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1 October 2006 ~

I thought I'd drop in a few little bits into October's diary this morning, which I predict will be a bit thin this month due to work commitments.

Last Thursday I got to see a preview showing of The  Devil Wears Prada - the atmosphere in the cinema was dire, so maybe it's a very niche film but I thought it was great. What’s not to like? There's the fashion, the bitching, then there's Meryl Streep, who is brilliant as a vicious magazine editor who dishes out, just the best, withering looks, I like almost everything Stanley Tucci has done & there are a couple of very nice bits of eye candy in the shape of Hathaway's boyfriend & alternative love interest .

Quote: "I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight".



Last night I also saw, what I'm sure, will be the best comedy of the year! For those that didn't see Miss World last night (I was darting in & out to watch it whilst cooking Spag Bol), Miss Czech Republic won.



Out of all the women there, the world's symbol of female beauty for the coming year is a busty blonde that wouldn't look out of place on the cover of Zoo or wrapped round a pole in some sleazy nightclub! From Left to right: Miss 'I'm 17 & actually think this dress looks good', Miss 'Nuts Mag 2006' & the ladylike Aussie who should have won.

That was not however the first comedy moment - that had come earlier in the show when the judges had picked Miss Squinty Eyed Scotland as their pick from Southern Europe for the top 16 (the girl for our region chosen by the public went through & came in 2nd)! I'm sorry but I roared with laughter!

Last year wasn't so funny, I'd actually been dumb enough to pick the most beautiful girls from their website pictures & wager on the event, only to discover Miss Russia had all her natural, long red hair hacked off & had gone bottle blonde with a spray on tan & Miss Philippines had been very surgically enhanced (a boob job) between winning Miss Philippines & turning up for Miss World. Had I known the most beautiful girl definitely won't win (Miss Canada last year), I wouldn't have bothered. Miss Canada was stunning but on the tele did have a sort of exotic/erotic look which wasn't flavour of the year last year, if only she'd entered this year I'd have cleaned up - Slutty was in! Returning to Miss Scotland's entry into the top 16, what was utterly unbelievable is, she probably was the best. Southern Europe was represented by an incredibly ordinary gaggle of women & I can't help thinking that these countries could have found better representatives for their countries if they'd gone scouting for beauties in the shopping malls of their respective nation's capitals. Oh, also check out Miss Southern Europe's lampshade dress.

Similarly Britain's Next Top Model never fails to disappoint. While I agree the girl who won (Leanne?) takes a good photo, she's an emotional mess, hard work on shoots & is not going to make a good go of it & will probably be dropped by her agency pretty quick. Why oh why do our versions of American shows have to always look like the poor relations? You only have to see our final pair do their 'walk & a bit of a topple off' & see the ridiculous high praise from the judges for their (in one case) embarrassing efforts & what the final pair on America's Next Top Model  look like doing the same 'walk off' (Series 6, Living TV, double bill starts Monday - my Sky+ is set). No comparison. Tyra & Co. would have died if their girls had looked like our girls come the final show!

Also, thank you Marie Claire, have you heard of this site: ? Would you be brave enough to post your 'happy couple' photo & have strangers cast their votes on how long your marriage will last? Go look, it's real!  



What's new on the site?

I've dropped Kirsty's showroom images in to my Real Brides album & worked a little on making the 'More Info' section even clearer.



      Log on, donate to charity & create your mini-masterpiece.



Oct/Nov '06 WEDDING Magazine:

I have a Designer Profile in the new issue of Wedding magazine:

3 October 2006 ~

Unsolicited Crap - I'm feeling the need to name & shame!
My god, I do get fed up with the amount of spam that lands in my inbox (& I'm not the only one), as well as the normal Viagra stuff & offers to sell me qualifications, I get regular emails from China, India & the like offering to make up my designs for me & it's always acompanied with a few Jpegs or a link to a catalogue which shows their own range of high quality designs. Today I had this one:


Dear Chantal mallett,

I would like to introduce myself and my Company to you.   I am Derick Shen, owner of Alleaya Evening Gowns.  We are a manufacturer of high quality ladies evening, wedding and prom dresses - our factory is in the Chaozhou area ofChina, noted for its highly skilled workforce, exquisite embroidery and hand beadwork.

Our customers benefit from several advantages:

  1. We produce all gowns in-house to a very high standard.  We have our own designers, cutters, machinists, embroidery and beadwork specialists. 
  2. We have much lower overheads than larger operations and can therefore offer very competitive prices.
  3. We can offer limited runs in smaller quantities where required and can also efficiently handle large production schedules easily.
  4. We can turn around orders quickly where required.
  5. I personally oversee all production so there are no quality issues with our gowns.  In fact, our gowns are higher quality than most of the large scale producers yet at a lower price.  Special care is taken to ensure your order is 100% satisfactory to you as we value your custom.
  6. We welcome all customers, and treat our customers as our friends - since you will have the personal attention of the owner at all times.

We have a range of stock designs to choose from, and can also offer OEM service to make your own designs from example sketches or pictures.  Our designers are very skilled at producing designs from your ideas.  We have a large range of fabrics and colours to choose from.  Patterns can be sized to suit your needs.

We are currently supplying customers in the UK, Europe and USA and are familiar with the sizing and designs required for the European market.  We are fully conversant with shipping procedures and documentation, including EU quota requirements.  I  also have permission to supply you with previous customers email address so you may contact them and check our reputation.

And check out the catalogue:

My freind got an email asking her to advertise with this lot yesterday:


Wedding M etropolis, a UK-centric all-inclusive online wedding directory, would like to welcome you in an opportunity to both increase revenue andawareness in the growing on-line wedding market.

The British wedding industry is worth almost £8 billion a year!

By advertising your business with W edding Metropolis you will be able to reach the increasing number of brides-and-grooms-to-be, family and friends who are going online to shop for all their wedding needs, spending on average £25,000 per wedding.

Included in our Introductory special offer are: Company Name, Adress, Phone, Mobile and Fax Number; Website and Email Address; Map Location Reference; 250-Word Description; Weekly Details of Special Offers; Company Logo; Image Gallery - Four Pictures; Ability for Customers to Vote and Review Your Company; Ability for Customers to Refer Your Listing to Friends and Family; Gift Registries; Banner Ad 190 X120..................



ALL advertisements will be displayed across all regions in the UK, as well as being filtered by the visitor's region. All of this for ONLY £50.00 per annum - works out to less than 5.00 pounds per month!!!

Why is Wedding M etropolis the place to advertise? We will help you connect with your target audience who choose to come to one destination for all their pre and post wedding needs. Furthermore, we will have over 2 million unique visitors every 6 months and we have opt-in emailing list categories.

Unlike other wedding websites, we are not only a wedding directory but we also are a wedding resource - We provide forums for people to post information and experiences, articles written by the most professional article writers in the world, hosting for unlimited personal e-wedding sites, advice columns, gift registries, on-line proposals, announcements, wedding vows, we cater to multicultural and non-traditional weddings, as well as information on the origins of popular wedding traditions, and we are not stopping there .... !

Your business has until October 7,2006 to take up our current special, and for the first 200 customers we are offering a FREE rotational sponsorship banner valued at 2000.00 pounds per annum!! These are just a few of reasons to put your advertising dollar in the right spot so act SOON!!


