Designers we love: Kevin Muscat
It’s impossible to enter Kevin Muscat’s atelier in West Hampstead without making “aww” noises, as each and every piece throughout his collections is unashamedly minimal yet exquisitely feminine. No wonder he won the Bridal Next award at the Most Curious Wedding Show back in 2014.
Our interview started with him asking the questions while picking up a few bridal titles from his library. I love how he has kept magazines of different aesthetics to have as inspiration; it shows he’s experimenting with various styles and is interested in approaching several types of bride.
K: So, how come you’re producing a bridal magazine?
A: I’m trying to change the way brides think, because weddings seem monotonous nowadays. I’ve been to lots of weddings in Greece, and every time I see the same thing again and again. Weddings should have a unique character and a personal touch.
K: (laughs) Yeah, I know, I come from Malta; it’s the same there! The brides want lace, a long dress, a fabulous train, and they also want to be princesses.
A: It’s quite funny and sad at the same time, but there are a lot of young brides who, despite having access to all these inspiring social media platforms, end up looking so tacky on their wedding day. I’ll never understand the heavy makeup and horrendous hair most brides in their mid-20s have.
K: (laughs) Exactly - why do you want to look like an old woman? The wedding dress came from the Victorian Era, and it used to be your best evening dress. So, if you look at your best evening dress now, does it look anything like a bridal one? No. So why are you wearing it? I get it, you want to look like a princess, but princesses don’t look like that. Look at – cliché, I know - but look at Kate Middleton: her wedding dress was amazing! I mean, it was very traditional, but still, it was very well-designed. So, if you want to look like a princess, that’s what you need to emulate! They all wear Haute Couture, so you need to be looking at Haute Couture for inspiration. The wedding gown, for me, is not a costume; it’s a dress.
A: You know, some brides choose to rent rather than buy their wedding dress. It’s a huge thing in Greece. Is that a tradition in the UK or Malta as well?
K: Renting is actually a good idea. There are only a few occasions of this happening here, at least as far as I know of. The main problem is that we’re talking about renting a white piece of clothing and white always gets dirty, especially if it’s a long dress. Because of these long trains that everyone wants, you’re basically sweeping the floor for six hours!
A: I think mine will be a rental one. I don’t see why I should keep it; where would I wear a wedding gown again? But I believe that’s a matter of lifestyles.
K: It does depend on your lifestyle. But then, also, don’t wear white, maybe! Just get a very good dress that you could wear again and again.
Muscat knows what he’s talking about; his whole collection is about mixing and matching or wearing dresses that don’t look like the usual bridal attire. His masterpiece, a long dress with golden flowers on it, is the perfect example.
A: So, how much are your pieces?
K: Well, they start at 1800£ and they reach up to 4000£. They’re all made in London, in this exact room –
A: Oh, so here is where the magic happens!
K: (laughs) Yes! The fabrics are of a very good quality, the finishing as well. I love dresses. I think weddings are the only occasion where women wear extravagant dresses and they’re allowed to do so exactly because it’s their wedding day! I also don’t mind trashy brides; at least it means it’s you, it means you’re comfortable wearing what you’re wearing, and that’s important for every bride.
A: I love every piece that you’ve designed, at least from the ones I can see hanging around me, but I believe I find the shorter one the most interesting of them all.
K: Unfortunately, people don’t buy this. The thing is, when you’re designing you also need to look at it from a commercial point of view. You know, I really love short wedding dresses, but they don’t sell.
A: So they usually prefer long ones?
K: Yes - long, long, long. Long.
A: Puffy ones?
K: Not really, but they’re choosing more comfortable ones. A lot of companies still do corseting with lacing, but that’s incredibly uncomfortable, and a lot of brides don’t realise that. It looks amazing when you try it in the shop, but then you have to wear it for six hours or more. Many other companies love trains; I also love trains! But, if you’re a bride, in London, wearing these long things, you’re basically sweeping the floor with a very expensive dress.
A: So do you think brides shop their wedding gowns based on trends?
K: Yes and no. They say that there are no trends in bridal, but that’s not true. There are trends, but they change less quickly than ready-to-wear. Most of the elements you’re used to seeing will always be there - lace, for example. However, brides do shop based on the Dream; the Dream with a capital D, the one they’ve had for years. The problem is that if you’re 30 and you’ve been dreaming about this moment for 20 years, you’re 20 years out of fashion; you’re still stuck on what you liked at 10. Also, bear in mind that bridal designers may keep producing their collections for 2-3 years, which, to me, is very attractive because it’s more sustainable. I’m not a big fan of fast fashion.
A: What about colours? Pure white? Pastels? What’s your favourite?
K: I don’t think pure white suits many people; it’s very cold on the skin.
A: You know, I think it was Queen Victoria who established white as the most suitable colour for brides. Before that, women used to get married in black or generally dark gowns. She also wore a floral headpiece instead of the typical jewelry that brides preferred.
K: Actually, Queen Victoria’s dress was silver! As for the flowers, that was just a pretty way to disguise the smell! The tradition was to carry flowers in order to cover your smell, but the question is why do we still choose flowers nowadays? I mean, why don’t we question? Generally, we don’t bother to question what each tradition means - why do you wear a garter, what does it mean?
A: That’s actually a very good point. In ready-to-wear, we question and challenge everything. From the gender to the “right” size of the model, or feminism and androgynous style; everything is subjected to questioning. But when it comes to weddings, we take everything for granted.
Kevin Muscat is located at Unit 202 Screenworks, 22 Highbury Grove, N5 2ER, London.
Find the brand online on www.muscatbridal.com and on facebook.com/MuscatBridal
Disclaimer: The Veil does not own any of the pictures used in this article. If you own any of them, please contact us and we will be happy to add your credits.