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11 August 2007~

Something Blue.

For July & August so far, I have been feeling blue. Blue silks, blue beads, blue ribbons.....


Carli who is very into historical costume came to me last year with particular criteria. The dress had to be a bluebell colour, the skirt quite authentic in shaping, the inspiration Mary Queen of Scots. The design, originally quite simple, was given a touch of Elizabeth after Carli took a shine to it after originaly looking at Ophelia.


It's the first time the scallop detail on the bust of Elizabeth has been made up for a non-Elizabeth, non-cherub brocade gown. The corset featured a vintage broach which, amazingly, I had managed to find a cabachon to go in the center of it that was a perfect match & cream pearls were used with it to give the dress the feel of the Tudor period. The skirt was flatish in the front & bigger at the sides & back. A real period dress would have had a *bum roll & very little fabric in the skirt. When I do a historical based dress like this, it's about capturing the essence of the period & making it work a) so the bride looks like a bride & not like a film extra & b) because gowns always look better if you don't skimp on the fabric & you have an underskirt that doesn't involve tying a sausage shaped bit of padding around your waist & which creates a more pleasing shape.


*Note: striping off on your wedding night to reveal a bum roll, would be a very effective form of contraception.




Additionaly: If you appeared in church wearing the ensemble here, which illustrates the sexy flash of a bum roll (tried to type that with a straight face, didn't manage it), you wouldn't get as far as the wedding night having cleared the church of freaked out groom & guests when you appeared wearing dead armadilos on your arms!

Here is Carli at pick up, she got married earlier this month & images typical of the period which influenced her choice of dress & simple matching head-dress:


Kirsten who will be renewing her vows in a Scotish castle next week is in deep blue & will have hand painted lace. The original design (there have been a number of changes) has been featured in her previous diary entries on this site but the finished dress will be, as it should be, revealed for the first time on the 16th when she makes her entrance in front of her husband & guests (including M & I). M & I will go up to Scotland the day before as Kirsten's guests & appart from my official styling duties on the day, the two of us will be enjoying some overdue time together & away from work.

Yes, another bride Christie has pointed out how many of my brides have names that begin with 'C's or are 'ka' sounding. Right now Kirsten, Carli, Christie & in the Real brides online: Kerry, Ceri, Katy, Catriona, & Kirsty. I have had to be very specific when being given messages from brides lately to make sure I call the right one back!


I have just proof read this bit to my Mother & pointed out we too are both C's, she being a Carol is also a 'ka' sounding name too & she announced to me, with a raised eyebrow & wry smile, that "the postman knows my name". Indeed, earlier this week she took in a delivery for me, after she had a night of not much sleep. After initially grasping the pen from him to sign, she came to an abrupt hault. He enquired..... "have you forgotten your name?" To which she replied "I've had no sleep" - a simple yes would do. He informed her it was 'Mallett' to which she replied indignantly (a good cover for embarrasment) "That's right!".

Another time she returned to the car after a shopping trip one day, to inform me she couldn't get any money out at the cashpoint because she could only remember the first 4 didgits of her pin number. Doh! My Mother would also make an excellent guinea pig for testing packaging on as she is guranteed to open anything up, with difficulty, ignoring all opening directions & wrongly. Resealable features, easy tear, pull open here..... all ignored in favour of going in through the side, base... destroying the packaging in her wake. She also likes to try & turn the tele up with the phone, answer the phone with the t.v. remote & still, if her life depended on it, can not identify the universal symbols for play, pause, stop, rewind. She will try to answer my phone both upside down & back to front & when she velcros my tv/dvd controllers to their mounts on the wall in my studio at work she always, to my irritation, sticks them on upside down!




Bridal Chalet.


The problem:




The update:


So from last months update, we now know Bridal Chalet is laying claim to my design Damsel & we know they have sold at least one.


I have Googled some more & can now confirm Gail Lerch, Richard Jung & Bridal Chalet are in Canada, actually I can actually say "I know were you live" And.... with the aid of Google Earth & how freaky is this, I have even seen their house!!!


The Toronto Star gave Bridal Chalet some editorial back in April 2005 that proved the breakthrough to going on to tracking the owners of Bridal Chalet down.


The history behind the site's conception is interesting:


"Until now, thanks to ex-Nortel executive Richard Jung and his fiancée Gail Lerch, a mortgage broker. The couple began searching high and low for a gown for their September wedding at the Estates of Sunnybrook.

"Gail must have gone to at least 40 different bridal stores throughout the GTA," Jung recalls. "She found the selection to be very limited and none of them seemed to have these spectacular gowns that we kept seeing in bridal magazines. Once she found what she wanted, we ended up calling over 80 stores within Ontario — once again, the dress she wanted wasn't available. This really frustrated us."

Being business-minded, the couple saw an opportunity and visited bridal shops in New York, Boston and Atlanta.

"We were amazed to hear how many Canadian brides were going to the U.S. in search of gowns because they couldn't find what they wanted at home," Jung states.

In January, the couple launched, offering more than 1,000 gowns for brides, bridesmaids, and mothers, as well as evening gowns and prom and graduation dresses.

The Whitby-based website doesn't carry any stock, or even have a showroom, but Jung and Lerch do have relationships with a variety of manufacturers overseas, who make the gowns to order in about six to eight weeks.

Of course, quality is hard to discern when shopping on the Internet and a gown that looks great on a model might look less than great on you. But the vast selection certainly makes The Bridal Chalet worth a look. Wedding gown prices start around $999."


Of course what the article didn't say & I do not suppose the author Bernadette Morra knows is that the 1000 gowns the site offered were not theirs to offer but the collective intellectual property of a large percentage of the bridal gown designing industry - a collection of the "spectacular gowns that we (Gail Lerch & Richard Jung) kept seeing in bridal magazines".


