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Cathleen Jia’s ‘Heart Song’

by | Event Reviews, Fashion Wisdom, Wisdom


Ms Fleur De Lys

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

“It’s just me and my designer” explains Cathleen Jia of the intimate team at her self-proclaimed “humble” bridal boutique, “so everything we do is from the heart; hence we named the collection ‘Heart Song’.”

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

The new ‘Heart Song’ collection includes a selection of custom gowns and hand-made in Melbourne, one-of-a-kind bridal headpieces featuring lace, pearls, jewels, crystals and chains, to complement the designs. ‘Heart Song’ continues the carefully balanced dance between the modern women who make up Cathleen Jia’s clientele and the label’s overarching “vintage bride” design philosophy.

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

“My type of bride is a modern Australian bride, someone who is quite relaxed. I think for us especially in Australia because we have so many beautiful scenic locations where you can get married, [a dress] needs to be able to match that mood.”

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

We viewed the collection at Cathleen Jia’s Elsternwick bridal salon which was filled with Lulu Bird floral arrangements of silver gum and brassicas, a Sweet Bakes tiered wedding cake illustrated with one of the collection’s gowns by Knot Now Productions as well as eccentric restored furniture and twinkling lights installed by An Eccentric Bunch – a venture run by Cathleen’s own fiancé.

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

With bygone-era names such as ‘Primrose’, ‘Tillie’ and ‘Rita’, the gowns themselves hark back to another era with the inclusion of unusual pinstriped laces, antique gold fabrics, beaded cuffs and straps. But the designs certainly aren’t a strict homage to the golden days. “Our gowns are pushing boundaries a little bit – we are experimenting with intricate laces or even cutting the fabric a little differently. Something that’s less traditional just to give a slightly more modern take,” says Cathleen.

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Chatting over a ‘His + Hers Desserts’ table set with dainty chocolate madeleines and old-fashioned orange sponge, I wonder what is making Cathleen’s own heart sing at the moment? “I am thinking of my fiancé. He makes me laugh (at him). [He’s] my number one fan in everything I do and it’s just the small gestures that make me really happy in general.”

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

As I am a bride-to-be myself, I often have people ask me if the novelty of it wears off? As cheesy as it sounds, love will never wears off. The closer it gets to our big day, the more I dream about when I will become his wife. Just the romance of it all and being with him, really makes my heart sing.”

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collection

Cathleen Jia Heart Song 2015 wedding dress collectionAll images via  Hello Darling


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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Such a beautiful new collection – so in love with the exquisite laces!

Behind The Door With…Miss Ladybird Cakes

by | Behind The Door With ..., Wisdom


Amelia Waddell Of Make Your Day Wedding Styling
Find me on Ms Polka Dot's Directory


This week I’m taking a stickybeak into the kitchens of Miss Ladybird Cakes in McKinnon, Victoria.

Gina Tubb opened Miss Ladybird Cakes almost two years ago with a plan to design and create custom cakes that were that little bit different.  As a qualified chef, Gina likes to use her skills and culinary knowledge to push the boundaries of traditional wedding cakes with a focus on quality ingredients, amazing flavours and lots of love going into every recipe.


The first thing I noticed about entering the quirky shopfront is the aroma, warm cakes baking and caramel, yum! Gina jumped up from answering emails to show me the front cafe or her ‘play space’ as she calls it.



The cafe is filled with vintage furniture as well as a display fridge of treats which are served with tea and coffee on weekends. Gina also uses this space for bridal consults and loves that it allows couples to enter her world while they enjoy a cake tasting.



The custom shelving is Gina’s favourite part of the space and was built by her brother out of op shop finds and vintage pieces to create an impressive wall of display for her cakes. It is an ode to Gina’s passion for baking with cookbooks, ingredients and decorations popping out of nooks and crannies between the cakes. You can’t miss the beautiful mural on one wall designed by Gina’s sister and painted by her brother.