Over 2 million visitors every six months hey? Only £50 per annum - a bargain no? These Yanks know how to talk a load of **** - would Brits refer to my advertising dollar? Think not.
I won't print their weblink because I don't want to give these people any traffic but lets just say, so far they have zero takers, as in, not one advertiser on their site. A quick look up on WhoIs says they're based in Chicago, USA & the domain's creation date was 1st August '06 & was last updated on 28th September '06 - for such a baby of a site, they're pretty cocky about the predicted sucsess of this site & quite frankly I am sick to the back teeth of websites like this direct mailing people like me, to part me with £50 here, £150 there.
Here's another one from this week:


The wedding Directory that serves the UKONLY

We have top ranking listings with every search engine online








Take a look today *******************


You can either apply on our website to have your company added or please feel free to email us your request




If you wish to be listed under more than one category please contact us for an amazing price!!

Just £15 this time - for life (or more appropriately the life time of the site). Don't have a website, no problem, that's £50 governor ;)  At least this one has advertisers & hits, so that's something I suppose.
And another email this week to relieve me of my cash:
To whom it may concern,
During a process of bulk registration and exchange of certain domain names , we've come to a possession of web domains that may be a subject of your interest:



and the suggestion that they can redo my website, you know, better. I vowed to NEVER use web designers again after I broke with my old lot! This company aren’t even UK based (a bonus if you want to employ them to do your website), they're from Herzegovina and, and, if I wanted those domains, I'd have them wouldn't I?




And salesman still have the good old fashioned telephone at their disposal too:


The other week I had a guy on the phone trying to sell me advertising space in a CD sized book that would be on sale in Sainsburys listing wedding suppliers. It would an Annual ie., be on sale for a whole year (experience has taught me that Annual's very often aren’t, despite their titles, available for a whole year)...... this guy droned on & on, so to get him off the phone I said send me something. This email turns up & they are offering me discounted rates of nearly £2000 for a full page ad (remember it's CD sized!) & a 1/4 page for £740 - what's that about 6cms square? Hardly an irresistible bargain. Apparently they will be, to quote from the site: "aggressively priced at £2.50", I was told on the phone, it's being cheaper would sell it over a glossy wedding magazine; guys, salesmen guys really don't know squat about women, do they? Women like the pictures, are seduced by pretty things & would probably rather rely on their own taste, when trawling the net for suppliers, than the taste of a guy called Brian who has done many jobs in his life including selling cars - no shit, I'd never have guessed that! I asked him what else he'd done because I dealt with a Brian who sounded a lot like him over a search engine called Jini a few years back & some Microsoft internet keywords 'this next big thing' that I bought & then, suddenly they were dumped & no longer worked on Explorer & my money (thankfully not too much) went down the drain.

So he says "I'll call you", I say "I'm away in Paris for the rest of the week", so he says he'll call Monday (my conceding gets him off the phone quicker). So what does he do? Call the next day when I'm in Paris. Strike one. Strike two? We'll he only goes & calls my friend whilst I'm in Paris to say that he just spoke to her "competition" & the conversation went along the lines of, if you don't advertise, she will.

Hmmmmm.......... will he get either of us using that 'clever' ploy? What a complete ******! I will however be sure to make a mental note of his name & keep any future phone call a lot shorter (as in, one short beeeep as I slam down the receiver).


I may be sat here suffering from a cold but I am feeling somewhat purged now. Maybe some naming & shaming will keep the parasites away!



4 October 2006 ~
New Vintage Revival Tiara - one off.
I made up a tiara on approval for one of my bridal gown clients, a few weeks back, from one of the bits in my vintage box & we decided it wasn't right for her. We were 50/50 about her wearing a tiara anyway & have done something else instead which fits more with her overall look - which is fine because I knew before I made it that, if it wasn't right for this client, someone else would snap it up.
It's gorgeous & I have called it 'Ice Princess' - the price is £255 + P&P, the full spec is on my Vintage Revival page:
This is a one off, so once it's gone, it's gone.



 Kirsten's Diary - the Wedding, Take Two.


Kirsten is one of my 2007 clients. She lives in London & for her 10th Anniversary is having a Renewal of Vows ceremony in a Scotish castle - her Wedding, Take Two.


She's an excellent person to keep this diary because she's not worried about keeping the whole thing under wraps & this time, the lady knows what she wants - I am really pleased she wants to contribute to this section of the site & am looking forward to reading her future entries.



4 October 2006 ~


So the fairytale Scottish Castle is booked, the Princess dress is ordered and frankly I have little to do.  Or so I thought…..I had completely forgotten how much is involved in planning a wedding or a renewal of vows.  Not to mention the fact that my obsessive need for a perfect dress leads me to email Chantal every time she puts a new photo of a bride on her website.  It usually goes along the lines of “Chantal, I really like that style”, or “I love that skirt”, “how could they be incorporated into my dress design?”.   I really love the dress we designed on my first consultation and my original idea had been something slightly sleek and very elegant, which it is.  So I can only assume that too much time to think about it as well as an overload of new ideas are leading me to want to change everything on a weekly basis.  Fortunately for me, Chantal has the patience of a saint and politely tells me what will work, what might work and what definitely won’t.  The best email I have had from her so far put my wonderful plans for a re-design into perspective!  A designer I am not and I don’t know about other people but I struggle to get a design on paper into a reality in my head.  So I made some suggestions about what I thought would work.  Chantal emailed me back saying that she was a bit concerned that it could go the way of Mary Poppins and added a photograph of said dress to the email and I have to say I fell about laughing in the middle of my lesson, which unfortunately had students in it at the time!  A good reason not to check personal emails while at work I feel!



Butting in here........ to put it another way:



I emailed this message: "Jane's is full with nets & hoops that goes into a train,

so there are differences but not huge differences, though obviously it would

give less of a roman/grecian vibe & send it more of a pretty Victorian (?) route." 


And followed it up with this: "Oh & just had a Mary Poppins vision

pop into my head which, I think, should be avoided!" + pics.


Pondering why Mary Poppins came into my head, when clearly it wouldn't look exactly like that & would work fine, I've reached the conclusion that Mary Poppins has the big skirt / waistclincher / lace combination but also has that sweet, spoon full of sugar feel that changing the skirt would do to the design. What is currently based on a costume from Gladiator & Kirsten's love of medieval costume, without wanting to go 'medieval' this time, a design which is elegant & in a sence simple with an unstructured feel would beome more structured & take on a prettier Edwardian / Victorian look.


* Sometimes when a bride is starting to obsess a little bit about the design, throwing in a few visuals can help & be a bit of a reality check. Of course we can make it work but there is no point obsessing - obsessing can lead people to completely loose sight of what they wanted in the first place. When I see Kirsten next month we'll talk through big skirt vs current version properly & weigh up how each silhouette will look on her & if giving the design a more ball gown, traditional look is what she wants or not. If big is the way to go, big it will be but for Kirsten, I personally think the design we have is right.*

Chantal and I have arranged for my next appointment in November, and I am soooo excited.  I am not, I like to think, a bridezilla, although Chantal may disagree, but obsessed I am.  Again I find it a bit odd as I have done it before and yet there I am finding every opportunity to get anyone who will listen to talk, email or look at whatever is my obsession of the day.  Usually my dress, but I am moving on a bit.  With dress sorted (depending on my mood at the time), I now turn to hair, makeup, jewellery, accessories.  You can’t really get any idea of these things until the dress and venue are decided, so now that is achieved, I again scour magazines and websites to find inspiration.  Took me about 10 minutes before I was emailing Chantal………again.  So poor woman has received 10 different emails in the space of 2 days, all asking for different things and changing my mind constantly.  Usually I end up calling as well, just to clarify!

