10 Questions for Kate Halfpenny
All Images: Halfpenny London
Thinking consciously when planning your wedding means looking past your wedding day to the use of things in the future. Kate Halfpenny does just that. We ask her 10 Questions about sustainable bridalwear and re wearing your wedding dress.
Weddings are notoriously wasteful, and nothing could be more wasteful than buying a very expensive dress to wear once. At The Vendeur, we are big fans of eco alternatives, like reselling or renting your bridal looks. However we think that Kate Halfpenny has simply and elegantly hit upon a great solution for getting a little more from your wedding dress. In her previous life as a fashion stylist (and friends with Kate Moss no less) Kate grew to understand how the form can be dressed impeccably. Her bridalwear label, Halfpenny London has been proudly made in London for the last 15 years. Not only does she utilise waste and dead stock fabrics when other bridal designers will only touch virgin fabrics, but she considers each piece well beyond it’s special event.
Kate insists that the pieces for every collection are versatile and interchangeable. She is well known for her modern but elegant separates as well as her wearable dresses and suits. A wedding outfit from Halfpenny London would look as comfortable at a party, or the theatre as it would at the end of an aisle, saying ‘I Do.’ In a world of waste, sustainable design means solving a problem, and Kate Halfpenny has stepped up to the plate. We asked the designer 10 Questions about rewearing, sustainable materials and the state of the wedding industry in a post COVID world.
The Vendeur: 2020 was a brutal year for the wedding industry, what inspired you to keep designing?
Kate Halfpenny: In times of crisis, my default reaction is to immerse myself in everything I find beautiful. I find it comforting to focus on something exquisite, even just for a moment. It helps me to remember that no matter how dark the night becomes, the sun will inevitably rise. It’s mind-boggling to think how much life has changed in less than a year, but love is not cancelled and people still want to celebrate their love. Even if it’s delayed, we just keep going. If my designs, or images, or videos, or anything we put out at the moment brings one person a moment of distraction and joy then I’ll be very happy.
TV: You’re known for your separates that can be worn in unique ways then reworn after the wedding, what is the inspiration for you behind this functional way of designing bridal wear?
KH: I think this comes from my days as a stylist and working with women with all sort of different body shapes. Often I’d work with separates which allowed me to create the ultimate outfit for someone and I wanted to bring that into my bridalwear. I love mixing fabrics and textures so it gives me the opportunity to throw more at an outfit and layer pieces to get the exact look a bride wants. It’s about freedom.
Being able to re-wear pieces isn’t something that informs the design process for me as I view that adaptability as a necessity in life. Even some of the bigger ballgowns can have the train removed and styled with something else to be worn for a party, when we can have them again! That thought isn’t at the forefront of my mind because I believe that every single thing I design is adaptable to be worn again. There’s an opportunity in every gown I make.
TV: Why is it important to you that bridalwear can be reworn?
KH: I don’t want to create garments that are only worn for one day. I want them to be heirlooms and for them to have a long life, in the same way that vintage ballgowns are customised and re-worn. I don’t work in fast fashion. I don’t want my clothes to be disposable. We’re creating really special pieces so it’s important that they have a life beyond the day.
TV: Do your brides ask for functional rewearable designs or is it an added bonus for them when working with you?
KH: It’s a wonderful added bonus.
TV: Do you offer any other services that allow your brides to continue to wear their pieces even after the wedding? (ie dying, customising etc.)
KH: We don’t because most pieces don’t need to be customised. They’re already wearable in a non-wedding context. Lots of our pieces are made using a variety of different textiles so we wouldn’t recommend dyeing them. Ivory and light coloured pieces are so beautiful and I’d rather suggest styling it differently. Team them with a black sweater or colourful jacket, for example, rather than changing the colour of the garment itself.
TV: How do you reimagine your fabric waste?
KH: We repurpose our offcuts and incorporate them into the design of new pieces wherever we can. The beautiful off-cuts of silk organza from the Riri skirt are taken to my mum who makes the most beautiful little flowers which adorn pieces in our Songbird collection, among others. We also donate them to schools and universities to inspire the next generation of designers and we’re planning a collection of limited edition pieces which use end of line fabrics. The fabrics may be left over from bespoke pieces or vintage fabrics I’ve had for years so I’m excited about giving them new life and saving them from ending up in landfill.
TV: Do you find it restrictive to design using your own deadstock fabric and waste?
KH: Not at all. We’ve taken existing patterns so it was more allocation rather than designing and finding a great way to use this fabric in the Halfpenny London way, rather than designing something completely new.
TV: How do you recommend brides shop more sustainably?
KH: I think they need to look at the company they’re planning to buy their dress from. Research how they manufacture and source. If you want a piece that’s made in Britain from start to finish then that’s no problem at Halfpenny London. However it’s always good to check. For example, we source some of our beading from artisans in India and donate a portion of the profits from these pieces back into the community (seen right). Ask the questions and be honest about what’s important to you.
Disclaimer: The people and models in the images featured are not associated with The Vendeur and do not endorse it or the products shown. This post may contain affiliate links. Prices correct at time of publishing.
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