Stockist Spotlight: Elizabeth Malcolm



  Could you please take a moment to introduce yourself to my readers who may not have come across your brand before….
I'm Lizzie Malcolm and I own Elizabeth Malcolm, a couture bridalwear label, with a boutique in the market town of Belper, Derbyshire. We offer a purely bespoke servicewhere all gowns are designed and manufactured for each individual bride.
A bride can come into the boutique and either choose from our extensive range of handcrafted wedding gowns made from fine silks, satins, French Chantilly lace and Swarovski crystals.  Or they can have the ultimate in luxury couture and have theirdream wedding dress designed and handmade to their exact specifications.

All of our bridal gowns are designed
 and handmade, exclusively by us, right here in Derbyshire, and are not available through any other outlets anywhere in the world.
  When did Elizabeth Malcolm get started as a business and what were the main ideas behind setting the business up?
To say that owning my own bridal boutique was always the goal would be an understatement. As a child I was given second hand wedding dresses to play with and twirl in and thus began my love for bridalwear. I was always a creative childpreferring drawing and painting to any academic subject, so I knew that when I grew up I couldn’t just sit in an office all day.
A surprise gift one birthday of a sewing machine, and a costume module in my Theatre Studies A-level, had me well away sewing bits and pieces. Creating my own clothes came soon after.
The next step was a degree in Fashion Studies. I focussed on bridalwear throughout my studies, and for my final collection I created a 1930s inspired bridalwear collection. I then went on to complete over a year of work experience at various bridalshops and manufacturers, one being Phillipa Lepley, one of the UK’s leading couture bridalwear designers.
Having left my seamstress job in April 2014 I took the plunge to start up my own boutique with my own designs. Having found the perfect location, Derwentside Shopping Mill, I had my unit renovated and we set about creating my vision of what I wanted the boutique to look and feel like. 
I was passionate about creating a beautiful, relaxed space where every bride feels comfortable to try on as many dresses as they like and not to feel embarrassed to come up with their own ideas of the perfect dress.  We take one to one appointmentsclose our doors and produce the ideal environment for the bride to choose her perfect dress.
  Why did you decide to concentrate your efforts on the wedding industry?
To see a bride’s face light up when she finds that truly perfect dress that exceeds anything she could have ever imagined is so special to me and makes me feel that I have the best job in the world!  I wouldn’t want to work in any other industry!
  Could you give us an idea of where you find the inspiration behind your work?
I find inspiration everywhere I look, but most of my inspiration comes from the brides themselves!  When creating a dress for someone, I find their perfect shape first, whether it be a fish tail where the flair starts at the knee, or a trumpet style where the flair of the skirt stars further up the thigh. We then look at the neckline to choose maybe a sweetheart neckline or a boat neck? These factors are all what form the foundation for every dress, and what can essentially take a dress from, “Oh, that’s a nice dress” to “Wow that dress is stunning!”
When creating new samples, it’s the fabric that dictates how the gown will look. I can have many designs ready to be made, but when I start draping the fabric on a tailor’s dummy, the dress can take on a completely different shape. I need to work out the adornments, pinning different motifs, laces and silk flowers to the gown, all the while keeping the whole dress in mind.  Sometimes the smallest thing totally transforms a dress and it’s these details that I concentrate on to add that extra special handmade touch.
  Do you have any advice for brides when choosing their wedding gown?
The single most important piece of advice I could give to a bride would be not to worry if you don’t know what you want when you start looking for wedding dresses.  Be open-minded and don’t be afraid to try on as many dresses as possible! All dresses look different on the hanger and you might have an idea of what you like, try it on and be amazed at how different it looks on you.
Most of my clients come to me having seen a couple of wedding magazines and saying that they don’t know what style will work best for them.  So we sit and chat over a coffee and I get to know them before they even try on the dresses.  Together we work out the correct style for that person and from then on the process is much easier.
I would also suggest coming either on your own or with just one other trusted personfor your first appointment.  Lots of different opinions can get very confusing and stressful which is really counter productiveOnce you have found the gowns you like feel free to bring others along to your future appointments, but remember the choice is down to you, so trust your own instincts and follow your heart! 

  Which designs in your collection are your favourites and why would you choose these pieces over others?
I adore my Rose gown with matching veil. The fabric is a delicate porcelain satin with Silk chiffon gathers across the bodice. French lace is appliquéd onto the bodice and cascades down into the full circle skirt. Adorned with Swaroski crystals giving a little sparkle, and adding the final touch, a dusky pink silk flower sits on the satin belt. 
To me Rose has everything a wedding dress should have, beautiful lace, a girly flower and drama in the skirt.
I also really like my new sample Olivia. This dress is based on the extremely popular Fleur, a strapless tea length gown. The chiffon overlay is made even more beautifulby my favourite French lace appliquéd on to it. It is simple, elegant and the lace is a stunning bonus.
  What is the best thing about your job as a bridal wear designer?
I adore literally making brides dreams come true. I love going through the process of discussing, and sketching ideas, finding the right fabrics and accents to adorn the gown, then following the process through to make it into a reality. I am honoured every time a bride chooses me to create their gown.
  What are you hoping to achieve in the next 12 months?
It’s very hard to say where I expect to be in 12 months because as the orders come in prioritising workload is very important.  I don’t want to take on more work than I can handle because I promise to never compromise quality and always aim to surpass the bride’s expectations.  Hopefully I will be creating even more beautiful gowns for my lovely brides, and expanding the boutique a little with more collections.  If I’m doing that in 12 months time I will be very happy!
  Setting up any new business can be a challenging experience. What is the best business advice you have ever received? Do you have any words of wisdom yourself for fellow suppliers looking to set up their own stores?
I would recommend that you be certain that you have something unique to offer your customers because that is the key secret to my success.  I offer a truly bespoke service at an affordable price, which is something that none of my competitors can match.  Most of my clients come from word of mouth recommendations so being unique is very important.
One last piece of advice would be to go for it!  There is no time like the present and I can say that despite all the hard work, starting my business was the best decision I have ever made!


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