Finding florists, makeup artists, hairdressers and so forth in Scotland is not an easy task.  I can’t keep going up there every time I want to check something out so it would have to be done on trust, guesswork and photos.  I am just not sure I can cope with that at all.  A suggested makeup and hair designer near the venue won’t even do a trial.  “Not necessary because of their wealth of experience” they say.  “We instinctively know what to do when we get there” they add.  Well I am sorry but I cannot fathom in what world they can read your mind and “know” what you want and how you have imagined your look coming together over the preceding months or years on sight.  I would suggest to any bride to be that you definitely need a practice run of hair and makeup.  With picture in hand, the hairdresser dutifully put my hair into curls with roses weaving through it when I first had a trial, but it did not suit me at all.  Your wedding day is too late to find out your wonderful picture won’t suit you.

Who knows where my inspiration came from, the look I am trying to achieve, the feel of the dress and to a large extent my personality?  Answer: The person who spent 3 hours (and many since) talking through them with me.  Having discovered that Chantal can be booked to be your stylist for the day I absolutely jumped at the chance.  She will help you get into those fabulous corsets (not sure my mother or friends will quite be up to lacing one of those), and do hair and make up.  So that problem is resolved rather rapidly.  I had real flowers last time and although I loved them I don’t want a traditional bouquet again.  Seems inappropriate and well silly.  I know some of you might think the whole idea of a renewal of vows is inappropriate but hey ho.  It is, I agree, an utterly self-indulgent, arguably huge waste of money.  But my only retort is… what.  I love it!  And getting dressed up in gorgeous dress in castle with loving husband in a tux – never a waste of money!!!

So back to flowers!?  I don’t want another traditional bouquet.  That was one thing that was absolutely right for what we did the first time.  But I do want something.  But what?  Looking again through Chantal’s gallery, I am struck by the wonderful bouquets in the photos.  They are fabulous, made up from velvet flowers, feathers and look amazing.  That is the look I want and actually couldn’t be further from what I had originally imagined having.  Oh my god I bet she regrets the moment she let me through her door!


When I got married I chose a very simple pattern which was then made up by a friend.  I kept asking people what they thought about my dress because I was concerned it was not very flattering.  I was assured by all that it was fabulous and original.  Well I reckon that ‘original’ was one of those ever so subtle ways of saying politely that it really didn’t suit me.  I have been having very interesting conversations with my husband about that dress as well!  Of course trying to get a man to be honest and say they don’t like something, particularly your wedding dress, is not easy.  Due to my frankly obsessive behaviour over my original dress, I am asking everyone (secrecy went out the window the moment I got my design from Chantal anyway), what they think of the new design.  And I don’t give an inch.  It has to be compared with last time and in detail discussed what they like and what they don’t like.  That my mother, grandmother and several friends didn’t much like my original wedding gown was disappointing but not entirely surprising – after all I didn’t. It has not been an issue this time!  But if you don’t get tears welling up in the eyes of your nearest and dearest, don’t believe them, particularly if you are working to a budget.  You can still get wow on a budget.

So……  lucky girl that I am, I get to have another wedding, well okay renewal of vows but I get to wear a beautiful dress, have all my dearest friends and family together and have a wonderful party in a Castle …..  but you know what? I forgot what an utter pain in the neck planning these things is.  I just remembered the nice stuff along with the things I wanted to do better or with more style this time.  I remember why the term “bridezilla” was coined and fear despite my hopes that I am not one, I have decided in the time it has taken me to write this that I must associate myself with the term!  Opinionated, stroppy, demanding, constantly changing their mind, and nothing is quite the way you want it!  Yep – that would be me!

And finally why is it that it is so important and why I go on about my dress so much and want to get this right?  If you are lucky enough to be able to have Chantal make your dress you probably understand but  for those pessimists who constantly quote “it’s just for one day” and those who think I am truly self centred to be getting two, I remind you of the scene in friends where all the girls are having a bad day and so put wedding dresses on and sit eating popcorn.  A friend of mine puts on her wedding dress and does her hovering when she is feeling miserable and I have to admit to putting mine on occasionally just to…..well just because I can.  Although there are many people for whom a dress is just for one day and therefore not important in the scheme of things, I am a true believer in it being out of this world, plus for all the talk of only one day, it is actually one of the few tangible things you have left after your wedding day.  Plus you either end up with an heirloom or your daughters will thank you for the most amazing dress ever for their future graduation balls!




10 October 2006 ~

Wedding M etropolis Watch.
Since reporting a week ago that said website had zero takers, so far, for their £50 per annum listing offer. So basically zero suppliers to share with brides.
I am so very pleased to report that they now have exactly 3 suppliers listed. So B2B's wanting invites or a photographer or a videographer should hot foot it over there to the exiting metropolis of wedding. 
Is it me or does 'Metropolis' seem a little inappropriate - I'm thinking more on the lines of:  
www.getting the feeling I'm in danger of spoiling what was funny when I started the list, if I keep
Plus www.a bit bored - ooh good name for a site!

19 October 2006 ~

Wedding M etropolis Watch.
5 more suckers in the last 9 days brings them up to 8.
So what's been going on?
So 9 days & no diary entries. I have been practically living in my workroom or on a train or at a clients wedding.
Last weekend Jane married Rob in Durham & had her reception at Lumley Castle. Jane is fab, we got on very well - lots of common ground, to sum her up I'd say she's tall & statuesque, quiet, refined & a bit shy with the occasional foray into the more dramatic, diva side of her personality. Yes some designers psycho analyse their clients (or at least take a shot at it) - Jane booked her gown with me after coming to terms with quite how 'look at me' her figure looked in my sample over a less shapely alternative from a fellow designer ( I told her, that as the bride, everyone will be looking at her anyway & suggested it was a case of figuring out how she wanted to feel in her dress when she was being looked at) & in the end she chose a variation on my Fleur de Lys design - the absolutly right choice for 'Diva Jane', bad choice for wall flowers ;)  When choosing a wedding dress, you have to be prepared to WEAR it / work it / feel wonderful in it, it is an extension of your persona, you must never let it wear you.
After some disastrous hair & muck-up trials elsewhere, Jane had a make-up trial with me & booked me to go up to Durham to style her on the day. So friday afternoon, with puffy ankles (from hours sat working & little of the horizontal sleeping time clocked up over the previous week, I caught a Virgin train from Milton Keynes to Birmingham & cursed Mr Branson for not bothering to allocate enough room for suitcases & making half, yes half the train First Class so I had to stand the first leg. I did get a seat from BHam to Durham which is just as well because I know I would have cracked & stumped up the cash for First Class. I would have justified it because I had button loops & buttons to stitch on the crushed velvet sleeves I had squirreled away in my handbag. For those of you that have never hand sewn on a train, let me tell you, the motion really screws up the whole hand/eye co-ordination needed to thread a needle. I was working with button holing thread i.e. thick thread & after many attempts to thread my nice fine needle, I had to upgrade to a much bigger one. Doing that job over the 3 days I would be out of the workroom meant I'd come back with sleeves all but finished for the next commission & at least it gave me something to do.
Jane swung by Durham station to collect me Friday night & we headed back to her parents place where I was plied with food & wine (perks of my job). I have the gorgeous, very me, very new, pink LG Chocolate phone & at some point when setting my alarm back at my hotel, I managed to set it on vibrate so I only went & overslept didn't I? And we'd had a debate on start time the night before, so it's just as well I erred on the side of caution & suggested an earlier 8.30am pick up because at 8.30am when I was meant to be outside waiting for Jane, I woke up & surveying the clock on the TV came to the very conclusion that I had indeed overslept. I wandered over to the phone where I saw a very recent missed call from Jane & within seconds there was a knock at the door. Jane, I'm sure was a bit surprised to be met with the sight of  a very recently woken designer in her night shirt & not the heavily made up & may I add dressed version she had been expecting ;) So anyhoo, we headed back to preparation central (mum & dad's) & I managed to get my make-up, hair, etc. done over the next few hours whilst Jane de-puffed eyes, put in contacts, laced up her wedding boots, etc. Her hair & make-up went very smoothly & I was very pleased with how it turned out & at 12.30 the bride, her parents & her designer slipped in to the wedding car & took off for the church (not the first client's wedding car I've rode in).


