Fashion insider Q&A : Ritva Westenius

Hot on the heels of winning Best British Designer at the Bridal Buyer Awards, Ritva Westenius reveals where she finds her inspiration after 35 years at the forefront of the bridal industry

My signature style is elegant, timeless and sophisticated with a daring, modern edge! My designs have evolved with the times to suit the contemporary bride. They are fashion forward with a strong look, but they’re also elegant and don’t date. I’m most comfortable creating dresses in beautiful fabrics with delicate embellishments that offer clean lines, meticulous cut and
construction and excellent fit.

In my current collection, many of the gowns feature classic 50s styling such as tailored boned bodices and nipped-in waists with full flared skirts. The collection includes bodices with sexy draping, pleating and ruching and skirts in delicate, soft organza and tulle ballerina styles. There’s others that feature rich satin and beautifully flowing crepe with chic necklines and bell-shaped sleeve detail, reminiscent of the decadence of the 1920s.

I think the trend for 1920’s fashion will be a big influence in 2012 particularly with
The Great Gatsby coming out later in the year. I think we’ll see lots of elegant
draping and slim silhouettes with decadent embellishment and beautiful beading.

The perfect wedding gown is perfectly fitted, using the most luxurious fabrics
available and should be a chic, stylish reflection of the bride’s own personal style – one that makes her feel most beautiful, confident and comfortable, besides her liking the style and it’s suitability for the occasion. Generally all brides look amazing when the waist is nipped in, whether it’s a mermaid shape, A-line or slinky style.

Being able to channel all of my creativity and inspirations into something which will be worn with such happiness and love is a great honour. I feel we work in a very privileged position in the bridal industry, to be part of someone’s happiness and to contribute to it is a very special experience.

My daughter Chenca and I work very closely together. I admire her natural flair for anything creative, which was inspired further by her days as a prima ballerina. We are lucky enough that we communicate very well, so for us,working together has come very naturally.

Having learnt design in Paris, I am a fan of the classic labels, such as Chanel, Valentino and Dior. I admire Coco Chanel’s pioneering and gutsy approach to fashion design; Valentino’s clean and elegant lines of pure, chic glamour and Dior’s ‘New Look’ and 50s styling.

I never leave the house without my stackable rings and my leather sketch book. I am constantly inspired by my surroundings or places I visit, so I often jot down or sketch an idea for an amazing gown. I always carry my Chanel sunglasses, too, so I can people watch without getting caught!

A typical day will begin with correspondence – it helps my creative mind when I have an organised inbox. Following this, I head to my design studio to discuss the dresses with my makers and cutters. Lunch is normally a working one, followed by more meetings. By late afternoon I usually sit down and work on some sketches. I like to do lots of little sketches to build up a picture of not only how the gown will look from the outside, but how it will be constructed from the inside. I’ll also go to our store at least a couple of times a day, which is just a few doors down from my office on Connaught Street.

To find out more about Ritva’s gowns, visit