The UK Designer Making Fashion-Led Bridalwear for the Modern Woman

Beloved bridal designer Kate Halfpenny has fashion in her blood. Her grandmother was a denim machinist and her mother, a knitwear designer. With a BA Honours in Fashion Design and an internship with Vivienne Westwood, Kate went on to hone her craft by studying textiles at Central Saint Martins. After getting involved with cutting edge graduates The New Renaissance, she began styling projects and dressing iconic women such as Cate Blanchett, Kate Moss and Rihanna.

She gained notoriety doing private commissions for celebrities and got the bridal bug (and the nod of approval from Vogue) after designing two wedding dresses for UK actress Emilia Fox in 2005. In one interview she revealed, “I have always been obsessed with bridal – I love the drama of a wedding dress and creating that moment.”

Kate has always been clear on her ethos when it comes to bridal wear, creating gowns that grant permission for women to be the bride they want to be.

“At the beginning” says Kate, “bridal wear was fairly limited and traditional and the option to express your own sense of style by experimenting with shapes, fabrics and embellishments or by simply adding a cool jacket or cape was unheard of, yet always made complete sense to me. I understand that each bride is totally different and, by listening, I’m able to create something incredibly beautiful that’s special and unique to them. I want Halfpenny London to inspire and excite those brides who desire grown-up style with a hint of romance.” 

Always staying in her own lane, she opened her shop called the Halfpenny London Atelier and Boutique at No.10 Woburn Walk and later designed an exclusive collection for NET-A-PORTER which secured her global success. She then caught the attention of the fashion industry’s style editors with her Black Edit, a striking ready-to-wear capsule collection of bridal dresses and separates reimagined in black.

This formalwear collection was a direct result of requests from her loyal bridal customers, desperate to get their hands on a Halfpenny evening wear range. A little more risqué, this collection had a rock and roll edge with soft leather, feathers and fringes to add a grown up feel. 

Her most recent bridal collections are made up of luxurious textiles including silk, lace, embroidery and satin. Her uncompromising nature means that every piece is designed with care and attention, quite often with grand destinations in mind such as the red carpet or celebrity weddings. 

Kate always designs to meet the demand of what women want. With that in mind, she realised that she needn’t stop at bridalwear. She has worked tirelessly to help brides express their individual style so why can’t that also be true for bridesmaids? That’s why she decided to launch her own curated bridesmaid collection which launches in January 2020.

The ‘Sister’ collection is steeped in Kate’s signature ethos of versatility and individual expression, and it is aptly named to suit the strong bonds that women form:

“I love the word Sister. It could mean family but it could also mean your best friend or your wing woman. Speaking as someone who had a huge number of bridesmaids at my wedding, I know from experience that dressing a group of fabulous, diverse women in a way where they feel amazing, yet look like a cohesive wedding party is a challenge! Luckily, that’s what myself and my team do every single day.”

The range centres around three key colour options. Dirty Pink would suit the ethereal bride, definitely a feminine vibe. The Pewter shade is a vibrant metallic silver that is a modern neutral, likely to work with most colour schemes. The Navy is a deep, luxurious shade of blue – a colour that will never go out of fashion. The three colours compliment each other perfectly, meaning that each bridesmaid could wear a different option and the end result would still be a cohesive look. 

As well as having a range of colours to choose from, there are several designs to peruse. With not a boring strapless dress in sight, Kate has outdone herself by curating a collection of dresses, separates and even a jumpsuit to satisfy every style.

You can see that Kate has a deep understanding of what women want from a bridesmaid dress. Wrap skirts tie at the waist to flatter every body shape. Interchangeable tops and camisoles offer endless combinations that mean every bridesmaid has options. There are several removable sleeve designs too, meaning that multiple looks can be achieved from one garment. There is no one-style-fits-all rule here. Even the wide leg jumpsuit has a modern twist with an off the shoulder bodice and balloon sleeves. 

The most joyous part of all this is that Kate has created pieces that are not confined to just one day. “They’ve all been designed to be worn on the wedding day, then incorporated into your wardrobe afterwards to wear again and again, styled in your own unique way.” 

To reflect the personal love and attention that Kate has put into her designs, it seems fitting that each piece has been named after one of her real-life bridesmaids. When asked in an interview what she loves most about her job, Kate answered simply “Making people’s dreams come true, creating a dress that they could have only ever of imagined. It’s such a gorgeous job to have: to make people so happy.”

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Fiona Reid

Fiona Thomas is a lifestyle blogger based in Birmingham. She graduated with a degree in Commercial Music where she snuck into several journalism classes and realised her real passion was writing. She had a successful career in management for several years before returning to her calling and started developing Fiona Likes to Blog, whilst working freelance for other websites. She is a keen advocate of positive body image, mental health awareness, fitness and wellbeing.