So you know Car Phone Warehouse has the new pink version of the very desirable LG Chocolate phone & you're tied up at work, so buying it on their website is the simplest way to get it, right?


Ordering was simple, postage free & next day, the phone was in stock, so stupidly I thought I'd get it next day. One week later, having had nothing but an email confirmation & having logged in to discover that on the 'where's my order' section of the site they where saying due to being very busy deliveries may not be next day after all, my order was still waiting to be processed.

Grrrrrrr. So I initiated a website enquiry via their form. Ooops sorry, there was an error & there was an error the next two times I tried before giving up & looking up their number.

Now you would think the customer services number on the website would be for website orders wouldn't you? Well, you'd be wrong! But to get through to the right department you still have to reel off your address & confirm your email, only to be told they "can't find your order, was this a website order? You're through to the wrong place, let me transfer you". I'm transferred, stuck in a queue, when I'm connected the bloke on the other end isn't aware my call has been connected & is yapping to a colleague about something he has to do for a customer & then he wanders off, with me saying "hello? hellooo? HELLO!!!!!". So replace the receiver & repeat, repeat address, repeat email, can't find my order? What a surprise! Please put me through to web orders....... ooh surprise a que, music, "your call is important to us", oh yes, I'm sure it is & then I'm put through - "welcome to carphone warehouse ...............".  I say, I'm sorry, can you repeat that, I can barely hear you? Sorry what? I just about pick up that the guy has a problem with his headset so I ask that I be called right back & give him my number. He whispers yes he will do that but no phone call comes.

So I go through the loop again by time I get to the right person, she is the 7th person I have spoken to or almost spoken to & I am pissed!!! She tells me the order started being processed yesterday - well that's interesting because I'd logged on in the early hours of the morning & the website disagreed, so too did a previous operator who confirmed the order was still waiting. She 'thinks' is will go out today. So I say no, it will go out today & it's no good sending it to my home address because there's no one at home this week. Last week, when I placed the order & was informed delivery was next day, there was but now you'll have to post to my work address. And you will deliver tomorrow! I also strongly suggest a discount is in order & am told I'll have to take that up with their CEO.

Tomorrow comes, breakfast news is savaging CPW for their TalkTalk free internet fiasco, apparently the CEO Charles Dunstone had to go on Watchdog & put his hands up & admit they had problems which 1000+ new staff should solve. Well trained staff would have been more the way to go me thinks!

Parcel arrives. Unwrap parcel only to discover black phone! Now I'm really pissed, seething! Jane is in this afternoon for her dress pick up so I call CPW & stick them on loud speaker while I continue to iron. I give the bloke who answers hell:

  • I waited a week,
  • spoke to 7 different people yesterday,
  • confirmed my details almost as many times
  • & now you've sent me the wrong thing!
  • mail me out the pink phone TODAY!!!!!

"Can't do that, we have to get that phone back from you first".

Nooooo! You send the pink one out today & the courier can collect the black phone when he makes his delivery tomorrow.

"We don't do collections anymore (hmmm, getting a bit expensive was it?). You'll have to take it to a post office & send it back"

Are you kidding me? I use the website for convenience & hassle free shopping. I then try to email - no good, speak to 7 different people & spend an hour on the phone & now you're telling me I have to drive down to the post office to send back this phone?!? Wait for it to arrive back & wait again for the right phone to be sent!

"Or you could go to one of our stores....", would you like me to tell you where your nearest ones are?"

Supervisor, NOW!

"I'm sorry, there's a 24 hour wait to speak to a Supervisor"

Get me a Supervisor!

"I'll try & find one".......and a little while later....... "There's no one available, I have just sent an email request for a Supervisor to call you".

O.K. Where's your nearest store with stock?

"Dunstable has 2, Aylesbury 10"

Fine. Reserve me one at Dunstable & I'll pick it up tomorrow.

"But Aylesbury has more"

Yes, but I'm not in Aylesbury, Dunstable is closer!

"I can't do that (reserve said phone). It doesn't work like that"

Great now I'm a customer in thoseNationwide ads running on TV!!!!


At this point I abruptly finish the call.Well, I'd hit a metaphoric brick wall & was seriously considering actually hitting a brick wall, so for my sanity & the bones in my hand, it was best I ring off.

My Dad swings by work, collects said phone, goes into Dunstable, swaps phone. "Of course we would have put one aside, they only had to call us" & "this happens quite a lot with the warehouse sending out the wrong things".

24 hours later, no Supervisor. 1 week later, no Supervisor.

CEO is now due a very strongly worded letter, I may just mail him this web link & he can read about my experience on the World Wide Web.  I need a car charger, a wall charger for work, I quite fancy a pink bluetooth headset..... think I might mail CEO my wish list & suggest an apology come in the shape of a box baring goodies  ;)

My crazy Father actually came back from the store praising this TalkTalk scheme & says we should do it. Apparently they've purchased AOL UK, so we'd be over the internet hiccup bit. Are you crazy Daddy? The news savaged them this morning & I'm thinking I'll never give them another penny so.......  Did you not hear the story? And AOL? I hate AOL, bar stewards keep giving me a dynamic IP address in the US, so I can't download films with Sky By Broadband (cos my IP address says I don't live in the UK), their web chat is mainly India based & they were all useless - I want to divorce AOL not embrace & more importantly pay, some demon AOL/Car Phone Warehouse hybrid!

Call me crazy, but withholding cash & taking your business elsewhere is always the best way to punish the big bad corporations.

Honestly men! Dangle a tasty money saving scheme at them, however crappy & run by complete incompetents it is & their anybody's! The man has an Honours Degree in Engineering but naff all common sense!


Oooh, but can I just say phone G O O D , very P R E E T Y ! The touch pad takes some getting used to but, again P R E E T Y ! ! !

And Car Phone Warehouse B A D ! ! !      Customer service to be well & truly, very, very ashamed of!    


