Stephanie Allin may have been working in bridal for more than 22 years, but that doesn't mean she's lost her passion for all-things wedding related.
'I've been in the industry for so long now that I think I should start lying!' she told a packed audience On The Sofa at Brides The Show. 'This is the perfect job - you get to see your customers fulfil an ideal of themselves and try some totally different from their every-day dressing. It's why I still love bridal after all this time. Everyone who comes to my shops brings something different and inspires me.'
The top designer - who sees more than 500 brides a year at her two boutiques in central London and Mumbles, South Wales - then put her expert styling skills to good use, showing brides-to-be how they can create a unique big-day look.
'Brides are getting more adventurous and often want totally different looks throughout their big day,' she told Brides' Arabella Dupont. 'For example, they might want to be pretty for the day and glamorous for the evening. My new collection includes separates in totally different fabrics and cuts - simply choose a base dress and get layering to make the dress of your dreams.'
Using her elegant crepe Garbo jumpsuit from her Classics collection as a starting point, Stephanie demonstrated the various bridal styles you can create - often changing the entire feel of the gown simply by adding a different shrug or accessorising with a bejewelled belt.
One of the audience's favourite looks - a wide-skirted Audrey Hepburn-style gown with a fitted plain crop top and belt - used the Capri shrug, tulle skirt and slip to stunning effect.
Other pieces that proved popular were the Zelda skirt covered in feathers and sequins, and a high-necked Victorian-style sheer blouse, which Stephanie admitted some brides 'were quite weary of'.
'Brides are getting braver but they're still a little afraid of this style,' she said. 'However, it's going to be huge next season - I'm already seeing increasing interest in more dramatic pieces.'
Her advice to any brides-to-be starting their own dress hunt? 'Don't turn what should be one of the loveliest experiences of your life into a problem,' she said. 'Stop worrying about it all and enjoy the process. Work out the kind of style you want and then narrow it down to two or three designers/boutiques who offer that style.
'It's so easy to get so scared about your gown that you panic and make a rash decision; alternatively, if you take too long it then becomes difficult to actually make a decision. Just take a deep breath and relax.'
Want to see Stephanie's styling expertise in action? Watch the film below to see how she creates dozens of looks using three key gowns: