Pippa Psaila’s wedding dress immediately gives off that wow factor although it is very much considered an unconventional wedding style. Her stance on wedding dresses explains it all, yet this non-traditional bride created a stunning wedding look for her July wedding last year.
“I hate wedding dresses,” she shares, merely five minutes into her conversation with Bliss Magazine which featured her dress in the My Dress Story section. “I don’t like them in general, so the idea of going around the shops to find a wedding dress I liked, well, I just didn’t see it happening for me. I gave up on that before I even started.”
Never one to think much about her wedding dress before she needed to, Pippa explains that deep down, she probably knew she would end up having it made, as the chances of finding one in a style she loved would be slim. Her choice of designer, couturier Luke Azzopardi, was also very much an instinctive one. “The first time I met Luke, I told him large, flamboyant dresses are simply not for me, and he immediately understood that.”
Pippa explains that Luke was the first designer who came to mind when she first thought about having her dress made, and he is the only one she went to. The designer’s unconventional approach to fashion and design, and Pippa’s own sense of style were well aligned. Also, and most importantly, she wanted to look and feel like herself. “You often hear how brides either wore too much make-up or wore their hair in a certain way or wore a dress they weren’t comfortable in just because it was their wedding day. That is exactly what I did not want. I wanted guests to say, that’s Pippa, and not Pippa dressed as a bride.”
Ahead of their first meeting, Pippa says she didn’t have a fixed idea in mind, more of a style she knew she liked that was simple, flattering, unfussy and refined. “I was open to many things, even trousers. It could have easily gone that way in fact!” The moment she met Luke and told him about her aversion to wedding dresses, she also described her desired dress as one that could easily be worn to another special occasion.
“We looked at many books and discussed lots of different styles, designs and details. My mum and I spoke with Luke for hours, going back and forth with ideas and suggestions, until we came up with something that I absolutely loved. Once he drew it, that was it,” says Pippa. “In fact, that night, I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited – and I have no trouble sleeping!”
“I thought people wouldn’t understand what I wanted or force me to go for something traditional, so I couldn’t believe we had come up with a design I loved so much and was also unconventional. After that meeting, I couldn’t wait to see it in real life,” she says.
Creating the look
Pippa’s wedding day look, a contemporary ensemble with medieval references, comprised a perfectly fitted slip dress in pure silk crepe and a buttoned-up hooded cape made of corded Chantilly lace. The bride opted not to have the traditional veil in favour of the hooded cape.
Explaining her choice of fabrics, Pippa says that having their initial meeting at Camilleri Paris Mode meant forming a complete picture from the get-go. “The fabrics definitely made the dress. The cape and the hood wouldn’t have been the same in another lace, and the dress wouldn’t have had the same movement and appearance if it wasn’t made with that specific type of silk,” she says. “From my limited knowledge, it was clear that the choice of fabrics and design of the dress had to go hand in hand.”
Pippa, her mother and Luke pored over countless types of lace and fabrics – “before that day, I can safely say I had no idea there were so many different kinds!” Also, finding the right one was a process of elimination. “Luke would pull out one lace after another, lay each one out on the floor and I’d tell him which I liked and which I didn’t.” The delicate cape was complete with a flat collar and small buttons on the front, which Pippa could remove later in the wedding.
After concluding the fabric for the cape and knowing she would likely remove it at some point throughout the day, Pippa knew the dress should be plain, and so the hunt began for a simple yet stunning fabric. “I imagined a flowy dress that was also quite clingy. I wanted the fit to be flattering but not tight – it is a wedding dress after all.”
Following that meeting around one year before the wedding, the next time Pippa and Luke met again was a couple of months before the big day for her first in a series of fittings. “All I could say when I tried it on was ‘wow’. I loved it so much I just kept saying ‘wow’” she laughs. “My mum ‘wowed’ a lot as well. The look was so me, there was no other way to describe it.”
Although there weren’t many fittings and the alterations were minor, Pippa explains that the couturier went into a lot of detail to ensure the fit was flawless. “The dress was plain, and the fabric and style were very unforgiving, so it had to fit perfectly. Overall, especially towards the end, it was more a case of fine-tuning and adding finishing touches than any major alterations.”
The big day
Wearing her dress on the day of the wedding and seeing her complete look for the first time was also a memorable moment for Pippa. “It’s a different feeling seeing yourself in your dress on the day, with your hair and make-up done. Until then, I had never seen the hood on with my hair styled, which also had to be set in a specific way to keep the hood in place,” she explains. “What I remember clearly is feeling so happy with the way it turned out. My bridesmaids, who saw my dress for the first time on the wedding day, were surprised by my choice, but they also thought it was completely me.”
Having kept her expectations of the whole process in check – “knowing that I’m not into wedding stuff” – Pippa says she never thought she would enjoy it as much as she did. “Luke understood me every step of the way, it’s as if he read my mind. The whole experience was a billion times better than I ever thought it would be,” she says. “It turned out exactly the way I wanted it, and there is not one single thing that I would change. I only wish I could wear it again!”
A word from the groom
Although he was quite sure his wife’s choice of wedding dress would be unusual and unconventional, and he knew she was having it made, groom Lucio Sciriha says he “never imagined it would be anything close to what she wore on the day. I had no idea what she was cooking up – and the result was a complete surprise.”
Pippa was careful not to give any details away about her dress – including keeping the designer’s sketches well out of sight – but she did let on to her then-fiancé that it would be very much her style. “I remember her saying one time that the style is not necessarily feminine, and that she considered trousers rather than a dress, so I didn’t know what to expect,” says Lucio. “However, I think they did a fantastic job, I liked her choice a lot, and I told Pippa immediately when I saw her at the church.”
There was one part of Pippa’s outfit that he did see before the wedding – her white Louboutin heels. “We were abroad on holiday and I wanted to visit this particular shop. I was interested in looking around for myself when Pippa spotted her shoes. However, I was distracted because there was a Juventus player standing right next to me, and I was more occupied with trying to get a photo with him than shopping for her shoes,” Lucio jokes. “It was quite an experience actually – we had just enjoyed a bottle of wine before all this happened – and although I didn’t end up buying anything for myself, in the end, we did find Pippa’s wedding shoes.”
Photography: Brian Grech