This Toi Couture gown is a photo of a magazine ad - badly executed at that!:








Question: Does anyone know who's art is being credited to Bridalchalet?


If you recongnise it - please let me know.




Here's my Damsel dress clearly being labelled as part of 'our'/Bridalchalet's ball gown wedding dresses range, as is the gown top left - a Prina Tornai exclusive to Klienfelds in NY. Try saying that name after a few cocktails. Though, as an aside, this is by far my favourite Bridal Designer name: Carmela Sutera - it just sounds too much like Karma Sutra or the name of a lady that works in a certian sector of the entertainment industry!

I also recognise St Pucci, Reem Acra, Hollywood Dreams - all have very distinctive images, Anne Barge, Valentino for Pronovias, Justin Alexander & loads of other images I've seen in bridal magazines but can't put names too.


And from the ad I saw in Bridal Buyer, it appears Gail Lerch is now trying to get her Sarah Houston matenity line stocked here in the UK - designed, no doubt, based on the information Bridal Chalet has thrown up about what designs, from the images shown, were being ordered by brides who needed a dress quick because they were pregnant & wanting to tie the knot.  As keen as bridal boutiques might be to take on a matenity range, how keen would they be if they knew the provenance behind the Sarah Houston collection? Of the site that sells cheap versions of original dresses that hang on their bridal shop rails along side their in house Sarah Houston range which is effectivley being offered direct to the bride by the website/manufacturer.  Bridal shops hate internet sites that undercut them & most manufacturers won't sell gowns to internet shops because the internet can not give the clients the service required (expert advice/insincere persuasion, alterations, etc.) & shops hate girls who use them to try on gowns & then buy cheap from the internet.


I was particulary amused to read the Toronto Stars interview with Sarah Houston online & quotes atributed to Gail Lerch about Sarah Houston elsewhere online, both written in May 2007:


Toronto Star:


At one time, a woman did her best to hide the fact that she was pregnant at the altar. That's changed, but what hasn't is the lack of wedding gowns for expectant brides.

That's where Sarah Houston sees nothing but opportunity. Houston's Toronto-based bridal label specializes in maternity gowns.

"Many women today live with their partners before they marry and they feel the clock ticking," observes Houston. "They are planning a family anyway, so they aren't as careful as they otherwise might be."

Houston believes nearly one in five women is now pregnant on her wedding day. In England, where her business has taken off, Houston says the figure is as high as 40 per cent. She also sells to five stores in the U.S. and Dina Alonzi in Toronto.

Houston launched her bridal business five years ago, after raising her four children and making clothes for herself and friends as a hobby.

"Then about two years ago there were more and more brides coming to me who were already pregnant," she says. "These women were beside themselves because most of what was available to them were polyester tents. The stores wanted to sell them a dress that was two or three sizes too big and then alter it."

Houston offers expectant brides the same fabrics and details in couture bridal gowns – silk chiffon or charmeuse, Swarovski crystal beading, handmade flowers and covered or pearl buttons. Styles emphasize the bodice, rather than the bump. Houston also developed a measurement system based on weeks of pregnancy so she can predict a bride's shape on the big day. Two-inch seam allowances leave room for adjustment.

Sarah Houston gowns retail between $2,000 and $3,000. A collection for pregnant bridesmaids will launch in the fall. See


Resident Publications:

“The days of [pregnant] brides having to wear a muumuu and running off to quiet areas to get married are over,” said maternity bridal designer Gail Lerch, owner of Toronto-based Sara Houston Inc.

Since Lerch began designing for pregnant brides a year ago, most of her customers have been professionals in their early 30s, she said.



If like me you're thinking what on earth is a muumuu? Apparently it's 'a long loose dress that hangs free from the shoulders, popular in Hawaii'.


Sarah Houston - real person, married mother of four, designing for 5 years, dressing pregnant brides for at least 2 years?

Sarah Houston - just a name for a collection, owned by Gail Lerch, designed by maternity designer/relator/mortgage advisor Gail Lerch who began designing maternity gowns 1 year ago?

And how come Gail Lerch also goes by the name of Gail Young? Her married name, if she took it would be Jung so why the multiple identies?




14 September 2007~

A long overdue update.

Well Summer is on the way out but Chantal’s wedding season will be going on until late December. I have just squeezed in one more gown for a December 22nd date, so by Christmas I will be in a coma.


Blue has been the surprise colour for 2007’s ladies with Ukachi marrying in a very pale blue/grey (Breeze according to the shade card) in May, followed by Carli in a Bluebell shade, Kirsten renewing her vows in Midnight Blue & there is yet one more blue ensemble to come. There is another prevalent colour that will make an appearance in the later of 2007’s commissions but as none of those brides have their dresses yet, I’ll keep quiet as to what that colour will be.


I have been to two weddings since my last diary entry. Kirsten & Keith’s renewal at Comlongan Castle (Clarencefield, Nr Dumfries, Scotland) & Christie & Ian’s wedding at Coventry Cathedral with a reception at breathtaking Coombe Abbey. In keeping with the number of clients whose names begin with ‘C’s or are ‘ka/ke’ sounding names. Christie exchanged one ‘C’ surname for another. And no doubt you will have spotted that the venues & locations too are falling into line with this rather unusual trend.




Kirsten - Comlongan Castle:


Ahh……….. Scotland. What a lovely break! M & I travelled up there by train, arriving the afternoon before the big event where Kirsten had arranged for us to have a night in the castle with them & their other guests. M & I had a gorgeous heavily carved poster bed & a knockout view over the garden. The evening was spent chilling – drinking, an indoor laser shoot & good conversation.


