Jenny Packham is one of the biggest names in fashion, with an international business that crosses all sectors. We talked to her about her bridesmaids’ collection – a collaboration with Dessy Group – that brings her magical label within reach of a huge audience
Did you always have a passion for fashion, even as a young girl?
I have always wanted to design and create beautiful pieces for special moments and I was very influenced by cinematic fashion as a child.
I like statement dressing and to play a part in someone’s history and such a special day is a real honour. To create a garment that makes a woman feel elegant and confident, is both my greatest pleasure and challenge.
When did bridal loom large in your life – was there any special reason or event that introduced it?
Our first bridal collection launched back in 1997, after many brides had been requesting versions of our evening gowns in ivory. At the time, beautiful ballgowns were very much in vogue and our design aesthetic transformed the bridal industry.
Are you involved today in every collection that carries your name and every piece that carries your label? What aspect of design gives you the most pleasure?
Absolutely, I love the entire process from delving into the collection’s inspiration to my initial sketch, sourcing fabrics and embellishments, to seeing the final look in the atelier.
Do you get the same thrill today as you did when you first started?
I most definitely do! I work with a very creative and passionate team, and together, we are always looking to keep the collections exciting, innovative and breathtaking.
I love seeing our customers and brides wearing my designs. Elle and Dakota Fanning recently wore our powder-blue bridesmaids gowns to a wedding in Los Angeles – they looked wonderful!
Occasionwear, bridal, accessories are all under the very beautiful JP belt… when did you move into bridesmaids?
Designing bridalwear is one of my greatest pleasures and to extend the signature Jenny Packham design aesthetic to create a beautiful, elegant bridesmaids’ collection is so exciting. We started conversations with Dessy in 2017 and the first collection launched in 2018. Both accessible and contemporary, the synergies between the two brands made it the perfect partnership and I greatly enjoy collaborating with the Dessy team.
Do you find that today’s maids are different to those of say, ten years ago, and what constitutes those differences?
Brides’ styles have definitely changed over the years – I love looking through the archive and seeing how the designs have evolved and how certain trends seem to come back into fashion. I think that there is now a lot more variety and that brides have become more trend-led with bridesmaids’ styles. It is becoming increasingly popular to have a larger bridal party and so brides are opting for different styles, colours and silhouettes for their bridesmaids.
How many collections a year do you focus on for bridesmaids, and how many styles are there in each?
I design two collections a year, one each season each around eight pieces.
Any new colours for the new season?
This season, I love the blush pink, buttercup yellow, celadon green and mist-blue hues – perfect for a spring/summer wedding.
Is today’s bride giving her ladies-in-waiting a free hand with picking styles and colours?
I am sure every bride is different! think it is important for bridesmaids to try lots of different silhouettes and styles until they find the one that makes them feel wonderful and that the bride loves.
Given it was your decision, and a party of five maids, would you have them perfectly matched in terms of style and colour, or mixed in a posy of different looks?
I love the idea of mixing different silhouettes, colours and fabrics.
What have you found are the most popular colours and silhouettes in the bridesmaids’ collection?
JP1101 in midnight blue is one of our best-selling gowns and features a lace bodice with embellished waisbelt and crepe skirt – perfect for the fashion-forward bride to choose for the attendants.
Apart for your design expertise, what has put you up there, top of the tree in fashion?
When we started the brand in 1988, we wanted to create something niche and to excel at it and these values remain integral to our designs today.
What comes next in the JP story….
London will always be home but we are focusing on international expansion. In January, we opened the Jenny Packham Apartment in Paris. Located in the 8th Arrondisement, the apartment is by appointment only and offers an exclusive edit of eveningwear and bridal collections. Last year we opened our first Chinese store in Beijing, following with Shanghai in April, and in the same month, we are closing Shanghai Fashion Week. This year will be about travel and launching more Jenny Packham flagships stores.