Prior Attire is an amazing Bedford based historical clothing business that I have worked with on several occasions and always enjoy seeing their fabulous creations.
Owner Izabela has been making fantastic high quality, historically accurate clothing for over 15 years. She provides clothing for re-enactors, both individuals and companies, museums and estates, both in the UK and abroad. Izabela went full time in 2011 and since has added other elements to her business including her own bridal service of tailormade gowns called Prior Engagement and a Steampunk range called Off The Rails. Along with her husband, Lucas, she also provides Historical interpreting services pointing out that “I get to not only make the gowns, but to wear them as well!”.
Now She is taking on a whole new project and creating ‘Spectacular! Spectacular!‘ the Prior Attire masquerade ball, this is set to be a great event and will take place at Heatherden Hall at Pinewood Studios and Sarah’s Doo-Wop Dos will be providing a historical hair & make-up parlour on-site for the evening. I caught up with the very busy Izabela to chat about the ball and find out more about what we’ll be instore for on the night.
So Izabela what made you decide to hold this event?
Well, I have always wanted to hold a proper Victorian ball and after organizing our Victorian wedding in October 2011 (pictures here), we realised that it would be fun to do it all again – though maybe not to pay for it! I used my facebook pages as a sounding board, just to check if a generic Victorian/fancy dress ball would even be something people would be interested in, and they were! So after researching different venues and options, we picked up the date and contracted the stunning Heatherden Hall at the famous Pinewoods studios. It’s such a great location with loads of room, and they could provide us with a mouth-watering buffet menu at reasonable prices too, it meant we just had to have it. Plus if it’s good enough for James Bond, Tom Cruise and Batman, it will do for us!
I believe the words eclectic and spectacular would be the key, the participants are encouraged to go wild with the costumes, plus the range of music will be very eclectic too. We are aiming, though loosely at the Moulin Rouge theme and so the music will also be slightly based on the film soundtrack. The night will start with a historical dance lesson with live music and then after that you can expect waltzes, polkas, slower numbers, cha-chas, tangos and modern music, a complete mixture! There will also be lots of places for people to sit and chat, lounge and eat, drink and walk in the gardens. We are also employing the services of a professional photographer, and obviously, for the few who are lucky to book in in time there will be a beauty salon so people can get a spectacular hairdo! We have already sold over 60% of the tickets for the ball so it looks as if it will be a well attended night too!
Tell us a little bit of background, how has Prior Attire grown over the last year or so?
Massively! We have launched our sister branch, Prior Engagement, specialising in historical and alternative bridal wear. We are still working on our sample collections, but have already had first clients and orders with hopefully more for 2013. The most recent Winter bride collection was shot recently ( pictures can be seen here) and we are now preparing the Spring shoot, then I’ll be at the Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza in Birmingham, on the 24th March.
We have also started another branch adding Off The Rails to cater to our Steampunk and Victoriana clients. The Steampunk trend is becoming more and more fashionable and the renewed popularity of late Victorian fashions means we are having more and more clients asking for appropriate outfits and since some of these can me made to general sizes we have opened an etsy boutique with some of the Steampunk merchanduse – skirts, bustles, corsets etc available there.
What can we expect to see next from you & your business?
Hopefully more growth. It is becoming apparent that at this rate I will not be able to carry on as a home business for much longer, I am already running out of space…. so I will start looking for premises, possibly for a studio/workshop, and then maybe a studio with a frontage in town? We will see. We also have planned a few dressmaking courses, held in a studio I can rent in Oxfordshire, the first courses are for Victorian/Steampunk outfits, and they tie in very nicely with the ball. The next planned ones, due to popular demand, will be on Tudor fashions. I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge and skills with other enthusiasts, and happy to be getting back to teaching!
Below are some fab pictures from some of my previous collaborations with Prior Attire and I’m looking forward to the ball, the beauty parlour is now open for bookings and you can email me here to book in.
Tickets for the ball can be purchased here.