The Gilded Age By Claire Pettibone

Claire Pettibone the gilded age 1

Back in October I was in the USA to attend New York bridal fashion week – an annual trip for my business partner husband and I and one that we both love. Far from being an opportunity to chill out in our favourite city, our week spent in the Big Apple is always an incredibly busy one, dashing from show to show, catching appointments with as many designers as we can and networking with friends and contacts in the industry. Add to the mix the need to continue working whilst away from home and the rather inconvenient fact that New York is 5 hours behind GMT (leave me feel like I’m constantly chasing my tail when it comes to keeping on top of my email) and it can be quite an exhausting few days. But exhilarating too. I love the energy of our week in New York. It is palpable. The creative energy alone that goes into designing a catwalk event is phenomenal and never more a spectacular event than when it is delivered by designer Claire Pettibone and her team.

Claire was in New York last October to launch her sublime new collection, ‘The Gilded Age ‘- a reference to the late Victorian, pre Edwardian era. I actually blogged images from the catwalk event a few days after the show itself. Today, I’d like to share a video from the show alongside some exquisite styled images.

My mind is forever that little bit ‘blown away’ by Claire Pettibone. She already has such a strong signature – her design aesthetic is instantly recognisable, but to keep innovating collection after collection, even when the past inspires her designs so heavily, really is something quite remarkable. I spoke to Claire about her The Gilded Age collection, and how she has drawn from the glamour of such a lavish, party fuelled era, infusing her gowns with an abundant sense of charisma, charm and undeniable Claire Pettibone style romance.

“The Gilded Age, from about 1870 to 1900 was a time of expansion and wealth centred in New York as the city was becoming the epicentre of society and culture in the United States. So many amazing estates were built, parties thrown, and opulence ruled the day.”

Assisting those models glide so gracefully down the catwalk in the video above were heavenly Emmy heels.  

Emmy London shoes were a perfect match. Emmy and I chatted about colours and general inspiration months before, and so it all made for beautiful pairings on the runway. And of course the Trumpet & Horn jewels, with touches of Edwardian and Victorian inspiration made a sparkling finishing touch.”

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“As always, my aesthetic is never flashy or overdone, but I found great inspiration in this era of extravagance, and created a collection using elements of metallic embroidery, delicate beading, and embellishment that would be right at home with society’s finest, and yet, remain true to my romantic sensibility.”

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The hair and make-up inspiration was a nod to the Gibson Girl who became so popular during this era, but whenever I refer to history, I always try to offer it in a modern way, so that it doesn’t come off as a costume, but as inspiration for a bride. Viviana Martin for Kevyn Aucoin and the Oscar Blandi teams did an amazing job bringing the look to life. Voluminous up-dos, rosy cheeks, and gold accented eyes gave the models a timeless beauty.”

wpid403461 Claire Pettibone the gilded age 18“I was creating my first fine jewellery collection with Trumpet & Horn while designing these dresses, so the idea of rose gold, aquamarine, and pearls found their way into the gowns as well. Some of my favourite pieces include the metallic thread embroideries. An alternative to white or ivory, these textiles shimmer and impart a beautiful glow to the bride.”

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I adore Claire’s gentle use of color, delicate lace and graceful embroideries.  Everything is so incredibly feminine and sensuous with not the merest whiff of ‘twee’ and infused with the most enchanting bohemian spirit.  Nothing is ever too contrived. This truly is the most breathtaking collection of gowns. I often wonder how lucky it is that I get to work with a designer who will go down in the history books as being one of the 21st Century’s most talented couture bridal designers.

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Since launching the company with her husband Guy Toley in 1994, the self-described true romantic has proudly and confidently brought her own feminine sensibilities to bridal fashion. After a successful decade creating luxurious lingerie, Claire introduced couture bridal gowns in 2005, and so began a real shift in wedding style. Claire’s design influence reaches across the globe and has inspired many other creatives working in  the bridal fashion field – including myself. 

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The garden, vineyard, rustic and vintage inspired weddings that have become so ubiquitous in the world of wedding blogs these past 5 years, showcase many of the Claire’s creations – take a look here to see for yourself

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The Gilded Age equals and yet surpasses the opulence of all of Claire’s former collections. It is exuberant, decadent, elegant and extravagant all rolled into one. I wasn’t lucky enough to have the option of a Claire Pettibone gown when I was planning my own wedding – the designer hadn’t really hit the UK at the time. Had Claire’s gowns have been available back in 2008, my heart would have fallen for them in an instant.

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If you love what you see and would like to find out more about Claire Pettibone, please visit the Claire Pettibone website or visit Claire’s page in our beautiful Little Book For Brides wedding directory – within which, you will find a fully updated list of UK based stockists and links to all of Claire’s social media feeds.

Have a lovely lunch time ladies,

Annabel x

Photography – Emily Soto
Bridalwear – Claire Pettibone
Shoes – Emmy London
Jewellery – Claire Pettibone for Trumpet & Horn
Styling – Type A Society 
Catwalk Makeup – Viviana Martin for Kevyn Aucoin
Catwalk Hair – Oscar Blandi
Campaign Hair & Make-up: Alyssa Lorraine

Claire Pettibone is a sponsor of Love My Dress


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.

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