HELLO! Online was one of the select few to be invited to the designer's London studio to preview his dresses.
At the launch, we caught up with the Queen's favourite couturier — who was granted a Royal Warrant in 2007 — and chatted about Stewart's new collection, his predictions on wedding dress trends and why you don't have to try on a thousand gowns to find "The One".
Stewart (left) designed Zara Phillips' wedding dress (right)
What inspired your bridal collection?
"Normally my dresses are very structured and we've still got a few of those, but this time they're a little bit softer and more fluid. I wanted my new collection to be about movement, so even the big skirts still have fluidity in the hem and I used much softer petticoats. For the slinkier dresses I used heavier beaded lace and this wonderful Chantilly lace which has got a lot of weight to it.
"There's always a fifties aspect to my collection but we've gone for more Margot Fonteyn, Martha Graham and Alicia Markova. There's a balletic feel to it with the leotard tops, the little spaghetti straps and the ballet cardigans. I was trying to give it something different, to move the collection on. Bridal fashion moves really slowly — we just wanted to give it a little bit of a push."
Do you have a specific type of bride in mind when you're designing?
"I see a lot of girls on trunk shows so I see a lot of different shapes. I'm always aware of making the collection with shapes that will fit some girls and styles that will fit others. So you've almost got something for everybody."
"I'll Be Waiting" by Stewart
What advice would you give to brides who are dress-hunting?
"The most important thing is to know your budget. When you've done that, make a list of maybe four people you want to go and see and be open-minded and take their advice. The staff in the salons will be knowledgeable about what will suit you. Then you have to actually make a decision.
"There are so many people who are forever searching for a dress and they have an ideal of what they're wanting, but sometimes they're searching for an impossible dream. You just have to find a dress you love. Some people won't burst into tears when they try a dress on, some people will, but you really don't have to try on a thousand dresses. Just try on a few beautiful ones.
"I think it's people's perception of what they're looking for, what they have in mind, and sometimes people are trying to find a dress that doesn't suit them and they like the dress but the dress isn't meant for them. You have to bear in mind what your figure is, what your wedding is and that has to influence what you choose — not the dress that you've been dreaming about necessarily since you were six."
"All Time" by Stewart
What are your predictions on wedding dress trends?
"I think things are going to get a little bit fancier than they have been for the last few years. What we do is we have a lot of dresses that each bride can accessorise to make personal. We have a whole collection of jackets and belts. What a bride can do with my collection is individualise her dress and her look so she can create her own couture from the basic collection.
"I think there's going to be more trend towards that — people being able to have something and tweak it to their idea. Not every girl's figure is the same just like not every girl's wedding is the same, but you can buy the same dress and buy different accessories to go with it and that changes it hugely."
"River of Dreams" by Stewart
Did you always know that you wanted to be wedding dress designer?
"I knew when I was at school what I wanted to do, but going to an all boys' school, it wasn't really encouraged. So I had little verges of thinking I might have been an architect, an interior designer, a vet and then your parents think you'd be good at being a lawyer or an accountant — both of which I would have been very bad at — so I'm grateful I became a designer."