Bridal Buyer Spotlight: Lesley Cutler

Buckinghamshire- based bespoke wedding dress designer, Lesley Cutler, celebrates 25 years in business so we caught up with her to look back at a quarter of a century of making brides’ dreams come true.

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Lesley Cutler
Lesley Cutler

This month, Buckinghamshire-based Lesley Cutler Bridal Wear celebrates its ‘silver business anniversary’ after designing and hand making garments for brides-to-be for a quarter of a century.

Lesley Cutler Bridal Wear started from an upstairs bedroom in 1994 and is now the longest-trading bridal wear business in Milton Keynes.

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Can you tell us about your personal background?

I’ve been married since 1987 and I obviously made my own wedding dress! I’ve always enjoyed sewing and from a young age was making cuddly stuffed toys and then progressed onto making my own clothes.

In 1994 I had my first son and took on a freelance contract with Elizabeth Emanuel (the British fashion designer who is best known for designing the wedding dress worn by Diana, Princess of Wales).

This was the best sort of ‘training ground’ as I was making elaborate dresses for the rich and famous.

Often, they were very theatrical pieces in a range of different looks and styles all based on historical costumes and complete with corsets, crinolines, bust pads and hundreds of metres of silk fabrics, laces and ribbons. They were sold from the Berkertex flagship store on Bond Street in Central London – I couldn’t be happier with learning in this environment from the very best.

I then moved on to work with Jenny Packham, making evening dresses in slinky silks and short knee-length dresses with fitted bra style bodices. The polar opposite to the work with Elizabeth Emanuel which added to my skill set and gave me the experience and confidence to create garments in my own name.

Twenty-five years ago this month, Lesley Cutler Bridal Wear was born. I now have two grown-up sons who are so proud of me and the business that I’ve built around our family. I am so incredibly proud of the journey that we’ve been on and that now, I’m in a position to look back over 25 years of designing and making stunning dresses for women on the happiest day of their lives.

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What are your secrets to success?

I’ve always been 100% reliable and would always help a bride out who’s been left stranded (which does happen!). I absolutely love what I do and I’m passionate about helping brides to look the very best version of themselves on their wedding day.

What is the best piece of business advice that you’ve ever received?

"Know when to close the door on your work at the end of the day."

Where do you see the bridal industry in five years’ time?

I think the independent boutiques will still see a strong presence, but it will be only the ones who offer the very best honest service survive. I’m not sure that the warehouse-style chains will continue to grow, I think there will be a levelling out across the industry.

What are your thoughts on Brexit?

I am so ashamed at the way the government has not adhered to the deadline. I work to deadlines every day and it’s the secret to success in life.

Read More: What Does Brexit Mean for the UK Fashion Industry?

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

I definitely think it’s more important to be respected because I couldn’t respect someone who I didn’t like.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

I would like to be remembered for making beautiful bespoke bridal dresses and making brides’ dreams come true.

Can you tell us five interesting facts about yourself?

  1. I’ve worked for Elizabeth Emanuel, Jenny Packham and fitted garments for the Duchess of Kent, Koo, Stark Fern Britton and other famous celebrities.
  2. I love to keep fit, especially cycling and am taking part in a stage of the Tour de France in July 2019. I cycled from Milton Keynes to Paris in four days in 2015.
  3. I’ve handmade well over 1,000 garments over 25 years which are now all across the world with the coveted Lesley Cutler label inside.
  4. I’m learning French in my spare time and enjoy listening to French radio. I love going to France and frequently go skiing in the mountains with friends.
  5. I’ve met Margaret Thatcher and was involved in the making of her suits when she was in office as Prime Minister.

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And finally, what is your favourite part of your job?

There are two parts really - the initial consultation when we sketch the ideas and select the fabric and then the final fitting when the bride is in her finished gown and beaming with happiness. I can’t think of a more satisfying career.

If you enjoyed reading about Lesley Cutler’s experiences, make sure you read about what Australian designer Wendy Makin has learnt after 25 years in business.

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