into day wear, work wear and other types of clothing lines, for example cotton, hemp, linen and cotton jersey, but I wanted fabrics which would be beautiful and luxurious for evening and occasion wear and was concerned about my ability to access these products.
I was limited to when ordering due to minimum order quantities. Some of the fabrics I would liked to have used were not readily available as they were either so new to the market or so expensive I could not justify the cost, which was a little disappointing. However, even in the six months since I started seriously sourcing ethical fabrics, I have found there is more choice and hope that soon the prices will be more comparable.
I believe there is a shift towards sustainability in the fashion industry and I would like my business to operate in the most sustainable way as possible. Sourcing the right fabrics is one way, but there are many ways in which fashion businesses can reduce it's negative effects on people and our environment. I am currently developing ideas on how to recycle and reuse left over fabric.
I have chosen to use fabrics which fall into a fairly broad category of low impact and luxury. Fabrics which are eco friendly as used in this beautiful purple silk hemp dress or locally sourced from deadstock fabrics, which are end of line like this black sequin fabric, used in the above red carpet dress, which also is made from a silk organza remnant fabric I had.
I was keen to source an alternative to leather that wasn't plastic and found that there were a couple of fish skin leather manufacturers around the world which make leather as a by-product of the fishing industry. The dress above left uses salmon leather on the neckline and is such a beautiful skin to use. The indigo sateen fabric on the right was sourced from a company who works with artisanal weavers and producers and the silk organza contrast was remnant fabric.
Above I designed a coat which I wanted to show off this gorgeous green GOTS certified linen which means that it has been produced in an ethical way to meet a certain standard. The beautiful pink outfit is made of luxury fabrics, the fake fur jacket is made from a couture brand of fabrics which is one of the best. The pleated slip dress is a made of satin which is a luxury fabric. Luxury weavers and mills are akin to ethical in that their manufacturing processes follow a high standard.
I was keen to use a UK made fabric and I have always loved Liberty Print fabric. During a visit to their store, I found this beautiful silk print in chiffon and satin and teamed it up with another new discovery of mine, sequins from the Sustainable Sequin Company hoping to create the effect of falling water droplets. The two piece bustier outfit is inspired by tropical fish and I used an ivory triacetate which has a lovely textured surface with some more of the black sequin. I chose to use triacetate as it is a manmade fabric using natural fibres, so probably not the most ideal fibre to use, but mainly the advantages of using it are in the ease of laundering. Excessive washing of clothing accounts for a third of all pollutants from the fashion industry as a whole.
I used an end of stock shocking pink silk satin to line this beautiful luxury pale turquoise chiffon dress, which is great, if like me you are only making limited edition garments instead of requiring hundreds of metres of the same fabric. The dress design was chosen to explore the creation of a pattern which uses less fabric waste in the making.
Now a couple of back stage pictures at the venue when I am fitting my garments on the models the night before and I was happy everything fitted perfectly so no dramas there! Below my final line up of the collection and am so pleased with the whole look of the show.
I am grateful for the whole experience of showing my collection at the House of iKons show it has been a great learning process for me and an opportunity to research ways to make my garments more ethical and sustainable. I feel that all the supply chains now face similar challenges if they want to be part of the change and the effects that the fashion industry has on our planet. The ethical components to make garments need to be available for there to be progress and designers like myself need to be creative in different ways with the resources we have available. I am always creating unique pieces for evening and occasion wear and searching for low impact materials, including UK fabrics, deadstock fabrics as well as eco friendly and sustainable choices.
I currently source all of my own fabrics, design, cut, make and finish every garment myself. I also make bespoke pieces for individuals who can't find what they want on the high street, which I feel is also a sustainable way to buy clothing, as you are having exactly what you want, it's made to measure and will hopefully be a treasured garment for many years to come. The fast fashion way of doing things is very harmful to our environment as people buy and throw away so many garments now and this cycle must slow down or be replaced by more effective alternatives.
I just want to thank Pardesi Photos for these amazing catwalk images, Savita Kaye CEO of House of iKons for organising the show, all the fabulous models and back stage helpers and Dens Creative Event team for hair and make up!
