Sassi Holford lifts the lid on designing Autumn Phillips’ bridal gown

Incognito shopping visits, shrouded shoulders and bumping into the Queen: Royal bridal gown designer lifts the lid on working with ‘dream’ client Autumn Phillips

  • London-based designer Sassi Holford designed gown for 2008 royal wedding
  • Speaking on The Royal Box, she described the ‘top secret’ design process 
  • Montréal-born bride was heavily involved in the design process, Holford said
  • She even met the Queen and says Lady Sarah Chatto gave advice on the design

Fashion designer Sassi Holford has lifted the lid on what it’s really like to create a wedding gown for a royal bride.

The London-based designer famously made Autumn Phillips’ gown when she tied the knot with Princess Anne’s son Peter in Windsor, 2008.

Speaking on Yahoo UK’s The Royal Box this week, Holford described the design process as a ‘top secret’ operation and revealed the bride-to-be made ‘incognito’ visits to her shop to gauge her suitability.  

Née Kelly, the Montréal-born bride was heavily involved in the design process, Holford said, attending six fittings over six months; and the project was so confidential that she couldn’t tell her staff or even her mother what she was working on.

Designer Sassi Holford made Autumn Phillips’ gown when she tied the knot with Princess Anne’s son Peter in Windsor, 2008 (pictured leaving St. George’s Chapel)

‘I chose three members of staff that have worked with me for over 20 years,’ she said. ‘We worked for it out of hours, we went in early in the morning, worked on it in the evening. 

‘So even the whole work room didn’t know. Even my mother didn’t know. You just can’t take the risk, it’s a highly confidential piece of work.’


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The finished product was a strapless number with a strategically-placed bolero, with Holford explaining that Autumn ‘felt that shoulders should be covered’.

‘There were certain things that she felt would be right and proper for a royal wedding,’ Holford explained, adding that she sought advice from Lady Sarah Chatto, and even the Queen ‘highly approved of the dress’.

Despite the monarch seeing the gown before the big day, Holford was still left red-faced when she bumped into the Queen and Prince Philip on the morning of the wedding.

Speaking on Yahoo UK’s The Royal Box, Sassi Holford, pictured, described the design process as a ‘top secret’ operation and revealed the bride-to-be made ‘incognito’ visits to her shop

Holford, pictured, also offered her predictions on Princess Eugenie’s choice of wedding dress designer, admitting she’d be ‘surprised’ if she went for Vivienne Westwood

She was so embarrassed she considered ‘hiding behind the dress’, causing the bride to collapse into fits of giggles which, Autumn said, eased her nerves.

Recalling the atmosphere in the bride’s dressing room on 17 May 2008, Holford said: ‘It was a beautiful, beautiful morning.

‘What struck me was that, even though it was the first grandson of the Queen getting married at Windsor Castle, actually in the environment getting ready, it was like every other wedding.

‘It was intimate, it was family, there were the jokes. It was quite relaxed.’

Autumn Phillips’ wedding dress (pictured on 17 May 2008) was a strapless number with a strategically-placed bolero, with Holford explaining that Autumn ‘felt that shoulders should be covered’

Sassi Holford has speculated on what Princess Eugenie (pictured with husband-to-be Jack Brooksbank in 2016) will wear when she walks down the aisle tomorrow

Holford also offered her predictions on Princess Eugenie’s choice of wedding dress designer, admitting she’d be ‘surprised’ if she went for Vivienne Westwood.

She said: ‘I think Eugenie’s style has changed in the last five years. She’s 28 now, I think she’s at that age where you start to develop that core style. 

‘And things have simplified. So I’d be surprised if it’s Vivienne West wood, I think she’ll probably go for cleaner lines.’ 

You can also tune in to see the viral moments, hear what industry experts thought of the day and watch all the celebrity arrivals via Yahoo UK’s special, live episode of The Royal Box which will air at 1pm on 12 October

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