The day of the renewal, I was in hair & make-up mode. As we had to vacate our room to make room for arriving family, I did my make-up in Maggie’s room (Kirsten’s Mum) first before Kirsten was due in the make up chair at 11am. I emerged from the bathroom where I had occasionally been chipping in on next door’s conversation whilst remaining out of site to have Maggie exclaim that “eye make up can make such a huge difference!” Thanks Maggie ;)    One of those flattering comments that is such a double-edged sword – just how bad do I look without it? Though of course she is right, good eye make up can make a huge difference, as can clever shading, which is why some of my clients ask me - untrained but self taught with a healthy interest in beauty/fashion/make-up & with tricks picked up from a mother who, as a dancer, learned theatrical make-up, to do their make up on the day. This a far more appealing option for some than ‘traditional’ bridal make-up.

Once we tied Kirsten down, by which time morning was almost over, time was a little tighter than I’d have liked & the atmosphere a little fraught. Maggie, had bad back trouble & was in a lot of pain which made it hard for Kirsten to relax & enjoy whilst seeing her Mum like that & with all the tooing & froing of bridesmaids needing things & relaying messages it was hard to keep Kirsten in the make-up chair or shut the world out. The hair took a little time to perfect but we achieved two things, something Kirsten exactly wanted (essentially a fancy ponytail – twists swept back into tumbling soft curls, picked out with studded hair pins I’d made to match the pearls & crystals in the dress) & hair that actually stayed* all day.


* A feat, Kirsten informed me, professional hairdressers had not managed before.


For future destination Comlongan brides & female guests, can I just say the ground underfoot vs. stiletto heels is a challenge. I came down from the room just before Kirsten & joined M at the back of a queue of couples to be piped in to the old part of the castle where the ceremony was taking place. He gave me his hand for support & helped me from the safety of the back steps onto the treacherous terrain, which was such a caring & thoughtful gesture & really touched me, as it was very difficult to walk on the loose stones that made up the path. No....., rewrite that, they were a breeze compared to the cobbles we encountered around the corner! I didn’t so much hold his hand to steady me but rather held on to it like we were on a white-knuckle ride!



I am told Keith was quite emotional when he met Kirsten at the bottom of the stairs before escorting her into the ceremony. Her dress, as her diary states, had changed several times from initial concept with a last minute swap out of a gold lace ‘fake-clincher’ for a much more colourful hand painted lace version. Kirsten’s 11th hour hankering for hand painted lace meant we had had to put out an SOS to my lace lady asking if she had anything that would go with Midnight Blue in stock as we did not & she did not have time to order something bespoke. How lucky was Kirsten? Lucky. She had the choice of two laces & went for something she readily admits she would never have commissioned without seeing it first but something she loved & with lush colours- turquoise, pink & green that I could bring in to her ‘all blue’ bouquet of artificial flowers, feathers & crystals.



To enhance the lace, I picked out the pink spots in the black-based lace with fuchsia Swarovski crystals & studded the clincher part top & bottom with deep blue pearls. To blend the black-based lace over blue together, black tulle was draped over the blue base fabric above the fake-clincher. Kirsten wanted it to look like she had a waist clincher corset over a softer dress – a vague nod to one of the costumes worn in ‘Gladiator’ & from all accounts we achieved that illusion. Several people thought the clincher was separate & M commented that it had that appearance too.


It was a great day. The weather gorgeous, the carp in the pond fat & unbelievably greedy. The candlelit ceremony beautiful, the dimly lit, atmospheric meal served at two long tables delicious & M & I danced together in public for the first time – three times & once to ‘Chasing Cars’ which is one of my favourite songs. It was in the charts when we got together & I find the words & melody so beautiful.


We were really made to feel just like any of the other guests & the trip, though in part it was a working trip, was really enjoyable. The castle had a lovely vibe, our room was nice & the fancier rooms (Maggie's & Kirsten/Keith's) really lovely. The grounds were beautiful & Kirsten's 'idea' of a relaxed house party, is exactly what it was & the venue fitted that concept perfectly. It was so relaxed that after diner on the ceremony night, some guests changed in to jeans & sweatshirts whilst others stayed all gussied up & that was fine. By the time the band was winding up the Bride & Groom were also in their jeans (mind you the bride's feet had shifted into casual mode less than an hour after the ceremony when black Manolos had been exchanged for rope sided, open toed wedges!). As if 5" Manolo's on loose stone pathways hurt!


We stayed at a B&B just at the end of the drive that second night & enjoyed breakfast with the photographer *Caroline ( ) who, as a Lancashire based photographer, had stayed over too – swapping wedding & ‘events’ stories. M is a sound engineer & so was by no means left out! He’s done all sorts of events, he was involved with the Live Earth gig recently & way back he used to DJ & yes, has his ‘wedding’ stories too! He once did a wedding where the bride got changed for the disco into a skimpy, short dress, came over to him stating she didn’t know why she’d married the groom who was a complete looser & then tried to pull him…. & then the waiters….. & then after that any other non-guest!


*I have since logged on to Unique Weddings's site & Caroline captured some gorgeous images of Kirsten:



These show Kirsten's hair, the studded pins & the earings I made her off really well.

Thankyou Caroline for letting me have these & the bouquet shot for the site.


Caroline then very kindly droped us off in Carlisle so we got to skip the Dumfries to Carlisle leg of our journey & got to have a bit of quality time mooching around Carlisle before our train back to Milton Keynes. On this trip, Virgin's trains all ran on time so yay. But seriously? Milton Keynes, a 'new town' with a big train station & a multi-story car park serving that station. Yet the architects seem not to have come across the concept of a lift. What did they think? People wouldn't need to take with them on their train journey anything heavier or larger than the latest Harry Potter book? We were parked on about the 8th floor of the car park & do not travel anywhere light - one garment bag with wedding outfits, one big pink case & one laptop (mine) & another big bag (M's), so it's a good job M is 6'3" & alarmingly strong, as I can get a lot of heavy stuff in that case & when it comes to strength, I admit it, I'm a weed!




