In light of it being International Women’s Day today, we have a beautiful styled shoot to share with you all. A shoot that empowers women, celebrates diversity and has inclusivity at its heart. Put together by bridal boutique Halo and Wren and captured so beautifully by Sophie Lake Photography, this stunning bridal editorial was inspired by Halo and Wren’s ethos that all brides are special, no matter their skin tone, ethnicity or body shape, and it is their brides individuality that breathes live into the dresses they sell….
Halo & Wren is a place of not only female empowerment, where every Bride that visits is made to feel like the most beautiful Bride in the world, but also of inclusivity. Halo & Wren is a boutique that all are welcome and I wanted to embrace the normality of our bodies and show our Brides and audience that diversity is the beauty to what makes the gowns look amazing. Captured on an old sunken Roman road that is rich with urban legends of witchcraft and ghosts, this shoot comes with a light and dark theme. Halo and Wren wanted their beautiful dresses and the models that wore them, to be the light within the dark, atmospheric and somewhat eerie location. Jemma, founder of Halo and Wren and the creative director of the shoot, talks us through her inspiration for the shoot, its historical location and the incredible suppliers involved. Happy weekend lovely people….. It’s very easy to get to excited about a concept when I work along side a regular team of contributors to my shoots, all very local businesses. The fact that I can rely on the surrounding area and local Bridal Services makes the shoot feel even more organic and homegrown. Our theme or shoot title at planning stage came from a visit to a local village called Nettleden which is known locally as the location of ‘Spooky Lane’ & ‘Devil’s Bridge’ – the location of our shoot. I grew up not far from the area in Hemel Hempstead, where Halo & Wren is located, and most locals will know of the tales of Devil’s Bridge and Spooky Lane. Historically a Roman road, the road is a sunken, now sided by old trees with tentacle-like roots that top the high brick and flint walls as if they are climbing out of the road, all obviously very inspiring to me. The Road’s furthest documented history built around the time of the third Duke of Bridgewater, was a carriage drive to the nearby stately home Ashridge House along the Golden Valley. It is said the duke had the old Roman road sunken to hide the lady of the house from the stare of the local peasant workers and other non-noble men. But more recently it’s history is associated with urban legends of ghosts and witchcraft curses. There are noted ghost reports including monks walking to a nearby monastery and roman soldiers. It certainly has even in the middle of the day an eery atmosphere. The walls that flank the road are exceptionally high and almost suffocating which all adds to feel. CELESTIAL INSPIRATION… When I visited to check the location for the shoot, I could see how ethereal the gowns would look in this moody atmosphere, I really wanted to gowns to be the light within the dark so this is where the inspiration began. I used celestial themed fabrics to begin building a mood board. With the light being the styling inspo it was easy for the florists Herbert & Isles to create stunning, simple and relaxed bouquets and a statement head piece which was also used as a necklace. Sophie Ellen Smith from Sophie Ellen Style sourced further accessories to complement these natural surroundings from Eden.B including their newly launched Pearl Veil which draped over the models and really added that ghostly element to the shoot. She found an incredible pearl encrusted jacket from ASOS which gave a subtle hint of colour in the moody greens. URBAN YET PRETTY… As the focus of the shoot was to be this incredible natural atmosphere, hair and make up was kept simple and almost urban. Tiffany from Tiffany Rose Hair focused on a slicked back wet look for one of the models and simple shiny hair on the other. Make Up was to compliment the hair beautifully created by Georgia Shults. A wet eye and make up that was pretty but with a nod to Gothic whilst remaining light. We didn’t feel the need to add any darkness with Devil’s Bridge and Spooky Lane, we could almost go very light and it still looked ethereally spooky. CONTRASTING WITH NATURE…. I hoped that this shoot would inspire couples or Brides planning their day to use their natural surroundings of their chosen wedding venue to speak volumes in the styling of the day. And that somewhere dark and gloomy can be just as effective and beautiful as a light filled venue. And that a Gothic styled venue doesn’t naturally have to feel dark on a wedding day and only highlights the lighter aspects of the day like a bridal gown. I chose the gowns that I felt were either incredibly simple like the Silk gowns from Independent Designer Soon Bride, a London based designer that’s designs are simple, fluid and luxurious and the Gorgeous open back star gown from Rembo Styling in it’s light ivory looked magnificent against the dark of the tunnel under Devil’s Bridge. Even though this location is deep in the countryside it has an almost urban feel with Wicca and satanic graffiti on the bridge walls so I chose ‘Sage’ from Emmy Mae bridal which has a real beach gown feel with it’s plunge, split and Aussie relaxed style but here in this brick filled background it really popped. The last designer I chose was Riki Dalal mainly because the Riki Dalal gowns have so much detail, they’re a fan of glitter, embellishments, illusion and hints of skin, I felt these modern princess gowns wouldn’t compliment the area – almost feel wrong which made them look so exceptional. The models Zambain born Chish with her bleach short afro and healthy feminine body shape (and a Degree in Neuro Science!) just looked so comfortable in the gowns and her beautiful skin really was an amazing canvas for the dresses to be styled on. And Jodie Hull had a unique almost doll eyed style and she worked that ghostly veil to perfection. The models were chose to be reflective of everyday women, I was keen for my Brides to see gowns not necessarily on commercial bodies but inspiring healthy women. SHREDS OF LIGHT…. The lighting played a key feature for the shoot and ever suffering yet incredibly talented Photographer Sophie Lake. Sophie not only ‘got’ my ideas but excelled in my vision, grabbing the tiniest of shreds of light and using them to create the most beautiful imagery. She played with smoke bombs which coincidentally accidentally created probably the best photo’s of the entire shoot, after an epic fail with a smoke bomb we were packing up to move onto a different area but when we looked behind us and the smoke had drifted up Spooky Lane just as the sunlight broke through the trees and created these beams of intense, magical light at which point we threw ourselves into action and launched the models into these fast disappearing shards of sun. It really was truly magical and almost meant to be. Sophie is a perfectionist, and at the location there is a majestic tree with exposed roots that hug the walls of the road, twisting and winding almost film like, I had wanted to feature disco balls again to bring a light aspect to the area so we climbed, ladders, roots and arms to help each other to place the disco balls and then the models. Sophie a true professional tree climb