As one would expect the wedding went very well & the UK (well Canada right now) has another set of over the moon, loved up newly weds.
Um, what else? Well I learnt that a conker that drops from a great height can really hurt! Standing on the street some two meters under the ground level of the church grounds, I was struck by a conker so hard it felt like someone had just pounded on my skull with their fist. Needless to say, it was a bit of a surprise & the people behind me said they saw a conker(?) bounce off my head & hurdle the 2m high wall! Ouch! Oh & I managed to mislay my trainers somewhere between Jane's parent's house & the castle - we'd abandoned all our stuff 'to go' in the front hall but don't fret, trainers have been found the only problem was I had to wear a pair of heeled boots home, against my feet's wishes.
What did strike me about this wedding was the utterly crazy but very good photographer Jane had booked. This photographer, Alan Mason, worked very hard, flew around at the speed of light & actually took care over setting up the shots! And? Well, from experience I can tell you that though you may hope for these traits in your wedding photographer they are in fact, & I'm going to scare you now, quite rare.
I have harboured a photography theory over many years that female photographers (also rare) are preferable to male. And on the whole I stand by this theory. The bride has to strike up a raport & feel comfortable with the photographer (& women are easier to do this with). Also women are more likely to use their intuition & read how the bride wants to look from their choice of outfit & associated decor & reflect it in the shots & have a better idea of how to arrange the dress - they have, altogether a better eye & with the female bonding aspect, she is more likely to get a bride to relax, collaborate & try different poses & show off a bit in the hope of getting some great shots. For, despite what anyone says, it is ultimately about the bride, it is her day. Grooms in photos are a bit like accessories & bless them, you can drop them into a shot that's been set up, tell them to look cool & laid back & get some great photos (prime example, Jane & Rob, below).
I love photography, I like looking at photos, I enjoy taking them. I like people watching & at weddings I will snap things going on around me while the photographer deals with his/her list. BM's playing, guests messing about (see right), at this one there were funny moments when shots were being set up & I took those - I think those photos sum up the day & the couple more than the serious ones.


Over the years I have met lots of photographers that don't give a ****, I've lost count of the amount of times they say no don't fiddle with the dress it looks 'nice' like that - well sometimes it does but sometimes it looks crap but arrangeing the dress takes time & it's not time they want to spend. Also, & I think this is true of all brides, you do want some of you in your dress looking perfect. I've met purvy male photographers, lots of mediocur ones (most with egos the size of Mars but  no real talent) & I'm sad to report some female photographers with swollen heads who are not the greatest thing since sliced bread but are complete cows!


The cows tend to come in pairs. At one wedding the second in command cow ordered me to move out of her shot even before the wedding couple's vehicle had appeared on the horizon, they didn't want the dress arranged or the brides hair smoothed down (there was quite a breeze) but neither did they wish to stick to her list of photos (they missed off shots she particularly wanted). I had asked & been told that I could get some photos off them for the site, in fact I was told the chief cow preferred (?) that to my using my own - bizarre. However, I don't trust photographers as far as I can throw them & do try & get my own.

My photography theory two is that you can get better photos if you know the subject well so I often get a gem of a photo, because of the relationship I have with my bride, that will be better than anything the professional gets.

I asked Jane to give me a diva pose whilst her photographer went in search of the groom & she threw her head back, put her hand on her hip & gave me a great photo, she knows I wouldn't use it unless it's good.

Back to my cows, at this same wedding, where I had been standing back snapping what I wanted, I followed the bride & groom & their herd around the corner, only for the chief cow to turn around to me & say :

"Oh are you coming?" Well, yes (I'm thinking where are we going with this line of questioning?).

"Oh, well, I'm going to be getting all "creative" now & I don't want you taking photos."

"You've got plenty anyway haven't you.", she states. 

As an aside she says "You can come to arrange the dress if you want".

Actually 'cow' under sells this, 'Bitch' works a lot better. The only reason she didn't get told where to go & bitch slapped into next week is out of my respect for the bride, because if I'd said anything, this woman would have made a scene. I don't act like my talent puts me above everyone else, I act normally, so it does particularly get up my nose when the much less talented try to treat me like dirt (   obviously the result my intimidating talent has on them ;)     ) & act like they're gods gift. It may convince other people but it does not wash with me. I get the same crap from queeny hairdressers & most of the time I can put my hand on my heart & say, I can dress hair better than you love (& when I do it the pins don't show) & I can take photos as well as you love, oh & call that creative? The question is could they do what I do? I cannot understand why you have to adopt such an attitude in order to command the respect you should, as any human being on the planet, regardless of what you do, get! I have to adopt a shitty attitude with some of my suppliers, the mags, Car Phone Warehouse!, etc. to get results & I find it ridiculous.

I did follow them up to this dreary decaying building (the bitch in me was looking forward to seeing what she thought passed for "creativity"). Once there she tried to entice the bride onto the window ledge to stand against a filthy window covered in cobwebs but the bride graciously refused (apparently in the pre-wedding consultation she'd said to the bride "I hope you're not one of those brides who's 'precious' about their dress" & was told the bride was one of those brides). She then set up poses which should have looked great & some did but she hadn't bothered working on the rapport angle & though the photos are good & a few are beautiful, they could have been a much stronger set (I thought any fool could get masses of great pics from this bride, she was so photogenic, so I thought wrong). I was consulted as to whether 'it', the dress, looked good turning to which I replied "Oh yes, it looks great turning, we've already done some of those" & when asked if I thought the dress looked O.K. (turns out the only time she was bothered about the dress looking good was during her creative, 'I've just noticed what a knock out this bride is & might be able to get some good portfolio shots so now I care phase'), I simply retorted that it didn't matter what I thought & struggling to dial down my sarcasm said "Are you happy? If she wasn't she didn't dare say so. She did however bitch to the bride about not having been given a drink all day even though she was a regular at the venue & could have asked the staff for something herself. My bride had my disc of photos first & had a long wait to see the professional ones which where a bit of a disappointment I have to say. I have the best confetti shot, which is gorgeous, hers include an out of focus shot & their photos (& maybe it's the low res versions) seem to lack contrast. And I have the ones we took in the evening where the bride posed for me & there are some gorgeous photos from that set that really captured her personality. She was 24, girly & skipped across the car park on pick up day, when she left with the dress & I have photos of that girl, her photographers don't.

This lot have some wedding magazine photography award & a website, which once you've met them, is a funny read, I quote: They are "photographers, designers and artists." & "we engender emotion and liberation in professional photography". I know some may think it's bad form of one wedding professional to criticise another but is being a complete bitch to a fellow wedding professional (& one with an online diary), at your joint client's wedding a professional act?

My photography theory three is that good photographers were easier to spot pre-digital & pre-photoshop, now the cameras are so good that all you need is a little no how & a goodish eye to get by & some photographers, including the cows don't even seem to have that.
But Alan Mason, Durham photographer (ignore the web layout, look at the pics & read his observations) is the rarest kind of wedding photographer, a good one. The only thing I will say is that he needs to try doing a wedding in a pair of 3" stilettos because he has a habit of grabbing & dragging brides off at a far quicker pace than the average stiletto wearer likes to travel. A small flaw & luckily my bride had on a pair of Peter Fox leather boots which are like wearing slippers (I know I have a pair). To put it one way & I did on the day to my bride, he took advantage of her body. She looked fabulous & he opened his eyes, took a good look & set up shots that made her look great & the dress look great. He did all the skirt arranging, ran two flights of stairs to move Jane up a step & flip out her skirt & was totally focussed on his job. He made the guests strand in a certain way to make them look better (I always teach my brides how to put their feet & legs, angle of their body, etc. to get great photos before they take their dress away & if Jane hadn't of had this lesson he'd have sorted her out too). First time I've seen that. Honestly, I will be astounded if there are not allot of good photos, & a few great ones. Jane & I realise the effort applied may have been because she can give him some wonderful portfolio images & we know he won't have had too many like Jane to photograph but we don't care, the enthusiasm & attention to detail works for us. If you are getting married in the Durham area, do check Alan out.
Above my pics- Left: Serious & gorgeous! Right: But it is a wedding, it should be fun too (Alan at work).
Sunday night I was back in the workroom & that dress left me Wednesday evening. I have written this on my laptop, in bed, I haven't got up today & have given my ankles their loooong awaited elevation. Actually, tell a lie, DHL delivered a package which I dutifully hobbled downstairs to collect & was met with a scathing look from Mr. DHL who stood back to deliver it (the look, not the package). Not sure whether it was the disapproving 'you were in bed!' look or 'you took to long' - don't care either, cheeky sod!
But there is comfort food aka pasties to be assembled & Janice Dickenson, Project Runway & Americas Next Top Model sitting on my Sky+ box. So I am going to finish this entry, shift my ass downstairs, assemble said pasties & sling my feet up in front of the TV.
Pasties? Eat home made ones like ours & you'll never touch shop bought again:


