This piece of Sun coverage is worth £55,502.00


So, one of us was having a bit of a desk tidy the other day (de-crumbing the keyboard, giving the desktop a spot of Mr Muscle etc) when I stumbled upon this thing of beauty, carelessly filed away among a pile of yellowing newspaper cuttings and an old advertorial booklet selling some demonic looking porcelain dolls, compression socks and 3-pack polyester trousers (hmmmm, I wonder whether they need PR).

Anyway THIS is one of the first ever pieces of coverage I secured as a junior publicist 9 years ago for a (now very little known) dating website – which, let’s say, you probably wouldn’t want to visit these days unless you really felt you had run out of options …

The SUN copy

Product aside though, this is what possibly many PR industry bods would describe as a ‘PRgasm’.

Sprawled on one page of technicolour print on Britain’s biggest selling national newspaper, The Sun, resplendent with company logo, URL link plus insightful on-message quote from company spokesperson (the dating website’s ‘relationship expert’), this piece of coverage is worth a whopping £55.5K in advertising terms today.

Pure tabloid fodder, we commissioned a survey looking into people’s cheating hearts and discovered that people of Britain (OK, sample size: 1K) really couldn’t resist hogging their metaphorical cakes AND eating it. Quite naughty I suppose. And tabloids, of course, like naughty.  The campaign cost all of £0 to implement, thanks to the dating website’s lively and opinionated userbase who loved doing the multiple choice questionnaires, and thanks to a wonderful media relationship I had with the then features editor (we had some great phone conversations brainstorming questions that would elicit the cheekiest, funniest and most enlightening answers – getting people to dish the dirt and ‘fess up, but in a truly anonymous way obviously).

Following publication of this piece, the website (according to the developer’s data) received 35% more web traffic that day (pretty good considering this was not an online piece with a  click-through link – readers had actively seen the URL and sought out more information about the company when they were at their computers) and an additional 10% subscriptions of the free service.

Looking back though with a sober and analytical eye at what this piece of publicity would’ve contributed to the dating website’s general image, any discerning person looking for a bonafide Mr or Miss Right, a wedding, or a long-term romantic partnership would probably poo-poo this service (despite the great name-check) because anyone would think that it was harbouring a commune of love rats; dare I say it – it had become a waiting pool for potential Jeremy Kyle candidates (and we all know the show’s ‘stars’ somehow seem to be having a hell of A LOT of sex. How do they fit it in? Don’t they work?!).

Still. I had always, always, secretly hoped that, from this particular line of work, someone somewhere out there would have found true and resounding lasting love as a result of spotting my piece of coverage in a national newspaper, hopped onto the website, trawled and spotted a rare and precious gem of a person, met them, fell in love with them and then … well, I have a bit of an Auntie Cilla moment and will buy a hat for the website’s first ever wedding.  As is stands, I will never ever know.

But, hell, I’m a true romantic so maybe it did happen, but the happy couple are publicity shy. Or maybe they don’t want to advertise the fact that they found each other on a dating website.  At best, I can only fantasise what a joyous occasion it would be to put ‘1 marriage’ down as a result of PR exposure I secured on an evaluation document. What joy. Imagine the ROI on that? Immeasurable and priceless. After all, you can’t put a price on love.

 


‘Indian Summer’ is inspiration for latest bridal collection by London designer Shanna Melville


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Intricate ethnic hand beading, French lace and Italian printed silk organzas give this season’s dresses a delicately regal look

Ornate beadwork around the torso and a low v-neck flatters the décolletage in this vintage art-deco inspired design

Despite the season’s nip and chill, the warm temperate days of a long Indian summer have provided the inspiration for London designer Shanna Melville’s latest collection of bespoke handmade bridal dresses (www.shannamelville.com).

The dresses launch exclusively at her Wimbledon Village-based boutique (14 High Street, Wimbledon Village, London, SW19 5DX) this month.

The collection features intricate ethnic beadwork painstakingly handcrafted over 60 hours by seasoned artisans; delicate French lace detail and swathes of opulent Italian printed silk organza – the latter of which has proven increasingly popular among brides-to-be looking to add a touch of regal elegance to their bridal couture.

Soft, floaty romantic dresses with full chiffon skirts, muted tones of champagne and blush and daring low backs feature prominently in this collection, which gives a carefree, spirited ‘bo-ho’ chic feel to the final look.

