75 – the number for Haute Couture in Edinburgh!

75 – the number for Haute Couture in Edinburgh!

Just recently, I had the pleasure to meet Mette Baillie, Proprietrix of Freja Fashion in Edinburgh. Mette is an amazing lady, originally from Denmark, with a four-year degree in Haute Couture Design. Mette started her business in Edinburgh, responding to a demand for an Edinburgh based Haute Couture Dress Designer! Mette does her magic from 75-79 Cumberland Street Edinburgh EH3 6RD, and employs 4 staff. All her girls have completed Dress Making apprenticeships abroad, and one has a degree from Herriot Watt. ! So they are a well-trained team of very skilled people!

How do you go about having your own wedding dress designed?

A bride to be initially sends an enquiry and Mette reponds with initial information about the design process with Freja Fashion. The next step is an appointment with Mette where the wedding details are discussed, together with the bride’s dress requirements. For example, a wedding on the beach in Antigua requires a different dress from a wedding in a stately home in Scotland!

The process is not sales driven, but quality-focussed! During the first meeting, Mette will establish what the bride likes about herself, and what type of garment she feels comfortable in. Does she have a tattoo, or a scar, for example, she wishes to cover up for the wedding?

The next big point on the plan for the perfect dress is, of course, the fabric. What is the main character of the dress material? Floaty, stiff, solid, fluid? Mette has literally hundreds of fabric samples at her finger tips. The bride can see and feel the different properties of the fabrics and Mette can show the bride what the material would look like by draping over a tailors dummy. If more is required, there is a selection of photo albums with many dresses that Mette and her team have designed and produced.

Freja Fashion’s main fabric suppliers are all UK based. Nowadays, most wedding dresses are produced in the Far East. That’s one of the reasons why some wedding dress shops urge their customers to order their dress sometimes 12 or more months before their wedding. For Mette it is important, that her fabric has an ethical background, and her suppliers can confirm the fabrics are sourced conscientiously.

Another interesting fact: Brides can also bring their own material. Again, an off the rail dress shop would be very limited with the garments they have on offer.

Following the initial meeting, Mette will take the time to put her design ideas down on paper, collated with the different requirements of the bride. The bride will then receive a design proof, a quote, and a contract. And because Mette loves her job, she can never quite stop drawing after the first design, but usually provides a few design options. This will then give the bride the chance to combine the ideas on the proofs and come up with the perfect wedding dress!

I remember very well trying to buy my own wedding dress in the UK. All they had to offer was sleeveless, shoulder free dresses. I didn’t want that for my wedding. And Mette confirms that she designs a lot of dresses with sleeves, shoulder cover and interesting necklines, because the wedding dress shops are very limited with the dresses they can offer.

If a wedding dress shop recommends buying a dress 12 months before the wedding, how long does it take to design a dress?

The average time from initial contact to dress delivery is 6 months. So there is no need to have the initial consultation any more than 6 or 7 months prior to the wedding. Therefore, having your own dress designed from scratch and delivered can be a much faster process than just picking one of the racks in a shop! How fantastic!

Mette said that during the Winter months, a dress can often be completed in an even shorter period, but it’s harder to do that during the busy summer months, due to the popularity of Mettes Designs.

After the initial meeting, the bride will receive first designs within 1-2 weeks. Many brides like to get the dress started straight away so they know it’s well under way, and one less thing to worry about!

The first fitting – Toile

I am learning a lot of new words today. Toile… After the designs have been agreed, the bride comes back for the first fitting to try on the toile, which I have been told is a mock up of the dress made of sheet fabric. It looked very strange on the dummy, but once Mette explained the process, it all started to make sense! This allows the designer to shape the dress on the person. One of the most important things is to check if the dress is well balanced. Is it centred front and back, and are the sides hanging straight down? If you had a collar bone fracture there might be differences in posture which are taken into consideration. The waist and hip lines are drawn on the toile so the dress will look proportional. This all plays an important part so that the dress is shaped perfectly for your own body.

The dress mock up has a lot of notes on it which allows the staff to translate the mock up into the actual wedding dress. Only after the initial two stages, the actual selected fabric is used to produce the dress.

At the next fitting, the bride can wear her dress in the actual chosen fabric. The dress does not contain any buttons or zips. Again, Mette will check if the posture is OK, and the dress sits perfectly. Adjustments are made to the length of straps for example, and the posture of a person will determine how much netting is required under the dress to show off the fabric.

In comparison for example, with an off the rail dress, they can only take up the hem but not alter the dress to take your body into consideration.

At Freja Fashion, everyone is involved in each garment. Every wedding dress is a combination of the expertise of five experienced people. Usually, the girls will attend the client meeting and take notes so that it is easier to translate the drawings and mock-up details into the proper wedding dress.

The third meeting could be the final one. It sounds quite complicated, but it’s a magical process as you are being part of your most important dress being brought to life.

How much does it cost?

Dresses start at around £1500 and at Freja Fashion, you will have a lot more variety than in a shop with brand limitations.

For what you pay for an off the rail dress from a retailer, you will still need to calculate £200 to £300 for alterations. This is all included in Mette’s dresses, obviously. The quoted price is the final price for the dress.


So, Mette, did you design your own wedding dress?

A resounding YES was the answer: I made mine way too close to my wedding. But I made a denim version of my dress before that, which i still wear, and I have been married for 17 years!

How do people find out about the business?

A lot of Mette’s clients find out about her by recommendation and through her website. Her work is often featured in wedding magazines, and quite a few wedding suppliers recommend her work.

And, Freja Fashion has been in the Final three of the Vows Awards for the last three years and they won the award in 2009. And Freja Fashion has just been nominated for the 2011 Vows Awards! Congratulations!!!

Find out more about Freja Fashion online.