There are three tier cakes trimmed with gold leaf and pretty cakes topped with pastel flowers but there’s also a deep sea octopus cake and one that appears to have blood dripping down the side. Gina explains that it was designed to be red paint as in “painting the roses red” from Alice in Wonderland and whilst people either love it or they hate it, it makes a great talking point.

Past the shopfront is Gina’s office and then the kitchens which Gina likes to call the real heart of her business at Miss LadyBird Cakes. I meet ‘Lola the oven’ which had to come in through the window when they first put her in. Chef Amelia is busy prepping wholesale cake orders and there are fridges filled with every possible treat from macarons to slices.


Gina is here seven days per week and is often working long into the night after her staff have gone home. “It’s the less glamorous side to the business”  she says. “It’s not all pretty Instagram posts and putting fresh flowers on cakes, it’s me in my flour covered apron bent over the oven or driving deliveries all over town”. “It’s a lot of hard work but I wouldn’t have it any other way”.


All images via Samara Clifford Photography

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: What a charming look into a wonderful world of cakes and sweet treats! Just imagine a wedding cake or a dessert buffet….

About Amelia Waddell of Make Your Day Wedding Styling: I’m a wedding stylist and proud store owner who loves to chat weddings with everyone and anyone! I love to talk shop with other business owners (particularly over some chocolate cake!) and am the first to try and have a sticky beak behind the scenes of any event. My free time is spent ‘investigating’ new cafes, stores and events. Make Your Day Wedding Styling is my creative outlet and I love nothing more than that ten minutes just before the guests enter the wedding reception, it feels like a special sort of magic!

What Would They Know? Steph and Hayley from For The Love of Grace

by | Fashion Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

For The Love of Grace - Steph & Hayley

The bridesmaids floating down the aisle in stunning dresses set the scene for the wedding to come. They are our dearest friends and family and the greatest compliment is for them to look and feel gorgeous, at the same time providing the perfect foil for the bride. The team at For The Love of Grace (a sister company to Grace Loves Lace) designs perfect lace and silk gowns in beautiful hues any bridesmaid would be excited to wear. The girls tell, “The main team consists of Steph; who looks after our customer service and dispatch, Hayley; who looks after all of our social media and marketing opportunities, then Sally, Penny, Tara and Alana who are responsible for design and production. We also have a wider ‘in’ and ‘out of house’ team including members of an in house QC and sampling department, and then our sewers who work both in and out of our workshop in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast.” And the best part is these are dresses that will be treasured and worn again in the years to come, with their timeless quality and oh so flattering styles.

What was the catalyst for starting For The Love of Grace?

Being involved in bridal design and production led us to see a big gap in the market for unique bridesmaids dresses which were something different to the uninspiring standard strapless, silk chiffon gown. We really felt that there is a demand for an amazing range of dresses! Dresses which will allow your bridesmaids to look incredible and individual whilst all coordinating, and be beautiful enough that they will want to wear it again.

Who or what inspires you in your business and in design?

Our inspiration really comes from a love of fashion, colours and fabrics. It’s a passion that drives the whole business and pushes us to keep creating!

For The Love of Grace 8

Your dresses are really different from ‘normal’ bridesmaids gowns. How do you come up with the concepts for your designs?

Our first aim, and what we continually strive for, is to make absolutely beautiful dresses! Secondly, we always aim for comfort and easy fit; a dress that is comfortable enough to take you all the way through from the ceremony to all night on the dance floor. Then third is affordability. With brides sometimes having 5 or more bridesmaids price can really make a difference so a dress being affordable is really important.

Do you have a bride in mind when you design the bridesmaids’ gowns?

Our bride is not the traditional bride wanting the traditional wedding. She’s an individual who really wants to show off her style. She’s creative and looking for something different; more at home getting married in a beautiful garden or down at the beach than a big formal affair. She really wants her bridesmaids to look and feel amazing because she realises how important they are to the whole day!

Why is the perfect bridesmaid’s dress so important?