Oh, forgot to mention crazy taxi journey to castle!

So we arrive at Dumfries station & as there were no taxis at the taxi rank I call one. Whilst we're waiting a taxi pulls up & tries to encourage me to jilt the taxi I'd called in favour of him but I stayed loyal to the one I'd booked & when he pulled up the other cab slopped off.

We pile in. M was chatting on his mobly with a colleague & then when he'd finished the call he began relaying his conversation to me. 'Began' being the operative word here. For when this song 'Tiger Feet' came on the radio, the cabbie whopped it up full blast & then, steering with one hand whilst dialling his mate on his mobile with the other shouts something like 'here mate, listen to this' down the phone (he was an excited Scotsman, so what he actually said is a mystery) & thrusts the mobile as the radio! *M issued me a bemused look & say's what is he an ex-Mud band member? Calling another Mud band member to celebrate the fact that they're still getting airtime? Maybe - as I said, 'exited Scotsman', what he said to his mate was not in any English I understood, Of course the speakers were behind our heads so shoving his mobile against the radio facia in the front of the car wasn't going to increase the sound level or clarity at his mate's end but we're quite sure Tiger Feet would have been coming through loud & clear, it was certainly loud in our ears! We literally had to stop talking & enjoy the Tiger Feet, all the way through, at the end of which the sound was turned down & 'normal' taxi service resumed!

* Going out with an ex-DJ you get used to him knowing a scary amount about music including who sang Tiger Feet. I was thinking 'who is Mud?' And then, I regained my sanity & realised, my life would not be richer for knowing & oh yes, I don't care.

5 minutes after writing the above.........O.K, yes, curiousity & very easy access to the internet got the better of me:

* According to Wikapedia, Tiger Feet was number One in the charts when I turned One so no wonder I didn't know who Mud was!  

I can now confirm my life isn't richer for knowing that had my first birthday celebration had a 'disco element' to it, this song would likley have been on the playlist.





Going back to Live Earth in July – what a hideously long day that was! It went on forever, featured a lot of people who should not sing live & there seemed to be nothing else on that day! Plus M had to stay until the end which meant it took ages to de-rig & get out of there & come home. I’d switched it on at some point in the afternoon to see how it was going & where he was that day. After about 10 minutes in & upon getting to the bit where ‘*someone well known’ was singing ‘Que Sera Sera’, & strumming a guitar, I’d had the overwhelming desire to hit mute! And so the phone rings & M is calling me from the side of the stage with the same Doris Day song attacking me direct from Wembley through my phone! So there I am with the television on mute & I can still here this very disturbing noise! Needless to say, the conversation was short because of the volume & personal pain it was causing me but apparently the press room where M spent most of the day had no mobile service, so it was side of the stage or nothing.

*Wikapedia informs me it was Damian Rice & David Grey performing said song. All I know is, it made me cringe – twice!




Maggie’s health problem turned out to be far more serious that her doctor or we had imagined & Kirsten returned from a 2nd honeymoon to find her Mum required hospital treatment. As you can imagine when I last spoke with her she was very upset & shell shocked, so I am not sure when or if we will get a ‘the big day’ diary write up.  Though, for the time being, below is the last pre-renewal diary entry she emailed me & which I didn't get a chance to upload before.

I had chosen to keep back her photos when I found out what had happened with Maggie until Kirsten was happy & in the right frame of mind to have them shown - I thought she may have pushed all that to the back of her mind. But Kirsten got the wrong end of the stick when she logged on to my site & there were no photos & thought they must be too awful to use- which of course they wern't. She asked me to put them on the site because the renewal & the photos from the renewal have been giving them other things to focus on during this unpleasant time.

Our thoughts are with you & Maggie, Kirsten & with your family - Chantal x



 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.



From the 19th July 2007 ~


Well my “to do” list is getting, urm well no shorter actually.  Every time I cross something off it, I remember something I forgot and have to add to it!  This is not helping my sense of achievement at all L Oh well, I have managed to pay the photographer, order the favours and confirm the cake this week so far. 


Now I am a true believer in online shopping and I have to say that ¾ of our Renewal plans have been organised, sourced or purchased online.  I have found some amazing suppliers as a result and on the whole everyone is really helpful.  That said, as I am having an amazing bouquet made by Chantal to match in with the whole look that she is creating, we decided not to use real flowers for the buttonholes and corsages.  As it is being held in Scotland, we have ordered silk buttonholes online.  And the problem!  Well, after 4 weeks they have not arrived, no contact phone number on the website and no reply to emails!  I have never come across this before in online shopping and it is frustrating that it is now that I do.  Oh well guess I will order an alternative and figure out chasing it later.


Had the castle on the phone yesterday, chasing final numbers and confirming details.  One interesting part of the discussion centred on the fact that when they sent the original itemised costs when we booked we were told that the champagne punch and the entertainment on the first night were complimentary.  When I pointed out that their “final” bill came in without these charges removed and the room costs having gone up I was asked if I could send a copy of my original bill.  Although they seem happy to honour it, it appears that they do not have a copy of the bill they originally sent.  I found this quite strange for a venue that is apparently solely a “wedding” venue.  And as we are staying for two nights we were told that guests would be offered the bistro menu and suggested that it would be open to whoever would want to eat there that night.  It turns out that they need confirmed numbers of who will be attending the meal, as they “do not work like a restaurant” and need to get staff for the correct numbers.  As people are travelling all the way to Scotland we didn’t want to tie people to having a meal at a certain time but either I call everyone up and get a commitment as to who would like food or we just book for everyone and see what happens!!  What a pain!!!


