Catching up with designer and royal favorite Jenny Packham
British designer Jenny Packham is well-known for her romantic and delicately beaded bridal gowns, as well as a ready-to-wear line that boasts elegant evening wear and special occasion attire that generally has a vintage feel perfect for her fans, such as Dita Von Teese, Reese Witherspoon and Emma Roberts. But the designer has been in the limelight lately because in addition to the bevy of actresses donning her dresses on the red carpet (Angelina Jolie, J Lo and Elle Fanning), the Duchess of Cambridge has worn her dresses several times, including the dazzling beaded gown she chose for the ARK gala dinner -- arguably Catherine's most show-stopping appearance since her wedding day.
Packham was in L.A this week shooting a campaign for her next bridal collection (it's her first campaign shot in Southern California, set in an impressive home in Malibu). We caught up with her to see what she’s working on and how this royal frenzy has affected her.
So much attention has been put on what Catherine is wearing, whether she’s stepping off a plane or walking the red carpet. Has it been interesting to see her in your dresses multiple times?
I think she’s been an amazing ambassador for British fashion, especially in the way she marries designer clothing with high street fashion. The first time she wore one of our dresses was at the Ark gala. But we’ve got Angelina Jolie and so many exciting people wearing the dresses as well.
You’re well-known for your romantic, often vintage-inspired bridal gowns. Do you ever cross over with ready-to-wear and bridal?
The lines are very separate to me as far as businesses go. With bridal, every single dress has to have something that makes it extremely special. The ready-to-wear does too, but for bridal a woman really has to fall in love with the piece. Also, each market is so specific for bridal. Certain markets like different styles. Some can wear this and not wear this, some need sleeves … but it’s nice that sometimes we do get a shape that works in both collections.
Also, the jewelry and head pieces we make tie back into the bridal dresses. I think we’re finding a lot that brides want to buy into the whole look. They can be so overwhelmed by all the choices on how to look, so with the campaigns and accessories, we’re presenting an image that’s strong enough to appeal to somebody who might want to look like that.
And that goes for the lingerie line too? It’s very glamorous lingerie.
Yes, it’s very decadent and luxurious. Many pieces have beading and feathers. Strangely enough, the pieces that are really selling are the more elaborate pieces. A lot of people get them as wedding night outfits. It’s not lingerie to sleep in.
-- Melissa Magsaysay
Photos (from top): The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the 10th annual Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) gala dinner at Kensington Palace in London on June 9. Credit: Arthur Edwards / Reuters.
Catherine at the Foundation Polo Challenge at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet club last week. Credit: Jae Hong / Associated Press
A bridal gown from Jenny Packham's 2011 bridal collection. Credit: Jenny Packham
Catherine arrives at Calgary Airport on July 7. Credit: Chris Jackson / Getty Images