Natalie Gladman, the designer behind the Madeline Isaac-James label, explains why she tries to give all her gowns a timeless appeal
I design for the Madeline Isaac-James brand, a label which is named after my three children. We launched our first mainstream collection in 2006. I am the fifth generation of my family in the garment industry (my great-great-grandfather was a master tailor in Glasgow), and I’m very proud to continue our family tradition in an industry that I genuinely love.
My signature style is very elegant and quite classic in design but with an exciting modern twist. I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into a specific genre of design, so my collections tend to be quite eclectic, with something to suit every bride. As each collection is launched, I look to introduce new textures, shapes, fabric combinations and silhouettes to keep it quite exciting. I don’t want a bride looking back on her wedding photographs and cringing about her gown choice. Classic designs stand the test of time and remain an elegant, sophisticated choice.
The 2014 collection is, as with pretty much all my collections, a real mix of styles and silhouettes – from slinky red-carpet numbers to lace and silk gowns. One of my favourite fabrics is silk tulle – I absolutely love it. It’s a beautifully soft and tactile fabric that can be used to great effect in lots of different ways, and it features in many of the gowns in the 2014 collection.
My fashion icon is Edith Head. She created gowns for all the great Hollywood actresses of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s – Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Natalie Wood to name but a few. Her designs beautifully show off the wearer’s figure, regardless of shape and size, and they’re timeless, thanks to their elegant, classic design. It’s an ethos I always try to remain true to with my collections.
Gleneagles is my haven. Since our first stay 13 years ago, we’ve been back every year, enjoying everything it offers. It’s very peaceful and relaxing, and I escape there for R&R. The beautiful location is inspiring too. My husband and I love it so much we got married there in 2006, and some of the publicity photographs for my 2014 collection were shot on location there.
My typical working day begins with the school run. Then I go to my office and check my mail over a cup of coffee. There’s usually a mix of emails from brides, stockists and the press. I always have a catch-up meeting with my team in the morning, going through any queries as well as our production schedule. The rest of the day is spent in the studio, working on the collections. I love it when new fabrics, lace and embellishments arrive, and spend many hours creating new designs which are a little different and something quite special. Towards the end of my working day, the team will have another quick (and informal) catch-up, making sure everything is in order. Then, after 6pm, it’s family time.
A bride should always avoid buying her dress online. Always go to a reputable and authorised stockist of your chosen designer. Not only will you be sure that you’re getting the proper quality and construction that genuine designer gowns have, but you will also benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience that a reputable bridal shop can offer. I’ve heard too many horror stories about gowns purchased over the internet, and it’s quite simply not worth the risk. If budget is an issue, wait until your local boutiques have sample sales, or even a designer day (where boutiques usually offer a percentage off the normal RRP) – you could still find your dream gown within budget. Your wedding dress is such an important purchase – don’t take a chance on ending up with anything less than perfection.
Madeline Isaac-James is available at Alison Kirk Bridal, Kudos Couture, Perfection Bridal and Menswear and Vendela Rose Bridal.