Aria Bridal UK’s aim is to create unique, customised and affordable bridal gowns using sustainable materials:
For brides who dare to be different!
Aria Bridal UK was created by me, Helen O’Sullivan, after I made my own wedding dresses for my “barefoot woodland festival” style wedding in the summer of 2016. As a kaleidoscope-wearing, rainbow-loving purple-haired designer (and part-time textiles teacher) I found there was nothing out there which reflected my personality and my strong sustainability ethics so I made both (yes, I had two!) of my wedding dresses myself. Not long after my wedding I soon realised there was a whole world of fellow “anti-brides” out there that wanted something different to the traditional white wedding. Now I design and create custom made gowns in collaboration with unique brides from my home-based studio in South Wales, UK. The custom made nature of my designs means brides get to create their “dream dress” no matter how crazy or out there, in fact I love the challenge!
Here I am in my studio…(I also painted that Jimi Hendrix painting!)
I also believe all brides should be able to express themselves and have a dress that reflects their unique personality so I offer the option of dip dyeing designs free of charge and I can also create rainbow dyed dresses to really make a statement on your special day.
Here I am creating the infamous bamboo rainbow dress in the sunshine!…
I only use responsibly sourced sustainable materials which are either organically grown such as hemp, bamboo and organic silks and cotton lace or reclaimed such as vintage or upcycled materials, even the threads I use are GOTS certified! Another sustainable point is I can even transform your gown after your big day so you can wear it again and again! Aria Bridal UK is also a finalist in the 2018 Sustainable Academy Awards in the category of best “Sustainable Business” in Wales! How bloody exciting! Please see my Sustainability page for more information and a transparency supply chain map.
I have over 15 years of design and technical experience working as a designer, pattern cutter and garment technologist for a range of mainstream/high street, corporate and sustainable fashion labels. Therefore I am able to draw on my vast technical experience to create a wide range of styles from beautifully structured corset fishtail gowns to floaty bohemian styles, and everything in between! Previously I was a founding member of the Ethical Fashion Forum‘s Fellowship 500, Source Directory and the Fair Wear Foundation. I am now a founding member of the Common Objective, putting 10 years of EFF work into practice.
As a part-time teacher I now continue to design part-time for the love of making, not driven by huge profits and that is why Aria Bridal UK dresses are affordable to all. However, as I work 8 days a fortnight as a secondary school teacher I need to ensure I have a sustainable work life balance and it may be a few days between communication etc. I also no longer offer home visits to you, you will need to come to my studio, as is usual practice at bridal shops.
- We have an initial consultation to arrange the style of dress you require, this is usually via email with you sending a collection of images which inspire you. Or if you have a specific idea/sketch you could send that. People often send images saying “I like the shape of dress A but want the train of Dress B and sleeves of Dress C” etc.
- I will then calculate an approximate cost (not including additional details added later) and require a 25% deposit (non refundable) before any work commences.
- I create a mood board of potential designs using images you send to me and a final design (or two).
- I create a basic block pattern and a toile based on your measurements, which you provide (see my how to video on the website).
- We arrange a meeting in person for you to come to my studio to try on the toile and finalise a design marking this onto the toile.
- Your final pattern is produced.
- Your final gown is made and it is around this time I ask for the remaining balance of 75% (once your dress is manufactured no refunds are possible if you change your mind, due to the custom nature of designs).
- You have a fitting (again at my studio) to see if any alterations are required.
- The finished gown is delivered/collected.
- NOTE: The remaining balance (75%) must be paid AT LEAST 4 weeks before collection/delivery of the gown.
NOTES: Due to limited storage space at my home based studio I usually ask for the dress to be collected/delivered as soon as possible once it is made, any alterations later due to weight loss/gain can be arranged but may incur an additional cost if it is a lot different to the original size. For this reason many people usually work with me over a couple of months and have their dress a long time ahead of their big day (also helps with planning wedding decorations etc) or we can start work at a later date and complete it just before. Whichever you prefer, if you opt for the later date then it may be many months after the first quote to actually starting on your dress. I prioritise work on a first come first served basis so please bear this in mind.
To help you measure yourself or the person measuring you correctly I have created this video on YouTube.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me via email or social media….
Here’s a little more about my design background:
“I have worked for over 15 years as a designer, technologist, design team leader and education leader for a wide range of fashion companies from high street fast fashion at Arcadia to corporate wear to designer sustainable fashion labels such as TRAIDremade. I am also a designer member of the Ethical Fashion Forum and back in 2011 was awarded the prestigious EFF Fellowship 500 membership, in which only 500 pioneering individuals from the global fashion design industry are members. I have also held membership with The Fair Wear Foundation, was a representative of Fashioning and Ethical Industry and have campaigned for 4 years with Fashion Revolution.”
My Ella: Sustainable Design & Workshops, Designer/Activities Coordinator, 2010-2016
Blysia Lingerie, Designer/Maker: 2012-2015
RSPCA: Ennini, Head of Design, 2010
Si:Su Designs, Freelance Technologist, 2008-2009
TRAIDremade, Design Team Leader: Designer/Technologist, 2007-2008
Rapture Ltd, Design Team Leader: Designer/Technologist, 2005-2007
First Corporate Clothing, Designer/Pattern Cutter/Technologist, 2003-2005
Photo credit: Pippa Carvel Photography