Nestled in the heart of Brunswick, amidst clattering iconic Melbourne trams and the bustle of urban living, stands an oasis of creativity, style and timeless beauty – the divine Mariana Hardwick bridal emporium. I feel that before I elaborate on the purpose of my visit, I have to touch on the building which houses the emporium as it is of real historical significance. The building itself was built in 1908 and at the time, housed a branch of John H. Hooper’s drapery stores which opened then to much fanfare. The building lay derelict for ten years before Mariana Hardwick undertook to restore and breathe new life into it. Today, heritage listed and renamed the “Hardwick Buidling” it is home to the label’s bridal emporium, manufacturing heart and head office.

Upon stepping into the building, the feeling of history and nostalgia is strong. The towering ceilings with exposed beams and the sweeping staircase all lend an air of romance which is the perfect setting for Mariana’s exquisite creations.

I was here to prepare for a unique bridal showcase which was to be held at The Glen shopping centre. Myself and two other bloggers, Joanne from One Wedding Wish and Rebecca from Easy Weddings were given the exciting task of styling a model with a gown from Mariana Hardwick to suit a predetermined body type. The body type I was given was curvy and fuller figured which caused me to rejoice being a curvy lass myself! Upon arrival, I was greeted by the gorgeous Kaila who, in her infinite knowledge, steered me in the right direction. One thing I took away from this experience, if you are shopping for a bridal gown, DO take into consideration what the assistants at the boutique recommend for you. They know their gowns very well and have seen them on countless different body types. It is so important to choose not only a gown that you adore, but one that will do justice to your figure!

In this case, both Kaila and I didn’t have the luxury of having our model present so we were “blind” in our choice. Kaila had the model’s measurements and we both had the brief so we proceeded to narrow down the choices based on this information. I already knew I wanted to style my bride in lots of accessories, with a layered look and possibly a feature necklace or earrings. My style was going to be quite “couture” so with this in mind I happily walked straight into the section of the showroom which housed the Mariana Hardwick “Luxe” collection. This is a collection which is more “extravagant” and is constructed “to the highest standards of European bespoke couture”. Bingo!

With Kaila’s wise guidance I chose the Noella gown. Why? The long corsetry gives length and structure to a curvier figure. It cinches in the waist and accentuates the beauty of this figure. The delicate, layered skirt flows beautifully and gently to complement the structured bodice to perfection. It also lent itself very well to the layered look I was imagining for the accessories and one more thing… it was divine!!!!

So having found my gown my other thought was, will I need a veil? Then, inspiration struck!! I asked Kaila if there was any possibility that there may be some offcuts of the fabric available for me to take and she happily gave me some. I was going to make my own birdcage veil!!! This is something that you can definitely do yourself and I’m going to be posting a tutorial on how I made the veil soon so make sure you stay tuned! So, with that all sorted, Kaila very generously offered to show me around this hub of creativity and boy was I in for a treat! We made our way up the grand staircase to the manufacturing hub and changing rooms. The curtains of the changing cubicles are customized with sketches of past designs and even the chairs are given a dose of Mariana!

Behind this area, I got to experience the place where the magic happens. The workroom is a vast, open space with the talented dressmakers all placed to work next to huge windows. This is not by accident. It is very important for the work to happen in as much natural light as possible in order for even the slightest faults to be picked up. This ensures that the gown delivered to you is absolutely faultless.

There’s the cutting tables, sewing tables, pattern making tables… everything working in complete synergy all one next to the other. Further on, there’s the offices where the design is conceived and a beautiful kitchen, full of vintage teacups where everyone gets to socialize. All in all, the buzz of creativity is loud and clear. The pride taken in the work created here is everywhere you look. Below is a gown on display that shows the intricate work and exceptionally high craftsmanship that goes into creating a custom Mariana Hardwick creation.

I made my way back down the staircase and still, everywhere I looked, I spotted little sketches and details on display that gave me a sense of excitement and creativity that I haven’t experienced before at any other bridal emporium.

I made my way home, buzzing with excitement and creativity, all set to do my best at paying homage to the style that is Mariana Hardwick!

My post all about my appearance at The Glen Bridal showcase is coming up in the next few days!