Shanna Melville’s bridal couture is handmade in her workshop beneath the boutique by an expert and dedicated team of seamstresses. Due to the intricacy and complexity of some of the designs, it can take up to six months – from consultation right through to final fitting – for a wedding dress to be made.

Shanna Melville comments: “The warm hazy sun of an Indian summer might seem like a distant memory in the dead of winter but I wanted to capture the romance and playful, carefree spirit we feel when we bask in beautiful weather. There’s lots of movement in some of these designs, with luxuriously floaty fabrics giving a flattering, elegant silhouette that billows and swirls with just a sway of the hips; it’s as if the fabric takes on a life of its own.”

Shanna continues: “These dresses allow a versatile transition from day to evening, with light and incredibly feminine fabrics embellished with delicate beadwork and French lace that gives the dresses an accent of after-dark glamour – perfect for the ceremony and for partying the night through.”

The Collection

 “Chloe” dress

Shanna’s ‘Chloe’ dress fuses lustrous, free-flowing fabric with intricate design that elevates ‘bo-ho chic’ to almost regal heights

Layers of beautiful light silk tulle give this incredibly full and floaty Chloe bridal gown both movement and personality. Featuring a sweetheart neckline and a delicate French quarter lace v-neck embellished with Indian hand beadwork, the overall look fuses lustrous, free-flowing fabric with intricate design that elevates ‘bo-ho chic’ to almost regal heights.

“Audrey” dress

A structured hand-beaded bodice gives this dress a neat, feminine silhouette

A pretty, feminine bridal gown featuring lashings of silk tulle and chiffon to give the dress lightness and movement, but with a structured hand-beaded bodice to provide comfort and support as well as cutting a trim and flattering shape.

“Rose” dress

The most arresting feature of the ‘Rose’ dress is its sweeping low backline framed by delicate French lace

This ‘sheath’ dress gives the wearer a tall, elegant silhouette and is designed to really celebrate the female shape. Silk crepe and layers of tulle again lends the dress a fluidity of movement. The most arresting feature of the Rose dress is its sweeping low backline framed by delicate French lace and a uniform row of silk buttons that run beyond the small of the back – all of which combine to accentuate yet flatter the curves.

“Peony” dress

Swathes of luxurious Italian printed silk organza is very on-trend this season

A beautiful, free-flowing halter neck wedding dress made with swathes of luxurious Italian printed silk organza. Cut full circle, the Peony dress gives the wearer a tall, elegant shape. The dramatic low backline tapered off at the waist to the small of the back is finished off with a silky length of ribbon tied in a bow, to complete this simple yet stunning look.

“Grace” dress

Ornate beadwork around the torso and a low v-neck flatters the décolletage in this vintage art-deco inspired design

This is an elegant, vintage-inspired art deco wedding dress cut slim to give the illusion of height. Made using soft silk satin, the Grace dress features ornate beadwork around the torso, a low v-neck to flatter the décolletage, and further delicate beadwork embellishments towards the hem and train that gives the dress a touch of old world glamour.

‘Polly’ dress

Beautiful beadwork on the bodice of Shanna’s new collection have been handcrafted by artisans in a process that takes up to 60 hours of intricate craftmanship

 A delicate silk chiffon wedding dress cut slim for a chic and elegant finish. The bodice is intricately hand beaded and features a beautifully crafted low v-back line.

To view Shanna Melville’s latest collection in its entirety, and to browse earlier collections, visit www.shannamelville.com.

Prices start from £2,000. Consultations are by appointment only.

For press enquiries, high res imagery, product loans and further information, contact Andrea San Pedro at ASP PR, email: andrea.sanpedro@asp-pr.co.uk, tel: +44 (0) 7970 468982.

– ENDS –

Credits:

Styling: Bergorf and Green www.bergdorfs.co.uk

Cakes: cakes by Robin www.cakesbyrobin.co.uk

Hair: Gwen Brits-Beenz

Make up: Tiffany Cartwright www.tiffanycartwright.com

Photography: Rohan Clinnick www.rohanclinnick.com

 

Notes To Editor

About Shanna Melville:

Shanna Melville's Wimbledon Village-based boutique where all her creations are crafted

 Couture wedding-dress designer Shanna Melville’s bespoke bridal gowns make any bride’s dream come true. Shanna has been designing dresses for twelve years, but it was only after her own engagement did she discover her passion and innate talent for designing bridal wear.