Next on my list today is to send the music to the band for the “First Dance” and try and persuade my other half that the only way he will actually get a suit is by going into a shop to buy it.  The only person who is not sorted out with his outfit I might add!  He is not the greatest of shoppers and hates all things in shops so it's proving a challenge.  I offered to go and get one for him but he wants to go himself, which is absolutely fair enough, assuming he gets one before we go!


Well enough yammering for now, lots to do, including someone coming later today to do “nail enhancements” or fake nails as I think most of them know them as!!!  Thought I would try it as despite the manicure my own are rubbish! 





18 September 2007~



Christie got married at Coventry Cathedral on September 1st.


I was booked to dress Christie’s hair on the day & get her into her dress & tiara. She was getting ready at Coombe Abbey that morning & can I just say WOW what a hotel, what a building - gorgeous stone architecture complete with a moat filled with water lilies & gorgeous room. Also gorgeous view from room! I was escorted down dimly lit corridors in a soft pinky wine colour - gothic but a romantic, fairytale gothic to the Linley Suite. The room was blue & gold, a bed on a raised platform surrounded by a balustrade & on another platform a Victorian bathtub, in the bedroom, sectioned off with a screen. The Linley Suite had a drawing room attached to it with comfy sofas, a coffee table & elegant decor. Quite simply a beautiful room.




Once hair & dressing were complete we all made our way to Coventry Cathedral. We followed the wedding cars, which was great until the car we were following took a turning up the 'buses & taxi's only' road! At that point there was a mad scrabble for sat nav to find a car friendly route in & M dropped me off in time to make sure the bride made it out of the car intact & that her bustle was rearranged before she entered the Cathedral. The lady Canon began the ceremony by complementing the bride: "You look spectacular. Like a Princess". As complements go - not a bad one! I am always surprised when this happens & it has happened a few times with clients. The lady Reverend at Lisa's wedding in Jersey last year was very enthused about Lisa's dress, years ago the Vicar at Becky's wedding began the ceremony by telling the congregation, who he assumed would not have had a good look at Becky on her way in, that she looked stunning & at Caroline's wedding the Registrar was very complementary (Caroline's Mum did tell me what was said but I've forgotten). And there have been more.

After the wedding the bridal party crossed from the new Cathedral to the remains of the original for photos & then went on to Coombe for the reception. Coombe really is D R E A M Y. I also got a peek at the Lady Craven room - Christies wedding night 'Grand Feature Room' & again, WOW. So wow that I suggested to M that we celebrate our first anniversary i.e. anniversary of our first date in November there & a few days later a Grande Feature Room of our own was booked for the tail end of our long awaited holiday (4 nights in the Bauer,Venice, a night at Gatwick upon our return to the UK & then 2 nights at Coombe). I didn't choose Christie's Lady Craven room, amazing though it was (that would feel a bit weird). I picked a room in one of the turrets & there's no picture of this one on the website so I'm going on the hotel's recommendation.

Christie at 4'11" was so tiny but did look every inch a Princess. Here is another image from her day - I really like this image. She is clearly the focus of the photo, so it's a good dress shot but also, as a photo, I particularly like it.



These shows the idyllic 'screen kiss' & just like in the movies there is the reality - what got up there has to get down again & how nice is it to have these 'after' pics too!


It's a good job I gave her squishy hoops in her underskirt :)



It's a shame we couldn't have stayed on but I had a 6.30pm fitting I had to get back to the studio for.





September is the month for all things car.


My car tax gets renewed in September, the MOT is September 11th (easy to remember) & the Insurance is the 23rd.


Tax done over the phone, turned up in the post a few days later - painless.


MOT, new bulb required - painless.


As M drives my car a fair bit I decided it would make sense to add him on as a named driver. So I call Hastings who I've been with for years (changing is such a pain) & tell them I need to add a named driver. So we add M & the quote goes from £370 to £670! Then I change the address from one village 10 minutes down the road to where we currently live & the quote rises to over £700. By this point I laughingly suggest we add my January 2007 speeding offence - £900+!!!!! I inform the lady I'll let her know. I called More Than & the same came in at £290. The trouble is changing takes time & I hate to admit it but that irritating man on the tele who shouts about how searching for car insurance drives you crazy, is right, though I wouldn't phone them because their 'confused' ads drive me as 'crazy' as sorting out the car insurance, except their ads happen so much more frequently than once a year! By the same token, I can't understand the thinking behind the Elephant ads or why anyone thinks Michael Winner saying "calm down dear" is going to bring in customers.


I tried More Than's website first & it crashed, then went through everything on the phone & got the policy sorted & paid for. But upon checking a detail with M, I discovered I needed to correct one detail & when I called back I ended up with their Indian call center. Oh my! I was asked my name 3 times. She heard double 'L' as double 'O' - so that took a while to clear up. then she couldn't find my policy number. When was it taken out? I say, 'this afternoon'. The question is asked again, which I assume means 'this afternoon' meant nothing to her, so I say 'today'. Then I am asked for the policy number twice more. We finally get it called up. I had started our conversation by informing her I needed to correct a detail about my named driver, so was a little annoyed to have her then say to me 'so you want to cancel this policy'. Aggravated I say 'no!', I wish to 'amend' the policy. Again she queries 'cancel?' & I decided enough was enough. I put down the receiver. I called the number again, India answered so the phone went down. The third time I got Liverpool & the policy was amended without the pain of phonetically sounding out my name! Oh to be called Sue Doe. Chantal Mallett is too laborious!


Yes that's 'C' for Charlie, 'H' for Harry, 'A' for Apple, 'N' for No! No more! Not again.


Car Insurance? Like nails down a blackboard.






Q: Vous parlez le tissu?


A: Non. Mais je fais une bonne impression d'un vendeur utilisé de la voiture.




