Black Diamond Dress
Debbie Wingham is a self taught Fashion designer, she made the world’s most expensive black diamond dress, valued at a staggering 3.5 million pounds. It boasted 50 separate two-carat flawless black diamonds, 25 on the peplum, 25 framing the shoulders and a centre piece of five carat flawless black diamonds which framed the bustier, the rest of the gown had 1500 white pointer diamonds along with fine beading and delicate chain mail detail.
For those who don’t know you, talk about your background.
My back ground is haute couture gowns particularly one of a kind creations, both creating for private clients and also consulting for big fashion houses, creating 2-3 finale looks to close their show internationally at fashion week.
When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
Always really, from the age of 11 I could finish a garment to a commercial shop standard and use to make pieces for the 6th formers when I was first year at secondary school. I’m self taught but was very inspired by my mother who was a keen dress maker and taught me the core of my knowledge.
When did you open your first boutique?
I use to be trader on the stylish London fashion markets in infancy of my career like spitalfields, Portobello and Greenwich but I opened my first actual boutique at the age of 23, it was on the uber luxurious Kings road in Chelsea, London. I couldn’t afford a shop front so instead I took second and third floor which worked well because one floor was my atelier the other floor my collection showcase space and it was a by appointment boutique service.
What’s it like being in the Fashion industry?
Like most creative industries it as it’s ups and downs but for me it was and still is my passion so I love ever minute of it. For those who like me really want(ed) to work in fashion so long as they put in the time and learn, absorb and network with fellow fashionista’s I see no reason why they cannot make their way in the fashion industry.
What was your first job in the fashion industry?
I have always worked for myself so I guess my first real job was to establish what my signature style would be and who I was as a designer. Initially I made quite street influence, very quirky pieces but soon established that I had a flair for finale gowns and once I acknowledged that I spent all my time researching evolving and learning new techniques and particularly looking at the finish of my pieces, after all couture should be as pretty internally as the exterior and this skill took a while to aquire.
Describe what do you do in your work?
I create one off pieces that are wearable pieces of timeless art. I think couture should be something that can be enjoyed this season, next season and even in 10 years time. I don’t take an heavy influence from seasonal trends although I do have a lot of appreciation for it!
What do you like about your work?
It’s a passion really I don’t see it as work!
What advice would you pass along to those starting out in the Fashion Business?
Network as much as possible, don’t be afraid to reach out and speak with the highly respected in the industry if your lucky enough to meet or speak with them. The saying it’s not what you know it’s who you know is some what true but of course without talent you wont progress so make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to build a strong portfolio because this speaks volumes. Find your signature style and make sure you honour that as much as possible. Believe in yourself and live by the moto if it’s worth doing its worth over doing!!!!
What inspires you?
Generally speaking old fashioned Hollywood glamour, however I often take influence from a trip abroad, architecture and I always seem to end up with a mild influence of the middle east in all my work, I do spend a lot of time there and love the colour palettes and elegance.
How was your experience as a guest judged in Britain’s Next top Model?
Great fun, although I do find the competition elements hard because everyone as a stroke of brilliance in them and as a mother I can relate to every young lady who is trying to find their way in the world and find it hard to judge them. I probably enjoy my gowns been used in filming projects as apposed to me for example I have had my creations in Sex in the City, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives and so on…….
Tell me about you Black Diamond dress. What does this dress represent for you?
The black diamond dress represents me standing alone in the fashion world where as before a lot of my work other fashion houses took all the credit for. The black diamond dress was a very long process to produce but it served as an international platform for myself and my fashion pedigree and then of course I went on to do the red diamond abaya one year later which is currently the most expensive garment in the world to date, valued at 17.7 million dollars. I don’t think diamonds defy who I am as a Designer but I did gain international recognition from both pieces which was important because it was my time to be seen and acknowledged in my own right.
In three words how do you define yourself?
Devoted, Passionate and Humble