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WINterview / Wendy Makin

So 2023 marks Wendy Makin being in business for 30 years! Conceived in 1993 in Brisbane, Australia, the label now boasts outlets across Australia, New Zealand and the UK and has a very enthusiastic following in the US. Renowned for its core Ready To Wear Collection, not to mention the coveted French Collection by Wendy Makin - beloved by brides for destination weddings – the brand is known for its quality craftsmanship and features that give its gowns a fabulous fit and feel. As we head to Harrogate next month to catch up with the brilliant people behind the brand, we spent a few minutes with Wendy finding out more…

Why bridal?

From childhood, I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I joined a fashion house right out of school that created various styles, including bridal wear, it was an enlightening experience. But it was bridal design that truly resonated with me. The intricate details, the scope for creativity. Bridal design allowed me to push my creativity further.


What’s your earliest memory of fashion design?

I was sewing when I was six, making little pieces with my hands. So I guess that was the beginning then.


What do you do when you’re not working?

I love to travel. when I’m not working I’m researching and planning where I want to travel. It’s not just about discovering new places but about discovering new inspiration. Every time I step into a new city or country, it’s like opening a treasure chest of ideas. Travel really helps me broaden my creative mind.


Do you keep sketches of all of your designs?

Absolutely! I’m an unabashed hoarder, I keep everything. Each sketch tells a story, preserving memories and milestones and I cherish them all.

Do you have a signature style?

My signature is simple, stylish elegance. Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly are my style muses so I like to design gowns they would want to wear.


What does your bride look like?

It's like trying to capture the essence of a chameleon. Each bride is distinct, with her own flair and character. My designs aim to cater to this vast spectrum. From the boho-chic bride to the classic romantic, the Wendy Makin bride could be anyone who seeks elegance with a touch of uniqueness.

If you were getting married in the UK next year, where would the wedding be, and what would you wear?

Im split between the calm of the countryside where I grew up and the vibrant buzz of the city where I live, a duality that's always been part of my life. I love the idea of having two types of wedding that reflect my personality and love for both. For the first wedding, I'd envision a laid-back barn setting, harmonising with nature. The ambience would be relaxed like a fete, and the perfect dress would be easy-going, like the 'Cassis' from my '22 French Collection. The detailed 3D flower bodice paired with a soft A-line skirt would encapsulate the day's mood perfectly.


For the city wedding, I think a sophisticated but low-key town hall ceremony, followed by a trendy restaurant reception with good food and close friends. Here, the vibe is going to be more contemporary and fashion forward. I'd love to wear a short, fun, and flirty dress, like 'Lexi' from my upcoming collection, embracing the city's lively spirit.

Have you ever walked the catwalk?

Indeed, during my school days, I was a part-time model, both catwalk and photographic. Even once I transitioned to design, I still modelled for the fashion house I was working for; it's a great way of understanding how a garment should feel and move.


Which boutiques stock you in the UK?

Eden Wedding Boutique, Penrith - @edenweddingboutique

Kudos Bridal, Edinburgh - @kudosedinburgh

Lavender & Jude, Suffolk - @lavenderjude

Olive Blossom, Hampshire - @oliveblossombridal

Willow & Wilde, Rossendale - @willowandwildebridal

Natalya James, Wellingborough - @natalyajamesbridal

Harveys of Ramsey, Cambridgeshire - @harveysoframsey

The Bridal Studio, Helston, Cornwall - @thebridalstudiohelston

Yes Bridal Studio, Derbyshire - @yes_bridal_studio

Reflections Bridal, Kelso, Borders - @reflections.bridal


What makes a good bridal boutique great?

Product knowledge, empathy and understanding. it's about building relationships. It’s the consultants who can empathise, who can truly hear what a bride is saying, then use their knowledge and expertise to guide her, not just sell to her. I enjoy working in my boutique as well as in my retailers' stores and these are the values I adhere to and what I advise my consultants to be and do. It's about creating an experience, not just a transaction.


What makes you unique, and successful – what is your USP?

My simple elegant look and the meticulous cut and fit of my gowns truly set them apart. Every bride deserves to feel comfortable and breathtaking, and I ensure that happens.

Whose accessories complement your designs the best?

Simplicity is key. Accessories should elevate the bride, not overshadow her. It’s about subtle enhancements like a pearl headpiece to match pearl buttons on the back or cuff of the dress. Similarly, a crystal veil that extends just to the train's edge can echo the dress's beadwork, creating a synchronised look. The magic is in these nuanced touches that elevate the entire look without overshadowing it.


Please give us the complete low-down on your latest collection – the inspiration, the process, the plan.

My new collection continues my signature looks with a few choice experimental ideas included. I have a new design in a floral fabric which I became known for and pioneered some years ago. I have continued with plainer fabrics like Mikado but have introduced a beautiful satin organza into this collection. Crepes still feature heavily as well. I’ve also continued my theme of sleeves including a 'Cold' sleeve look, cuffed sleeves and I have introduced a couple of gowns with detachable sleeves. My French Collection carries its surprises this season with exposed-boned bodices, capes, and overdresses, adding layers of depth to the designs.

An exclusive peek at the Savannah gown from the upcoming 2024 collection


What are you feeling excited about in the coming year?

I’m excited to see what new styles develop. 2024 feels like a canvas waiting to be painted with fresh ideas and styles. I enjoy my retail boutique and the insights I get from it – hearing from brides about their wishes for what they want to wear inspires me greatly. I think something that will develop further is the second reception – a less formal or short gown that we’ve had in the collections for a couple of years now.


What’s your favourite gown firstly in the new collection and secondly, ever!

Oh, this is a tough one, that’s like choosing your favourite child! Looking back, my heart still holds a special place for my first award-winning gown, 'Audrey', named after and inspired by the legendary Audrey Hepburn. As for this collection, while each dress is close to my heart, the satin organza 'Savannah' gown is one I’m especially proud of.

Audrey by Wendy Makin


To find out more and to enquire about stocking Wendy Makin in your boutique:

Contact James, uksales@wendymakin.co.uk / 07802 939442

See the latest collection at www.wendymakin.com

Visit the team on stand Q31 at the Harrogate Bridal Show - 10-12th September 2023



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