#carolinebruce #ethical #ethicalbrand #madeinengland #houseofikons #fashionshow #slowfashion #ethicalclothing #ethicalfashion #britishfashion #fashiondesigner #designermaker #bespoke #luxury #ethicalluxury #madetoorder #sustainableclothing #ladieswear #fashionchanges #emergingdesigner #worldfashion
Hi everyone and thank you for taking the time to read my latest blog although it has been a while since my last one...
Today, 5th August 2019 is a special day for me and my business as I have been going for 5 years now!
One of the first styles I created for the Caroline Bruce label in 2014
I just wanted to share with you a few of my favourite images of some of my previous designs with you from the last five years rather than writing too much! Although I do just want to explain some of the reasons I started my business in the first place and where I want to take it in the future.
First photoshoot with @janemucklowphoto in 2015 capturing the red hooded satin Jacqueline dress one from the Caroline Bruce label
I have always been a creative person and found out at a young age that I liked to create things using my hands and felt a sense of achievement from doing so, whether I was sewing, crocheting, knitting, sketching and so on.
Andra dress and Cape photographed by @janemucklowphoto 2017
I found that I could create something that didn't exist before from items around me. If I had some fabric I could make it into something wearable or useful or if I drew a sketch of a dress design I would always think technically about how to translate my ideas into a finished product.
Black & white image of the Amber dress photographed by @janemucklowphoto 2015
I had a curiosity for how things came into being and developed a real passion for art, fashion, textiles and music! Cutting to the chase, I studied clothing and textiles at college and had a career in the fashion industry.
Florence print crepe de chine and leather trim drape dress @janemucklowphoto 2015
As years have gone by, my passion has never waivered and my childhood dream of having my own business and my own fashion label has stayed firmly with me. I feel that I have been gifted with certain talents in life that I have yet to fully utilise, something unique to offer and I have much room to grow, not only in my business but as a business woman.
One of the eclectic styles created for the Caroline Bruce label that was shown in central London in 2016
As you may or may not be aware, I have two sides to my business. I am a bespoke dressmaking business but also I am now a trademarked British clothing label, Caroline Bruce, which actually makes me very proud to say.
This two piece suit was created for the Caroline Bruce Label in 2015
I have been working behind the scenes this year on a new ethical occasion wear collection to be shown at House of iKons 5th anniversary show in London on September 14th and this side of the business is something which I would like to make successful in the coming years.
Gorilla &Gowns Charity Fashion Show 2017 organised by Evexio Ltd Events and hosted by Port Lympne Hotel
I wanted to create a unique fashion experience with carefully designed styles which will be exclusive to my brand as well as more classic styles with a unique edge. As I have been developing my brand over the last few years, my dream has evolved into creating luxury products with an ethical narrative.
Emerald green dress with leather trim by Caroline Bruce shown @GGCharityFS 2017
My aim is to used ethical or low impact fabrics wherever possible and reduce the use of fibres which are harmful to our planet. As awareness grows about the affects of fast fashion on our environment, I want to make a difference wherever I can.
Mae frill dress from photoshoot with @janemucklowphoto 2017
Making bespoke garments for my clients and providing a sampling service for other start ups, small business and students in the textile trade has been the service side of my business among other things. I have acquired the various skills necessary to fulfil all those various clients needs over many years of experience.
Amber backless dress with leather trim for Caroline Bruce photo @janemucklow 2017
I am very keen to pass on my knowledge to the future generation as I feel this important skills set will be lost in the UK textile trade if we do not educate our fashion and textiles students fully.
The Jacqueline hooded dress captured by @janemucklowphoto in 2017 @GGCharityFS
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me in the last five years and here's to the next five!
Happy 5th anniversary Caroline Bruce Designer Dresses! Please sign up to my new newsletter, which is coming soon, using the form on the home page for exclusive product launches and special offers too!
I know we are well into January now, but I couldn't let anymore time slip by without celebrating all my business achievements of 2018 no matter how big or small! Also I feel it is good to reflect on how I can improve things within my business and in turn, improve my focus on specific goals for the year ahead!
