Recently, The Dressmarket
was lucky enough to spend some time talking to one of the rising stars
in the world of wedding dress design, Chandrika Thomas. An increasingly
in-demand Chandrika took some time out from setting up her new studio
in Kew, looking after her new baby and designing dresses for her growing
thanks for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to chat to us today.
I know you've recently had a new baby - congratulations - and have just
moved into a new premises in Kew, so we appreciate you giving us what
little time you have.
I suppose the first question to ask is, why did you become a designer
and were you inspired by anyone or anything in particular?
Not so much by one particular
designer as by what I was exposed to when travelling as a child - and
that's when I started designing, when I was a little girl.
My family used to travel to India and Africa quite a bit and the tailors
there would make clothes for us, but I was frustrated by their work because
they were often not able to interpret my ideas.
That's when I decided that I would learn to design and make clothes myself.
I was inspired by the fabrics and colours I saw on our travels and I wanted
to be able to use them in my designs.
So, after I finished school I went to college to learn how to cut my designs
and sew. I used to buy second hand clothes and unstitch them just to see
how they were made.
Chandrika explaining the finer points of wedding dress design to Bill
Catching up with Prince Charles and meeting The Chancellor of the Exchequer
for the first time
So, how did you arrive in the world of Wedding Dress design?
Because designing wedding dresses is such romantic
and fulfilling work. It's not only professionally challenging but you
are privileged enough to help people realise their own dreams for their
I also love getting to build up a relationship with my clients as the
dress goes from the initial idea to a gown that will be worn on one
of the happiest days of their lives.
How would you
describe your style signature – what is it, in other words, that
makes a Chandrika Thomas dress a Chandrika Thomas dress?
The signature style of a
Chandrika Thomas gown is the corsetry and high quality workmanship. Our
dresses are all made in the UK by a team of highly trained seamstresses
at our design house in Kew.
Coupled with high workmanship, all of our gowns have built in corsets
that pull in the waist and flatter and accentuate the feminine figure.
We do not produce off the peg gowns. All of our dresses are made to fit
each individual bride’s body.
Individually making each dress means that we ensure all of our brides
look their very best on their wedding day.
Chandrika with Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith
your starting off point when you design? Shape, style, fabric –
none of these?
My starting point for a
new design would be a venue, perhaps a manor house, a barn, grand hotel,
French villa, small country church etc.
I visualise how a bride would look wearing this new design. The aim is
to ensure that the bride’s dress compliments the venue. It should
not be lost by the venue’s grandeur nor should the dress overpower
My technical training means that I know what is possible to do with my
fabrics and my designs. I know how far to push the boundaries.
|And on average how long does a dress
take from inception to production?
Generally, we work with
our brides over a period of six to twelve months, from turning their initial
idea into the finished product.
Do you offer
personal advice to customers with regard to body shapes and which of your
dresses would best suit them? And how flexible are your designs, i.e if
a girl is a size 8 can she wear the same dress as if she was a size 18?
Yes. As well as advising
brides on suitable dress designs for their venue, we can also advise our
clients with regard to body shapes and which dress would best suit them.
Because we have such high quality design and workmanship, and because
of the attention we give to detail and our understanding of cuts and fabrics
our dresses will look stunning on any bride whatever her body shape or
|What’s the most common request
|That's easy: “I want to look amazing and
have a small waist”.
|Who is the typical Chandrika
Well, every customer is
different and I'm not sure there is a 'typical Chandrika Thomas bride'
but one thing they all do seem to have in common is that they understand
the importance of high quality workmanship.
If you're asking me to describe the type of woman who fnds her way to
me, she is stylish, understated and elegant with an eye for classic design
with a modern twist.
|Do you focus on Wedding Dresses only
or do you design in other areas as well?
|Although I mainly design wedding dresses I do
design bespoke items of day and evening attire for select customers. I am
currently working on a second brand, ChanHill (short for Chandrika Hillman).
The ChanHill brand is about elegant, beautiful feminine day and evening
wear produced using beautiful printed silks and voiles.
|What's the average day for the Chandrika
in Chandrika Thomas? Leisurely Champagne breakfasts and graceful
doodling over a drawing board before afternoon cocktails with the jet-set??
Well, it's not quite like
that. An average day, if there is such a thing, would start with a morning
meeting where I go over the day’s work with my team.
We look at the progress of all of our orders. I quality control orders,
talk to suppliers and stockists, approve press releases and oversee the
finances, discuss new designs and existing orders with the production
team and take care of the dozens of phone calls that always seem to be
pending and at the end of the day we evaluate our progress and look at
what needs to be done the following day. It's all very hectic but hugely
The part of the job I enjoy the most are the occasions when I get to personally
deal with fittings and appointments for some of our clients because when
you come down to it, that's what it's all about.