Oldfield’s new pastures
The couture services of Bruce Oldfield are now officially part of The Lanesborough’s bridal offering, thanks to a new collaboration between the hotel and the acclaimed fashion designer.
The partnership makes sense, with the pair having a luxury synergy and similar clientele. So much so that at a recent breakfast at the hotel, Bruce bumped into a previous “Oldfield bride” in the dining room.
He divides his time between a country pile in West Sussex, where it is “sublimely quiet” and a central London abode “just down the road”.
The atelier has handily been based nearby on Beauchamp Place since 1983. “You know you’re pretty central when your nearest shop is Harrods,” he jokes.
From his London home and workplace he can walk his two border terriers Boo and Baz down to Colbert for breakfast, a frequent ritual. “I love being able to walk down to Chelsea or the antique shops on Pimlico Road. Plus there’s a good emergency vet on Elizabeth Street.”
When not breakfasting at Colbert, the dogs can often be found sitting in the shop window, and Boo is doted upon by staff here at the dog-friendly Lanesborough.
The very first wedding Bruce did was back in 1976, so he admits to having experience with all kinds of bride, “from difficult ones, to royal brides, to just plain filthy rich brides”. You would think he’d seen and heard it all, but he was recently amused by a Nigerian bride who, upon seeing her finished gown, said: “I love it, but I want my bum to look bigger.” “That request was a first,” he jokes. “But it’s a sign of beauty in certain tribes in Nigeria.”
Is there a typical Bruce Oldfield bride? The answer is that she tends to be “not flashy” but as Bruce says: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make her drink. If you have a 25 year old who has a strong idea about what she wants, the last thing you should be doing is saying no. However, my most oft said edict is, ‘don’t make it too fashion’. Fashion moves so damn fast nowadays.”
Bruce famously dressed and danced with Princess Diana and is now chummy with Camilla, so what does he make of the soon-to-be-wed Princess Eugenie? “I met her at a big wedding in Versailles and she was very sweet and charming,” he says. “I must have done some of the guests at Sarah Ferguson’s wedding but I really can’t remember, it was so long ago. We did see quite a few of our dresses [in the pictures from] Harry and Meghan’s wedding though. I was down in Windsor with ITV and I had my photograph taken with a woman who was wearing a Bruce by Bruce Oldfield dress from John Lewis.”
The current AW18 line is the last collection Bruce has done for the department store. “I’ve done seven seasons for them but it’s run its course now,” he says. “So get in there while you can, at those prices you’d be daft not to.”
The label of course makes gowns for all sorts of occasions, not just bridal, and Bruce has dressed women including Taylor Swift, Rosamund Pike and Rihanna. There are “still loads of people I’d love to dress”, he says, including the Australian actress Cate Blanchett. “Because I’m older, when people ask my idea of a fabulous woman, it’s not 25 year olds. It’s 40 or 50 year olds with character, assurance, polish and grace.”
All Bruce’s dresses are made from start to finish at Beauchamp Place, apart from some of the embroidery. “The process is that firstly a bride-to-be will come in and meet me, because it’s obvious that we have to get on, and with the mother too. If somebody is rude or difficult from the start there is no point.”
As well as couture, Bruce offers a custom-made service. “Whereas a couture gown might be £12,000, a custom-made one is £3,000 and the difference is you get measured and then we go straight into cloth.”
You can see some of his creations, both couture and custom, on Instagram, where Bruce enjoys posting in preference to watching television. “I love Instagram, although I’m getting told off because apparently I post too many pictures of flowers and dogs. So I’m putting up more pictures of dresses and collaborations now.” Flowers, dogs and designer gowns – sounds like a winning formula to me.
Brides-to-be can enjoy tea for two at Céleste, followed by a Rolls-Royce ride to the Bruce Oldfield atelier on Beauchamp Place for a consultation and original sketch by the designer himself for £250.