Noosa-based designer Erin Clare Oberem has a gift for blending contemporary and classic for her label Erin Clare Bridal. Think modern romance — clean lines softened with textured overskirts, tulle toppers, or dreamy detachable trains. Wedding dresses crafted in sleek crepe starring alongside gowns in beaded and embroidered lace, and options designed to be shortened (we love) or worn again after “I do.”
It’s all part of the designer’s “fiercely feminine” aesthetic which has been embraced by brides near and far. Proudly designed and made on the Sunshine Coast, Erin’s bespoke wedding gowns and ready-to-wear collections have garnered a loyal following through her Noosa Heads studio and Brisbane’s White Lily Couture. But their exquisite form has also found a broader audience via stockists in Adelaide, New York, and Los Angeles. And there are European trunk shows on the horizon.
With her label poised to celebrate 20 years in 2022, Erin gave us the scoop on her long love affair with luxury fabrics, label news, and how she names those gorgeous gowns.
Can we rewind a few decades to what first sparked your interest in wedding dress design …
Growing up, I was very close to my grandmother who is an incredible creative. Having five daughters and two sons, she was always making something beautiful. As a child, I would play with her fabric off-cuts and create dresses for my dolls. My Gran created a wedding gown for each of her five daughters, and at a very young age I recognised the incredible privilege and honour there is in creating a wedding gown.
Describe your style in three words:
Modern. Powerful. Feminine.
What’s your process when designing a new collection or gown?
I always have a multitude of ideas that keep me awake at night and I love sketching new ideas and concepts. I am also always looking into new fabrics and trims. It is wonderful being able to play with new fabrics, seeing how they drape, fall, and move. When I select the fabrics for the new collection, I like to select fabrics that bring me joy.
Once the fabrics have been selected, I will do another series of sketches to ensure the collection has a good balance of necklines, silhouettes, and different fabrics. Then we create the patterns, and our sample machinist will make up our first samples. Once the first samples have been created, we are able to tweak and finetune the samples.
Each of our Erin Clare Bridal gowns is given a name: I love naming our gowns after people I know or have had the privilege of meeting.
What inspires you & who are your style icons?
I draw inspiration from many different places — namely art, movies, textiles — but mostly from my brides and their different personalities, wants and needs.
Do you have a favourite material to work with?
That is a tough question, I love so many different fabrics! At the moment, I am loving our luxurious crepe as well as our beaded laces. For our Aspire Collection we have chosen a selection of incredibly beautiful fabrics. Each fabric behaves in its own unique way, so it is really hard to choose one favourite material.
What fascinates you – and how does this feed into your work?
The female form and what flatters different body shapes. We are all so different, so I love being able to design gowns that flow with the female form and allow brides to express their individuality.
Do trends matter?
Absolutely. Our brides are plugged into social media and follow trends so it makes sense their wedding gown would also be on trend.
Is there a celebrity you’d love to dress?
We have been fortunate enough to dress a number of celebrities already — however, I have always been a bit of a Natalie Portman fan.
What do you do to relax?
I like mixing it up. I love getting outdoors and hiking in the national park, then there is Scrabble with my girlfriends (which is more about catching up than playing Scrabble). Something that could come as a surprise is that I am a total CrossFit junkie.
What is your most treasured possession?
My wedding ring. We have been married for 21 years and I love what my wedding ring symbolizes.
What advice would you give to brides-to-be searching for their dream dress?
When ordering your dream dress, timing is everything. The closer you get to your wedding date, the fewer gowns you will have available to choose from. Ideally, we recommend ordering your gown 8-10 months before your wedding date.
Stay true to yourself. It is wonderful to have the input of your family and friends and to share the journey of selecting your gown with them. The priority, though, is that you feel excited about wearing your wedding gown and walking down the aisle.
What has been your biggest achievement since establishing your label in 2002?
Growing Erin Clare Bridal. Initially, we specialised in creating custom gowns. Now we create collections which are available across Australia and the United States.
What’s next? What do you look forward to most for Erin Clare Bridal?
There are so many things to look forward to. Over the next few months we will be launching our new Curve Collection. We are also in the process of finalising dates for a number of trunk shows with boutiques in the US and Europe.
Discover more at Erin Clare Bridal