Welcome to Black Swan Bridal Studio, a gorgeous new Karen Willis Holmes stockist in the UK who has just opened their doors. The studio is in Oxfordshire, in a grand old building looking over the Thames river...Take it away Chloe!
Your name? Hi! I’m Chloe Jeffs
Store name? The Black Swan Bridal Studio
Where is your store located? Our Grade II listed HQ is on the banks of the River Thames in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. We’re about halfway between Oxford and Reading and less than one hours drive from London.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started your store? I’m a northerner, now based in Wallingford as I met my lovely partner Phil so I upped sticks to set up home with him in the very beautiful Oxfordshire. I’m a cheese junkie, Long Island Iced Tea fanatic and mum to an aging Staffordshire Bull Terrier rescue dog called Mac. I spent 20 something years in the corporate world working in banking and telecommunications. For years I always daydreamed about putting my skills into bridal fashion and retail. Last year while on holiday in Los Angeles I decided to chase my dream and with Phil’s love and support I’m making my ambition a reality.
Celine - V-neck sequin gown with sheer tulle sleeves with bugle beaded line accent detail & leaf motifs on the bodice & hips, finished with a belt. Photography by Pretty Flamingo Photography
What does a typical day for you involve? The best days involve welcoming brides to our little slice of riverside heaven. Our raison d’être is to create memories by helping our brides enjoy the journey to find their dream dress. Buying a wedding dress is not just about the purchase, it’s about the entire experience so we don’t sign up to the drama and stress of wedding dress shopping. Our brides have the studio all to themselves to enjoy a relaxed, fun and five-star appointment with their guests.
Why do you love your job? What’s not to love! There's a lot of responsibility in being part of a bride's wedding day and making sure she feels beautiful on one of the most special days of her life. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions but the best part is always when the bride finds her dream dress and you see everything fall into place for her.
Layla - Strapless bodice with panel line sequins creating a strong shape, finished with a cape and belt.
What are your favourite KWH gowns and why? It’s got to be the KWH Sequin Collection. As soon as we saw them we knew we had to have them in our handpicked Black Swan collection. Karen talked us through the fit, the beading, the different backs and the art deco glamour. The KWH collection is for the modern, non-traditional bride looking to stand out and make jaws drop so it was perfect for the Black Swan Studio. If I had to pick one for me I think it would be the Fontanne as I love the cut, the exquisite beadwork and the panel lines.
What is it your clients love about a KWH gown and who do you see as the ‘KWH bride’? Only last weekend I had a bride come to the Studio specifically looking for a dress with sleeves. Our bride gravitated straight to dresses that would cover her arms. Now don’t get me wrong, she looked stunning in the dresses but after a little encouragement, she tried the KWH Cindy dress. She absolutely dazzled in the all-over sequinned KWH halter-neck gown. The detailed scalloped neckline and the long, elegant keyhole at the back looked beautiful and flattered her figure in all the right places. Her face lit up, her smile widened into a beam and she practically floated around the studio enjoying the oooohhhs and the ahhhhhhs from her guests. Seeing her fall in love with a dress that she wouldn’t have looked twice at online made my heart sing, it was a real “a-ha!” style moment!
Fontanne - V-neck bodice, bias skirt, beaded and embroidered into panel lines, finished with a belt. Photography by Bek Smith
Any great proposal stories from clients you have worked with? Last week my bride shared that her husband-to-be had co-ordinated his proposal plans with her best friend’s boyfriend so the best friends would get engaged on the same day so they could enjoy their engagements and dress shopping together!
What are your tips or advice for brides searching for their gown? Be confident, true to yourself and have an open mind. I think my favourite Rachel Zoe quote sums it up ''Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak’
Cindy - Halter neck with cutaway CB, neckline and back feature beading.
What is your coffee order? I’m a tea fanatic, it’s always a ‘builder’s brew’ for me
Favourite city? Manchester, every time.
Best way to spend $50? I’d probably pamper Mac the dog with new toys or maybe a bath at his favourite doggy spa
Anya - Spaghetti strap bodice with 3D bodice and mixed sequin bias skirt. Finished with a belt.
Best advice you ever received? Have the courage to live a life true to yourself, not the life others expect of you.
Anything else you would like to share with brides-to-be about your store and what you offer? We’re an independent bridal studio that caters to the confident, edgy, modern bride who was born to stand out in a world of pink, diamantes and frills. Beyond being a shop, we offer an exclusive experience for cool women who don’t identify with the mainstream aesthetic, don’t want to look like every other bride and who seek an alternative experience and outcome to dress shopping for their big day.
Train - Diamonds - Organza diamonds on a satin waistband
Train - Alice - Tulle circles, with open CF on waistband.
BLACK SWAN BRIDAL STUDIO
Chloe, boutique owner