In the latest instalment of our fashion series where you experience the best bridal boutiques in the country without leaving your sofa, we take a detailed look inside Mirror Mirror. We’ll explain the designers they exclusively stock, the fittings process, who will be dressing you – and we’ll reveal the gorgeous extra treats you can expect as a Mirror Mirror bride. Get ready to discover the no-expense-spared climate control in every dressing room and the secret perfume that scents the entire boutique.
This is a family business with thirty-three years of solid expertise built into everything they do. Founded by good friends Maria and Jane who became sisters-in-law when Jane married Maria’s brother, Mirror Mirror has never been merely a bridal retailer. It’s a working design atelier spread across four interlinked and listed Georgian boutiques in Angel Islington where the self-confessed ‘fit freaks’ have built a renowned reputation for customisation and the perfect fit. ‘We’re obsessed’ says Maria. ‘There is nothing basic about what we do – we’re, all about extra.’
Don’t arrive expecting to find the ‘saggy and baggy’ styles that populate some online fashion destinations. ‘If you want to actually look like a bride, that’s what we are exceptional at.’ Early celebrity fans of Mirror Mirror’s classicism were Zoe Ball, Amanda Holden, Denise Lewis OBE and Kym Marsh.
A snapshot of the space:
You’ll be greeted at 56 Penton Street, stepping onto the travertine marble floor and under a French late 18th century birdcage chandelier. ‘Then you’ll notice the smell,’ says Maria. ‘We tried a million different things before we settled on it.’ She declines to share the name of the fragrance and will only hint that ‘there’s a freshness to it that really suits our building.’
Ambience is everything, as Maria points out, ‘you meet us and within five minutes you have to take your clothes off.’ So, despite the enormous cost, every room has climate control. All dressing rooms are carpeted, and the space is dotted with architectural salvage and antiques including the cupboard that houses the head pieces and ledges from old churches used as shelving to display accessories and photography. The original mirror that inspired the name of the boutique now resides at Maria’s home in North Finchley. ‘It’s been with me from the very beginning but the whole space is enchanting. People love our quirky details and antique cupid light fittings.’
Who is dressing you?
Maria and Jane’s working relationship will hit a 34-year landmark in July this year. Both studied design and pattern cutting at the London College of Fashion. ‘We understand how to take a sketch and transform it into a three-dimensional form and make it flatter the female body. We’ve always led by design and we’ve trained all our own staff. Most of them have been with us from six to 25 years. We are a work family.’
The A Team, as Maria consistently refers to them, is made up of some of the most experienced fitters, stylists and seamstresses in the business. Manageress Meb specialises in fittings, customisation and styling. Andrea is also a fully qualified wedding hair and make-up stylist. Becca has been with the team for seventeen years and is one half of Dolecka Bridal, the bespoke accessory brand stocked at the boutique, while fitter and stylist Shamel is the daughter of Sandra, Mirror Mirror’s couture seamstress. ‘She’s been coming in since she was tiny, now she has a photographic memory of all our gowns. Shamel loves to cut and create custom veils for our brides.’
Today, the business is as much led by the female founders as it ever was – but they have empowered the A Team to run it day to day. Maria works with Meb and Sandra on couture gowns (still inspired by her designer mother and ‘school holidays playing with fabrics under the cutting table’) and Jane works behind the scenes keeping the business wheels turning. Anna, who has a great eye for detail, runs the back office and keeps us ship shape. You’ll probably chat to her at first point of contact.
Imagine the polar opposite of shows like Say Yes to the Dress and you’ll be in the right head space. Each bride usually requires two appointments and it’s suggested you stick to two accompanying guests, ‘so you can hear your own thoughts.’ You’ll be allocated one of three dressing rooms (there are five in total, but Maria prefers the longer and more spaced-out fitting times that worked so well during the pandemic). The fifth dressing room, the largest, is where the fitter will watch you walk in your dress so the hem can be perfectly tailored. ‘Everyone walks differently and it’s crucial we get it right,’ says Maria. The rooms are uncluttered, so the focus remains on the bride.
There is deliberately no live online booking system because the team want to talk to you before you arrive, to pin down your budget and the kind of wedding dress you have in mind. You’ll also be sent a pre-appointment form to fill out as honestly as you can. ‘If you don’t know what you want, tell us what you definitely don’t want,’ says Maria ‘it’s just as helpful.’
Dresses aren’t pre-selected and waiting for you in the fitting room. ‘That’s the fun bit. We want you to experience that sweetie shop feeling.’
The best advice she can offer brides is ‘don’t get fixated on a picture. Have an idea but keep an open mind or you might miss something incredible.’
Post appointment, when it’s time to celebrate, you’re a stone’s throw from the global food and drink playground of Upper Street.
Maria buys from several of the Pronovias collections, designed in Barcelona. ‘They offer incredibly varied dresses, beautifully designed and fantastic value for money.’ Newer entry Nicole Cavallo, the creative force behind the Nicole Milano collection, has gowns made in Milan and is also ‘much loved by our brides’. Fellow British bridal designer Sassi Holford is ‘the closest to our own design aesthetic’ while Inbal Dror (Mirror Mirror is the exclusive UK stockist) provides some of the most showstopping and defining silhouettes in the boutique. Vera Wang is ‘still the number one googled bridal label’ while Gemy Maalouf (a London exclusive) brings more statement glamour that’s ‘sheer elegance’. Eliza Jane Howell gowns are ‘shape shifters’ that ‘look incredible on any body shape including fuller figures.’
All this as well as the capsule couture collection from Mirror Mirror of around ten interchangeable pieces. ‘We see lots of girls from the Shires who work in London, lots of graphic designers, creatives, professionals, but also English old money. We also attract a fabulous range of London brides from across all ethnicities and international clients who love our customisations.’
You can choose from the boutique’s own sourced accessories or from their in-house designers Dolecka Bridal. ‘Anything can be customised’. Mirror Mirror veils are made on site at the atelier and are completely bespoke, often matched to the lace and detailing of the dress. They don’t sell shoes, bridesmaids or mother of the bride outfits. The focus is firmly on the bride.
Entry level dresses start at £1,850 (and the choice is large; a lace fishtail, a softer A-line, zibeline or satin dresses or a silk mix.) Pure silk dresses start at £6,000. The average spend is £2,500 to £3,500 with the most expensive dress they currently stock from Inbal Dror at £11,000.
Alterations packages start at £450.
Mirror Mirror Couture (where you’ll find lots of bias cuts) is £3,500 to £7,500.
Sample sale appointments can be made throughout the year where you can expect 20-70% off as well as two dedicated sample sales twice a year. (Keep an eye on their Insta feed for date announcements).
Appointments are just over an hour and £30 regardless of day or time.
15 second sneak peek:
The first thing you’ll notice: That it’s not one huge boutique, but a more intimate vibe.
You’re sitting on: A salvaged piece of 1950s furniture that’s been re-upholstered.
You’re drinking? Still or sparkling water from your own single serve glass bottle so you remain refreshed and focused.
The view from the inside out? St Silas church opposite provides the ultimate wedding-day inspiration.
Most likely to overhear someone say: ‘It smells gorgeous, the dresses in the window, OMG the headdresses!’
Nothing says Mirror Mirror bride quite like . . . couture customers have their own hanger made from the silk of their dress. Accessories are wrapped in personally designed tissue paper, faintly embossed with love poetry. ‘It’s super luxe, but very subtle,’ says Maria ‘almost secretive.’
You had me at . . . the dress contract! Received in a beautiful eco-friendly cardboard bag, it also contains a gift of a garter and a personal thank-you note for becoming a Mirror Mirror bride.