WE LOVE: Hermione de Paula
 
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Hermione de Paula has been referred to as the “White Witch of wedding dresses”. Her dresses embody a world in which the exotic and the magical meets the traditional English rose country garden to create something entirely unique, enchanting and elegant, a hallmark that has underpinned her artful aesthetic from the beginning. Hermione de Paula promises a world of exquisite dresses, lingerie and swimwear, all made by heart and by hand with the highest quality fabrics. This is luxury bridal couture done to perfection. With respect to the environment and an oath to quality, HdP offers one-off pieces to cherish forever. 
 
LL: How did Hermione de Paula come into being, what’s the story behind it?
Hermione: I graduated from Central Saint Martins with a 1st class degree in Fashion and Print, launching the label in 2008 after time gaining experience at Christian Dior Couture, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Giles. Since then, our vivid prints, illustrations and embroideries have leapt from simply the realms of ready-to-wear into multiple lifestyle categories with a renewed focus on couture bridal.
 
Hermione de Paula Bridal debuted in summer 2013 after the first launch of our embroidered evening wear gowns from the previous season sparked a dear friend to ask if we would consider making her wedding gown. I loved the sentimentality of creating heirloom works of wearable art and the overwhelming creative reward that brings. After a whirlwind year of word-of-mouth bespoke bridal creations and recommendations, which saw the launch of our bridal designs full time in 2015 with a now ever-growing botanical library of creations, offering multiple tiers of service.
 
LL: What makes and keeps HdP unique?
Hermione: With a modern approach and an eye with an edge when it comes to the world of the wedding dress, a Hermione de Paula bridal gown is like no other. Romantic surrealism combined with traditional florals with a look-closer approach, elaborate hand-drawn artworks and embroideries are always at the heart of our work. Lovingly designed with the bride, each piece is an entirely individual and personal work of art. The dress is designed for you: it tells your story and you will be the only one in the world to wear your unique creation, with no two dresses ever the same.  Specific details and design notes such as secret messages, names and dates created just for you make your gown magically unique and full of romantic sentiment to tell the story of your love and relationship on your wedding day. A Hermione de Paula gown will be a wonderful talking piece on the day as you reveal the secrets woven in to your guests and family over a glass of champagne. Our favourite messages are ones that make people laugh and smile, bringing even more joy to the celebration of their life.

LL: From where, who or when do you seek inspiration?
Hermione: A memory, a dream, an adventure or tale. For my collections I take notes in the form of florals and foliage, keeping a pressed flower dairy from all my travels and experiences. Even in-between my passport pages you’ll find flowers pressed between the old ticket stubs from previous boarding passes! For my bespoke creations inspiration always comes from the bride herself, a muse if you will, studying her strength and femininity and capturing her beauty within and out. The unique love story between her and her partner, or a sentimental landscape they treasure between them. The flowers her mother once grew in the garden she played in as a child, the florals that represent a scent to a cherished place, time or fantasy. Each story told becomes the seed of inspiration.
 
LL: What qualities does the quintessential HdP bride possess?
Hermione: "I will not be a flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget” - Erin Van Vuren
Our brides are fellow lovers of the creative arts. We all share a love for looking into something to find the true meaning and unraveling something to understand it's concept or what makes it tick. A philosophical not scientific approach to defining something which doesn't necessarily exist. It exists further then the physicality - it's about creating an emotional connection and a lasting memory. Our dresses go beyond material beauty. All of our brides have a wonderful sense of humour; they are free spirited, adventurous and fun loving.
 
LL: What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in creating and preserving your brand?
Hermione: To be yourself and not worry about what other designers are doing or making. We don’t look and quite frankly we do not have time to. We have experienced many copy cats who have tried to steal our designs and aesthetic. They unashamedly write on our Instagram about how they will copy our work - they have even tried to copy our campaign look book. However, each of our dresses is unique and the brand comes from our personal intimate relationships, care and sensitivity with our clients – we hide so much love into the embroidery with secret messages and personal touches that only my team and the bride and who she wishes to share with would ever know about – you can’t copy a shared sense of spirit, and the heart and soul and energy that goes into each dress. We believe you have to nourish to flourish and that's how we approach building the brand. We are proud of our client relationships and the the unique bonds we create. I’ve met so many kindred spirits and become wonderful friends with many of our girls and some with be friends for life. We made not only a work of art together in the form of a dress but also a friendship was born. I’ve been on holidays with my old brides and often meet up for coffees with others, yoga and craft evenings such as floristry workshops and ceramic making. It's lovely!
 
