Sweet jars filled with colour coordinated threads adorn the shelves in Sabina Ali’s East London studio where she creates her line of evening & cocktail style wedding dresses, Motasem dresses. When we meet, she is preparing for a sample sale where brides-to-be and fashionistas alike will be hoping to snap up a dress which is just as perfect for a bride as for an evening occasion.
After jobs as fashion designer for the high street stores Jigsaw and M&S, Motasem was born in 2005 when Sabina received her fifth comission for a cocktail style wedding dress. Further research showed that brides were looking for dresses priced between £500-1000 and felt that they were lacking choice. The Motasem collection provides a range of dresses that are affordable and are for the glamourous bride rather than the fairytale princess.
Not simply an off-the-peg dress, Motasem dresses can be customised from a template. Brides can choose the length of the dress and add sleeves, add a puddle train and choose the colour of the ribbon detail. Eco conscious brides can also have the dress made in organic silk.
How does Motasem contibute to an ethical wedding?
The range is created in ivory silk which is the natural colour, not dyed, so brides can feel comfortable even if they don’t choose the organic option which has no chemical finishes, but can cost 15% more. The dresses are made in the UK and can be worn again as the style is so versatile, rather than hanging it in a wardrobe for years. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing white as a guest at a wedding or evening occasion, then there is the option to dye it after your wedding. The Lotus dress has been designed so there is no stitching on the outside meaning it dyes really well.
The collection is championed by the professional woman aged 28-45 who doesn’t want to look frumpy. The most popular dresses are Cecaelia and Alaya. The perfect way to style the dress is with a vintage hair piece and feather shrug – Chanel with an edge.
Who would you most like to dress?
Natalie Portman. She is gorgeous, but not a girly girl. She is independent and has strong ethical principles. Natalie has recently launched her own vegan shoe collection and wears Beyond Skin shoes in her film ‘V for Vendetta’
What trends do you see growing in weddings?
There is a grown in off-the-peg dresses. In the last 5 years we have seen a development in weddings from church to civil ceremonies, destination weddings, second weddings and older brides plus mixed culture weddings. There are many smaller civil ceremonies and weddings where there is less money available but couples still want the glamour. People want the bridal experience.
More brides are now planning their weddings in their lunch hour as they lead busy professional lives so we will be seeing a growth in online shopping for bridalwaer. Like Natalie Massey did for Net-a-Porter, we will be able to buy designer bridal on the web. Motasem would be perfect for this as the dresses are not structured so dont need endless measuring and re-fitting – just pick your dress size and go! The dresses just take 5 weeks to make from ordering.
What about bridalwear trends?
There is much less strapless and more drapery – using the fabrics to flatter the body in the style of Amanda Wakely. Style is also moving from catwalk to bridal very quickly and picking up inspiration from celebrity weddings. The Alaya dress combines hollywood glamour with catwalk style.
There is a trend for the recessionista – as has been roumoured for SJP’s character in the new Sex and the City film.
What inspires you?
This collection is Grecian and nautical inspired. They are timeless and classsic pieces with a contemporary edge.
What’s next for Motasem?
In her next collection Sabina is planning on adding a bit of sparkle. The range is now stocked in a few stores including Bridal Path & Berkshire Brides where Motasem hangs alongside lines from Jenny Packham and Amanda Wakely.
Stay tuned for big news that Sabina couldn’t disclose but I could see she was bursting with excitement…