Harriette Gordon is head designer and the owner of a beautiful studio in Fremantle, Western Australia. Luckily for the East Coast, she is soon heading to Melbourne for a pop-up trunk show in August and will be in Sydney in summer. (Get in quick for Melbourne, as spots are limited!). All her veils and gowns are handmade in house by a group of talented seamstresses - and her collection is absolutely stunning. Harriette recently spoke to The Anti-Bride about her business, inspiration and whats next in line for her label.
What motivates you to do what you do?
I feel a strong pull to go to the studio and make. I love fashion and design, it’s as simple as that. Our boy Raf turns 1 in a couple of weeks, it’s been an incredibly transformative year. Taking maternity leave I felt as though something was missing from me, my work and my dedication to it was pushed aside, as much as I was enthralled in him and literally spending the days staring at him thinking how beautiful he is.
He has pushed me to lengths I didn’t know possible (positive and negative) and life is richer, love is richer. Hard not to sound cliché!
How long have you been at the helm of your business for?
In 2014 I dived into bespoke made to measure bridal gowns, full time. This is the fifth year, systems have tightened, structures have simplified and my offering has shifted. I originally worked one on one with each bride creating a custom one of a kind gown. This brought me a lot of joy but was too time consuming. Over the years I’ve refined the ‘Natural Bridal Gowns’ collection with 5 beautifully cut bias gowns that brides can now order after trying on the samples. The ‘Structured Bridal Gowns’ range is expanding and I am loving creating Classic and Embellished veils. There are still a few spots for custom made to measure gowns, but these are very limited.
What did you do previous to owning your business?
The 5 years prior to launching my bridal designs I worked as a sewing machinist in a clothing alterations shop. We altered all kinds of clothing, evening wear and bridal gowns. This gave me a really good grasp on correct fit for all types of figures and deconstructing garments taught me a lot about sewing and construction. I also worked as a sample machinist for a couple of local Perth designers whilst I studied Fashion design at TAFE. At TAFE we were taught physically how to make anything we wanted. I have a technical background and I love sewing. I am fashion and design obsessed.
What inspires you?
My darling Raf, his curiosity, my husband Alex.
Music (currently Alt J, Nina Simone, Leon Bridges, Always, Whitney), an Earl Grey tea and sinking into making gowns and veils in the studio. I love creating new samples, new ideas and while I’m in the middle of making something the next idea is born from it.
People on the street. Grey skies and rain. The beautiful buildings of Fremantle. Travel.
What is your advice to couples getting married?
Make decisions based on instinct, based on what’s important to you both, not what is expected of you now you are a ‘bride’ and a ‘groom’. Try to have at least a couple of days before your wedding to relax, breathe and slow down. Weddings really become such a ‘doing’ time and it’s a beautiful significant event that you want to head into in a present state.
What is your favourite product/service (of yours) and why?
I am loving creating veils. For the past year the time I had to spend working has been very limited. Being present with Raf has been and is my number one priority. Each veil is a smaller project compared to the gowns. I love the idea of a simple gown with an embellished veil. The best of both worlds.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
With another little person in our family, perhaps a girl, perhaps a boy.
Still adoring making bridal veils and gowns.
Our 1970’s modernist Italian home renovated.
More time spent down south in one of our favourite places, Yallingup.
What is next on the cards for your business?
Melbourne Pop Up Trunk Show in August and Sydney in the Summer.
Expansion into Boutiques and an online store on our website.
If you could describe your business in 3 words what would they be?
The pieces created by my business are Natural, Romantic, Considered.
If you could describe yourself in 3 words what would they be?
Dedicated, compassionate, a little bit mad.
How do you deal with work stress?
I used to find work incredibly stressful, I would fall apart when things went awry. But then I had a Baby and that is stressful!! It’s just as everyone says: getting older life gets more complicated. I find meditation, pilates, reading, weekends off, time off and disconnecting from the phone really helpful.
What is your favourite aspect of working in the bridal industry?
The amount of detail that can be put into the design, the level of care required and the beautiful beautiful fabrics I get to work with. It is a privilege and an honour to dress a woman for one of the biggest days of her life, to allow her to feel like herself and to feel special, to feel beautiful in her outfit. Being so involved in the lead up, it’s a time of great joy and you become included and enveloped in their family celebrations.
Harriette's Melbourne pop-up will be on August 10 -11 at The Olsen Hotel in Melbourne. Please contact Harriette to book in, as fittings are by appointment only.
Photographs by Katie Grant (1) and Natasja Kremers (2 +3)