As a bride we don’t always flock straight to wedding millinery to complete our bridal look, however if you’re looking for something unique, and want to make a statement, a bridal millinery option over a traditional veil may be the way to go… cue Carrie’s spectacular feathered friend on her iconic wedding to Mr Big.
Here we catch up with millinery expert, Gemma Sangwine who creates the most spectacular pieces and inspires a stand out crowd moment for your big day…
‘I’m a milliner trading under my own name as Gemma Sangwine and I’m based in Stroud, Gloucestershire. I have a studio in an old textiles mill, and I share the space with my sister Victoria, a furniture designer, and Nick, my best friend from college who is a weaver. My product range is quite diverse, ranging from bridal fascinators and tiaras, to hats for the mother of the bride/groom or the races, and also seasonal festival headdresses, mermaid crowns, and flapper headbands. I make every piece myself, and use a lot of vintage costume jewellery, lace, haberdashery and trimmings, along with remnant and sample swatch fabrics, feathers, shells, fir cones, moss and whatever else I can lay my hands on! My style is modern vintage, fun, stylish and wearable.’
‘I get most of my inspiration from the natural world around us. I am lucky to live in an area surrounded by beautiful countryside, and my daily walk to the studio can take me along the canal and past fields, or just along the streets by Cotswold stone houses and gardens, so I get to see and appreciate the seasonal flora and fauna. I also love, collect and wear vintage clothing and accessories, the 1930’s are my favourite era, so if I’m stuck on a project I’ll flick through vintage fashion books and magazines to see what shapes and styles of hats they wore, how they were trimmed, the angle they wore them at, and this helps me to develop new designs.’
‘I think most of my brides come to me wanting something a bit different, whether that is colourful, vintage, or just a unique design that reflects their personality. Most bridal shops will sell you accessories to go with your dress, but that can feel formulaic. With my brides they have the opportunity to get more hands on in the design process, even incorporating heirloom items of jewellery or fabric they may already have, and come away with a piece that they can treasure and, hopefully, wear again.’
‘I aim to be ethical and sustainable, by using natural, vintage and recycled materials. I believe that there is enough stuff in the world already, so lets re-use and re-purpose what we already have. The Blue Planet tv program was a real eye opener as to how much plastic pollution there is and how detrimental it is to the environment. I avoid using plastics and those that I do use are recycled or vintage. My feathers are either sourced in the UK from a licenced game keeper or are a by-product of the meat industry. The millinery sinamay I use comes from a British company that works directly with the growers and weavers in The Philippines who produce the sinamay fabric, paying them a fair price and helping them to invest in new equipment and improve working conditions.’
‘In 2016 I won the Three Counties Wedding award for Best Bridal Millinery. It was judged on reviews received from bridal clients, with an emphasis on customer service, I received really positive feedback which meant a lot to me. Much of my business comes from recommendations, word of mouth and repeat customers, so it’s important to me that every customer is happy with the product and service they receive from me.’
‘I have recently started working collaboratively with my friend Jan Knibbs, she is an embroiderer and makes the most beautiful embroidered garments and accessories. Jan has a shop in Cheltenham, Atelier 19, which stocks my millinery, and we have made some hair garlands and tiaras using Jan’s hand made flowers and embroidered motifs combined with my wirework and pieces of vintage jewellery. We’ve worked on a few bridal commissions together already, and can add all the finishing touches to an outfit, from the hair accessories to a bridal belt, keepsake bouquet and even the shoes.’
If you would like to get in touch with Gemma about her beautiful wedding millinery designs and to see what she can do for you, you can contact her through…
Facebook as Gemma Sangwine – Millinery & Headwear
Collaborative Photoshoot Suppliers:
Venue: Matara, Kingscote, Gloucestershire
Photography: Camilla Reynolds Photography
Headdresses: Gemma Sangwine
Dresses: from Atelier 19, Cheltenham
Hair: Honeystone Hair by Annie Russell
Make-up: Aine Thomas MUA
Check out some alternative styling for your groom with our blog on 2018 Alternative Groom Wedding Trends
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