Marguerite Hannah, the designer behind Alan Hannah and MiaMia, explains why she loves the challenge of creating gowns for two very different labels
I started designing the Alan Hannah collection in 1989. It is all made in the UK and can be made to bespoke requirements. This is classic couture where the silhouette and cut is everything. The embellishment is usually hand-beaded and minimal. MiaMia, which I began in 2009, has a more bohemian fashion feel which allows me to be more ‘out there’ with the designs. I really enjoy both. I don’t want to get stuck in my comfort zone and I love the wide scope that designing for two labels gives me.
The technology of the construction of our dresses has changed beyond recognition over the years. My patterns have evolved to be much more fitted and the structure is very complicated with up to four different kinds of interlining in the gowns. Working with other artists has been a real joy and hand-painting and creating bespoke beading has harnessed lots of creative energy and moved the collections along each season.
The current Alan Hannah collection is called ‘Classic Beauty’, which sums up my vision for this year’s gowns. In styles such as Ellie and Kitty, I have aimed for timeless elegance with a minimal but luxe feel. Other gowns, such as Lottie, are much softer and have an Art Deco influence. In the MiaMia collection, I loved the silk chiffon on styles like Edelweiss and Lantana, which were soft and romantic.
The perfect wedding gown takes your breath away the first time you try it on.
I love creating something that helps make a woman feel beautiful and confident on one of the most important occasions of her life.
I designed an A-line dress in Thai silk faille for my own wedding. It had long, flowing sleeves and a very romantic feel.
Apart from bringing up my two daughters, I’m most proud of winning Designer of the Year on a few occasions – I’ll always remember and treasure that.
I enjoy visiting cities where I can immerse myself in art and architecture. I was recently in Istanbul, which is full of really amazing and inspiring Byzantine and Islamic art.
Dior is an icon for almost every designer – his attention to silhouette and construction is still a wonder. I love Alexander McQueen too – he had such a natural and unforced way of working with fabric and cut.
Every summer my family and I retreat to my lovely home in a small village in the middle of nowhere. It’s somewhere I can relax and enjoy a very simple life for a few weeks. Every morning I hear the tinkle of bells as the goatherd brings his flock past our house to pasture – a bit different to the buzz and speed of living in London!
We make all our dresses here in London. It’s a very busy and hectic environment and I spend a lot of time answering questions from the seamstresses about gowns they’re making and advising the pattern-cutters on made-to-measure orders. When I design the collection I like to cut each pattern myself – it’s a time-consuming but essential process.
I would love to be invited to a wedding on a Caribbean island (all expenses paid!) in a beautiful beach-side hotel, with fresh seafood on the wedding breakfast menu.
Don’t get too stressed about the wedding arrangements. Try to delegate and let your mum and fiancé bear some of the load. And don’t stick to a preconceived notion of what you want to wear. Try different shapes and styles and you’ll find something that works for you.