Hayley Westenra's gown 'magical'
Bohemian, feminine and beautiful.
Those were the words used by Christchurch dressmaker Louise Anderson to describe Kiwi songbird Hayley Westenra's wedding dress.
Westenra, 26, married her French beau Arnaud Sabard in an intimate ceremony at Hawarden's Flaxmere Garden in North Canterbury on December 29.
Anderson, a Tai Tapu-based bridal gown designer, was approached by Christchurch-raised Westenra about a year ago. Creating her dress was "easily a highlight" of her career, Anderson said.
"There was a great connection between the two of us . . . and everything just worked."
Anderson said Westenra wanted something girly and pretty, yet elegant.
It was made of five soft layers including georgette in blush and cream tulle with lace over the top and fluted shoulders.
Anderson attended the wedding and said it was "magical to see the gown in movement".
"Hayley looked simply gorgeous and I couldn't take my eyes off her.
"I don't usually attend [clients'] weddings so this was a whole different experience for me."
It is not the first time Anderson has created a dress for the songstress, though.
A relative used to work with Westenra's father and about 10 years ago he encouraged Anderson to write to the family asking to create a gown for the teenage star.
The pink corset dress was worn by Westenra during a performance.
She said the wedding was "beautiful and intimate".
Anderson is a "lover of luxury" and has been smitten with vintage materials since she was a young girl. She buys fabric online and from antique dealers and has been making wedding gowns for more than 25 years.
Anderson lost her former studio in the February 2011 earthquake and when her home became full of wedding gowns the family found a house in Tai Tapu with a large studio.
Her clients "can afford what they want" and come from all over New Zealand as well as overseas.
She has recently been contacted by a boutique store in London which wants to stock a range of her garments.
Anderson said taking on about 50 clients a year was taking its toll and she hoped to change the focus of her career this year.
"I want to put together a range I can wholesale offshore and focus on the art of the design.
"I won't give up making gowns for clients but I've got three children and I need some lifestyle back," she said.