Today I called one of my (UK) suppliers to order a colour swatch for an appointment later this week. I always seem to end up with a certain cocky salesman who doesn't seem to know a lot about fabric. Today I ask him for a sample of 'scarlet' dupion I'd seen on a card they'd sent me (I didn't have the card in front of me at the time). He informs me they don't do 'scarlet' in dupion. I tell him I'm sure I saw 'scarlet' on the card, so he goes away & comes back on the phone to say they do 'scarlet ' in 'mirage'.

What's mirage?

"Our smooth dupion".

So you do, do 'scarlet' in dupion.

"No, only in the mirage".

Talk about splitting hairs! Dupion is dupion slubby or smoother, same name, same type of fabric. 'Mirage' is just meaningless twaddle!


So I then ask for a sample of ivory crepe. I want a pale ivory so if they have different batches.....

Tailing off, I ask the rhetorical question "you don't send out 'stock' cuttings do you?".

Dismissingly he says "No, it's too expensive" & then says "I'm not being funny but you've only spent £56 with us this year!". We end the call with this ludicrous comment still playing in my head. Did he just really say that?


Now the problem with fabrics is that dye batches vary, sometimes by a lot! So if you need to match fabrics you need to have a cutting from a particular roll, so you can match with confidence, otherwise you have very expensive mistakes hanging around in your workroom forever or until someone wanting that shade comes along. This company is the only one who will not give fashion companies cuttings (Interiors get them)  & as a result, I often choose to buy elsewhere if similar alternatives are available.


But as other years I have given them significantly more than £56 worth of business I call back & get him again. So without saying who I am, I pose the question. Just how much money does a customer have to spend with them to qualify for stock cuttings? He says "Is this Chantal Mallett?" Yes, yes it is. I am then told this is a "new policy" & reply that no it's not, they've never given me stock cuttings & go on to say that I find it irritating that the sales team will claim colour variations do not exist when the shade cards themselves state colours vary & when I have sent a cutting of their cloth in the past to their cutting room to match, I was called & told they did not have any cloth that matched my sample. "So Fred*, you see my difficulty. I need to match this red dupion to another fabric & how can I, when I don't know if you have any stock that colour? He gets defensive & says they're going to start charging for cuttings, as they send stock cuttings out (to the precious few) sized at 20cms square & some people only ever order cuttings (he is sure one client is making a coat)....... I inform him charging is fine if it gets a stock cutting, although a sliver off the corner of the roll for colour matching is quite sufficient (hey, it works for everyone else!) & ask him again, how much do I need to spend? I may have only spent £56 this year but...... & yes, at this point he informs me I ordered £1600 worth of fabric last year. Yes, that's £1600 I don't have to spend with them, so he should probably dial down the insults & the attitude!` He never did answer my question.


*Fred is not his real name.


So anyway, he said he'd sort it but I still don't know if the cutting will be from a stock roll & this isn't our first run in.....


Last year I ordered ivory crepe for Jane's dress. I choose their double crepe because it has a sheen that would work well with the brocade corset fabric & other company's crepes have slightly different finishes. So double crepe is ordered & something else turns up that is clearly a different quality. I call up the silk merchants, speak to this same guy & reading off the label I tell him what I've been sent & that it's not double crepe.


"Yes is." "It's our new double crepe".

But it's not the same as the old one, it has different qualities.

"Yes, it's a better quality".

O.K. That's debatable. Double crepe, as I have bought in the past from you, has a smooth sheen to it, this is rougher - more matt.

"It's better".

Well, if you say so but it's not what I want. Do you have any quality (blah blah) left in stock? He checks & yes they do. So I tell him I want that. If I remember correctly I had to buy the new lot & my Dad, who was coming back from London that day, swung by the supplier & collected it. I then had to arrange for the cloth I didn't want to be picked up & once back with them, the money was then credited back to me. Because & I'm fairly sure this right, they would not send out the replacement until the stuff I'd paid for was back with them. So I had to buy a second batch rather than them send a batch, unpaid for to swap upon delivery. And when I saw the new invoice I discovered that even though I'd ordered the quality crepe I wanted, the newer replacement stuff, sent instead, cost more money too. Do we think Mr 'what I know about cloth I could write on a postage stamp' has considered this year's mesly £56 spend might be a reflection of my displeasure? The chances of that happening are about as remote as him knowing his dupion from his dupion - it all comes back to them same thing - quality - both dupions, in this case one is hand-woven in India using Indian yarn, the other in India using highest grade Chinese yarn & one is more slubby than the other.


Dupion: Designers like me use it mainly for the sheer range of colours it comes in - other fabrics like Taffeta come in colours & shot colours but not nearly so mainy. It is a crisp fabric so only works for certain dress styles. For instance, you couldn't make my fishtails in it because the drape isn't right. It has a very uneven texture, the amount of slub seems to vary depending on supplier, yarn origin, yarn quality & type of loom - like marmite, some people love it, some hate it.

Googling Dupion:  "Dupion is a textured silk fabric made using a mixture of silk from both long, smooth, white cocoons and short, rough, yellow cocoons."

"Indian Dupion Silk - Indian dupion silk is characterized by irregular slubs and is woven on a handloom. Chinese Dupion Silk - Chinese dupion silk has less slubs and can be woven on either handloom or power loom."






Why would I wish to link to you?


I had a reciprocal web link request from a Stag party site the other day for both my sites.


"I have visited your web site and believe your visitors will find our site useful. We have recently released a FREE download "50 Tips for a Perfect Stag Weekend" containing useful information for anyone looking to arrange a Stag Weekend. Therefore, I would like to invite you to link to us from your website at"


I log on:


"**** ******** is the authority on Eastern Europe. We know where to stay, what to do, and where to find the hottest women."