LL: What would be your advice for someone seeking the perfect dress, outfit or items for their special day?
Hermione: "Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others" - Jonathan Swift
Its not just about how you look on your special day but it is just as importantly about how you feel and the memories you will treasure forever from wearing it. Our creations are designed to captivate and represent the best version of the bride, her true self, enhancing her beauty and confidence.  Traditionally brides can often be forced into wearing something that feels very stiff and rigid and they don’t feel comfortable in, not only physically but also emotionally as its not what they would choose to wear, perhaps the style of dress has been imposed by family or her in-laws for example. We will always try to find the balance between keeping ‘Mum happy’ and also illuminating our bride's personal style and representing her character on her big day. Exquisite lightweight embroideries and soft fine fabrics make our gowns comfortable to wear, drink, eat, and dance the night away in. They have been created to have fun in. Whether it took 8 months, 18 months, 2 years or longer to design and make, we’d love nothing more than to hear that the gown ended up sprinkled in a little champagne and has a dusting of summer grass stains from frolicking with the wildflowers and dancing in the fields with her loved ones until dawn. After all, we are perfectionists and every last bead is agonised over until the moment she walks down the aisle to meet her man…and then all we care about is she lets go, relaxes, and has the time of her life wearing it.

 Hermione de Paula by Rachel Hayton Photography

Hermione de Paula by Rachel Hayton Photography

 Image on the left by M&J Photography and image on the right by Rachel Hayton Photography

Image on the left by M&J Photography and image on the right by Rachel Hayton Photography

 Hermione de Paula by Emily White Photography

Hermione de Paula by Emily White Photography

Liz Linkleter
TUSCANY WEDDING VENUES
 
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We love weddings in Tuscany. There are hundreds of special and unique venues in this stunningly beautiful part of Italy, each with its own charm. We are always drawn to old-world spaces with authenticity and character - spaces with a sense of. Here are some of the best wedding venues in Tuscany.


STUNNING VIEWS

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Villa Le Fontanelle

Set in the Tuscan hills with amazing views of Florence, this villa was originally a peasant farm, before passing through the ownership of several different families, including the Medicis. The romantic look of the gardens as they are now was created by Sir John Francis Sloane, in the gothic style. Now it’s a beautifully decorated, warm and welcoming villa that hosts spectacular weddings. Your closest friends and family can all stay with you on-site, and there are several different indoor and outdoor spaces for every element of your day. But it’s the views of Florence that are the reason this one is extra special and highly recommended.

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ROMANTIC

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Castello di Vincigliata

An incredible historic castle in the Tuscan hills, dating back as far as 1031, and restored in 1840 by Sir John Temple after falling into rack and ruin, a process that took ten years and a team of eighty people. Today the castle continues in Sir John’s spirit, acting as a centre of social and cultural gatherings, and is one of Tuscany’s best wedding venues – it has everything, including its own ghost Bianca, a former resident whose spirit allegedly still walks the halls. It’s also a great option for the colder months as it has beautiful interior rooms furnished with antiques and paintings. Getting married here really is like stepping back in time.

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MODERN

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Locanda Rosso

This is a small but perfectly formed boutique hotel by the sea in Tuscany, a former farmhouse with twelve on-site bedrooms for guests. The venue is decorated with modern art and has a smart, clean and contemporary feel, and a real sense of understated luxury. This has a different feel to your typical wedding venue in Tuscany and has been really beautifully and considerately refurbished.

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DRAMA

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Abbey of San Galgano

This is an incredible setting for a wedding ceremony, although you would need to find a villa close by to host your reception. Totally open air, this old ruin of the abbey of San Galgano offers one of the most stunning, dramatic and romantic settings to say your vows of anywhere we can think of. Located about 25 miles from Siena, it was built in 1324, but began to decline in the 15th century, with the vaults and the steeple falling to the ground in the 18th century. It now provides an amazing backdrop for a wedding ceremony in Tuscany and needs very little dressing to make it feel magical. 

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 CHARM

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Locanda Dell’Amorosa

An ancient 14th century hamlet turned luxury four star hotel, Locanda Dell’Amorosa now offers a restaurant, vineyard and swimming pool, with several beautiful yet low key spaces to host a wedding. Located near Siena, it’s absolutely charming and full of Tuscan character and history. Your guests can take over this little village exclusively, giving you total freedom and privacy.

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If you are looking for the perfect wedding venue in Tuscany, please get in touch to ask about our full wedding planning or venue search services.

Liz Linkleter
WE LOVE: Lucy Says I Do
 
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British-based design studio Lucy Says I Do is a delight when it comes to personalised stationary and accessories. Focused on thoughtful design, playful patterns and illustration Lucy's hand-crafted creations are the perfect embellishment to a special occasion.

Chosen by some of the best wedding and event planners in the UK and around the world, Lucy Says I Do also create delightful bespoke and custom-made designs specialising in hand-drawn illustration. A lovely avenue to explore on the wedding planning checklist, you can click here to see more about their bespoke ranges.

Lucy Says I Do collections span a number of themes including Cinema, Indian Summer, Tropical, Secret Garden and many more; see some of our favourite collections below.

