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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Cumbrian student launches fashion business aimed at 'real women'

An entrepreneurial young fashion designer has vowed her clothes will be for “real women”.

Designer Bryony photo
Bryony Harding, left, with Mary Mattinson in one of her creations

Bryony Harding’s couture evening and bridal gown business is in its early days – currently run from the bedroom of her mum’s home in Cross Grove, Wigton.

But the University of Cumbria costume student has already lined up her first fashion show, and is passionate about her future.

The 20-year-old said: “I want to finish my studies because getting into uni was quite a big thing for me. I was ecstatic, after being told I’d never get in.

“After my final year I want to get into getting my name out there.”

Her company is called Gabrielle Couture, after her 11-year-old sister, and has been brought together in little more than six weeks.

While the student has always had a passion for fashion and design – already completing a foundation degree in costume at Carlisle College and now in her final year studying costume in performance and production at the uni – she had never managed to translate this into a business.

A talk at the university by a member of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce ignited a spark though, and Bryony “hung back” to ask for further advice.

The organisation has since offered her endless advice on funding sources and setting up a business.

“The speaker told me; ‘we are going to make this amazing’ and told me to make an appointment,” she recalls. “Catherynn Dunstan of the chamber of commerce then cornered me and told me she wanted a fashion show.”

Working flat out – and using all of her student finances to fund it – Bryony has designed 16 gowns to be modelled at the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce Women in Business conference and awards lunch.

Bryony says: “I haven’t hired professional models, because I wanted my show to be for real women. One of my models is 17 and a size six to eight, while another is 52 and a size 20.

“All of the gowns are evening wear, and some of the models have already expressed an interest in buying them afterwards.”

While only in the early stages of her fledgling career, Bryony is firm on her stance that it does not matter what a woman likes like, they can still wear fabulous clothes.

“The way I work is that I look at the model, at their shape and colouring, and design clothing around them,” she explains. “If they have an hourglass figure I design clothes to accentuate their waist, whereas if they’re an apple shape I will highlight the breasts or bottom. Models on the catwalks are all size zero, but we’re not like that in real life – we’re the size we’re supposed to be and we have curves.

“My clothes and designs are all about working with the curves and not against them and making people feel good in what they’re wearing.”

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