Thursday 17 August 2017

All white on the day: Emily-Jean O'Byrne's bespoke bridal range

Gown, Belle & Bunty, €2,675, Little White Dress. ‘Florence’ lace eye-veil with ivory petal crown, decorated with freshwater pearls and crystals, €295; lace belt embellished with freshwater pearls and crystals, €245, both Emily-Jean
Gown, Belle & Bunty, €2,675, Little White Dress. ‘Florence’ lace eye-veil with ivory petal crown, decorated with freshwater pearls and crystals, €295; lace belt embellished with freshwater pearls and crystals, €245, both Emily-Jean
Liadan Hynes

Liadan Hynes

Working out your wedding-day style can be a difficult business.

For the most part, by a process of trial and error, we have worked out what suits us when it comes to work wear, weekend wear and for nights out. But black tie, which is essentially what a wedding dress is, can be overwhelming. Who wears it regularly enough to have formed an opinion on what works and what doesn't?

As such, when it comes to figuring out a look for the big day, we're unsure what styles suit us, or how to accessorise, while still looking like ourself, and not some Disney-princess version. In fact, a neutral voice to advise on the most scrutinised thing you'll ever wear can be priceless.

Emily-Jean O'Byrne's bespoke bridal range of accessories grew out of just such a need. The Galway-based jeweller and milliner already stocked ready-to-wear bridal lines. However, she found herself taking on a styling role with the brides coming to her atelier for their wedding-day hair accessories. She began teasing out their personal style, and creating an individual look for the big day.

"I found that when they came into the atelier, more and more I was styling them, advising them on what look would go best with their chosen dress," she says. "Through that process, I realised the effectiveness of somebody defining the overall look. And that's what inspired me to create the bespoke collection."

Usually, a bride will get in touch four to six months in advance of her wedding, she says. "That gives me a nice lead time, so we start with a general conversation about the look and feel of the gown." Typically, Emily-Jane says, a bride is looking to her accessories to make the dress her own, individual to her. "So that's where I would start suggesting different little embellishments and details that we can do," she says.

The products she creates include headpieces, belts and cuffs, and embellished collars. As it's a completely bespoke process, with Emily-Jean creating one-off pieces from scratch for each bride, she works in fabrics that suit each specific dress. Having something purpose-made to complement your dress, in fabrics that 'mirror' it, as she says, is invaluable, meaning, "it's all themed".

Her designs feature Irish lace, including Carrickmacross lace; embellished French lace; Swarovski crystals; freshwater or cultured pearls, depending on the clients' budget; and 100pc silks and satins.

The accessories on these pages are all from Emily-Jane's ready-to-wear collection, but can be tweaked to fit a bride's bespoke brief, or they can serve as the inspiration for a bespoke piece.

This year, Emily-Jean celebrates a decade in business. Her main advice for a bride-to-be? Keep it minimal when it comes to jewellery. "I would encourage them towards something subtle," she says. "And to think of the overall look, rather than one jarring piece."

Photography by Patrick Mchugh

Words by  Liadan Hynes

Fashion edited by  Constance Harris

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