Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on April 13, 2010
We are lucky in Australia to have some amazing bridal designers producing exquisite work. Today, I’m honoured to be joined by one of them- Johanna Johnson. Her red carpet worthy gowns are the epitome of 1920’s glamour and have a beauty that takes my breath away.
Johanna not only creates beautiful bridal creations, but has recently launched an online store for her accessories line. I wanted to find out more about the woman behind the Johanna Johnson label, so Johanna joins us today to talk about what really makes her tick.
Tell me a little about yourself, your background?
I am the creator, designer and director of bridal couture line, Johanna Johnson. As the creator of inspirational and elegant bridal gowns, my gowns are known for their sophisticated old Hollywood style, red carpet glamour and timeless appeal. I spent my early years in New Zealand and moved to Australia for my teen years and education. I studied Graphic Design in Melbourne and before launching this label, I had my own highly successful international graphic design agency. I am now happily married to Andrew and have two gorgeous boys, Charlie and Tom.
How did you get into the wedding industry?
I was inspired to create my couture collection when looking for my own wedding gown. Like every bride, I was searching for the ‘perfect’ gown, and after no success in finding the style I wanted, I took pen to paper and created the perfect dress. It was here that I identified a niche in the marketplace, not only for a couture collection that epitomized simplicity, grace and style – but also for welcoming, personalised service and client care throughout the experience.
In two short years during the birth of my first child Charlie, I juggled the joys of first-time motherhood with career and took the concept of Johanna Johnson couture to reality. I wanted to create beautiful gowns for brides that I would want to wear and feel magic in. Each gown I create is from a unique styling perspective, and everything is considered from fit to quality to comfort. Purchasing a gown is a very intimate, exciting experience and should be a memorable occasion. I wanted to provide impeccable service and attention to detail, for the bride and her family, to add to the Johanna Johnson experience.
You have one store in Paddington, Sydney and pride yourself on personalized service. What can brides expect when they visit your store?
At Johanna Johnson, the emphasis is always on creating a warm, welcoming environment. It’s actually one of the values at the very core of the company- I understand that buying a dress should be an exciting and memorable experience (and as stress-free as possible). We pride ourselves on creating an atmosphere that the bride and her whole family can feel comfortable and excited in. Our stylists have a wealth of experience and always ensure that the bride has a uniquely styled look for her day and is utterly confident in the craftsmanship of our seamstresses and production process.
Your dresses and accessories are just beautiful. What are the key features that set your collections apart?
The main features that we like to focus on is bringing a high level of craftsmanship and Red- Carpet worthy gowns to Australian brides. We like to focus on sleek, Old Hollywood designs that enhance a bride but let her personality shine through. We merge vintage styles and finishes with on trend designs to cater to our modern, fashion-forward clientele. We are different because we approach design from a different perspective; at Johanna Johnson we focus on researching into the Golden Era of Hollywood and translate that into beautiful, wearable gowns for the here and now.
Do you design a new collection/s every year?
We do. In the future, we are looking at doing a new collection bi-annually.
How do you find the inspiration to design a collection?
It happens completely at random; a word or phrase, a picture, something I come across on the street- I never know where my next burst of inspiration is coming from.
What inspires you?
Anything and everything; in the beginning, it was the old lace houses in Paris and hours walking around flea markets in Paris that really inspired me. For this collection, it was all about a kind of dark beauty; black violets and dark corners in chandelier filled rooms, that really heady sense of old school decadence and glamour. I had a few images of muses, 1930’s socialites and how they flaunted their couture gowns with a shameless knowledge of their own perfection. I wanted this sense of abandon and sensuality to be embodied in Zepphora.
How would you describe your style?
My signature style is all about elegance, grace and simplicity; the Old Hollywood style of these eras epitomize this aesthetic and really appeal to me. There is passion about purity of line and heavy, simple silk, old-world craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail and cut. I have long had a passion for all things Art Deco (it’s a long, long term personal preference!) and this is reflected in my collection.
You now sell your accessories online. How does a bride decide which of your accessories might suit her dress (if not bought from you), or which veil or headpiece might suit her features? Any tips?
We find that brides normally have a very clear idea of what they are looking for, and tend to know what they want when they see it. We focus on accessories that can be styled with any gown and, although we’re biased, we think that all of our accessories can work for every person! A single headpiece can be styled in so many ways; so even if you get your piece home and find that you don’t like it where you think you would have, we find that our clients find a way to wear it where suits them best and rarely exchange it for another. When it comes to tips, experiment with shapes until you know what best works with your face. If you have a very petite face you may want to steer clear of the larger pieces, but as always, if it’s your style and you work it will look spectacular.
Do you see a particular incoming trend in weddings for the next 12 months?
At the moment we’re thinking a lot about soft golds and interesting, enchanting use of beadwork, encrusted lace and draping.
Where do you see Johanna Johnson in 5 years time?
We see Johanna Johnson being stocked internationally, and being worn by all of our most beloved celebrities as well as every blushing bride. We see ourselves still consistently bringing the best in Old Hollywood glamour, craftsmanship and customer service to every one of our clients well into the future!
What is your number one tip for brides?
Never, ever dress to please anyone else. Always stay true to what makes you feel magical: it’s your day! Also, be open minded; what you dreamt up as a five year old may not be what actually appeals to you in the here and now. Let yourself explore new designs and features that you may not have previously thought would work on you. At Johanna Johnson, our stylists often suggests gowns that the clients may not have chosen with fabulous results, so it’s important to listen to the people helping you. You don’t shop for a wedding dress every day and our stylists know our collections like no-one else!
What are your favourite wedding ideas?
I love to see brides really embracing whatever style or theme they are going for and carrying it through from the ceremony to the reception. Whatever it is, it’s wonderful to see a bride let her imagination and personality run free on her wedding day. We create gowns that can compliment and enhance any kind of wedding; we like to think one of our gowns could take a wedding to the next level of wow. Recently I was at a wedding that had each of the tables named after a place that was important and significant to the bride and groom. On every table was a little booklet with information about the people they were sitting with. It really brought the reception together, added a sentimental touch and got people talking.
What do you love about Australian Brides?
Australian Brides are not afraid of anything. I find with Australian brides that they are always pushing the boundaries of styling and creating something that is personal and exciting to themselves. I find that the Australian Bridal culture puts a lot into the day as a whole, and I love that effort.
What are 5 clever ideas to create a stylish wedding?
1. Start with no more than three colours and go from there. (Johanna Johnson’s brand colours are black, white and peacock blue).
2. Choose a venue that reflects both you and your partner.
3. Do be sentimental, it’s nice to be able to have a story about different elements of your wedding, and also to be able to have little things to keep to show your children and grandchildren. Traditions and heirlooms have to start somewhere!
4. Explore the possibilities with flowers. I have seen incredible floral artistry and it doesn’t necessarily cost a fortune for a big impact.
5. As clichéd as it sounds, remember to enjoy the day. Plan ahead and delegate so that your bridal party and family have a role in ensuring that the day runs smoothly, so you’re not mentally ticking off moments rather than experiencing them. A stylish wedding is one full of love, joy, and personality.