 Danish Porcelain

Danish Porcelain

 Floral Folk

Floral Folk

 Mandala

Mandala

 Retro

Retro

 Secret GArden

Secret GArden

 Tropical

Tropical

Sophie James
WE LOVE: Moda Operandi x Cabana A/W 17
 
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Cabana Magazine have designed an exclusive Autumn/Winter 2017 collection of stunning tableware especially for Moda Operandi. With vibrant pops of colour, playful patterns and alluring textures, Martina Sartogo has designed impeccable homeware with delicacy and consideration to create chic and timeless pieces. 

Interviewed about hosting the perfect party or event, Sartogo tells Moda that it's all about making 'everyone feel at home.' She goes on to explain that 'we tell stories with images, details, colours, textures and patterns' which is highly fitting for this beautiful A/W homeware.

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Cabana has been likened 'to a well-dressed home what Vogue is to a well-dressed woman'. Simultaneously classic and modern, the tableware pieces are gorgeous, delicate and diverse. Indeed the popularity of the collection speaks for itself - nearly all of it has now sold out online. Admire this tasteful and inspiring homeware over on the Moda site here.


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Sophie James
INSPIRATION: The Wedding Gallery
 
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A first of its kind concept store has landed in central London. Spread across two floors at the former-church One Marylebone, The Wedding Gallery is the world's first luxury destination for wedding planning and inspiration. The newly opened 20,000 sq ft department store housed in the landmark building promises industry experts and boutique suppliers to enable a relaxing, creative environment to plan the special day. 

With an extensive list of quality brands hosted under this iconic roof, The Wedding Gallery is a destination for all aspects and details of your perfect day, from venues, catering and styling to candles, cakes, balloons and perfumes. The Wedding Gallery also houses a salon dedicated to the health and wellness of both bride and groom, as well as hair and make-up.

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Becoming a member of 'The Club' at The Wedding Gallery offers access to a café/bar and events including wine tastings and exclusive product launches, acting as a hub for sourcing expertise ahead of your dream day. Cosmopolitan have cited it as a bride-to-be's paradise and a one-stop shop for all things relating to wedding planning.

Visits can be made by appointment, either with a focus on styling or consultations for event planning.  There's currently an option to book a complimentary First Look introduction session if you're keen to test the waters. Click here for further info.


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Sophie James
WE LOVE: Top Event Spaces in Amsterdam
 
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As one of the world’s leading cultural and historical hotbeds, Amsterdam’s appeal goes beyond coffee shops and the Red Light. Amongst its famous canals are some captivating hotels hosting highly unique creative event spaces, exceptional design features, and alternative architecture that promises to set you up in quirky decadence in the Dutch capital. We pick 3 of the finest.


Andaz Prinsengracht

Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht

Not your average luxury hotel, the Andaz is well-known for operating 5-stars all around the world and incorporating the local culture into its interior design. It’s clear time is taken in curating the finer details and Andaz Prinsengracht is no exception. Enjoy novel wallpaper in the loo detailing the history of the canals circa 1700s, multimedia & modern art planted throughout, and complimentary wine in the lobby during the evenings.

On the doorstep of the centrally-located Prinsengracht canal, the Andaz is a stone’s throw from the city’s main attractions and lesser known ones, such as the gorgeous galleries of the Jordaan district and the vintage market of Waterlooplein, so you can experience the city's vibrancy as well as sanctuary.

Visit Andaz site here.

Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht Room

Crane Hotel Faralda

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The NDSM district of Amsterdam is renowned for housing the city’s creatives. Packed with graffiti art, bars, cafés and hidden restaurants, it is also home to the famously secretive Crane Hotel Faralda. Born from a restored industrial shipyard crane, this high-end hotel has insane room views at 50 metres in height, and a panoramic events space 9 metres off the ground playing host to private events, live music, broadcasts and product launches.

The room suites tower in the sky spanning two floors each, equipped with their own espresso machines, free-standing bathtubs, walk-in shower, velvet drapes, and a Sonus sound system so you can take over the suite with your chosen ambience as the city dazzles below. The panoramic views from the open-air jacuzzi acts as the cherry on top of the kraan. This is one of the most unique venue spaces in Europe, which needs to be seen to be believed.

Visit Crane Hotel Faralda site here.

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Grand Hotel Amrâth

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For something a little more conventional but still out of the ordinary, the Amrâth puts an art-deco spin on nautical excellence. An impressive stained-glass foyer welcomes you into a converted historical maritime building. The rooms are mysterious to navigate in a maze of wooden corridors - you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you do. The height of the ceilings of this old shipping house, coupled with the king size bed and king size bath, 5-star staff and extensive choice of cocktails will keep satisfaction levels high whether for a wedding reception or a weekend away.

The crème de la crème of the Amrath is its basement spa featuring a gym, steam room, pool, sauna, jacuzzi and even a plunge pool. Within walking distance from Centraal station and with fabulous private function rooms, this covert gem will not disappoint.

Visit Grand Hotel Amrâth site here.


Sophie James