January 2018 started off with me attending The Future Fabrics Expo for the first time in central London. I don't have to look very far in London for events and exhibitions that interest me and are even better on a grey day in January! I believe that this event is expanding year on year due to the growing interest in sustainability in the fashion industry and the increased awareness of the effects the industry has on the environment globally. It was a great education for me to learn how fabric manufacturers around the world are exploring the production of ethical and recyclable fabrics which is off interest to me, in the possible use for my garment production and as someone who cares about the environment and admires innovation. It was also interesting to find out there was more to this than just hemp and cotton as I found some very interesting new fabrics including recycled polyester.
February saw the influence of the premier of the incredible Black Panther movie taking over the Screen Nation Awards which celebrates the achievements of film, tv and digital media professionals of African Diaspora heritage. I was lucky enough to be invited to the event and obviously wanted to look the part and so I had to make my own African inspired dress to be part of the occasion! Above right are pictures of the construction process with the calico toiles.
I just love the different exhibitions they have on in central London and almost all year round there seems to be something I want to see! In February I was lucky enough to get to the Balenciaga exhibition and see the amazing gowns on display and learn more about the work of this iconic couture designer.
I can't talk about February without mentioning @DesignsbyJosh, who at 12 had his first House of Ikons fashion show of the year!
Above is one of the amazing looks the then 12 year old boy designed and I was pleased to have made in the studio!
Photograph Frank Macdonald Photography
Modelled by Tiger-Lily Chandler.
March was a big celebration for me and I was lucky enough to go to Marrakech to escape the cold weather! I was instantly taken with the bold colours and intricate designs on almost everything... but especially the tiles adorning most interiors. This little adventure inspired me to explore colour and print design once again this year, which was a passion of mine in my younger years, so much so, that I even designed my first print design and made some silk scarves in the Autumn. Morocco was full of colour and I have to add another picture to show you...
I so lucky to get to go to Marrakech shortly after the new Yves Saint Laurent Museum had opened the previous November which is located next to the already popular Maison Majorelle gardens designed by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, so how amazing to get to see the two together which I certainly wasn't expecting! Above are some of his beautiful sketches on display there, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for you by showing you any more...
Aprils highlight was being added to the Make It British list of top 40 British-made womenswear brands by Kate Hills, whose campaign to promote British brands has encouraged me to keep on building my brand in the knowledge that there are other businesses in the same boat as me! I feel so honoured to be included even though I am still on the early part of my journey.
I also saw one of the first fashion documentary films of the year I had been waiting to be released, which was the Westwood film about the life of Vivienne Westwood one of our most treasured British fashion designers.
May was a month when I was focused on creating some new dresses for Joan Collins who stars in TOWIE, who you may know as mother of Gemma Collins also star of TOWIE and creator of her own glamorous plus size fashion range!
Joan has a great eye for colour, fabric and style, so we always have plenty to talk about when I am working for her! Look out for my blog about working with Joan coming soon...
June was a busy time making some separates for one of my clients and a couple of the previous beautiful silk pieces I have made for her are pictured above. Both pieces are made from a beautiful silk twill which is nice to work with. I'm so pleased that I also found the time to see the McQueen movie after last year seeing the fantastic exhibition, both of which I found an incredible source of inspiration. I appreciate being able to see couture garments in the flesh rather than just on a video and the hear the life stories of different designers.
July came around so quickly that I realised one of the things I had planned at the beginning of the year I hadn't actually started yet! I finally found the time to launch my online shop on my website and start adding some of my unique dresses to it, although this is a work in progress and there is so much else to do including more advertising!
August was wedding season and I had one particular project that I enjoyed working on for a lovely young couples wedding. The bride had bought a beautiful bodice that she saw in a bridal boutique and needed a skirt designed and made that would make it look like a dress when worn together. I confess that usually I am not so inspired by bridal garments but rather enjoyed putting the finishing touches of beaded embellishments on the fishtail skirt.
Photo on right by Annie Hall Photography
I also celebrated 4 years in business in August which was a fantastic achievement for me as I move steadily toward my goals growing my online ethical luxury occasion wear brand!