After working with two established designers, Shanna finally opened up her own bridal boutique in Wimbledon Village, London, in 2007. Her gowns are akin to artwork, with a single creation taking up to six months to make using fabric that has been delicately and painstakingly handwoven in her workshop by an accomplished team of artisans.

Creative consultations and fittings are conducted by Shanna herself, and she is involved in every step of the process – from planning and design to the finished creation. A wedding dress is one of the biggest and most important purchases a woman will make in her lifetime, and Shanna works very closely with her clients to ensure that the vision and dream of the perfect dress becomes a touchable, wearable reality. Expertly tailored to bespoke specifications, the final dress will always flatter and fit the bride like no other garment will.

Shanna Melville’s bridalwear collection encompasses a timeless elegance that celebrates femininity and exemplifies exceptional craftsmanship, producing dresses with a style and grace that will never age.

Consultations are by appointment only. Prices start from £2,000.

Visit www.shannamelville.com for more information and to browse through previous collections.

Twitter: @shannamelville

Shanna Melville, 14 High Street, Wimbledon Village, London, SW19 5DX

Tel: +44 (0)20 8946 8446

Press Enquiries

If you are a journalist requiring further information, high-res images, product loans for shoots or an interview with Shanna Melville, please contact Andrea San Pedro at ASP PR, email: andrea.sanpedro@asp-pr.co.uk, Tel: +44 (0)7970 468982

 


A sculptress of felt: from penguins & purses to ostentatious chandeliers, meet designer and ‘Queen of Felting’ Gillian Harris, founder of the colourful Gilliangladrag brand in this month’s Prima Makes



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Before we started working with the quirky and madly colourful Gilliangladrag brand (www.gilliangladrag.co.uk), the art of ‘felting’ was a bit of a mystery to us.

To the unacquainted, feltmaking is a process of binding raw wool tops (that’s the unspun fluffy stuff plucked fresh off the backs of lovely British sheep) and binding the fibres together – either by way of ‘stabbing’ it multiple times with a barbed needle (HUGELY cathartic and very much like voodoo – but without the black magic and probably way more productive) or by rubbing and rolling it in a bamboo matt (the same used for sushi) with a sprinkle of warm soapy water.

It’s compulsive, addictive stuff. The possibilities of felt, we discovered, were endless. Hell, you could quite viably sculpt the Statue of Liberty from the stuff, if you had enough sheep, time and arm power.

Felting is still a long way off from before becoming a mainstream craft like knitting, sewing and crocheting  – but with pioneering designers at the helm of this ‘movement’ – we’re going to be seeing a lot more felted madness and colourful creations bloom before our very eyes in the not too distant future.

Gillian Harris, author, self-styled ‘Queen of Felt’ and proprietor of the Gilliangladrag brand is arguably one of the felting movement’s most prominent ‘sculptors’, carving out everything from penguins and purses to ostentatiously eccentric chandeliers – and all, essentially, from fluff. Even her Surrey based wool emporium where she holds her popular craft workshops and produces her own felt making kits is rather appropriately called ‘The Fluff-a-torium’.

Walking into this rainbow-coloured-alternative-world is akin to a chocoholic stepping into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It is sheer, tantalising eye-candy for the creative with bursts of pinks, mints, fuschia and canary yellow blossoming from every corner or the room. It’s a fascinating sight to behold and I challenge even the craft-shy sausage-fingered among us to not be inspired to give something ‘creative’ a go.

This month (November) Prima Makes magazine features Gillian in a Meet The Designer feature – with nuggets of information from the Queen of Felt herself on what inspires her and why she set up shop in the first place. Read it here for a quick dose of design and inspiration.

Within our humble little team, we’re always finding new ways in which to grow creatively, through reading plenty and doing lots of cultural things. Museum visits, yoga, watching film noir, zorbing, standing on our heads and being mindful and – yes – even felting – has all contributed to the PR creative process. Try it and you will see that felting is SERIOUSLY meditative stuff (and in this meditative state can some of our most colourful creative ideas derive) – just don’t zone out too much; you might find yourself stabbing your fingers with the rather evil looking barbed needle … OOOF!

 

Gillian Harris’ felted chandelier, as seen in her book ‘Carnival of Felting’ (published by Colins & Brown)

 

www.gilliangladrag.co.uk