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Jenny Packham

The leading celebrity eveningwear and bridalwear designer talks about preparations for her first ready-to-wear store.

What’s the story behind your first ready-to-wear shop?
We’re opening it in conjunction with London Fashion Week in September. It is also the 20th anniversary of the brand this year, so this seemed like a good time to open the store. It is going to be on Mount Street in London’s Mayfair, which already has stores such as Balenciaga and Marc Jacobs, as well as Scott’s restaurant, so we will be in good company.

It is going to have two floors – a main shop selling both bridal and ready-to-wear ranges upstairs, along with a VIP room, and a showroom downstairs so we can see all our customers there too.

We first thought about opening the store about 18 months ago, and the location we’ve chosen is an old bank vault. Bearing that in mind, it is a long, slow process converting it, and my husband and I are regularly down there at weekends overseeing the work and checking that everything is on track.

How will the store fit in with the rest of the Jenny Packham business?
We already have two standalone stores in London – a bridal store and our bridal accessories boutique The Boudoir – so the ready-to-wear store will complete the trio. We opened the bridal store two years ago, and The Boudoir followed in September last year, selling lingerie, nightwear, shoes, candles and other small gifts for the wedding party and their guests.

How big is your international business?
Russia and the Middle East are big markets for the brand, and we show our bridal collection at Russian Fashion Week once a year. The US is also a huge territory for us, and we have accounts with boutiques Kitson and H Lorenzo in Los Angeles, as well as Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and Oxygene in Miami.

We are growing the business in Spain, and have a good presence in Italy too. The bridal market in particular is moving quickly, and trends are heading towards the more glamorous wedding dresses that I like to design.

How much of your business is driven by celebrity endorsement?
One of the reasons LA is such a big market for us is because we have so many celebrities who wear our dresses. Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe often calls in gowns for her clients, Cameron Diaz ordered a dress from the autumn 08 collection as a potential outfit for the Oscars, and Nelly Furtado has worn one of my dresses on stage.

Elizabeth Hurley wore one of my bridal gowns for her Indian wedding to Arun Nayar, and singer Anastasia wore one at her wedding too.

Why did you decide to show in London this season as opposed to Milan, and what are the differences?
I’ve shown in Milan since 2006, but London is my home, and as we are opening the store here this year I decided it would be good for the profile of the brand to show here.

Milan is traditionally a more glamorous venue and that has always suited me well – it is natural for collections to show 40 evening dresses and this sits well alongside the likes of Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, whereas London is a bit more avant-garde. I plan to show here again next season when we launch the shop, but I’m not sure about after that – I’m still recovering from this season at the moment.

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