The bridesmaids always make the first impression at a wedding and can really help set the scene. They are the finishing touch, really completing a bride’s vision of her big day. They have the difficult task of having to look gorgeous, but not overshadowing the bride.

For The Love of Grace 6

Is the design process a team process, or one person’s responsibility? 

Our design process is very much a team effort! It is very hands on and demanding, we spend hours deliberating each detail of a dress before we settle on our final collection.

Our collection will always begin with initial meetings involving mood boards, trend research and preliminary design ideas. We are constantly sourcing fabrics and trims, and normally visit overseas trade shows once a year to meet with our suppliers and look at the latest developments. Once we have decided on some rough design ideas we divide up the work between the team and each of us will work on a few of the styles. A lot of sampling and many long meetings follow before we finally decide on which dresses to include in the ranges! After that we really focus in on the fit and making the dresses perfect before they move on to the next stage of the process – the photo shoot!

What fabrics do you use?

Our love of lace really means that we are always predominantly searching for new and exciting laces and embroideries to use in our dresses, but we always try to keep the concept of comfort at the forefront of our minds by incorporating stretch lace and linings into our designs. And we only ever use the best silks.

Do you have designs in mind before your choose your fabrics/laces or do the fabrics inspire the design of the gown?

We work in both ways – sometimes a new fabric we find will really inspire a shape first and the styling will come down to what works for that fabric, or in other cases an idea of a silhouette or shape of a dress may come first and we search for the perfect lace to show it off.

For The Love of Grace 7

What factors determine the choice of the colours for each design?

We spend time looking at colour forecasts and trend information, but ultimately the bridesmaids look is quite specific, and so we tend to opt for unusual tones of classic colours which will work well together. We are particularly drawn to beautiful nudes, caramels and coffees as these can work over a variety of skin tones, which is really important.

Are there multiple choices of length and colour within each design? When ordering is there any customisation offered with the gowns?

Yes – all of our dresses are available in different colours, and although we work normally to an average height we can customise lengths for different heights.

Are you able to source and make your designs in other colours, if requested? 

It can be possible to customise colours in some cases.

Sometimes our bodies are not standard in size. Perhaps we are small on top and bigger on the bottom half. How can your customer ensure a good fit? 

We really try to be mindful of this throughout our design process and this is a big part of why we aim for easy fit garments and stretch fabrics to help achieve this.

We can also offer customised sizes to help to accommodate all body shapes.

For The Love of Grace 4

The bane of many a bridesmaid, is that she won’t be able to wear the dress again. When designing the dress, how do you ensure that the dress is perfect for a bridesmaid and also perfect for another occasion later on?

This is something we strive for – a dress that a bridesmaid can be excited by and is beautiful enough to be worn again! We really tried to expand on this idea in our Driftwood collection with our coordinating tops and skirt, we believe that this is a really good way of ensuring continued wear of an outfit, by making it as versatile and affordable as possible.

Where are your gowns made?

All of our dresses are made locally in Australia.

How do you sell your gowns? Where do you ship your gowns?

We only sell our dresses through our online shop at and we deliver worldwide.

Due to demand from our Australian customers we are soon to be opening up our workshop on the Gold coast on selected weekends so that brides and their bridesmaids can all come along together and try our dresses on.

Do you have any advice for bridesmaids?

Encourage your bride to let you be different! It’s great to see girls in different dresses, celebrating their individuality instead of a bridal party adopting a ‘one dress for all’ approach. And accessorise!

For The Love of Grace 2

It’s the end of the working week – how do you celebrate?

We are a very close-knit team with a variety of ages, nationalities and experiences but we all love nothing more than tea, coffee and cake! So we always try to indulge in something tasty on a Friday afternoon.

Our workshop is in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, which really is full of amazing places to eat, drink and socialise after a long week. We have lots of options once it hits 5.30pm and the weekend begins!

Thank you to the team of For The Love of Grace for sharing your story. To find out more about For The Love of Grace visit the website.

Images by Jenna Agius.

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