I'm sure my clients would be thrilled to think of their fiancés jetting off to spend time in Eastern Europe with the "hottest women"! Oh & there's so much more! There's the strippers at the stag diner option, the strippers in your limo ride from the airport option. There's a package called "Boats & Baps":


Boats & Baps the highlights: "Greeted airport pick up w/beers. 2 strippers on the coach. Guided pub crawl. VIP strip club entry. Free table dance for the Stag. 2 hour private boat cruise with Topless Waitress & Sushi Body Buffet. Stag Diner (Delicious dames for dessert (a great strip show)).


Then there's their pages about the local ladies:


Of "Gorgeous Budapest Girls":

"Sexiness comes naturally to the Hungarian lady. That is no surprise to us: our detailed research has shown that the Magyar mammary is larger and perter than the European average and that the lingerie of choice is the black thong, preferably visible through a pair of figure-hugging white trousers. In addition, competition for the leering eyes of the male population is fierce, as illustrated by heavy make-up and revealing necklines. `Hungarian girls are easy going and love to be at the centre of attention - so play your cards right and you may hit the jackpot.

"Girls in Bratislava. They dress to turn heads, and probably would even if they wore shiny tracksuits salvaged from the eighties. Fortunately, short skirts, tight trousers and skimpy tops are more the order of the day."

And in case you missed that, I repeat "the Magyar mammary is larger and perter than the European average".

Your man can find non-sleaze options like go karting, paint balling, etc. on this site - you know stuff that he can do here the UK, where apparently our breasts are smaller & saggier but generally it's geared towards those in search of strippers, table dances, nude mud wrestling females, body buffets, etc. The other disturbing activity on offer is the High Calibre packages. Pistols, AK47s, pump action shotguns

"It's quite unlikely you'll get your hands on a fully automatic weapon anywhere in the UK."

Thank god!!!! And the site's 'art' has a lot of images of women, boozed up blokes partying or posing with strippers, women clubbing or holding a big gun (not kidding), men with guns & this is my favourite page & the one that will really impress all the brides out there on diets &/or with body 'issues':

The Roly Poly Package: "Give the Stag a weekend he'll never forget - and will most likely traumatise him. Just kidding! Seriously though, this weekend package makes sure the stag is thoroughly prepared for marriage. The stag dinner will include delicious food and a strip show, but there's a BIG difference. Once the stag is lulled into a false sense of security and blindfolded, the Real Roly-Poly Stripper will give him the surprise of his life!"

Nice boys! Really nice. Maybe ladies after he proposes & before you start your dress search you should send him on this package. It is best he is "thoroughly prepared for marriage" & if he comes back traumatised by reality you can throw him back in the sea with 'R.E.J.E.C.T' stamped on his ass & before you part with any of those wedding deposits!


Yes, linking to other wedding businesses does help with your position on search engines but I only recommend sites I like & I don't like this.


I find it hard to believe other women have linked their sites to them but some probably have such low search engine rankings they feel they have to take every opportunity that comes their way. I don't. This site has had nearly 13,000 individual visitors this month, so 'tacky stag do guys' can take a run & jump!







Wedding Nightmares.


My latest brides to be have been  sharing their wedding nightmares.


One dreamt she was wearing a half made dress & the horse & carriage wouldn't stop so she had to chase after it & take a flying leap to get in it.


The other dreamt she was sat with the Registrar going through the paperwork just before the ceremony. They'd done the address bit & then the Registrar looks at her & says "you're not wearing your hair like that are you?". "Um. Yes". "Well, if you're not mature enough to choose the right hairstyle, you're not mature enough to get married". She then refuses to let her get married. When she relayed this dream to me the other day at her fitting she was there with her wedding organiser & her Mum. Abi, her organiser chipped in saying she'd received the details of her client's dream via text & was tempted to text back: Yes that happens. Registrars can do that!


I once had a bride that kept dreaming her skirt was going to look like a potato sack. She rang me up strongly suggesting it should be taken in around the thigh area, begging I shave off a few millimetres each side. To nip this silliness in the bud I enquired whether she wanted her fishtail to be so tight is stretched across her bottom in wrinkles & would make it look like she'd put on weight since her fitting? No!!!! came the emphatic reply. And 'no' was mine to her request. Naturally on pick up day she looked in the mirror & declared her skirt looked nothing like a potato sack! Well, doh!


Right: Marilyn working a potato sack & Britney doing what she does best lately - bad hair!







28th September 2007~

I've added some more photos of Kirsten to my 14th September entry.



I went into central London to pick up some embroidery I'd commissioned for a client yesterday. I was given a tour of the workrooms & saw a dress they're beading up for Kate Moss in production - it's for quite a high profile thing & when/if I see it in the press I'll let you know. I can say I touched a corner of the fabric albeit it's a bit that will end up on the cutting room floor.


Oxford Street was a nightmare as usual, it's so nice to slip down a side street & walk down a parallel road when you're a woman with a mission, is there anytime of the year when the shops are open, when you don't feel like you're swimming against the tide on that street?


Bought some boots form Shellys, though I'd say they're not what they were when I was a student & that corner shop they had on Oxford St opposite Top Shop is now an underwear shop. Staff in these shops are so bad, in Shellys the staff were far more interested in having a laugh with each other, which was the only time they looked alive (with customers they were 'vacant looks are us'). I tried a boot on in a 38 that was huge so after sitting down for a few minutes clutching the boot with hopeful 'please serve me' expression on my face, I madly waved the boot at two indifferent assistants & one dutifully slopped over to 'help'. I asked for a 37 which of course was too small (actually I couldn't get my foot down the boot to make the turn to actually know if it might have fitted), so I tell the girl the 38 out on display is at least a 40 & show her the 1" difference in length between the 37 & 38 & she's all like "well I dunno we don't size them......". But darling you could take it away & put a real 38 out couldn't you? Or is someone else using the one collective brain cell in store? I 'think' this, rather than say it. Just because they're all rude doesn't mean I have to be. She comes back with a snug 38, so I send her back for a 39. I'm 5'8" with size 5 feet so always go generous with boots & wear thick socks with them for comfort. This process probably took about 20 minutes in all during which time she got her jeans belt loop "caught on a fixture" (one of the freestanding shoe stands) which was 'so funny' she couldn't wait to get the attention of the male assistant serving the girl next to me & regale him with the story. To my left was a girl with very skinny legs trying on shinny black ridding boots that emphasized the thin legs & tiny ankles & her looooong feet. She kept looking at the side view in the mirror & I desperately wanted to say 'yes, they do make your feet look enormous!'. She looked like she had clowns feet. The girl to my right tried on boots so wide around the ankle & large on her foot her feet looked like a shire horse. What's going on? The fundamental thing about shoes is ladies big or small can normally make their feet look really good. Shoes should flatter your feet. Are Crocs warping our shoe buying brains?


