Meet The Designer: Helen O’connor

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Their ideas and designs inspire us, influencing what we wear and buy. Complete Wedding talks with three noteworthy designers about where they draw their inspiration from


Founder and head designer at fashion label Thurley

Can you tell us a bit about your latest collection?
The spirit of the Thurley S/S 13 “Midnight in Marrakech” is one of optimism. The collection attempts to mirror the phases of the sun as it rises and sets on the enchanted city and the rich colour spectrum it unveils. Eveningwear fabrications have been selected to emulate vintage handcrafted beading, tapestry and embroidery techniques specific to the region. Silhouettes have been kept deliberately sharp and clean to inject pieces with modern relevance and appeal. The Midnight in Marrakech collection marries the past and the present, reviving vintage, handcrafted techniques via a fresh modern translation.

Talk us through your design process. 
My design process begins with a foundation of innovative fabrics sourced from European mills and I also seek out new and extraordinary beading elements. This season I felt the need to move on from the draping that I had been experimenting with in seasons past to create fresh silhouettes that combine softness with structure. The second stage of the design process is sketching up the collection and incorporating all of the elements I have drawn together in my travels in each piece. The final process is patterning from the sketches and sewing up the first prototype. There is no greater thrill than a sample coming off the sewing machine looking like everything I had imagined and more!

What inspires you?
I know I will have to share my muse with many other designers, but this season it was the flamboyancy, passion and style of Anna Dello Russo that really inspired me. I love that she will wear sequins to breakfast and always has the confi dence and flair to pull off even the wildest looks. Any woman who devotes her life to the art of fashion and wears even the most conceptually challenging designer looks head to toe inspires me to push creative boundaries and take risks in my own life and work.

Who is your favourite celebrity bride? 
My favourite bridal combination would have to be Ellen and Portia De Rossi. Each outfit complimented and captured the essence of their personalities and style.

Who are your style icons?
Christina Cantenera, Dianne Kruger, Kate Moss and Anna Dello Russo.

What about veils? In or out?
I am in two minds; while I like the nod to tradition, veils are by no means mandatory in this day and age. I think the choice depends on the individual bride's personality and the setting of the wedding.

Do you have any advice for brides-to-be looking for their perfect dress?
I would encourage brides to search for modern classics rather than a trend-driven look (and most '80s brides will attest to this!). A bride will never look more beautiful or have as many photos taken of her as on her wedding day, so a classic timeless look will stand the test of time. I would also suggest choosing a dress that fl atters your shape and suits your personality. The strapless gown has become somewhat of a modern phenomenon at weddings; I suggest standing out from the crowd and looking for shapes that suit you more as an individual.

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