Ellis Bridals is, probably the longest-established bridal designer in the world… Based in London since 1912, Ellis delivers a design, finish and service that quickly makes you realise why the label has been so successful for so long. Drawing on over 100 years of expertise, Ellis Bridal designs are both fashionable and classically beautiful while displaying meticulous attention to detail. And the photography is something else – it has always been an editor's dream to work with Ellis's images.
The founder and original designer, Ada Ellis honed her craft by creating bespoke dresses for London’s early 20th Century aristocracy. The birth of Ellis Bridals came when on a bright January day in 1910 Ada herself walked down the aisle to marry Sam in the very first Ellis wedding gown. Her distinctive, elegant style struck a chord and word spread fast. Demand grew as brides across England clamoured for an original Ellis Bridals creation. The brand blossomed, carving a place at the forefront of British bridalwear.
As creative director, Regine Ellis carved a name for the brand within the industry and the label flourished under her guidance. Now moving into its fourth generation, the Ellis legacy continues with Ada’s great-grandson James Ellis. True to Ada’s words, family bonds have kept the heart of Ellis Bridals in London where the whole design process is seen through and where it has always been. Ellis Bridals is a small team offering a personal service to its boutique stockist.
Here we catch up with James Ellis about his plans for the next decade in British bridal with both Ellis Bridals and Kelsey Rose…
Tell us about yourself - how did you get into bridal?
I was born and raised in London from three generations of designers. My mum always took me into the design studio growing up and I loved watching the design process. This really sparked something in me and I knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry from a young age so I started interning in fashion companies every summer from the age of 14. My real interest in bridal started when I went through an archive of incredible thank you letters that had been saved from brides writing to the Ellis team. I realised what a privilege it is to be part of someone's most special day and how creating 'the' dress lives forever in people's memories. I then decided fast fashion was not for me and I wanted to create something with more meaning.
What’s your earliest memory of fashion design?
When I was seven, sitting with the machinists where I was taught how to make buttons, a job I took very seriously!
Do you keep sketches of all of your designs?
We keep every single sketch as part of our extensive archive and love to revisit these for inspiration when designing our new collections.
Do you have a signature style?
Ellis Bridals is the epitome of timeless bridal wear with a modern twist – known by the industry for our clean and sleek styling.
Kelsey Rose is all about a ‘relaxed’ feel. We cover multiple looks from boho luxe to minimal city chic but the underlying thread that runs through the collection is a lighthearted and informal take on bridal fashion.
What does your bride look like?
The Ellis Bride is modern with a classic style, looking for something style-led that feels like a reflection of who she is. The Ellis bride is looking for a premium product at an accessible price point. From churches to garden weddings, her day will be elegant and timeless yet fun.
A Kelsey Rose girl is a modern bride who dances to the beat of her own drum. From outdoor weddings to city brides and micro celebrations, we create bridal looks with cool-girl ease that resonates with the Kelsey Rose bride who is effortlessly chic.
Real Bride: Brooke wears Ellis Bridals What makes a good bridal boutique great?
The stores that are succeeding are the ones that are able to adapt. We have seen a lot of unprecedented change over the last few years so being able to evolve your business has been vital to surviving. They also have a clear vision of what they want their business to be and who they want to attract. Always striving for the next thing to push them forward as a business.
What makes you unique, and successful – What is your USP?
We are a small team with big ideas and we put every ounce of passion into creating considered and exciting collections that we believe in. Offering a highly personalised service to every one of our retailers who are at the heart of what we do.
Whose accessories complement your designs the best?
For Ellis Bridals, we love a dramatic, chic look right now. Birdcages galore and statement headbands, for our shoots we look to brands like Dolecka, Awon Golding and Saint Beth Official. Their pieces are the perfect finishing touch to any Ellis dress.
Please give us the complete low-down on your latest collection, the inspiration, the process, and the plan.
We always start by listening to our retailer's feedback from the previous season so that we are constantly evolving to meet their needs. We work together as a team pulling together research and coming up with ideas for the season ahead. Being London based we are in the heart of art and fashion so we are always looking at what's coming through in the fashion industry to give a modern twist to what we do. Our archive collection is always a point of reference to us too, as a heritage brand is important for us to stay true to the brand DNA.
It is also important to us that every single detail of the dress is considered from the design down to the fabric. We're always looking for inspiration in new fabrications and contemporary laces to create something that looks fresh and unique and feels incredible to wear. Each dress goes through a meticulous fitting process to perfect every single seam.
This season continues the clean, classic handwriting that our stores know and love with little added details that elevate our look. Timeless silhouettes combine with fresh floral details and sophisticated embellishments to create a collection that feels quintessentially British and utterly romantic. We have introduced more lace detailing, offering a softer, modern lace look that fits with our clean, sleek aesthetic. 3D Florals are a big trend for the coming season, so we have some gorgeous new 3D elements coming through.
Lydia, is crafted in a lightweight organza combined with our signature internal construction - she feels fantastic to wear and has a beautiful movement to her skirt. Sophisticated draping on the bodice exposes her corset detailing, whilst her dramatic split makes a true statement. For the bride wanting that real ‘wow’ moment.
Megan’s beauty is in her fabric combination. Luxurious crepe combines with silky soft satin to contour the body, for an hourglass silhouette. Her halterneck is complimented by her statement detachable bow for two looks in one. Pair her with the Aubrie skirt to completely transform your bridal look!
Bexley with our signature internal corset, she is a classic silhouette with a contemporary twist. 3D laser-cut flowers adorn the straps and the neckline to create an eye-catching detail.
Whimsical and light, the 2024 collection continues with the brand's boho luxe feel with soft mocha tones, botanical lace detailing and ethereal and light fabrications. Statement sleeve details and detachable elements continue as a theme for 2024, allowing brides to create their own look. For a bride looking for even more personalisation, we have brand now bridal separates too!
Clover is whimsical and delicate. Her soft mocha undertone brings the lace to life and is complemented by subtle sparkle beading that adorns the lace and neckline. Layers of soft tulle and organza combine to create a skirt that is beautifully light and completes this romantic look. Detachable flutter sleeves make her the perfect choice for a bride wanting two looks in one.
Delilah is a destination dream. In soft, floaty chiffon she is airy and light. Her bodice is sheer to enhance the detail of the lattice lace. She can be worn with a statement blouson sleeve or a delicate beaded strap.
Maisie is our new cool-girl crepe. Clean cut lines and puff sleeves make for effortless glamour. Beauty is in the detail with a pearl-trimmed waist and beaded neckline to complete the look.
Callie brings together our clean city look with modern lace detailing. Offering the elements of a sheath dress on a more relaxed silhouette - she is the perfect mix of sexy and sophisticated.
What are you feeling excited about in the coming year?
We are so excited to connect with our lovely retailers at Bridal Week and to continue building new relationships throughout the season! We have already begun working on our 2025 collections and we cannot wait to share everything we have been working on.
What’s your favourite gown in the new collection and ever?!
Lydia is a definite favourite from our new season Ellis! She is fun, lightweight and has already caught the attention of lots of our stockists. In all-time favourite would be our 1950's style tea-length dress ‘collection - a true hit with brides and stores!
To find out more and to enquire about stocking Ellis Bridals in your boutique:
Call 0208 888 8833 Follow @ellisbridals Email email@example.com
See the latest collection at ellisbridals.co.uk
Visit the team at the Harrogate Bridal Show - 10-12th September 2023
Ellis Bridals: Stand KS1 / Kelsey Rose: Stand KS6