Friday, 12 October 2012

The Final 8 Announced - Norwich Bridal NEXT!

After the weekend's success of Bridal NEXT! London, we're thrilled to announce the shortlist for Norwich -a carefully selected portfolio of 8 new designers and suppliers of  fashion, flowers, accessories and everything else the design-conscious couple needs for their wedding.

To apply for one of the coveted places, entrants had to have graduated in 2010 or later and to have set up their business no more than 18 months ago. So far ( and a definate to continue), the event has been an amazing platform to support emerging talent AND offer the chance for super savvy brides and grooms to discover something new and unique for their big day.

The eight fledgling businesses chosen to exhibit at the Norwich fair are:

1. Sophie and Smith

Norwich-based Sophie ColIins set up Sophie & Smith earlier this year, after
studying fashion and textiles on and off for five years and suddenly found there
was a real lack of fashion related careers available in the city. ‘I felt it was
a real shame not to channel my creativity and passion into something that meant
more to me than a retail job.’

She is inspired by fabric manipulation and muted colour palettes, something
which attracted her to Bridal design. She likes to look at current trends as
well as historic couture to create a ‘mash-up of interesting and textural

She adds that the brand will hopefully come full circle, ‘I want Sophie & Smith
to exude luxury and creativity and hope to one day create job opportunities for
people like me who have a love of Norwich and a desire to design and create
beautiful individual bridal gowns and accessories.’

2. Lorie X

Laura Hall designs pattern-cut bridal gowns and corsets which typically mix
luxurious Duchess satins and sand-washed Habotai silks with specially sourced
vintage lace to ensure each dress is truly unique.
Inspired by writer Charles Dickens’ notion of tragic romance, she also combines elements of Victoriana with
digital print for a modern twist, incorporating her own inky hand drawings. With
digital print making it possible for short runs of cloth to be produced, a bride
can even have her own choice of words or illustration in the printed section of
her gown. “Perfect for those not sold on the traditional idea of 'marriage' and
looking for an anti-wedding wedding dress,” says Laura.

3. Love Blooms 
Suffolk-born Clare Robinson established Love Blooms floristry after a career as
a fashion buyer in London where she now lives.  She has clients in the capital
but also regularly travels back to East Anglia, particularly Norwich, to provide
her fresh new breed of floristry for weddings. Not frightened to get sculptural
she loves a working with an unusual brief and is currently inspired by the idea
of a mix of jewellery and floristry to create flowers that are actually worn on
the body in an interesting way.

Jo Millington Photography

4. My Bow K 
Another local Norwich designer, Keeley Walsh creates a new kind of bouquet from
vintage, found and other striking buttons, beads and brooches, often with
sentimental meaning, creating a keepsake as well as a decorative piece. ‘ My
inspiration came from wanting a unique memorable bouquet at my own wedding,’
says Walsh. "Tired of looking at images of dull flowers, I tried for months to
create an amazing brooch bouquet from meaningful jewellery from relatives and
friends. Knowing that it  would surely not only wow my guests as I walk down the
aisle but make them feel they were also a part of my day through their
She is a teacher of ICT and Business studies by day and bouquet maker by night.

5. Yew Swee Ling

Malaysian Chinese Yew Swee Ling is an international student who has just
completed her MA in Fashion and Norwich University College of the Arts, after
studying the subject in both China and Australia. Her work explores themes of
13th century smocking techniques and applying this to modern garments. She likes
to use lighter weight materials than traditionally used to create volumous
pieces, with a simple, romantic feel, a definite new take on bridal.

6. Mystic Magic

Ashley Pearce had always been told by his family that he had an amazing
imagination, and cut his ‘craft’ teeth at our county’s famous Fairyland
Trust. Following a life changing experience watching Phantom of the Opera, he
knew his calling was theatrical mask-making - which has lead onto him setting up
Mystical Magic, creating bespoke head pieces for the most daring of brides.

7. Michele Hartman Shoes

London College of Fashion graduate Hartman explores romance and luxury for the
themes of her collections, with the shoes made from an Italian satin which can
be dyed to whatever colour the bride wishes – ideal for pairing with her dress.
There are accessories to match the shoes or Michele will help you to design
something personal for your special day.

8. Melissa Morgan Designs

North Norfolk’s Melissa Morgan began making vintage inspired pieces little over
a year a go. She sources antique jewellery to create en trend bridal head wear –
pieces that are deco-inspired but to be worn in a modern way. She creates each piece from hand ,
using mixed media ideas with feathers and rope as well as more glamourous

So there's our finalists! Some absolutely amazing talent, we just know you are going to be as blown away by their pieces as we are.  At the Norwich fair, the final 8 will be given the chance to be crowned the Most Curious One To Watch 2012 as chosen by a panel of local fashion and design experts on the day. This exhibitor will win the opportunity to be stocked in Norwich's vintage and
handmade fashion hub Antidote, as well as receive exposure on online presence
from Most Curious and the relevant judges - yikes!

Most Curious will also feature both the One to Watch and Highly Commended
designer's work in an inspirational bridal photo shoot, which of course, we will bring to you when the time comes right here on this blog.

Our fabulous Norwich judges are:-

  • Emma Harrowing, Fashion Editor EDP
  • Julia Rigg, founder of Goldfinches Vintage
  • Anne Moore, owner of Antidote, handmade and vintage fashion boutique
  • Wendy Roby, freelance writer who writes for Grazia and Dazed and Confused
And as before, we will be profiling our amazing judges on this blog running up to the Norwich date. Eeep!


  1. Wow, feel so special to be mentioned in a blog :) Thank you!

  2. Can't wait to see you all there!

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