Princess Perfect

Everyone is wondering what Kate Middleton might wear on her Big Day. Raishma, who designed dresses for princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, may have the answer

Posted: 01.03.12

As both mainstream and the elite Asian fashionista know only too well, Raishma Islam is the epitome of style and elegance. With over a decade of professional fashion design under her belt, the British born Pakistani designer has long been a favourite with discerning brides and celebrities.

Having trained under Elizabeth Emanuel, the coutourist behind Princess Diana’s lavish fairytale gown, Raishma’s expertise is now being sought by mainstream fashion editors to advise future princess Kate Middleton on her Big Day dress. Exclusively for Asiana Wedding magazine, Raishma has created a sketch of the dress she believes would best suit the royal family’s newest member.

She muses: ‘I feel that Kate should opt for lace, with a touch of hand beading, threadwork and pearls. A high collar would look stylish while long sleeves will create a grand, yet elegant image. Delicate tiny buttons, and a stunning scalloped lace train, with a long tulle veil with pearls would finish off the look beautifully.’

After designing dresses for HRH Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Raishma is the perfect choice not just for Kate, but for any bride who dreams of looking and feeling like the most beautiful woman in the world.

A lifelong fashion designer, Raishma discovered her passion for fashion when she was a child, designing her first collection of eveningwear aged just nine. Her initial inspiration was observing her mother, followed by seeing the opulent costumes in classic Indian movie Pakeezah. Discovering a niche for fusionwear, she developed a signature style that captures the vibrancy and colour of eastern influences teamed with tailored western looks. Upon completing her fashion degree at De Montfort University, she wowed a plethora of high-end British fashion designers while on work placement, before landing a job as Assistant Designer to Elizabeth Emanuel. Learning from such high calibre mentors allowed Raishma to unleash her own creativity and, at the tender age of 25, she opened her first showroom in Wembley. 13 years on, Raishma has established a reputation as one of the UK’s most prolific Asian bridalwear designers.

Pioneering feminine cuts that flatter the female form, Raishma recognised the importance of employing draping, boning, corsetry and professional finishing to create beautiful dresses with the wow factor. Raishma explains: ‘I love creating Oscar winning garments that give the wearer that red carpet experience – while the market is saturated with bling, my designs are all one-off creations with a timeless appeal that flatter the wearer, making her feel magnificent without looking over done. My belief has always been: less is more.’

But while you may have presumed this level of expertise and a personalised service was reserved only for the elite bride, Raishma is pleased to dispel these myths: ‘Most women who visit me are surprised at just how affordable high-end couture can be and, of course, I will always work within your budget. I recommend you come into my showroom and try on the collection – you may have an idea of what you want, but until it’s on your body you won’t know if it’s right for you.’

At your first appointment inside Raishma’s bright and welcoming showroom in Green Street, either Raishma or her assistant Sharon who is also trained to the highest fashion standards will discuss your ideas, and assist you to try on the samples from the rails of gorgeous gowns and delectable dresses. Sketches like the one featured here for Kate, will then be drawn up followed by a fitting of a cotton toile of the garment so that any adjustments can be made before the design is transferred onto the fabric of your choice. Every garment is made from the finest fabrics, from luxurious silks to satins and organzas that are lovingly embellished with pearls, Swarovski crystals, appliqué and beadwork.

As well as creating the perfect dress for the bride, Raishma offers a full design service for all members of the bridal party and not just female guests. Groomswear is a key aspect of Raishma’s collection, ensuring your husband-to-be’s outfit complements yours without having him see the dress before its unveiling on the Big Day. Naturally, not every bride wants a flowing ballgown, and Raishma’s full portfolio of Asian garments are equally breathtaking. Her Spring 2011 collection captures a more traditional look than is usually associated with her signature style, emphasising embroidery and stonework, perfect for wedding ceremonies. She’s just as happy to create intricate shararas and long ghararas, a favourite among women attending stylish events and parties.

It’s at such gala nights that her celebrity clientele turn to Raishma for advice. Dressing the likes of actresses (Shobna Gulati), pop stars (Mel B), and even politician’s wives (Ffion Hague), her designs have been featured in the mainstream press on numerous occasions and she’s made many a television appearance, from The Big Breakfast to Wedding TV.

But it’s being in-store, designing for real women that really inspires Raishma, especially when she’s faced with a challenge. She reveals: ‘A week after Asiana’s Elite Bride Show last April I was visited by a bride who fell in love with my designs and I couldn’t wait to spend the next five months creating her dream dress. Then all a sudden she called to say the wedding had been brought forward and was just five weeks away. Needless to say it was quite a shock, but a job is a job, and it’s only done when it’s done to perfection.’

Never one to compromise on style or quality, and with a client list that stretches across the seas, Raishma continues to celebrate the female form by designing stunning dresses that dazzle the international fashion world whilst ensuring every one of her brides looks every bit the princess.

Raishma at a glance:

1995 Graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fashion at Leicester’s De Montfort University
1996 Completed work placements with Bella Freud, Red or Dead, Bruce Oldfield and Zandra Rhodes
1997 Assistant designer to bridal designer
Elizabeth Emanuel
1998 Opened fashion store Ealing Road, Wembley
2003 Relocated store to Green Street
2005 Exhibited at Bridal Asia in Delhi
2007 Dressed Princess Beatrice and Eugenie
2010 Showcase at Asiana Elite Bride Show
2011 Raishma is asked to advise Kate Middleton

• Raishma Brides
37 Green Street, London, E7 8DA.
t: 020 8552 6751
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