Anyway I waited for the girl to come back or indeed any of Shellys's other zombies, so long, that in the end I picked up the box & boots & went to the till. I was stopped enroute by one of their assistants who, stroking one of the boots, purred at me that "this type of fabric needed protection" & "did you want some?". Is there a shop incentive running on this particular procuct? They couldn't give a stuff about selling shoes but were impressivly sharp & attentive when it came to a can of shoe spray. "No thanks I have some" (lie - does anyone actually buy that stuff?). Disturbingly the voice behind the purr & the stroking belonged to a bloke - a straight bloke, though possibly straight with a boot fetish! And why can't manufacturers rain proof their footwear before it goes in to the shops? Wouldn't it be nice to have an assistant say, these have been treated with a fabric protector but you should respray them after 'X' many wears "do you need some?"


Of course it's not just Shellys, the girls in the haberdashery shop I go in are drippy & work at a snails pace & in Boots I fought my way to the till with an empty 'display' box of something I wanted (they were all empty) so I assumed like DVDs in the supermarket they would replace my empty box with a full one (I'm presuming that having the display near the door made this desirable item (it gets press all the time) very nickable). Instead I queue, only for the guy at the till to a) look confused & then b) to tell me they have some at the rear of the shop. He could have gone & got one but instead I have to leave the queue & go hunting for it myself. They were indeed further back in the shop in those plastic security tagged boxes. So, 'with a spring in my step' - yeah right, I rejoined the queue! Why is it you only have to take one step on to a London Street for your feet to start aching? And the other big question is, why when you're feet hurt so much, do women still sidle in to shoe shops & try on 3" heels - I can't be the only one!


Walking down Oxford Street I noticed this awkward girl about 10 yards in front of me drop her HMV bag with a CD in it & promptly step on it as she continued to walk. No surprise the owner of the foot was Nicki Grahame from last years BB7 then!





Talking of last years BB. People made such a fuss about Susie going in being a fix yet I know that they had considered a Royal Court type thing for the show that sounded like it was replaced with what became the 'State Of....' (they never give you more info than absolutely necessary). In this case the State of Susie but the task could have equally worked for the male winner of the golden ticket thing & I personally don't believe it was fixed because when a researcher called me they were looking for a gold crown & sceptre for a woman & were quizzing me on where they might find similar for a man - a crown & that ball thing they hold in their hand? The researcher was limited on time & I suggested the most likely source for male versions (if you could score something that didn't look too Panto) would be the States which was cutting it fine. Shortly afterwards Susie won her place in the house to cries of a fix & they had the '*State of Susie' task. It's a shame they ditched the crowns idea because she'd have looked good in one of mine. The trouble is, as I pointed out to them. If they had got a crown/tiara in, it would have had to be made in a shape that would sit on any woman's head - even a bald girl. So the styles he'd been quoting at me like Royal Fleur for example (which I did send in for them to look at), which is a tiara, would only work for a girl with long enough hair to secure back so the tiara would stay on. The kind of nitty gritty details male researchers don't think about. Susie however had long hair, so if she was a dead cert to go in to the house, it wouldn't have been a problem. He did however have the good taste to identify that I had the classiest styles he'd found during his internet research & for a change, they did appear to want something that "looked good on camera" & not like it came from the dressing up box. The 'court' was replaced with a military dictatorship (I suppose you'd call it) & crowns/tiaras were replaced with a military peaked cap (fits all heads - male or female). Yes, I was a fan of BB & did follow it but not this year. This year I was bored.


*State of Susie? Nikki? This You Tube clip sums it up:



BB contestants, like girls from my old school actually, are easy to come across in London - I once saw Alison from BB3/This Morning in the food court at Euston Station on another trip in. And have bumped in to & avoided a number of ex-classmates in London. A few years ago I bumped in to & said hello to Emma Cuniffe who's an actress (she does loads of BBC things) & was in the same class as me at school outside Libertys. She was shopping for a wedding present for someone, strangely, I had avoided bumping into on Oxford St a few years earlier! And we all went to school in Hertfordshire.


Coinsidentaly -  the BB house is in  Borehamwood, Hertfordshire & I have an ex-wedding dress client who worked for Endermol, BB's production company (she had the exiting job of writing down/recording Vanessa Feltz's long diary room chat after the writing on the table incident when she worked on one of the Celeb BBs).


Continuing.... I was checking the status of a fabric delivery today with one of my suppliers & was telling the girl I deal with about the Kate Moss dress & how they'd apparently had trouble dying the base fabric (which funnily enough the two of us had, only the other week, discussed the problems that are encountered dying this particularly fine silk cloth). I told her who'd commissioned it & she said "Oh, we sold them that fabric the other day!". So she now knows what happened / is happening to it next & what it's for - strange world.






2007: Entries for JANUARY / FEBRUARY  .  MARCH   .  APRIL / MAY   .  JUNE / JULY