Fashion Insider: Tony Mentel

Tony Mentel, who designs for the Justin Alexander, Signature and Lillian West labels, shares the secret of the perfect wedding dress

The well-travelled designer finds inspiration around the world

The well-travelled designer finds inspiration around the world

My signature style for wedding gowns is mixing clean lines with the figure-flattering construction of the 1950s, then adding special handmade detailing.

The perfect wedding gown is one that makes the bride shine. It should underline and complement her personality.

I really enjoy meeting brides and their families. The main reaction to my work is tears of joy – that’s very rewarding.

My greatest achievement has to be seeing the Justin Alexander label grow into one of the biggest bridal collections in the world. 

Without a doubt my brides are my biggest inspiration. I travel all over the world visiting bridal shops and meeting potential clients who tell me how they want to look and feel when they marry. I just try to listen and help them to realise their dream dresses.

Diana Vreeland, the former editor of Vogue, is my fashion icon. She is someone who understood how to translate feelings and the zeitgeist into fashion. This is something that I always try to do. Other iconic figures who inspire me include Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Veronica Lake.

I’d love to dress Cate Blanchett. She is the epitome of grace and beauty.

Venice straight lace dress highlighted by a V-neck (style 9775), £2115, Justin Alexander Signature

Venice straight lace dress highlighted by a V-neck (style 9775), £2115, Justin Alexander Signature

I couldn’t live without my phone! I travel a lot and it helps me to keep in contact with the people I love.

My home is my haven. I live by the coast in Hove and can see the sea from my window and can hear the waves. It’s the most peaceful place I know. I dream of home whenever I am away.

I never leave home without different currency in my wallet. I always have about 100 US dollars and 100 euros with me. Just having a bit of cash on me has saved my bacon many times!

A typical working day for me starts with an Italian-style espresso, and drink it as I gaze out at the sea. I then start designing, making or researching. Luckily, I can work most of the time from my studio at home.

My venue for my own dream wedding would be the Savoy in London – it is an incredible location. The menu would be from Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill and would have to include the lobster bisque.

 Alencon lace fit and flare dress (style 6345) complemented by a Sabrina neckline, £1095, Lillian West

Alencon lace fit and flare dress (style 6345) complemented by a Sabrina neckline, £1095, Lillian West

When you’re shopping for your dress, don’t think of the gown as a costume. It has to be a real and genuine part of you. And don’t take anyone who’s really negative to your wedding boutique appointments – it’s going to be an emotional day, so make sure you enjoy it with people you love.

My top tip for any bride-to-be is to relax, visit a trusted bridal shop, try on different silhouettes, and listen to your intuition. You will know when you have found your dress.

www.justinalexanderbridal.com