Fashion insider – Gill Harvey

Gill Harvey, the creative force behind the Eliza Jane Howell bridal range, tells us about her love of Art Deco glamour and how it has influenced her designs

The glamorous designer with her beloved cat Max

The glamorous designer with her beloved cat Max

A zillion years ago, when I graduated from the Royal College of Art, the Italian fashion house Missoni offered me a job as a knitwear designer. It was a great opportunity but I turned it down because I wanted to stay in London. I went on to enjoy international success with my knitwear collection, Medici by Gill Harvey. Subsequently, I designed occasionwear and eveningwear for the Medici, Invite and After Six collections.

Thelma hand-beaded gown with sequin detail and angel sleeve, around £1300

Thelma hand-beaded gown with sequin detail and angel sleeve, around £1300

My signature style can be summed up in one word: decadent!

Designing the Eliza Jane Howell collection has given me the chance to combine my love of Deco with my love of fashion. It’s my biggest achievement to date. And I feel that at last I am designing something that I love.

My bridal collections for 2015 are elaborate, with even more complicated beaded techniques than before. Every season I like to take my designs to the next level.

The perfect wedding gown is timeless.

I designed the Gill Harvey Collection as a definite alternative look to the uniform that occasion-wear has become. I prefer use the term ready to wear as Gill Harvey can be worn for any special event.

What I really enjoy about working in the bridal business is that it gives me the freedom to make the most beautiful dresses without worrying too much about the cost.

I am inspired by the fashion and architecture of the 1920s. I love the whole Art Deco movement and the Jazz Age, and the glamour of the whole period is wonderful. We’ve tried to capture that in our 2015 photoshoot – it is very Cecil Beaton.

The debutantes of the 1920s and 1930s are my fashion icons – people like the Mitford Sisters, Lady Diana Cooper, and Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. I love the fashion and makeup of this period.

I would love to dress Cate Blanchett. She has a real sense of style and she carries herself beautifully.

It’s difficult when you can’t work out what sort of dress you want. Just try to hold on to your own sense of style and fashion and it should become clearer.

I can’t live without my cat Max. He makes me relax at the end of the day.

The Caribbean island of St Barts is my idea of heaven – although only out of season when it is quiet (and a lot cheaper!).

I never leave home without my sketch pad and pencil.

There is no such thing as a typical working day in my world. Every day brings something new.

If I were to do it all again, would I do things differently? Well, I might take that job at Missoni!

The best advice I can give to anyone who is struggling to find the right dress is this: try not to panic, be sure to keep an open mind and enjoy the whole experience, and most of all, do not forget who you are.

From left: one of Gill’s sketches illustrating how her gowns begin to come to life; Myrna hand-beaded, bias-cut gown with cowl neck and short train, around £1200

From left: one of Gill’s sketches illustrating how her gowns begin to come to life; Myrna hand-beaded, bias-cut gown with cowl neck and short train, around £1200

www.elizajanehowell.com
www.gillharvey.com

Scottish stockists of Eliza Jane Howell are Apple Blossom Time, Anne Priscilla Bridal, Pan Pan Bridal, Perfect Bridal Rooms and Weddings by Charlotte Boyd.