When Anna Schimmel was approached by Gemma to design her wedding dress, she had no idea just how high-profile the event would be. “I am one of these people who is stuck in the workshop away from what is going on in the world, so yes, I was flattered but I didn’t realise it was going to be so big!” Gemma already had an idea of what she wanted – a classic, simple dress with a low back in silk satin.
“The dress has beautiful detail,” says Anna, who also makes a ready-to-wear range. “Because Gemma’s general style is simple, it was important to add something really stunning so it was show-stopping. We wanted a grand entrance, so we had a custom-designed, beaded veil made for her. The dress was stunning, but the veil took it to another level.”
Anna estimates the dress took about 100 hours to design and make, with the low back proving the most challenging. The hand-beading on the back of the gown took four to five weeks of work by beaders in Mumbai, where Anna sent an extra veil in case something happened to the first.
“The beading is a big job done by specialists in Mumbai, where all the couture hand-beading is done. If you look at a collection on a Paris catwalk it will all have been done in Maharashtra, Mumbai.” The dress was sent to Wanaka between Christmas and New Year for Gemma to try on, so if there were any adjustments needed, Anna could fly down and make them. The dress, however, was a perfect fit.
Despite Gemma’s busy schedule, Anna says the process was smooth. “I think Gemma is one of these people who tries very hard to do a good job of anything she agrees to do. She is super lovely – you won’t meet anyone who is more sincere. She is genuinely one of the nicest people I have met.”