I have been blown away by today’s guest’s success I still remember her first gowns and I remember the gown that I seem to see every single time I log onto Pinterest! Welcoming to Polka Dot Wisdom today, Melbourne designer Anna Campbell!
Please tell us a little about yourself – is there someone special who was/is a particular influence in your life?
There are many people; it is hard to narrow this down to one! Growing up, my Grandmother was an incredibly stylish fashionista. Together with my parents, she encouraged me constantly to dream big – they supported my creativity right from the start. In the Industry, I look up to incredible designers like J’aton and Marchesa. On a personal level, I have been really lucky to meet my boyfriend Murray; he plays a big role in the label. We met when the label Anna Campbell was still being created and produced out of a spare bedroom in my rental house, and he supported and believed in me right from the start. He is really creative in his own way, and is an electrician by trade, which has been very handy; he has now renovated two studios and three stores for me!
What is your background in design?
I studied Art, Design and Textiles throughout high school in country Victoria, then moved to Melbourne to study Fashion at RMIT’s City Campus. I didn’t feel like it was quite right for me and quit before finishing my first semester. I just worked things out for myself after that, with lots of trial and error, I somehow managed to get things right eventually! I now also have an incredible team of very talented girls by my side, some do have formal training, and some don’t.
What made you decide to pursue this creative career, rather than pursue a more ‘conventional’ career?
I don’t really think a conventional career was ever an option! I am not a very conventional person! I am very determined and worked very hard to get the Anna Campbell label started. Once I had the dream, there was really no looking back and no option not to succeed.
Your wedding dresses are stunning and each one so unique. Some are ornate, and some seemingly very simple. What inspires the thought /design processes that makes each gown so different?
The best thing about designing for Anna Campbell as opposed to designing for a mainstream label is that I don’t have to have huge collections designed by certain dates. If I meet an amazing client and we work on a design together, I am so always so inspired to come into my studio and create a new gowns that they’ve inspired. I just design when I am inspired, so pieces only come about when I want them to, there are no due dates.
Where do you find your inspiration?
There is a huge array of inspiration from outside sources – from nature, architecture, historical references, to starting with the fabric, but what is most inspiring for us is really our clients. There is no way that two dresses can be the same when one client is having a formal, classically styled wedding in Paris, and another client is getting married on the beach, barefoot on a faraway Island. You get so inspired by each individual client. You’re not just creating a beautiful dress; it has to be a beautiful dress, for them, for their individual wedding.
What is the Made to Measure design process? What steps does a bride go through when she enters your salon, to have her gown designed by you?
The first appointment is about the bride and the designer getting to know each other, I like to find out as much as I can about the wedding, the feel and the style they are going for. The bride will start trying on pieces, finding the kind of styles, and base of the dress that is best for her. Generally, the following appointments involve narrowing the choices down and manipulating the dresses to suit the individual bride. We might be looking at the ‘Rebecca’ dress for example, but adding lace to create a much more elaborate shoulder piece, a more fitted skirt, changing the train so it is perfect for there location and so on. Once the bride has chosen her dress, we take at least 3 months to develop the base dress. The first fitting then involves checking over the fit, making alterations and hand pinning on each piece of lace with the bride. The dress slowly evolves from there. There are normally around 2 – 4 fittings depending on the dress chosen. We continue working with the bride until their dress is perfect.
Do you have a ‘signature look’?
I think that we do, even our most fitted dresses are still really soft and feminine, with lace or beaded details.
Your business is really a one stop shop for brides providing everything from gowns to headpieces to cuffs, and veils. What is the idea behind this?
I love designing the accessories just as much as the dresses! I really enjoy working with the bride to create the entire look; we get quite excited about the whole wedding, from the decorations, to the flowers, shoes, etc! We also work with Samantha Wills earrings, who have such a soft vintage aesthetic, so they match perfectly with our dresses.
When designing for bridesmaids what is your design philosophy so that your dresses will suit the many different body types in the bridal party? How can a bride ensure that each of her bridesmaids looks beautiful in a dress to suit her body type, yet create a cohesive look?
We definitely design our bridesmaids range with this in mind. Our dresses are ordered in and made specifically for the bridesmaids party, and they can be ordered in any size. Every time we create new pieces, they are adding to the range of pre existing dresses, that although different, go together beautifully, using the same soft feminine lines, and beadwork, or flowers. We love working with tonal colors, or the one color and slightly different dresses for each maid. Our dresses are generally more flattering as they are soft and flowy – but at the same time, they can be manipulated to have a slightly more fitted look, by cinching in the waist more. There is also lots of additions that we can provide to ensure the dresses suit a wide range of body types, such as belts and embellishments.
Your flower girl dresses are so cute. Can these be made to match the bridesmaid’s dresses?
Yes they can! We are currently working on expanding the flower girl range too – with additional styles, colors, sizes and shapes soon to be available.
Images courtesy of Anna Campbell
Thanks for joining us today Anna! See more of Anna’s gorgeous work by visiting her website!