I knew the second that I walked through the door that I’d made the right decision. With rails of handmade garments, tables full of pretty paraphernalia, beautiful bunting swinging beneath twinkling fairy lights and a stylish femininity in the air, I immediately felt right at home in The People Shop, officially Birmingham’s nicest shop.
The excitement that had been brewing over the course of a series of increasingly over-enthusiastic emails seeped out into a vocal squeal as I embraced the man himself when he appeared from behind the boutique counter.
Mr Christian was designing a dress, just for me.
I already knew Mr Christian was a man devoted to his art. Many a night does he spend tirelessly working away at his sewing machine, creating fabulously couture gowns for brides, whilst during daylight hours he is one of the faces of The People Shop. I already knew his talents, I’d seen them first hand, and I knew that he was the man who would make a stunning frock for a stylish soiree I was attending.
The design process was perhaps a little unorthodox, what with me living 100 miles away, having a 5-week deadline and the fact that we hadn’t really met. At no point did the unflappable Mr Christian ever intimate that any of these issues might be a problem; he just kept stoking my excitement with subject titles like “A Glam L’il Number!”
I put together a Pinterest board of various dresses that floated my boat. Some things were pretty evident: my aversion to bright colours, my penchant to pin the same dress over and over again in slightly different styles, my obsession with exclamation marks…Mr Christian took it all on board and used my inspiration to sketch some ideas.
When I popped in for my toile fitting, he had gone above and beyond the call of duty and made two options for me to choose from. The first was a sleek pencil line number, the like of which I had banged on about and pinned tirelessly. The second was what he imagined me wearing in his mind’s eye: a shorter, fuller skirted frock with a cheeky little bounce about it.
He was, of course, right. My blind date with dress number two was a smash hit sensation, and even in the basic calico impression I couldn’t stop twirling around the shop as we discussed necklines, underskirts, embellishments and materials. Together with his sidekick Allison, the three of us plotted to create the sassiest little red number whilst they wrapped fake sashes around my waist and pinned pretend bows to my back, front, cleavage and bum!
By the time I walked back into the shop a fortnight later, my ravishing red dress was displayed on a mannequin in the shop, ready for me to try on and take home. This time I fully whooped (in front of other customers) and hit my husband repeatedly saying, “That’s mine! That’s mine!”
Aside from the customised design, the immaculate finish, the sumptuous material and the deep care that had been taken in the creation of my beautiful frock, possibly my most favourite thing about the whole process was that even as I skipped around the shop in it, Mr Christian was still concerned about whether or not I really liked it. His humility and genuine care for his clients is not only endearing but the mark of a true craftsman.
I, of course, could not reply fully with my heartfelt appreciation, as the only phrases that came to mind were not in the least bit ladylike. However, as I twirled around the BALTIC back in August, showing off my bow and telling absolute strangers about my unique dress, I hoped that the genius behind my outfit would know how in love I was with his creation.
If you are thinking of having a wedding dress (or indeed any other beautiful frock) made, I cannot recommend Mr Christian’s services highly enough. Attention to detail and a genuinely personal experience are not to be thought of as secondary to his fantastic skills; the whole process was what girls’ dream of.