Saturday 29 April 2017

Fashion... Delectable Delphine

'Heidi' silk-satin, low-back, fishtail gown, with lace-trimmed train and sculpted upper body in French lace, €3,850; cap-veil, embroidered with lace flowers and beaded lace, €795; silk-flower bouquet, €150, all House of Delphine
'Heidi' silk-satin, low-back, fishtail gown, with lace-trimmed train and sculpted upper body in French lace, €3,850; cap-veil, embroidered with lace flowers and beaded lace, €795; silk-flower bouquet, €150, all House of Delphine
'Estella' silk-crepe and silk-georgette gown, with French-lace collar and detailing, €3,650, House of Delphine

They say one picture is worth a thousand words. I believe the same is true of wedding dresses. Every woman brings to her wedding dress a unique history - of beliefs, experiences of the past, hopes of the future, the realisation of her dreams, perhaps.

Wedding dresses are huge in the female mythological landscape. They signify the purity of intention when a bride commits to another human being. They scream of what she thinks about herself, and sometimes they whisper of how little she thinks of herself.

That is why wedding dresses are important and why I take them very, very seriously. It is why I appreciate bridal designer Delphine Grandjouan, of the House of Delphine. When designing a dress for a woman for this most epic of days, Delphine gets that she is dealing with all that history and emotional landscape. She works with the bride-to-be's feelings and life, and, together, they create new life in the form of an exquisite wedding dress.

"It is all blood and sweat and tears sometimes, but it is worth it in the end if they are happy. Every dress makes you progress as a maker. It is an exchange and it is personal," Delphine explains to me in her beautiful French-accented voice. Twenty years of living in Kerry has not dulled the sing-song notes of her origins.

"My brides have their own minds and they are looking for something individual," Delphine tells me. "The more you work with people [on a dress] the more they become themselves and the dresses become like them."

The House of Delphine consists of Delphine and her petite, adorable mother, Christine, who is also French. Together, they hand-create everything in their studio near Tralee, using the finest of French lace and silk. They come to Dublin every five weeks for fittings and showings.

Delphine's collection on our pages today was inspired by the work of Polish art deco artist and recorder of society, Tamara de Lempicka. It signals a new direction in Delphine's work.

"I saw an exhibition of hers in Paris and I was struck. Her paintings were all about females and their presence. It was a strong femininity," Delphine explains. "I feel you have to change. I felt we had done ephemeral quite a lot. I didn't want fairy-tale anymore - I wanted to make an impact and put a bit of glamour into it.

"Irish women want bridal to be strong, to have impact. I went for glamour. Strength. Female. I worked a lot of sleeves and shoulders in this collection, giving it structure, like in a 1930s, nearly 1940s, way," Delphine finishes. "I am about the bias - but this collection is more structured."

A bias cut is not just for skinnies, Delphine feels it is important to say; if you have a waist, you can wear it. This supportive attitude towards bodies, feelings and dreams, is why the House of Delphine reigns in the world of bridal couture.

Photography by Mike Bunn

Fashion edited by Constance Harris

Sunday Independent

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