September was also celebrated by having been nominated for a second year in a row in the STP Awards (Sevenoaks Town Partnership) which is my local council. The two categories were New Business and Micro Enterprise of the year. It is so encouraging to be considered for any kind of awards as it makes you realise that people do notice the work you are doing and it makes it all the more rewarding!
For his second show of the year at House of Ikons, Joshua Birch-Jones' designs were on show as emerging brand Designs By Josh! I was again able to bring a few of his designs to life and was also invited to attend the fashion show in central London. To say he got an amazing reception is an understatement! I look forward to working on some of his new designs for the next show, he is a great inspiration to young people and definitely one to watch for the future!
Photograph by Frank Macdonald Photography
October was a time for a little more time out to visit the wonderful Azzedine Alaia couture exhibition in London, which was yet another incredible display of beautiful garments that are just breath-taking! This stunning pink gown was just one of so many beautiful pieces to pour over.
I cannot forget to mention the truly brilliant Bohemian Rhapsody movie I watched this month that was a complete joy to watch, bringing back musical and cultural memories of my youth! Music has such an influence in our lives and can be reflected in the fashions of the day.
How can I forget my second awards evening of the year...the IBAK Awards (Independent Business Awards in Kent)? That evening I received a runner up award for Best Home Based business, which I was thrilled to receive and two other nominations for Best Creative Business and Innovative Business.
I also, again had to make myself another special dress for that special occasion, so here I am pictured above wearing my royal blue satin cape dress!
I ended October with my first popup in Tunbridge Wells, organised by Support Local which is a great business which helps promote small businesses and local traders. This is where I launched my new silk scarf range alongside my rail of one off unique dresses! I had my first print design transferred onto a couple of the scarves, which was a side step into another passion of mine which is print and textile design, but beautiful fabrics anyway.
November was a time for smaller projects which can be just as interesting as the bigger projects. Here I am in the studio doing some pattern cutting for one of my bespoke clients. I have a range of clients, from bespoke wedding dresses to small alterations, although I do not primarily do weddings. My main passion is evening and occasion wear and developing my own brand, which I am trying to develop in an ethical way.
December was time for a new project and was asked to make some lovely pink uniforms in the form of jumpsuits and two piece outfits for Baker Girl Beauty Academy in Bromley! Above, one of the beauty academy professionals is wearing her jumpsuit. What an enjoyable project to end the year with and this has given me a lovely new network of friends too!
Well I hope you enjoyed reading about my business year as 2018 has flown by and we are at the beginning of another year! I am planning some exciting projects for this year, some of which are already underway and I am so excited to announce that I will be producing more of my own designs this year ... so I look forward to sharing them with you soon.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and I wish you a peaceful and prosperous new year!
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Caroline Bruce designer, dressmaker and business owner.
I haven't written a blog in a while, but I couldn't possibly miss out on the chance to celebrate with this one! Can you believe it's been four years since I started Caroline Bruce Designer Dresses? If you don't know me by now, I am a designer and dressmaker of creative, luxury, ethical evening and occasion wear, making bespoke and demi couture garments. So much has happened in that time that I wanted to make this blog. It as much a celebration of my most memorable business achievements, as a celebration of all my various supporters, collaborators, customers, family and friends and of all the wonderful people I have met! So not much to read in this one but some great pictures to enjoy!
2014 -This was a House of Parliament landlords reception- with Cherise Cheney (Cherises Sparkle) talking about starting our own businesses as housing association tenants, hopefully inspiring the powers that be to support start up and small businesses! This came off the back of participating in the Popup Business course run by West Kent Housing Association earlier in the year, where it all started!
My much loved union jack dress, which I made to show that my brand is made in England, before I had my stylish logo designed for me!
My first commission was making bridesmaids dresses for Immodesty Blaize, the amazing English burlesque performer, this was through Designer & Stylist Jeff Mehmet 2014
Here are just some of the amazing images from a photoshoot by Jeff Mehmet using the styles I was working on as a freelancer for the brand Tempest 2014
My first fashion show @LSE Fashion Society Show was a major highlight for me! Here showing a capsule collection of seven pieces designed and made by myself 2015
Working for UCA Rochester Textile Students Final Collections 2015