We are delighted to welcome Donatelle Godart to The Mews Notting Hill! Donatelle and Laura are part of a growing movement of young French bridal couture designers who are taking the industry by storm with their effortlessly elegant designs.
Last month I travelled to Paris to meet Donatelle to learn more about the inspiration behind their breathtakingly beautiful designs.
Donatelle Godart: Fresh, Elegant, Effortless.
After the launch of her first collection in 2014, Donatelle quickly gained recognition as a rising star in the world of French bridal couture. Her second collection, released this autumn, has only served to cement this reputation, receiving numerous accolades from prestigious publications including Vogue.
I met Donatelle in her showroom in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the former stomping ground of Hemmingway, Picasso and Sartre amongst others. Born and bred in Paris, as a child, Donatelle loved watching her fashion designer uncle work; sketching and painting in her bedroom for hours on end, she always dreamed of following in his footsteps.
“I’ve loved drawing ever since I was a little girl and I’ve always been drawn to creativity. I used to spend the whole day painting in my room.”
After attending Studio Bercot, a leading Parisian fashion school, Donatelle pursued a career as a fashion editor at a number of glossy magazines. When she couldn’t find the right wedding dress for her own nuptials she created her own and, after a friend asked her to design a wedding dress for her too, the eponymous label was born.
“I would describe my aesthetic as fresh, effortless and elegant.”
Donatelle’s designs are magnificent in their simplicity; perfectly cut and carefully embellished with lace and embroidered silks to create romantic silhouettes with a timeless quality.
A masterclass in the art of balance, plunging necklines and low backs are paired with long sleeves and free flowing skirts in delicate silk georgette and crêpe de chine to create a feeling of graceful sensuality.
“There is always something which is fluid in my dresses. If there is an element that is fitted, there will always be details which are floaty. I want each dress to have an element of mystery.”
When it comes to fabrics and materials, Donatelle never compromises. A self-confessed ‘stickler’ for quality, the designer only uses the finest French laces and Italian silks and is always on the hunt for new and unique styles of lace to help keep her designs fresh.
Donatelle’s love of the sixties and seventies and, in particular, style icon Jane Birkin, is evident in both collections.
“I am inspired by the universe of photographer David Hamilton and I loved Jane Birkin’s style when she was young. I am always working with this image in my mind.”
Birkin, who is renowned for her uncomplicated bohemian style, would no doubt approve. If you’d like to learn a little more about what makes Donatelle tick, please read on…
Q & A: Donatelle Godart
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Relaxed, fresh and effortless. And I love sleeves! I only have one dress in either collection without sleeves. I think gowns with sleeves are more elegant.
Which designers give you inspiration, who do you admire?
Valentino, for his unbelievable elegance, Chloé for the brand’s ultra-feminine, modern side, and Sonia Rykiel for her timeless freshness.
How does the design process begin?
For every dress I begin with a moodboard. I put together my sketches, some images and a few details I like and very quickly I have a dress.
And where do you draw your inspirations from?
Everywhere! In books, in art and music; I go the library, on Pinterest and I pick up bits and pieces from different worlds which complement one another. My husband loves wandering around galleries and going to exhibitions, so I’d say I get much of my inspiration when I am with him. On the streets I keep an eye out for details, and when I see something I like I always take a photo.
All your designs are handmade in your workshop; talk me through the process…
All my gowns are custom made in Paris by my wonderful team. We’re all about the details and producing a perfect finish. We start with a toile followed by a fitting. I like working on the dress when it is on the mannequin – there is always something I want to change.
What are you favourite materials to work with?
Materials are a huge source of inspiration for me. I love lace, of course. I prefer guipure to the classic Chantilly lace and I’m always looking for something I haven’t seen before. I enjoy using embroidered ribbons and tulle from Calais and Italian silk – I only use top quality materials. When it comes to a wedding dress, a little bit of luxury is essential.
What inspired your latest collection?
For me, this second collection is very poetic because all of the dresses are named after the poems of Walt Whitman – I did a lot of work on the collection while reading his poems.
I always have obsessions when I’m designing – for my first collection it was all about sleeves, this collection it is guipure lace, ‘et voila!’.
How important are accessories? What is your favourite bridal accessory?
I think it’s better to keep things simple, the bride, her dress, a fresh flower crown and perhaps a simple tulle veil. Who needs more?
Please tell me a little bit about the gown you created for your own wedding…
‘A Place in the Sun’, from the first collection, is based on my own wedding gown. I made mine using crêpe georgette, so it was very floaty.
How does being based in Paris influence your designs?
Paris inspires me every day, I love my town, particularly the district I live in – the 10th. I pick up ideas from here, there and everywhere.
How would you describe the ‘je ne sais quoi’ so often attributed to Parisian women?
I think Parisian women dress simply and elegantly, but not over the top. I would say we Parisian women have character. At the moment, all my girlfriends are wearing their boyfriends’ shirts!
What kind of wedding do you imagine one of your brides’ having?
A really simple wedding, in the country or maybe by the sea, with big long tables full of family and friends, candles, flowers and an unfussy, relaxed meal.
Do you have any advice for brides choosing their wedding dress?
I think every bride has her own character, and this should be expressed in her wedding dress. It’s so important that she doesn’t lose her personality. She should feel as beautiful as possible but she absolutely must keep her identity. She should be herself, but in white.