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ABOUT THE CLOTHES
Anne Fontenoy designs hand sewn frocks and gowns from fine quality materials, especially silks, lace and natural fibres, which are made to order in her front room.
She creates designs for wedding dresses and suits, for elaborate silk bridal gowns as well as short wedding dresses, bias cut silk wedding dresses & lace bridal gowns. She also creates designs for ballgowns, dresses for bridesmaids, mother of the bride, the trousseau, and classic day wear.
She has a particular interest in designing bias cut bridal gowns and evening dresses and soft fluid clothes; dresses that are not specifically “fashionable” but which are classic dresses and gowns, some inspired by bygone eras, although many are quite contemporary in style, with a timeless classic style in mind. The clothes can be based on designs from her collections or she can design one-offs based on her design and pattern cutting techniques.
SILK AND NATURAL FABRICS
Anne specialises in working with silks and other natural fibres such as cotton, linen and wool although she also designs using quality synthetics and of course laces some of which are silk or cotton although most are artificial and synthetic mixes, including the best quality French, Italian and English lace.
She has swatches of several ranges of fabrics from which she orders the fabric for her designs. Some of these can also be dyed or woven to order subject to minimum order quantities and some suppliers will provide a stock cutting to hold fabric on reserve before an order is confirmed. Anne can also source many fabrics for her designs that she does not hold swatches for. Most of these fabrics are from manufacturers and wholesalers who supply the trade; she only orders these fabrics for her designs and not to re-sell them as cut lengths to the public. She also does not work with very heavy fabrics because all the sewing is done by hand.
EMBROIDERY, BEADWORK AND HAND PAINTING
One of Anne’s specialities is designing decorative work for clothes, scarves and wall hangings.
Synthetic tulle veils from about £75 to £1,500, silk tulle veils from about £250 to £3,000 although hand embroidered or beaded veils may cost more depending on the amount of work involved.
Veils may also be made from chiffon, lace and other suitable fabrics.
ACCESSORIES Anne has a collection of handmade bridal and evening accessories: bags, hair and shoe bows, headdresses, Alice bands and silk scarves, some of which are illustrated below. More designs will be on this website in due course but in the meantime you can view some in her online shop 1 or shop 2 or make an appointment to view these accessories. She can also design and make individually for clients. Make an appointment to view her collection or to discuss a unique commission.
If you are unsure of the style for your dress, then a toile can be made. This is a “mock up” of the design made in an economically priced fabric, traditionally made from calico, although Anne will try to use fabric that has a similar weight and drape to the fabric that the design will be made in. A toile will incur extra charges of between £50 and £500. She always recommends a toile for complex garments, because this gives an idea of how the design will look and fit, before cutting the fabric for the finished garment. The design can be refined during the making process.
Between 2 and 10 fittings may be needed, depending on the style.
NOTES ABOUT HAVING A DRESS MADE
If you have never had a dress made, then you will need a little patience during the making process. At first the garment is usually sewn with tacking stitches which are also known as basting stitches. These are large stitches which hold the garment together temporarily because the first fitting is to give you an idea of what the dress will look like and also to check the overall fit of the garment. This is in case the seams need adjusting before they are sewn properly with back stitch because this would add to the overall cost to undo the proper sewing rather than just light tacking stitches; undoing properly sewn seams before the fit of the garment has been checked may also mark the fabric.
A minimum of several weeks notice is required for simple dresses, but several months notice is usually needed for evening and wedding dresses, ranging from 2 months to 1 year, depending on the style of the dress and the volume of orders in hand.
Consultations are by appointment at Anne’s base in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. You can try on some of Anne’s dress designs and also discuss how these designs and the designs in her photo and sketch books can be made up for you, using the quality fabrics from her collections of trade fabrics. Anne will sketch out designs at a consultation, and send you more by e-mail to develop ideas after your visit. You will be given a working sketch and a written estimate for costs and labour.
Appointments 10 am-7.30 p.m. Monday – Saturday. Sundays by special arrangement only if there is availability for which there is a £25 charge payable on the day.
Dresses are priced @ £22.50 per hour although some garments may also incur a design fee The Rough Guide gives an indication of starting prices but please remember that the cost of materials is not included in these because fabric prices vary from about £10 per metre to around £150 per metre On average the cost of materials for a dress can range from about £50 to £300 for synthetics although the costs per dress for 100% wool, cotton, silks and good quality laces can range from £100 to more than £1,000 per dress.
ROUGH GUIDE TO PRICES – PLUS THE COST OF MATERIALS (February 2017)
● Camisoles from £150
● Blouses from £200
● Lined straight skirts from £180
● Lined full skirts from £300
● Lined pleated skirts from £360
● Unlined short shift dress from £250
● Lined short shift dress from £400
● Unlined jackets from £225
● Lined short jackets from £300
● Lined jackets with collar from £400
● Lined Suits (straight skirt and jacket) from £580
● Lined short straight dress and jacket from £800
● Short Coats from £650 Long Coats from £900
● Unlined and very simple straight evening dress (no bones) from £400
● Very simple lined, straight evening dress from £550
● Simple ball gowns from £800
● Short shift wedding dresses from £700
● Bridal and Evening gowns from £1,000 to £5,000; complex designs may have a higher price
● Short single layer veil trimmed with 100% silk ribbon from £300
ACTUAL PRICES OF FINISHED WEDDING AND EVENING DRESSES AND GOWNS
Realistically, including the cost of materials evening dresses and adult bridesmaid dresses cost from about £500 to £2,500, bridal dresses and gowns, from about £800 to £5,000. Very elaborate dresses and gowns will cost more.
Embroidery and beadwork designs start from around £500 but can cost several thousand pounds for intricate designs.
Veils generally cost between £300 and £3,000, very elaborate veils will cost more.
These prices are for clothes based on designs in my portfolios.
BESPOKE designs cost a minimum of £1,000 for simple straight wedding and evening dresses plus materials and a minimum of £2,000 for evening and wedding gowns plus materials because of the time required to make sketches, patterns and toiles.
ALTERATIONS Handsewn wedding dress alterations and evening dress alterations, priced at £22.50 per hour. Please note that I can alter a dress to fit but I will not change the design of another designer’s work.
A deposit is required to confirm the order. The balance is due on completion. Clothes are made to order and personalised to your measurements, so there is no cancellation once the deposit is paid.
All prices are estimated and are valid for 1 month from the date they are given to the Customer. Any changes or additions to the preliminary design will be charged at the current rate per hour in addition to the original price plus additional material costs.
Full terms and conditions can be found on the Ordering Terms page of this website or ask for a printed copy.
THERE ARE A FEW THINGS ANNE DOES NOT DO
Anne does not design or make trousers because she is a “dress lady”. She does not work from ready made paper dress patterns. Neither does she copy dresses from photos, pictures, sketches or actual garments designed by other designers; and she does not use a sewing machine. What she does do, is create unique, elegant hand made ladies clothes: wedding dresses, evening dresses and other special occasion dresses as well as classic day wear for ladies. These quality, original dresses are hand crafted giving the clothes a soft, couture finish.