More than 1,000 hand-made garments are now worldwide with the Lesley Cutler label inside. Lesley began her career 25 years ago working with Elizabeth Emanuel and Jenny Packham. Today she runs the longest-trading bridal wear business in Milton Keynes.
In 1994 Lesley 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 Lesley 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.
Another designer Lesley worked with early on in her career was 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 Lesley’s skill set and gave her the experience and confidence to create garments in her own name.
The first Lesley Cutler wedding gown was a silk satin gold coloured dress with beautiful ivory and gold brocade panel at the centre front and ivory chiffon medieval styled sleeves. It then cascaded down into a long train.
It was a dramatic and elaborate gown. A real show stopper and Lesley was thrilled to put her name to this – her very first striking dress.
- Pictured: Lesley Cutler in her home studio.
Lesley’s business started from an upstairs bedroom. In 1997 Lesley had a studio built next to her house with a separate entrance which was decorated and designed to replicate the excitement of visiting a wedding dress shop.
During Lesley’s time in business she had the pleasure of designing and hand making hundreds of dresses. There are now over 1,000 garments with the Lesley Cutler label inside across the world. Lesley has many memories from over the past 25 years.
- She has designed and made unusual and quirky wedding dresses, including a gold skirt, an ivory embroidered bodice and a purple coat.
- For the wife of a member of the House of Lords Lesley made a High Sheriff suit from an exclusive English hand woven brocade silk.
- As well as an 18th-century costume inspired by a painting by Gainsborough of Countess Howe, Lesley hand-made a Mother of the Bride dress and coat for this customer. Lesley has also had the pleasure of making another High Sheriff suit for the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire 2016.
- One of the greatest changes over the last 25 years, she says, has been the move from silk fibres to the use of man-made fibres in mass produced dresses. Lesley still makes dresses from silk.
“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.
“I’m so proud of my business that I’ve built from the ground-up and feel honoured to have worked with so many brides to create their dream dress for their special day.”