We use a round of Justrol shortcrust pastry per pasty (the pre-done ones that come two to a packet)
These amounts will do 2:
  • 400-500 grms of rump / sirloin steak cubed (not to big)
  • 1 large potato
  • About the same amount of swede
  • 1 large onion

All vedge diced (swede & potatoe into cubes about 1cm square).

  • Add 3 tablespoons of Atora suet
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Plenty of pepper.
Pile onto half the pastry round, flip other half over the top, roll & crimp edges to seal & place on a piece of foil which has been greased with butter. Shore up the sides of the pasty with the foil to contain any leaks & help keep the pastry together, then poke a hole in the top of each one.
Cook on 200 for 20 mins, then turn down & cook on 160 for 40 mins.
Eat on their own.
    .      .


22 October 2006 ~

Ha! My Dad asked me what I'd said about CPW in my diary today, so I read it to him & now he wants to take a sideswipe at "designers"! He's sat opposite me with his arms folded feeling sorry for himself & feeling 'got at'. So he'd like to say & I quote:

"I don't know, bloody designers! Order a pink phone because it looked pretty, it's got no loudspeaker, the reception is poor as compared to my 'industrial' Nokia & it makes phone calls in your pocket & terminates them unexpectedly because of the ill positioned buttons."

Ahh, that is true but still it is pretty. And I think I got off pretty lightly.

We just had a debate about the use of swearing in my diary (I do wonder how it will be received but at the same time it is how I speak) but I have concluded the site isn't aimed at children & is aimed at normal adults & the sarcastic wit that is my Father quipped that "there's nothing 'normal' about the people that go on my website!!!!" Cheeky sod! My Mother & I call him Eeyore - I feel that needs no more explanation.


Update from Harrogate, earlier this month Wedding called in accessories for a shoot & at the end of the week You & Your Wedding called in some images for the issue out in December, so bumping into Peta in Betties proved useful.



23 October 2006 ~

I feel so special, so chosen. I have been invited into the fold....

I got my Wedding M etropolis invite today!

They now have 9, I said 9!!!! Advertisers.

It may sound like I'm picking on them but I've had over 19,000 individual visitors this month, so these websites are particularly aggravating because chances are, they're getting way less visitors than the people they're asking to pay to advertise on their site.

The "introductory offer is valid for a limited time and expires on October 26, 2006", is this because the last 'special' offer expired on October 7th & completely bombed? Or the offer mentioned in the press kit, expiration October 1st really bombed?

Oh & the Media Kit! Quote:

"We are about to launch BIG and BOLD in UK’s leading Wedding Magazines, be featured on top search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, and all wedding-related searches, and host inspiring bridal shows throughout the UK."

The Americans are planning a take over! Though, start advertising in the bridal mags & that could get quite painful & if they have only shifted 9, £50 adverts so far that's £450 & that's a drop in the ocean of magazine advertising & their site is so "American" & by that I mean cheesy as hell, it's unlikly they'll squeeze any advertorials out of the glossies.

Can't wait until they call me for a bridal show because the sales teams never accept just "nooooo". they will always, with the sincerest voice say why? Please explain.....?

SO I DO   ;)     Call me & spout BS about your amazing product or service at your peril.

Oh & after my "wedding igloo", etc. joke earlier in the month, it seems "Metropolis" isn't joke enough & I quote:

"We are striving to be the WEDDING CAPITAL of the UK and eventually worldwide."

Can I just say 9, Nine advertisers. Oh well, from humble beginnings.......

Want to  nose at the press kit? Want to see your 'individual', special day get the corporate, money, money, money spin? This is the bit of my industry I truly detest:

 Stick www.    into your browser & paste this in:

So glad I just went & perused! The 'Gown Gallery' has pictures of Diane Lane in it, which is great because I predict UK-centric B2B's will find this section of the site & Diane’s 'outfits', shown here, just the inspiration they have been looking for! White shirt, bathrobe, black vesty things, fashion forward thinking for the bride of '07/08.

Nearly all other areas are still 'under construction' with a note saying the official launch is (actually was) 15th September.

Slick! Now I'm sold!

Ooh, I said 'fashion forward'! How Project Runway of me!



Bridal Designer's musing (?)

The other day, just for a minute, I thought Bridesmaids went down the aisle in front of the Bride but that's in America. Still, even as a wedding dress designer I probably see more American weddings on TV than UK weddings real life or otherwise that I temporarily got the British / American versions mixed up.

But then, until that moment I hadn't realised they did it differently & you know, I think I like their way better. Sending BMs in first, kind of sets the mood with the Bride appearing at the back & arriving last. Also in American weddings sometimes arn't the Mother/s of the Bride &/or Groom escorted down the aisle by an usher ahead of the wedding party or something? Because that's kind of nice too. After all the Bride's Dad gets a bit of pomp & ceremony, why not her Mum?



30 October 2006 ~

What a lousy week!

I took a last minute order for some orchid hair pins on Monday (23rd). On the Thursday I dash off to post them & just miss the cut off for next day delivery so held on to it, to post to the lady's home address for delivery Saturday. Friday afternoon, I pull out of the drive & there is something very wrong - as in flat tyre wrong! And no time to change it & get to the Post Office & let’s face it, am I even going to try, even if I had the time?

So back in the house, I call up local taxis on, call one & 10 minutes later I am embarking on a half hour round trip to the Post Office that's going to set me back £30 & the pins only cost £25!

The cost of living in the country! That evening one of my ’07 girls calls me just as the RAC arrive for the tyre (well now it’s cold & dark & hell, I have home start!). So I’m discussing groom’s attire with her & opening up the boot for the spare & out comes the spare with cream pearls studded in the tread! Well, what would you expect a bridal gown designer’s spare tyre to look like? It was a bit surreal watching Mr. RAC flick the pearls from the tread (a result of a burst bag of pearls I pulled out of the boot earlier in the week) - bet that was a first for him. But…… untapped market – not so much the tyres but bling, girly hub caps!



Saturday, the gown consultation that was due in Saturday afternoon & had been sent a confirmation email at the beginning of the week, forgot - genuinely forgot, about her appointment so whilst these things happen it was still crappy for me.

