Last month, we were incredibly lucky to be able to catch up with Hannah Ollichon – the head designer and founder of House of Ollichon, “the first dress-less bridal collection” in the world of wedding fashion. A highly competitive industry, Hannah carved herself a niche corner of the market when she launched House of Ollichon in 2015 as a company that exclusively produces bridal separates – a brave move in an industry that is often slow to change.
And yet the gamble absolutely paid off, and three years on, business has boomed – and a trend that many were originally sceptical of has completely blossomed, leaving Hannah and her team very busy! We spoke to her about her motivation behind creating such a unique company, and her experiences over the past few years, so read on to discover more (and to get a sneak peek at the latest looks!)…
1. What was it about the idea of bridal separates and suits that attracted you over the traditional dress? Why did you choose to pursue this style?
When I got engaged I knew I wanted an outfit that pushed my bridal boundaries. To me, the ‘wow’ factor wasn’t about the volume of the skirt, the amount of tulle or the bling of the diamanté. It was about wearing something unexpected and being brave enough to embrace wearing what I wanted rather than the traditional stereotype. Sadly, I failed. After months and months of hunting, I ended up wearing the most bog-standard outfit as I couldn’t find what I was looking for. So, when I created House of Ollichon I decided to ditch the dress completely and offer women fresh designs that I was so desperate to find for myself.
2. Can you tell us a little more about the design process, and how you get from a sketch to a finished product?
I actually started with thinking about all of the special women in my life and creating a non-traditional bridal piece for each of them; their characters, their curves, their attitudes, their boobs, you name it. From there the sketches came and the fabric hunt commenced. We worked night and day on patterns, fabrics choices, design tweaks, the inevitable trouble shooting (from shrinking fabrics to dodgy suppliers!) and after lots of trial and error (and tears!) the sampling process was complete. We had created the first and only dress-less bridal collection and it was ready to launch!
3. How has your brand developed and progressed since you started up in 2015?
It’s been a busy and challenging three years but I am so happy with where we are right now. It takes time to create and evolve a brand in this incredibly talented and creative market place. Winning ‘Best Newcomer’ at the British Wedding awards in 2016 was a huge boost and our loyal following of real brides and that invaluable word of mouth has been incredibly effective. We’ve also grown in confidence, I now realise actually HOW many women want to hear ‘just be a special version of your normal self’ rather than be wedged into a big white meringue! I’m hoping that my biggest goal; to become the ‘go-to’ collection for alternative bridal wear is just on the horizon.
4. What kind of client do you usually attract with your designs? Do you have a particular kind of bride in mind whilst you are working?
Our biggest demographic by far is quite simply the fashion-forward bride who doesn’t want a big dress; she wants to dance like crazy, walk in a field without getting a dirty hem, be comfy and free (i.e. eat, drink, be merry and wee alone!). We have lots of brides who are getting married for the second time and feel like they want a modern day design far from their previous outfit. We are also very popular with same-sex couples. There’s such a stereotype that lesbian couples end up in a structured suit and a big dress but we experience the opposite; they want to complement each other and for their outfits to work in harmony together and I love being able to provide that for them.
5. What is the best experience/memory that you have had with a bride during the last four years?
Gosh so many but one that really pulls on the heart string was Finola. Fin’s Mum was very very poorly and Fin’s wedding was a race against time in the hope that her Mum could see her walk down the aisle. Her Mum was so sick I went to their family home and did Fin’s fitting there so that her Mum could experience a part of the outfit process with her. Fin’s Mum made the wedding day and saw her beautiful daughter marry the man of her dreams but sadly passed away two weeks later. Still makes my eyes prickle.
6. Your designs are very unique within the bridal fashion industry – is there any other designer or brand that inspires you?
I adore Daughters of Simone and Inbal Dror but they’re so different it’s more ‘wedding dress porn’ than inspiration for my own designs!
7. And to finish with a really difficult one – what is the piece that you are most proud of?
I think it has to be the Drakeford culottes. When I designed them I had two or three very experienced fashionistas tell me that it was a silly idea and people wouldn’t like them but brides-to-be adore them! They’re such fun and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.
A huge thank you to Hannah for taking the time to speak with us about her company, and we hope you’ve been influenced to try something a little different for your bridal look. Bridal separates are going to keep getting more and more popular, so make sure you keep an eye out for the latest looks – particularly from the fabulous team who have been there since the very start! For more details about House of Ollichon, head over to their website, or check out their brilliant Instagram page for more inspiration!