The designer – Erin Clare
Every woman wants to feel like a princess on their wedding day. Helping brides turn their dream dress into reality, local designer Erin Clare says the look on her bride’s faces when they find “the one” is what motivates her the most. She shares the inspiration behind her creations with Profile.
Running her hand along the intricate white lace of one of her stunning gowns at her Noosa studio, local designer Erin Clare proudly introduces me to her “girls”.
“This is Willow,” she says, “and this one over here is Annabelle, oh and this is one of my favourites, Audrey.”
It’s not her daughters I’m becoming acquainted with but rather her stunning collection of wedding gowns, each of which has a special place in her heart.
“I don’t have daughters, so these are my girls,” she laughs.
Erin’s love of design and dressmaking stems back to her childhood. Born in Australia to an English mother and Zimbabwean father, the mother of two boys spent her formative years in Zimbabwe and South Africa and fondly recalls watching her grandmother, also a dressmaker, as she made garments for her five daughters and two sons.
“I have always played with fabrics and laces. My grandmother used to work her day job and then come home and sew. I would play with all of her offcuts. Before I could sew I would sticky tape the material together.
“I never actually played with Barbies but I had the best dressed Barbie,” says Erin.
Completing her formal training in fashion design and manufacture in Port Elizabeth, Erin and her husband Patrick moved their young family to Noosa, where Erin set up her home-based business Erin Clare in 2002.
The business has since gone from strength to strength, with the rapidly growing label now supplied to boutiques in Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles, with plans to continue expanding both nationally and internationally.
“We moved to the Sunshine Coast because it’s a beautiful place to raise children. At that stage my now 21-year-old son was only seven so my husband and I wanted him to grow up in Australia, and Noosa is just such a beautiful community.”
Describing her gowns as “relaxed and little bit boho”, the inspiration behind Erin’s feminine designs stems from her own experience as a bride.
“When I got married I looked around and there was nothing I liked. I was embarrassed to try on some of the dresses that were offered as wedding gowns,” she says.
“I was working as an assistant designer at the time so I designed my own gown and the company I worked for made it. It was my dream dress – my gowns are not dissimilar to what I designed back then – very organic, very relaxed, they are definitely not your cookie-cutter wedding gowns.”
Designed and custom-made by a team of highly skilled hand-picked seamstresses on the Sunshine Coast, Erin says she loves nothing more than seeing the look on
her brides’ faces when they find their perfect gown.
“I love them to have a play and try on things they might not usually wear. A lot of brides are surprised at how stunning they look in dresses they wouldn’t have considered,” says Erin.
And when it comes to the perfect gown, Erin says less is always more.
“I prefer more modest designs, but with an element of sexiness. Balance is the key, rather than having everything on show, I like to play with the designs to allow the bride to feel sexy but not too revealing.
“It could be a sheer back or a fitted underlay so as you move you see your shape with a gathered lace overlay.”
When I got married I looked around and there was nothing I liked. I was embarrassed to try on some of the dresses that were offered as wedding gowns.”
A typical day for Erin starts at 5am and can see her sketching new designs, creating new patterns, meeting with her brides or out on a styled wedding shoot, and she loves every minute of it.
“I absolutely love working in the wedding industry, it’s so much fun to be part of it all,” says Erin.
“I have huge days but it doesn’t feel like work. It’s so varied. Yesterday I was on a photo shoot in Maleny working with photographers, videographers, hair and make-up artists, models – so much fun.”
Erin talks of her brides like family and says the reward she gets from seeing them open their dress for the first time is always emotional.
“One of my brides ordered our Willow gown but she wanted to change the neckline quite dramatically, so we did it slowly and had a number of fittings so it was just right. When she came in recently and I unzipped the bag, she was in tears and she hadn’t even tried it! Seeing it exactly as she had envisioned it was just wonderful.”
I absolutely love working in the wedding industry, it’s so much fun to be part of it all.”
When it comes to wedding gown advice for brides to be, Erin says being organised is the key.
“When planning your wedding, consider ordering your gown six to eight months in advance.
“A lot of brides worry about dropping weight before the big day but we can always take the gown in and I always encourage my brides to stay true to themselves. They are proposed to the way they are and loved the way they are so be who you are and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.”
Wise words indeed Erin and if you are donning an Erin Clare gown, you’re certain to turn heads on your big day for all the right reasons!
Erin Clare shares her own love story
How did you meet your husband?
We were introduced when I was at work by a mutual friend. As the assistant designer I was under a lot of pressure at work so we didn’t really have time to chat but the brief introduction was enough and Patrick called me later that day to ask me out on our first date.
How did he propose?
We had been out to dinner at a beautiful French restaurant and had an amazing evening, we were walking through their gardens under the most incredible sky when he suddenly sounded very nervous…
When did you get married?
The spring of 1999 in a quaint church near Cape Town. We held our reception at a heritage listed wine estate.
What does love mean to you?
Where you can grow together into better versions of yourself with a deep sense of peace and trust. This is shown in kindness, compassion and consistent consideration for your loved ones.