What I Know About Style

Astral Sundholm-Hayes

Circa Vintage Brides


Astral Sundholm-Hayes, founder of Circa Vintage Brides, on how to pick the perfect wedding dress

What inspired the concept for Circa Vintage Brides?

The volume of women searching for real vintage wedding dresses at my then-shop, Circa Vintage, found that the real vintage bridal dresses were either too small or stained, had high necklines and long sleeves and were unwearable. I decided to create a small collection of dresses inspired by the Hollywood decades and silhouettes for female body shapes today in silks, with all dresses made in England.

Where is the best place to source vintage clothing/material?

Vintage clothes fairs are the best, as the traders have come from all over England, so you will have lots of choice. My favourites are Frockmefashion.com and P&A Antiques. Also, some of the auctions are good if you’re a collector; Kerry Taylor, Bonham’s and Christie’s have vintage clothing sales. Otherwise, there is Ebay, but look at the USA site as there is so much more on offer. Car boot sales are great as sometimes you can get very lucky.

What’s your favourite material to work with?

At the moment I am so in love with silk crepe; it was used a lot in the 1930s and 1940s and has such a classic drape so it dominates my new collection.

What are you most proud of and why?

Work-wise, it’s definitely my new bridal boutique, which I have just opened. It’s my dream shop and I have done all of the interior design myself; from dragging a sofa back from France and upholstering it, to painting all the furniture to match and hunting out the most beautiful frosted Art Deco central light (found on Ebay!).

What is the worst wedding dress you have ever seen?

I’ve seen some bad ones – mainly with way-too-low bust lines. I think dresses tend to look bad when the bride is uncomfortable or is drowned by the dress. A classic example was the Countess of Wessex; she looked beautiful but you couldn’t help notice there was something not right with the shoulders and sleeves, which was strange as it was made to measure.

What is your favorite piece from the current collection?

It would have to be ‘Ava’ the 1940s silk crepe, quilted waist, bias-cut, full length dress with kimono cape sleeves. It just looks stunning on so many brides – in fact it’s my bestseller.  I would have worn it to my wedding.

Who is your style icon and why?

I think Nicole Richie has fantastic style – she just looks so great in everything she wears. I think maybe it’s because she knows how to mix vintage with new so well.

How would you describe your personal style?

Like most designers I dress for comfort as I tend to be hanging over my cutting table making patterns, so normally trousers with a loose shirt and a bright comfort scarf. If I’m going out I tend to mix one of my many vintage treasured pieces like a 1950s printed skirt with plain cashmere top or dark blue jeans with 1920s silk-embroidered jacket and high heel boots and always some sort of interesting vintage jewellery.

Do you have a top tip for picking the perfect dress?

Look at yourself in the mirror and if the dress you have on makes you feel great, then you’ll look incredible to everyone else. Make sure the dress shows off your best bits; bust, small waist, long legs, great arms and shoulders.

Should every bride have a white wedding dress?

Not at all. It’s about your personality and the person you’re going to marry. So go for something that is totally you and not what you think other people expect you to wear. I’ve had quite a few brides wanting black mixed in their dresses and one wearing a bright red sash for the evening.

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year?

Most importantly, to make happy brides of the women who wear my dresses.

What’s your philosophy on life?

The older you get, the wiser you get; so live life to the full and be kind.

Any guilty pleasures?

Those bright pink candy shrimps – I just can’t walk by without buying them.

Circa Vintage Brides, 17 Richmond Hill, Richmond TW10 6RE; www.circabrides.com

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