My Dad swung by the showroom for a coffee on his way back from working away all week, when he heard I was without client & we decided to head off to the garage to get this pesky tyre fixed. And talking of fixed - my what a fixation men can get with a tyre! Apparently mine was very rare (it had a dent near the inner edge that only went half way around) &, apparently, it had worn like that - I quipped that perhaps it should be preserved in some kind of museum for freakish tyres but either the ambiance of a garage did nothing for my wit or, as I was in a garage & I was a girl, no one was listening to me. Said tyre was seen by half a dozen experts & they & my Dad were all stumped. I really couldn't have cared less which was 'bad' apparently because my Father said solving the mystery might stop it happening again. He's right but I still don't care. I suggested we leave them to it & pop over to Sainsburys for another coffee but Dad was facinated enough to stay & hover & be present at it’s autopsy, boys it’s a tyre! Fix it so I can go! So I got to spend the best part of a dull hour in a garage ;(  

I suppose I can hardly criticize men & cars, it's no different to women & shopping - they can't fathom why we'd like that! But oh, what I would have given to have been trapped in the cosmetics section of Selfridges instead. The pretty white Mustang on the ramp held my attention momentarily but there was no eye candy & men in overalls, unless they look like Hollywood's leading men (but not Tom Cruise), hold no facination for me.

Oh & Sunday! I had a tiara appointment & then a gown consultation & Sunday morning, 2am the clocks went back. So Sunday at the real 9.30am (as opposed to 10.30am if you didn't know the clocks had gone back), I phoned both my appointments to check we were all on the same time & that no one was going to turn up an hour early & have to wait around. Got hold of ‘tiara girl’, she had the right time & phoned ‘gown girl’ & spoke to a very young child. "Is ***** there?". No. "Is this the right number for *****?". Yes but she's out. "I'll try her mobile". I did & left a message.

2pm came & went. As it happens a friend of mine was also in work so we sat & chatted in my workroom until my client was due at 2 & then until they had to go at 3pm & the client? No show. I call. Little girl again. She's out, again. So I ask if daddy's there? I ask him if he knows where she is because she's not answering her mobile & she was due to me for an appointment at 2pm. I am then told she's ill. So I say, "oh so I suppose she's hauled up in  bed then?" And was told yes. It would be nice if when you tell someone you've been stood up, they sound even the slightest bit apologetic but......... I said I should obviously have probed the little girl some more when I'd called at 9.30 that morning when I'd been told she was out & then I needn't have waited around..... Feedback?.........

I know if that had been my fiancé, relative, whoever & they’d been told I’d missed an appointment, I would hope they'd apologize for me & say something like, she's been very ill & obviously forgot, otherwise I would have let you know, so sorry.....

Does this scenario sound that outrageous? It was a Sunday too! I obviously expect too much!

I had a Monday (30th) appointment who was made aware of the wedding dates of the lady's who were booked in for the weekend before her & that if they were to book, I may not have been able to accommodate her. She provisionally booked Monday but said that given this info she would keep looking & if she found something else she liked she would go for it given the uncertainty of my situation. That suited me, I don't think what she wanted was really my thing anyway but clearly I shouldn't have shown any loyalty to first come, first served with my 28/29th consultations because Monday girl did find something else & cancelled & the weekend gals were no shows.

Anyway this is happening too much & there were others (like Monday girl) that wanted appointments that weekend, so I'm going to have to look at either charging for appointments (paid for in advance) or taking a deposit for an appointment which is refundable providing you cancel within 24 hours or turn up.

It's difficult because I don't believe in charging for appointments but I do spend on average 4 hours on a consultation & like with this weekend, being honest & telling someone the weekend consultations, should they order, might mean I couldn't accommodate her, lost any chance of an order from her too.

Ah well, in the long run it is best to be honest & sometimes there's a better commission just waiting around the corner. Last year I turned down the clients I couldn't bare to deal with (see June Diary, 24/6/06) & refused to sell 2K worth of accessories to a girl who's dressmaker specializes in replicating me - there was no way my accessories where going to appear in the Real Brides on her site & her allude that they were her work. My, was this girl shitty when I told her!!!! It was unfair to her! Hell, having a design stalker is far from fair to me & she should have exercised better taste & chosen a more honorable person to make her dress shouldn’t she? It would have bugged me so much to have accessorized that woman’s work that taking the 2K would have felt like selling my soul. As it is the girl wore other jewelry (as seen in her pics from the wedding day) but this dressmaker shows accessories she made for this client on her site & gives the impression these were commissioned & worn!

So anyway, my point? Karma. I turned work down out of principle & had a good 2006. I would give Saturday's girl another appointment but not Sundays - was she out? Was she ill? Who knows but I got funny vibes & won't agree to a second appointment if, that is, she even asks & I don't think she will. I think if you are going to form a good working relationship with your client, you have to work with good clients & there have been the odd occasion in the past when I ignored gut feelings & ended up with clients that I didn't gel with & that treated me like..... well, l was going to say like a dressmaker but that isn't it really...... lets just say, Helena Darling & Mummy Darling would talk amongst themselves, in front of me & completely ignore me, talk over my head while I did a hem..... they were just very dismissive & rude & getting my final payment was not straight forward; there was nothing wrong with the dress but the cheque book had been forgotten (?) & it's absence not mentioned until they were practically out the door with the dress & then there was awkwardness & aggression on Mummy Darling's part & it was a deeply unpleasant, stressful experience that left a bad taste in your mouth. The vibes were bad the day I met them & I should have listened! Lesson, however, was well & truly learnt!



Mummy Darling & Helena Darling were good for a laugh though – like the time MD put a headscarf on to protect her hair (just like the Queen!) from the rain to walk 2 meters from the car to my door or the time I watched them walk, undercover, the three sides of the business park where my showroom is based because it had started to rain whilst they were in the toilet block across the courtyard - if I’d liked them, I’d have taken the car over but I didn’t - they did not treat me well   ;) 

Details…? Well on consultation day, after I had quoted £2500 (my starting price) for the design discussed, MD immediatly said "less for cash"? Answer: No. The answer is always no because experience has taught me that at least 80% of the time, if I give on the price or am overgenerous, my generousity is seen as a weakness & I live to regret it (as definitly would have been the case here). Her sister (late teens) ran around my showroom sticking one head-dress on her head after another, handling them like rugby balls & chirping “Helena look at this…… Helena…… Helena….”. Every time she chirped, Helena turned 180% to look, yanking the laces from my hand. In my opinion, they were badly behaved & OLD enough to know better! MD sat there with a smug expression that conveyed aren’t my girls wonderful (I was thinking, NOT!). When you're a designer & your're doing a consultation in your showroom, you need to be in charge & it's frustrating when you can't take charge because there's no way to say "please, put that down & sit over there & keep quiet!" without sounding like a bitch or acting like their Mother & what's worse is that their Mother was sat in the room acting like this was O.K!

I draw out the dress & am asked "less for cash?" No. MD tries to take the sketch, I say I don’t let sketches go & she retorts that no sketch to show Daddy, no go ahead, no order. So I say, no problem, I’ll fax it – I do, I fax a very light pencil drawing ;) 

These days I publish & share consultation sketches with clients in a password protected online album, I choose to trust & feel I can trust the majority of ladies I have had consultations with not to use my sketches to commission copies but with some people you just know & I knew they’d, as sure as eggs is eggs, tout that sketch all over London trying to get it made cheaper. Indeed several months go by....................... & then HD calls. She’d like to book. Hmmm, obviously couldn’t get it done as well for less, me thinks!

