We sit down to catch up with Chenca Williams, to talk about the history of her shop, Royal Weddings and her advice to all her Brides...
1) Do you remember the first time you saw a wedding dress?
My first recollections of “White” were tutus, sadly not one of my Mothers marvellous creations! All was a blur of stage lights & tulle!!!
2) What did you think?
I grew up surrounded by wedding dresses so I hate to admit they seemed normal to me if rather huge!
3) Tell us about the history of your shop...
My Mother started the company over 40 years ago opening her first boutique in Chelsea in the Fulham Road and then we moved to Connaught Street in Connaught Village around 30 years ago as we were expanding and needed more space to evolve - luckily we fell upon this boutique. I have only been running this boutique and the business by myself since 2015 as both my parents worked into their eighties and I am making this my life’s mission to continue my Mothers legacy....
4) How many wedding dresses have you sold in your time?
Gosh, well, that would take me a month’s homework to go back on 40 years but I feel that our longevity states it all as recommendations are worth more than anything in this industry as the bride is your walking advert!
5) What is your favourite aspect of your job?
Meeting people at such an important moment in their lives and spouting my revelations to them! Giving my brides their confidence back when they have insecurities as we are all too hard on ourselves since “Photoshop” & “Youth” took over the world! Well, I’m sorry there’s nothing better than a mature woman! Yes, I know I’m bias!
I also love being able to advise what is flattering on a particular client as I’ve been around a long time on this planet and feel able to do so honestly. Most of all, I love being able to make every woman look beautiful whatever age or size, as we all are beautiful - it’s just sometimes we need a little help.
6) Tell us about a fond memory in your shop...
All my brides are fond memories as they each have their own unique story.
7) What's your favourite style of wedding dress?
I’m rather a prude when it comes to wedding dresses and love a covered bride as there’s a time and a place to get your flesh out and that’s the beach as far as I’m concerned! Joking aside, I love the feel and movement of silk crepe and a clean silhouette as you cannot go wrong wearing elegant clothes, no matter what fashion dictates.
8) Have you seen the style of bridal dresses change through influences from Meghan and Kate?
Hard question - Kate influenced. Meghan didn’t. Eugenie - yet to see. I designed a similar dress like Meghan’s in 2015 but without the price point! Ritva designed a similar dress like Kate’s in the 1970’s so her dress continued the demand for lace on dresses.
Eugenie’s dress at last was a good proper structured wedding dress and i'm so excited to have found Ritva’s pattern from 1981, so I’m ready if this look takes off again!
9) If you could give any advice to a bride, what would it be?
Be yourself. Remember this is about “love not your hips”! Book appointments with people that have been in the industry for a long time and not a massive chains full of tat! Most small independents are still here because they have worked long and hard and believe in their product and have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to help you decide what type of bride you wish to be.
10) What is your proudest achievement in your career?
Surviving 25 years of being a ballerina & surviving 18 years in bridal.
11) What is your favourite thing about Connaught Village?
A great sense of belonging to a community with proactive landlords that are actively regenerating the area into our “Connaught Village” and keeping small businesses alive... the world needs more villages!