Every dress is unique. Every dress is a bespoke couture dress, made to fit perfectly. I love and I’m passionate about designing couture bridal and occasion wear that is ethically sourced and made.
I design and create gorgeous dresses that people dream about and keep forever. I work only with the highest quality materials – silks, satins, organzas, laces and beading. I meticulously design and cut out the dresses to fit perfectly, and which my London-based team work up into immaculately-finished pieces. My main focus is on making my clients look better than they ever imagined they could, and on making their dreams come true.
It’s important to me to offer a one-to-one service, where clients feel happy to entrust their once-in-a-lifetime dress to me and my team.
“I felt so privileged that you did the fitting personally and was exceptionally impressed with your customer service and friendliness. I will always recommend you to friends who are looking for a luxurious dress and first class service.” Victoria Lake
I design and sketch every single couture bridal gown, occasion and evening dress. I measure and make every pattern, and do all the pattern-cutting myself, both for the initial version, the toile, and for the final dress. And I oversee my atelier where my team of dressmakers make up the dresses.
You will always deal directly with me and I will always be there at the end of the phone or an email should you have a question about the design process or an idea about your wedding dress that you’d like to share with me.
Many of my bridal clients come for an initial consultation having spotted one of my dresses in a magazine or fallen in love with one they’ve seen on this website. Most have a good idea of what they like and what they don’t. We discuss this and everything else about the wedding at our first meeting.
Here’s how the design process will typically run for a wedding dress. Sometimes, though, more or less appointments may be required, depending on the gown designed. More time may be required between appointments, depending on the fabric and finish chosen. And if you’re having a dress made for an occasion or evening event, a similar process applies, but it will probably be slightly shorter in time frame, depending on the scale of the design.
This is where I get to hear all about your plans for the wedding, the season and the setting and your aspirations for your wedding dress. We’ll discuss designs, shapes, fabrics, beading, colours, corsetry and accessories. I’ll also take all your key measurements. This will give me everything I need to prepare some initial designs and a quote for your exclusive wedding dress. Sometimes this quote can be completed at this initial consultation depending on the design chosen.
2nd Meeting (+1–2 weeks)
Here we’ll review and finalise my design ideas for your wedding dress, as well as the details of the creative process, the timings, costs and next steps. A deposit of one third of the total is paid at this stage to book having your gown made with me.
Toile Fitting (+1 month)
I make a full mock-up of your wedding dress in cotton. This will give you a good idea of how it will look and it also gives me a framework from which I can make more detailed adjustments and amendments ahead of creating and cutting the final patterns. At this stage the next payment is made of another third.
First Dress Fitting (+2–3 months)
This is always an exciting moment! When you get to try on your wedding dress for the very first time, in the actual fabric! There are still adjustments to be made and details to be finalised but, at this fitting, you’ll be able to see how you will look on your wedding day. Third and final payment for your gown is made at this point.
Second Dress Fitting (+1 month)
This fitting takes you one step closer to the final wedding dress. All the major adjustments from the first fitting will have been made. We’re now down to the final details at this point.
Final Fitting (+1 month)
Any changes at the final fitting will all be about the very tiniest details, making sure that everything is absolutely perfect for your big day.
Collection (within 2 weeks)
I will store and pack your dress perfectly for you, ready for you to collect in good time, ahead of your wedding day. Alternatively I can send your dress by secure delivery. And, if you like, I can come and help you into your dress on the day.
I am committed to being ethical and eco-friendly in every single part of my business. I’m passionate about fair trade and an ethical workforce. All my dresses are made in house by artisans and machinists. I only use highly skilled experts to make all the gowns, and everything is made in my atelier here in London.
I source materials only from places where I know the supply chains. Most of the fabrics I use come from the best mills in Italy and France ensuring both quality of supply and in line with my supply chain. Every now and then I might use some fabrics from UK suppliers, but their supply chains are all rigorously checked. For each of our materials we are constantly working on transparent supply chains and using companies that adhere to chemical regulations and correct disposal in the environment.
In the workshop we use recycled paper, and we recycle the paper we do use again. I aim to operate as a modern but responsible business, limiting waste and thinking about our practices all the time.
“I can’t find the right words to express how totally fabulous I felt in my wedding dress. It is an exquisite work of art and I shall never part with it.”
Suzanne Kellaway Scothern
Fabrics are to a Couture Wedding Dress Designer, what ingredients are to a Michelin Star chef. We will only ever use the very best.
There are many similarities between what we both do but one main exception: they produce the same exquisite dishes for everyone, whilst each dress that I create is only ever tailored for one bride and one unique occasion. So I choose my fabrics accordingly. I will often specify the exact weight of the fabric to suit both the dress design and the bride herself, so that they drape perfectly.
I source the best silk, duchesse satins and highest quality chantilly, guipure and corded lace, zibeline, organza, ghazzar and crepes from the finest fabric houses in Italy and France.
