Building on the reputation of half a century of quality design and intricate attention to detail, Regine Ellis has been the driving force behind the brand’s successes for the past 15 years. In this time, John Charles has been awarded Best Occasionwear Collection by Bridal Buyer Magazine three years running which resulted in the brand being inducted into their Hall of Fame. The brand also recently won the award at the Retail Bridal Associationand has been nominated for best womenswear at the Drapers Independent Awards 2015
Here Regine takes us behind the name
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work within the company?
Regine: I am the very proud creative director of John Charles and live in leafy North London with my husband Barry. He is also the managing director here. My son James is also heavily involved in the business, so it’s a real family brand – we live and breathe what we do! I love my job, I feel so lucky that every day I get to go to work and be surrounded by friends, family and lots of beautiful dresses!
When and where did your love of design start?
Regine: My passion for design started at a very young age. I would follow my mother around the local dressmakers, picking up all of her skills and in turn creating my own little projects. As a young girl I was obsessed with how garments were put together. Having this experience so early on really helped to develop my love of fashion and appreciation of well-cut garments.
Your pieces are always very glamorous and sophisticated, where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I am constantly inspired by not just the latest trends in London, which I am very lucky to be surrounded by, but also those classically chic films like ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, ‘The Great Gatsby’ (original!) or the much more recent ‘A Single Man‘, Tom Ford’s first film as director. The costumes and styling oozes modern sophistication. A great reference I go back to again and again.
How do you work the designs in your collection around the fact that there are people of many different shapes, heights and sizes?
We design to compliment a figure, not to mask it. A John Charles outfit gently hugs the body and gifts you that very feminine silhouette. Each outfit is created with a unique, signature John Charles structure that does just that. It’s the reason our customers come back to us time and time again.
Also, how do you approach the difference in seasons?
Colours in summer are brighter and fabrics lighter. We also include some pieces that are specifically for a particular season, such as the brand new coat we introduced for Fall 2015. This was a big hit with our retailers, it’s a great look for winter and the tailored finish gives a very elegant layer to your outfit. However, we do also see our collections as transitional, with many designs working whatever the season.
On your website it says that you like to subtly incorporate new trends, are there any upcoming trends that you could tell us about?
I think illusion necklines will be big this season; it’s a trend we have seen time and time again on the catwalks and on celebrities. It’s a wonderful way of having that subtle reveal but without needing to expose or lose the shape of your outfit. We’ve worked this into a lot of styles in our latest collection and I believe it’s going to be a big hit for Fall 2015!
And Finally, you have been hugely successful in your work, are there any tips you would give to somebody looking to get involved with designing Mother of the Bride outfits?
You need to have the eye, an attention to detail. A great mother of the bride outfit is all about creating a shape that defines a woman’s natural figure. Over the years we have discovered the shapes that make a woman look and feel glamorous without being overstated.