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Harriet’s Rob Ryan Wedding Dress


When Harriet revealed in an interview with the Guardian last year that our friend and collaborator Rob Ryan designed elements for her wedding dress, eager Tatty Devine and Rob Ryan fans begged for a peek. Luckily for us, Harriet has delved into her photo album to share the story behind her big day – and that dress!

“Back then, Rob wasn’t as famous as he is now, so I didn’t feel too cheeky asking him to design for the dress. We’ve been friends for a long time, so we sat down together in his studio with a rock pooling theme in mind. My husband Dan and I love exploring beaches. People have even asked us if we’re real marine biologists when we’re standing there with our buckets, peering into the pools! Dan knows all about natural history – he can identify a bird just by its song and knows all the best lobster ridges and where to find fossils. It’s in his blood.”

“Rob drew seaweed, starfish, treasure chests and mermaids. There are tiny jellyfish, anchors and even a cameo of Dan and I. The words came from ‘Blackbird’, a poem written by Dan’s grandmother, who was a fabulous lady. We went through her books to find the perfect line. It seemed so fitting as Rob’s work is all about words.

When we were finished, I headed back to the Tatty Devine studio with Rob’s sketches, where I drew them out digitally and then laser cut them in Tyvek. Afterwards, they went off in the post to my mum. She was a couture dressmaker and always made my clothes when I was a child, so there was no way I could have just bought any old dress! I had a relatively clear idea of what I wanted, inspired by Degas ballerinas and 1950s styles, but I didn’t want to it be too traditional. I kept thinking of bell shapes, so my mum and I came up with a special type of pleat to keep the shape of the skirt. We sewed Rob’s drawings onto the silk tulle panel by hand and accompanied it with a veil I bought at Pongees in Hoxton Square.

I bought a pair of amazing white Vivienne Westwood shoes but they were slightly too small, so I ended up wearing them in around the studio with plastic bags to stretch them out! Luckily, I had an emergency pair of ballet flats to swap into that I found in a shop in Hackney.

“I really wanted to do everything all by myself, but I definitely wasn’t a bridezilla. I headed down to Billingsgate Market to buy all the crabs and seafood, then off to Covent Garden for the flowers. We even took a trip to France to pick up all of the cheese and wine! After the service at Chelsea Town Hall, we had the reception in my parents’ garden in Kent. It was a little bit too small for everyone to fit in really, but it was very special.”

“Our friends made things especially for the celebration: a stamp for the napkins, badges, insignias… all beautiful, heartfelt things. Afterwards, Dan and I headed to Paris on the Eurostar with roast beef sandwiches, a slab of wedding cake and a bottle of Sancerre. We promptly fell asleep as we’d been at Tapestry Festival only a few days before and were exhausted!”

“We were so happy! People always say that it’s the best day of your life but it really was. Well, until I had my baby!”

Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us, Harriet!

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