“When I start designing, I begin with one or two dresses. I don’t have some grand idea I just start with all my ingredients around me, fabrics, beading, books and photos. I begin to make the patterns sometimes on the flat and sometimes on my mannequin. I soon fall in love and become obsessed with the whole process of creating and turning my designs and ideas into real dresses. In the last twenty five years of designing the Alan Hannah collection only once did I find myself stuck and the “falling in love” took so long I started panicking and became lost. That year I designed Martinique one of my most successful designs ever. I learnt not to panic but to persevere.
I normally source fabrics, design beadings and start making sketches well before I start creating the collection, I can’t stop and start, the making needs to be one continuous flow because one dress leads onto the next. This is what gives a collection fluidity and continuity.
Even though I have been creating for such a long time I always learn something new. This year I decided that the collection needed the form and structure that I always put into Alan Hannah but it needed a lighter touch. My daughter Liberty was working on her A level art exam and was inspired by a set of Charles Rennie Mackintosh flower prints which we have in the house and she was experimenting with watercolours. Her light touch approach to her work and her attempt to reach perfection inspired me to call this collection “watercolours”. I have used lots of silk chiffon and soft silk satins to emulate “water” with its movement, its waves on the ocean and its shimmering colours which are transported and subtly changed by the reflections of the light. I have also introduced colour through original paintings on the dresses. I have been working with a wonderful artist from Spain who has painted three new works which will feature in the new collection.
Another element which adds to the beauty of the soft swaying fabrics and translucent colours is the new beading I have introduced. I work exclusively and collaboratively with two very gifted beaders. In the UK I work with an amazing tamber beader whose skill and expertise has come from working with the country’s top fashion designers over the past 25 years. The other comes from a very talented Indian family who have for generations created the most amazing needlework and beading that you could imagine. The techniques and designs have been passed down the generations and some are even the secret of one family. I am dedicated to helping to preserve these precious skills and that is why I always want to work with these kind of artists and also why I always want to make my dresses here in England with my dedicated and skilful seamstresses. This is the heart and soul of my collection and I hope this message can be explained to each individual bride who buys one of my designs and hope that by wearing an Alan Hannah gown they can feel proud that not only is their dream made in England but it also holds an historical value in that it is composed of fabric from small mills in France or Italy, or hand painted in Spain or beaded from techniques handed down from countless generations in this country or in India.
I absolutely love what I do and I wanted to share this with all my brides and retailers. When I go to work I often stop, look around and think how lucky I am to be able to keep so much alive through my design and to be able to pass it on to you. I hope I have created a romantic collection of dresses that brides will love to wear on their wedding day.”
Marguerite Hannah spring 2015