Sant Elia is an Australian bridal and evening-wear designer, creating gowns that are the epitome of Parisian chic using delicate lacework and the finest of tulle. What sets Sant Elia apart is designer Stephanie Cherrington’s touch of cheekiness which can be seen in her unpredictable embellishments, ruching and silhouettes.
For a brand that was only founded last year, Sant Elia comes across mature beyond its ages, a testament to the passion and expertise of Stephanie. To find out how it came to be one of our favourite new designers, Wedded Wonderland spoke with Stephanie about style, Sophia Loren and trends.
WW: How did your career in couture gowns start?
Stephanie: After graduating with Honours from Fashion at UTS, I’ve had a varied career designing for a range of companies from high-end to fast-fashion. As I have always had an inclination for the theatrical and detailed side of dressing, the commercial fashion industry left me numb at times… I sometimes felt that the joy of interacting with customers was lost and that the process was about meeting targets rather than being creative. Now that I’m doing couture, the highlight is that I get to create elaborate pieces that are loved and cherished by my clients, as well as helping to colour in the memory of the most significant moments of their lives.
Since establishing SANT ELIA late last year, my drive is about creating custom gowns that celebrate the personalities and tastes of my clients, as well as expressing the SANT ELIA aesthetic that I have always dreamed of pursuing.
WW: You list Sophia Loren as your muse. What is it about Sophia Loren that inspires you?
Stephanie: Sophia Loren has this womanly, alluring vibe that can only be described by looking at her! After reading her autobiography, I realised that there is so much more to her than just her beauty. She was fearless and determined to succeed in her dream of being an actress, despite all the obstacles that was against her. Sophia Loren didn’t have the desired ‘look’ at the time, she wasn’t the norm, she didn’t have the training or the right accent; but when she accepted herself, the world embraced her. She worked tirelessly, whilst valuing her family and where she came from. She inspires me both in work-ethic and style, as well as holistically as a woman.
WW: Do you have a favourite Sophia Loren look or gown?
Stephanie: There is a gorgeous image of Sophia Loren on a terrace over-looking the Grand Canal in Venice. She is wearing a white halter-neck gown with lace applique on the bodice. It is all about the silhouette. Her waist is tiny and her curves are showcased in such a soft and stunning way! Her winged eyeliner is my fav beauty look!
WW: How do you innovate and stay current?
Stephanie: SANT ELIA is about juxtaposing European and vintage-inspired designs with a modern approach. In order to achieve this look, I love working with laces to create embellishments that appears to grow in an organic and modern way, whilst employing more traditional techniques such as corsetry. I think fabrication is absolutely vital, so I go on sourcing trips overseas to find new fabrics that you can’t always get locally, yet are still within an affordable price point. I love to contour the body using a mix of laces and textures. The best results happens when I drape fabrics directly on my clients and work with them to enhance their own unique shape in a most beautiful and personal process.
Silhouette and fit is everything! These two things ensure that my clients are getting something special.
Another thing that is different about the SANT ELIA approach is that the bridal party is seen as a Couture Collection of gorgeous gowns, with the bride centred as the grand finale (the final look). The bridesmaids are not an afterthought. They are a beautiful frame that surrounds the bride. I want my brides to look back at her bridal party and see a Fashion Show where they were the creative director.
WW: What sort of trends do you think will be hot for 2015/16?
Stephanie: Spring trends for couture are focusing on detailed textured layered sheer fabrics, light-as-air tulle and floral motifs. Bridal parties in ivory, black and navy are currently my most requested! Exquisite 3D textures with tone-on-tone embellishments will continue to dominate, moving away from symmetrical and predictable lace placements to more organic appliques that appears to ‘grow’ seamlessly across the body. I think we will see a lot more fresh and crisp white choices for summer brides!
Sant Elia specialise in Bridal Couture, Bridesmaids, Mother of the Bride/Groom and Evening-wear for Special Occasions. Sant Elia’s signature bespoke couture concept is both distinctly European-vintage inspired and modern-glam. Think intricate lace work, clever draping and distinct design.