HOW DOES A FASHION GIRL FIND HER DREAM DRESS?


Grazia Fashion Director Jade Chilton reveals how her wedding dress shopping experience wasn’t quite the fairy tale she had envisaged
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HOW DOES A FASHION GIRL FIND HER DREAM DRESS?

My heart is beating ten to the dozen. My stomach is alive with butterflies and I can feel my face flush. I’m sitting at my work desk scrolling through pictures of my chosen one. I’m exhilarated. But the doubt was already creeping in  – have I really, finally found my one and only? My heart sank, this dress was 7,000 miles and a 12-hour flight away in a New York boutique. This looked like one long-distance relationship that wasn’t going to work out. It was my third try, and perhaps it wasn’t going to be as lucky as the fable promises. 

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

As a fashion director I had a crystal clear vision of what I wanted for my wedding dress. However, as I pored over bridal sites and look books, I began to think my dream dress didn’t exist. On a photoshoot one day I stumbled across the most delicious dress in a delectable berry pink. I squeezed my body into the sample in the restaurant toilets – not my finest hour – and fell head over Birkenstocks. The downfall: it was berry pink. I knew I was an unconventional bride but wearing any shade of raspberry on my day was pushing it. In a vain hope I reached out to the PR team at the Italian fashion house to see if there was anything they could do to custom create the same dress in a more bridal-friendly hue. “Yes, absolutely” they replied but, as expected, custom-made equalled dirham signs and at a whopping three times my max budget, this dress was never going to go any further than my dreams.

GOOD ON PAPER… 

Two thousand and sixteen was officially the summer of engagements. Along with my own picture-perfect proposal in the South of France, my nearest and dearest girls also found themselves with notable bling on their ring fingers. Living half way across the world from them, we scheduled a trip to a shishy London bridal salon on my visit home at Christmas. I had always dreamt that this shop would save me with its delicate laces and swishy fabrics. I expected that I’d walk in to see my ‘one’ staring right back at me. However, like that ex-boyfriend who looks good on paper, the reality wasn’t quite as imagined. With each dress I tried on, the self-doubt threatened to take over. My skin was pale, my hair lacked lustre and my friends were telling me how radiant I looked, which wasn’t going to wash with me – love you, girls! With each dress I tried on, the more I started to hate the experience. Where was my Hollywood movie moment?

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY

So, back to my long-distance love. I’d been through enough and I wasn’t going to let this baby escape me again. I tracked down the brand in NYC and in a desperate plea, I begged them to fly a sample of the gown to Los Angeles where I was heading for a magazine cover story shoot. After a 16-hour flight, I jumped in a cab with jet lag in tow and walked in to the most unexpected bridal salon on Melrose Avenue. Loho bride – pipped as the cool girl’s bridal shop’ – was all berber rugs, stone flooring, glasses of bubbles and The XX playing on the stereo. I felt right at home. This had to be my moment! As I swished and swayed in the parachute silk, tiered Houghton gown, the Cali-cool sales girl snapped away on my iPhone giving me generous compliments but nothing insincere or pushy. All alone in the fitting room, my heart felt like it might burst. I sent a photo and a hurried message to my mum that read: "I’ve found my one." Her reply, "Oh darling, you have."

Photos: Terri Pashley