The fabrics that I love to use have a unique fluidity and lustre. I have worked with some of these mills for many years and know their work intimately. They are master craftsmen and the quality of their work is astonishing. Quite often they will create lace to my own design and use specific beads and sequins of my choosing. Where possible I will source fabrics that will be exclusive to me, and the brides that I dress.
I go to great lengths to ensure that the fabrics I use are also made up in exact colours and dyed to my own specification. It’s often the colour of a duchesse satin that will make a wedding dress of mine so sought after.
When you come for a consultation, I’ll show you some of the beautiful fabrics that I love to work with, as well as the intricate lace detailing that I’ll use to create your perfect wedding dress.
“Thank you so much for making the most divine dress. My husband was thrilled with it and I had so many compliments on how exquisite the fit was.” Charlotte Webb.
When you buy a couture dress from me, I design the dress around you. You are my mannequin. The cut of the dress will be designed to fit you perfectly and to enhance your figure.
I design each and every one of my dresses, and I also cut my own patterns and fabric too. Having trained and worked in couture dress designing for over thirty years, I use a lot of specialist skills in pattern cutting and drafting and techniques that are tailored to every individual client.
What’s critical here is making sure that the pattern cutting into the fabric matches perfectly for the design and your body shape and is balanced throughout the dress. I know precisely where the seams, closures and other detailing need to sit, to ensure that the cut of the gown is impeccable. The way I draw a line for a seam, where that seam goes, and the proportions are what make the real aesthetic difference in a handmade pattern. Today many patterns are made using machines but all of the patterns I make, I draft especially for every client by hand – in the traditional way from scratch.
My dresses stand out from the crowd because I cut all of them with attention to the proportions of the body and style lines, as well as to the fabric that’s used. They are not just an outer layer and a lining. Instead, I use secret technical process to give dresses wavy hems or beautiful curves that sit immaculately. Often my dresses have many inner layers of specialized weights of fabrics to give the perfect finished look.
I use haute couture techniques throughout the sewing and assembly of dresses. I mount all my fabrics in fuller gowns to hide seams to give the perfect silhouette and bodices are often made using delicate hand stitching around the necklines to give an impeccable smooth line.
Lace, for example, is cut to shape around the dress to continue the lace design rather than cut to fit the same pattern shape as a dress panel. It is then joined by hand invisibly on the dress, often adding more to accentuate the dress perfectly. Any embellishments on the lace, such as flowers or beading, are meticulously placed on.
At no point are my dresses put through a production line in a factory. Instead, my atelier in London are all highly skilled couture dressmakers who use specialised techniques which include hand tacking, hand hemming, moulding, draping and shaping. They embroider by hand, make lace and hand finish the gowns. I oversee the entire process.
While everyone will be wowed by how beautiful your dress is and how perfectly it fits you, you’ll know the skill and attention to detail that’s gone into making it.
The corset is a technical masterpiece that I have perfected over many years of making couture dresses. It is the very foundation upon which every Sharon Cunningham structured wedding dress is made. Each one is custom made for my clients and made to their exact measurements. It contours their body to create the ultimate silhouette. Invisible on the outside of the dress, it is the secret ingredient for your dress to look so perfect on you, from every angle. It reduces waists by inches and can push the bust higher and be used to define the waist to really play tricks aesthetically on those curves.
Hidden inside the gown, there is no need for upper underwear in most of my gowns. It can be laced up at the back underneath the closure, to take inches off your waist and to provide the ultimate support and silhouette. Often it’s not apparent when the dress is on the hanger. But when you try the dress on, you SEE and FEEL the difference all this skill makes to how you look.
My specific skills of doing corsets all the way to the hip have been honed through many years of experience. This is a handmade process and, with structured gowns, the corset is fitted first before the outer layer of the gown. Most other designers cut corsets just to the waist but my pattern cutting skills and experience enable me to take the corset further down to the hips, so that it doesn’t stop at the waist and give you a bulge there. My structured dresses are then moulded by hand to the corset, to create the absolute perfect shape.
We make a pattern in house in our own atelier and then make a mock up in Calico, called the toile. This is then fitted to perfection to the brides body. The corset is a huge part of what makes a Sharon Cunningham gown so sought after.
Every dress I make is bespoke. I design original bridal gowns and also dresses and separates for evenings and events. If you are dreaming about the perfect outfit for a party, a showstopper for a red carpet event, a gorgeous gown for a special celebration, or you just want the most stunning cocktail dress, we can work together to do just that.
Each design is a unique design. Having talked with you about your ideas for the outfit you’d like, and the event that it’s for, I’ll work up initial sketch ideas. I often dream that I’m sketching, and wake up at 3am with new designs in my head!
I make every dress and outfit here in London. Each part is stitched and sewn in my workshop, and every bead, piece of lace or other embellishment is hand-sewn on in my atelier. Everything can be specially tailored to meet your needs in a bespoke design
This is where you will meet with me to create your dream dress – where we can sit and work out your design.
I’ll start with sketching out a design, and seeing this will bring the dress alive to you. For many women, when they see the sketch of the dress, that’s when the magic starts to happen.