So fittings arrive & there’s the dismissive, treat me like a servant attitude & I just know there’s going to be ‘something’, come pick up. On the day of pick up I ask my Mother to come over & wait upstairs in case I need back up / a witness, I am convinced they’ll find something imaginary wrong with the dress & demand a discount & that things may get ugly. They don’t, it goes extremely well. HD is very pleased & I am lulled into a false sense of security. Then I bag up the dress, HD offers to hold the dress while I do it up (she’s being helpful – weird) & then MD’s shoes are on & HD is making moves towards the door & no one's handed me the final payment! Turns out they weren’t going to! MD says “Oh, Chantal we remembered when we pulled off the motorway that we’d forgotten the cheque book. We’ll post it to you”.

Didn’t see that coming!!!! My Mum appears at the bottom of the stairs & simply says “No.” MD gets nasty, starts shouting, well they’re "not coming back!" The response? The dress doesn’t leave without being paid for in full. So then she’s demanding to know when she can bring the payment, will I be here Bank Holiday Monday? As it happens, I was to be in then. So then, when will you be here? All very aggressive! HD started starring at her feet from the second MD announced there was no cheque & didn’t look up once (me thinks she knew that was coming & wanted to be anywhere else but stood next to me at that moment in time). So they leave, it’s a Saturday evening & I am soooo mad! I could have kicked myself.

I get home & HD calls. They wish to return with payment that night. I tell her after her Mother’s disgusting behavior, I won’t take a cheque (& risk MD teaching me a lesson & bouncing it?), it’s a Bankers Draft or cash. I tell her that obviously I realize pick up won’t be Bank Holiday Monday because the banks are closed & it's a lot of money to withdraw from cash machines in that timescale. I am told cash won’t be a problem & neither will Monday.

That Monday, a very embarrassed brother & cousin come to pick up the dress, I am paid in £50 notes (I’ve never known cash points to hand out those), they sign for the dress, take it & leave. They will have got those out of the safe at home where they also keep an extremely ugly heirloom diamond tiara – money was never an issue for this family but parting with it was! I did wonder how the caterers, venue, etc. who may be getting final payments on the day might fair & I got the vibe that these unfortunate family members had, had to clear up MD’s mess before.

They were very nice, the brother very apologetic. He told me, he wouldn’t have let the dress go either & had told his Mother so. He told me she thought I was suggesting she was dishonest. I definitely wasn’t unprofessional enough to suggest it but yes I thought it! What would anyone think? The motorway was 5 minutes from the showroom, the lack of cheque book should have been mentioned when they arrived. Then there was the aggression & my order form was thin on the info front. Helena had filled it in & posted it back. For an address I had a flat that she’d probably move out of post wedding & she'd left a lot of the form blank, so not a lot there to chase up.

And in case you’re wondering, Mummy Darling & Helena Darling was what they actually called each other & no, their surname was not Darling.

A couple of years later, I saw HD selling her wedding dress on one of these once used sites (which is tres unusual for one of my gals but then, she was thank god, not typical of my gals). There was no rock on the finger, no wedding band, she was wearing it in the photo but it wasn’t a wedding photo & she didn’t have the expression of a happy person. She also, if I remember, exaggerated the original cost of the dress – what a surprise! Did MD cause waves elsewhere? Did HD get married? I can just imagine MD decideing she would get the dress at her preferred price one way or another. What did she think she was buying - a used car?

Still, stroppy look, no rings, I couldn't help but smile.


I wonder how I go about putting a pole on here? What is the answer, charge a fee for appointments? Or, take returnable deposits for appointments? What would a client who wishes to book an appointment & intends to show up, feel comfortable with? Answers on a postcard please……………..(well, email).

Edit: I Googled the subject & now have a Poll on this subject at the top of November's Diary.



Saw Marie Antoinette this week with free tickets I scored off staff at MK Cineworld because a bunch of girls & I mean like 20 or so, possibly fashion students who acted like they'd had to go see it against their will, yacked all the way through my second ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ experience (Marie Antoinette had started & I fancied a film, so TDWP it was). And whilst I’m talking about it, it wasn’t just talking. What is it with mobiles? People have the attention span of nats, they can not sit in a dark room for a few hours & just enjoy a film, they have to text & constantly flick the lights on, on their mobiles, to read texts, it’s like a strobe effect! I think a) they ought to go back to posting staff in each screen to police bad cinema etiquette & b) they need to give anyone under 20 a shot of something along the lines of Ridilin to get them to behave for a few hours & not drive everyone else potty!

So anyway, if it happens to you, complain & hit them for a free ticket / refund, if everyone did this, they’d have to be a bit more proactive in making sure disruptive audience members were knocked unconscious for the duration of the film or thrown out. Staff suggested I should have left the film to go in search of someone – bizarre, when you’ve paid to watch a whole film & not to miss a chunk scouting for Ciniworld employees. Did a member of staff not come in whilst the film was on? Err, are you trying to pretend that your staff do that? Other ideas that spring to mind is sitting the anti-social on a naughty step (bound & gagged of course) or equipping the seats with the usual cup holders & much more useful electric shock treatment which kicks in if voices go above a certain volume or chatter exceeds 60 seconds. Plus, of course, make all screens mobile free by having a dampening field in place.

Marie Antoinette was…… lovely, beautifully filmed, the shoes gorgeous (Manolo’s take on the 18th C), details like the hair, the food, etc. great. The costumes were O.K. whilst they had clearly departed from spot on period with the shoes & I suspect some of the food, etc. the costumes, by today’s standards were not lavish enough. Kirsten looked like she’d lost weight because her dresses didn’t fit her as well as other’s did & though they were pretty, skirts of the time lacked fabric & would have benefited from being 18th C with a bit more flair.

It had a similar feel to it to Plunkett & Macleane (right) & in that film the fashions of the time were tweaked to suit & it worked really well. In Marie Antoinette they had similar music, Marie Antoinette has scenes which looked a bit like a direct comparison with celebs now – more than a touch of Paris Hilton, the little dog, the pampered princess with the clothes, the money. There’s one scene that plays out like the 18th C equivalent of the front row at a designer’s catwalk show. The newspapers of the day gossiped about Marie Antoinette like Heat magazine gossips about which celeb’s put weight on & who made a fool out of themselves on Love Island. Those things I liked. I liked the lavish, I just wanted more – a bit more style, more wit & the snipits of how life was then, Court etiquette, etc. very interesting!

You sound funny!

What I couldn’t get over though was the leads having strong American accents, especially when Dunst picks up her yappy type dog (thank you Eddie Izzard for such a great description) & croons ‘Mops’, no, with her accent it was more Maaawps. Oh yes, I’m sure Mops was a very normal name for a dog in Versailles back then! That was a cringe moment. If you can name an 18th C mut Mops you can add another 5 or 6 meters into your skirts.

Most of the cast had nice or posh English accents & some accent continuity would have been good. Whilst Dunst spoke to her screen daughter with a strong American accent in one scene the child babbled back in French. That was quirky, yes, I like quirky but also just plain odd!

The website is also good – full of 18th C / Marie Antoinette facts though I’m not sure the web master saw the film; for instance I read on the site that Louis observed Palace custom & always returned to their bed before they were woken in the morning, yet in the film, she was always alone in the morning. Er? Anyway if you have an interest in the 18th C, Versailles, Marie Antoinette or just enjoy a beautifully filmed, costume drama, see the film & for the more interested, check out the film’s official site.


P.S. Wedding Met - end of the month tally = 10.


2006: Entires for MAY  .  JUNE  .  JULY  . AUGUST  .  SEPTEMBER   .  OCTOBER  .  NOVEMBER  .  DECEMBER