What Would They Know? Coral Johnston of Corston Couture

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


Polka Dot Bride

Having an understanding of a bride’s psyche is just as important as having an understanding of fabrications, body types and styles. Coral of Corston Couture designs for the bride who loves romantic lace and beading with a modern edge, shapes that float and glide and above all, for the woman who loves the comfort of a soft silk lining and a style cut to suit her body. With 2 ready to wear collections a year there is always plenty of variety to choose from and along with a custom design service, Coral’s insistence on personalised service, and quality workmanship on site by her talented team means that each gown is a girl’s dream. And being stocked in both Sydney and Melbourne, means that brides from all over the country have access to her exquisite gowns. Let’s take a peek inside the world of Corston Couture.

How and why did Corston Couture come into being?

I started Corston in 1989, after realizing a degree I was doing at University was not going to produce a job I would have been happy in…and as I had always loved sewing and designing for myself, my family and friends, (and I also had no dependents, to starve if I failed) I applied for a government grant and 6 week business course to start a fashion label.

The rest is a rollercoaster ride of history that has led to this point.


How long have you been designing wedding gowns?

29 years this September!..(I feel like I must sound sooo old saying that….)

 re you known for a certain style or element in your gowns?

I feel like I am always changing the look of the dresses for each collection, but I do think I have a romantic, fashion forward look, often a bit sensual ( or cheeky) too.

How do you strive to be different and design standout gowns?

I love experimenting, which sadly means a number of dresses I start out thinking will be wonderful, really are not, however enough turn out to be stunning, that we still end up with a beautiful new collection every 6 months.

I really like to use new combinations of fabrics, I love sheer layers and the translucency that creates, as well as textures and 3D details.

 Where do you find the stunning lace and silks you use in your designs?

I try to use Australian Importers mostly for the silks and the European Laces, (I would love to say I used Australian made fabrics, but sadly all the Australian factories have been closed.)

We have also, recently, been custom designing beaded and embroidered fabrics overseas directly with a very talented beading and embroidery factory…with fantastic results!

From flower sprinkled tulle to heavy lace, what is the reason you choose the fabrics that you do? Do you have a particular bride in mind when you look for laces?

I try to keep the various body shapes in mind when designing a collection, so that there will be something for everyone…however beyond that I just have fun and be creative.

Most of my clients are confident career women who are looking for something fresh and different to what is largely available..so I figure it is my job to try fresh and creative ideas for these brides.

Your designs feature applique lace with an illusion effect – is this a trend that is here to stay?

I think it is a trend that will be here for awhile at least…not sure about indefinitely,

It certainly helps achieve the “floating lace” and” tattoo lace” look that is so popular currently, but trends are changing faster and faster in the bridal industry now…when I started, a style might last for 5 to even 10 years….now even a stunning design will only last 2 years on average before something newer takes over in popularity.

I’m loving the lace you use that has a 3D effect. What is it that inspires you about this lace and how do you use it in your designs to full effect?

I always have been a bit obsessed with any 3D fabric…or fabrication, so the delicate 3D work that is available now is right up my alley!

I love using it either to float all by itself on the skin, or as a 3D accent for some other flatter fabric or lace…

It is brilliant for making a bust look fuller, hips look smaller, waists look tinier, shoulders wider… just by the positioning and concentration of its placement….it just has endless possibilities!

Is beading a popular option that today’s brides often ask for?

It is becoming so popular, especially the light twinkly beading…however, I might say I have noticed a contrary trend of very plain but dramatically designed dresses (this started just before Meghan Markle wore her stunningly simple dress, but I also do feel she has given fire to the trend).

How many ready to wear collections do you design per year?

We design two Ready to Wear collections per year…one we release in Spring, the other in Autumn.

Do you offer a bespoke couture option for brides wanting a custom designed gown?

Corston Couture was built on Custom designing exclusively…it was only about 3 years ago that we designed our first RTW Collection.

We still offer a bespoke service, we also offer a customizing service of the RTW dresses too (that ends up being more affordable usually, than the entirely bespoke gowns).

When designing gowns, what are the considerations that are forefront in your mind?

To try new ideas out, and attempt to create something that is different and fresh.

What are today’s brides asking for in terms of design?

Comfort is a big concern for our clients, as well as looking for something that is a bit unusual, and certainly something they will feel like a million dollars wearing!

What inspiration do you draw on when designing your gowns and how do you keep your work fresh?

I seem to get ideas from so many places…from Art Exhibitions, Opera or Ballet costumes, nature – flowers and sand and stone…then sometimes just from an exquisite piece of fabric, there certainly is not rhyme or rhythm to my design process!

What do you see in the future for wedding gown design?

I really don’t see much changing in regards to how important this dress is to a bride, I also don’t see weddings ever disappearing, as some would suggest they will at some stage….however, I think dresses already are being inspired more and more by Hollywood and the European catwalks, as opposed to tradition, and I feel this will continue. We may even go back to pre-Victorian times and see brides wearing colour more commonly.

We see the occasional bride wear pops of colour in lace or a gown lining – but the predominant colour is still shades of white. Why do you think that white has remained a timeless colour for the bridal gown?

I think it is a little bit to do with tradition, (no one else will wear white to your wedding unless you ask them to, or they are being rude), but white also reflects light beautifully, that light is reflected up onto the face and adds to the “Glow” a bride always has on her wedding day. It also makes the wearer of a white, especially sparkly white, dress the complete center of attention…very few brides don’t want that!

What sizes do you design your gowns for?

Our sample gowns are mostly size 10, however this next collection we are working on 3 dresses that will be 14 to 16.

If we are talking about our custom and RTW dress sizes…we will make those in any size for clients.

Are you able to advise on styles that are the most flattering for particular body shapes?

Absolutely!!!…after almost 3 decades designing literally thousands of dresses for all body shapes, I can certainly give my 2 cents worth of advice on a shape that would suit even the most difficult body shape to dress.

Are you asked to advise on bridesmaid gown styles, accessories or shoes when a bride chooses one of your gowns?

All the time!…I think the designer of a bride’s gown by default is chosen because the bride feels comfortable giving this person control of making them look their absolute best on the biggest day of her life…so it only follows that if they are unsure about decisions to do with the wedding, the designer will be the person they rely on to help with advice and suggestions.

How do you relax away from the bridal gown and wedding world?

Currently there is not a lot of relaxing (actually, truthfully there never has been I suppose).

However we recently adopted a very energetic gorgeous Dog, and he and I go out for a walk first thing in the morning and last thing at night (and quite often for a short breath of fresh air at lunch time)….I might say this has done wonders for my sanity and stress levels, When I am with him, there is no where else to be, but wandering between parks checking up on what all the other local doggies have been doing!

I also love reading, gardening, cooking, riding horses and playing the piano, when I get the chance.

Thank you Coral for sharing your story. We’re loving the 3D effects in the lace, but then we also love the beading, the flattering tailoring – well, we love it all! To find out more about Corston Couture visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Corston Couture.


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