The Inspirations: Fur Coat No Knickers

Photography Credit: Joanna Brown Photography

Yesterday Gareth told me that I use too! many! exclamation! marks! He said it’s like laughing at your own jokes (well… hell, I think I’m a hoot!) So he’s probably not going to enjoy reading this intro because a gazillion exclamation marks are definitely required to convey to you just how much I love the girls I’m interviewing today (!!!!!!!)

Laura & Emma run the amazing Fur Coat No Knickers, a vintage wedding dress shop in the heart of London. But this isn’t any old vintage shop, oh no, the girls pride themselves in their attention to detail and attentiveness to all their brides. They’re well known for how they ‘pimp’ each of their gowns to make it perfect for the individual girl. Whether it’s shortening, nipping, tucking, letting in, letting out or it’s adding petticoats, giant bows, straps or applique details… no detail is left out when making sure each and every one of their brides leaves with the wedding dress of their dreams.

I could wax lyrical all day long about how wonderful these two women are. They really care about each and every girl they work with, which is why I feature so many of their brides on my blog – because wearing one of their dresses makes brides automatically awesome, happy and gorgeous!

Their Kingley Court shop is my absolute favoruite place in London. If I’m ever in the area I’ll pop in and say hi… and not just because they always offer me bubbly and I get to swoon over all the latest vintage frocks! These girls are wonderful, wonderful people. They’re always there for me when I have a ‘omg I’ve fallen in love with this vintage dress but it’s too small!’ crisis, and they’re always the first to make me feel beautiful when I need it, “We think this dress is perfect for you. Yes, you have to try it on!” A well fitting glamorous vintage dress will do that to a person!

I only wish I’d known about them before I got married!


Hi ladies! So who are you then?

We are Fur Coat No Knickers and the two of us (Emma and Laura) opened our shop, in Central London, in 2008. We now have two lovely assistants who help us in our shop and can sew beautifully. We also work with a few lovely ladies from our theatre background who can tackle any kind of alteration or customisation that we dream up in our fittings. More to the point they really care about their work as much as we do. We both trained and worked in theatrical costume design, and first met on The Lion King. We just loved working together, both bringing different skills to our job and creating real teamwork. So that was that, we did more and more shows together, working long, long hours but most of all making it fun.

What was it that made you want to open a vintage wedding dress shop?

Originally we stocked a lot more vintage accessories for theatre and film, as well as a wardrobe full of beautiful vintage wedding dresses.

Fairly early on, we realised our customers liked the way we got involved with the fit and creative ideas and the styling of our brides. So the bridal part just grew and grew, leading to more and more wedding dresses and accessories.

Photography Credit: Annamarie Stepney Photography

Why vintage wedding dresses?

Every vintage dress is unique and what makes our job so exciting is that all our brides are different. We never, ever feel like we don’t want to come to work. The vintage dresses are beautiful and often an interesting mix of fabrics. And who can resist the wow factor of the fifties dresses or the history in the thirties dresses? We absloutely love rescuing a dress by cleaning it and giving them lots of love to bring the beauty back for someone’s wedding day. It’s sort of chic recycling.

How did you first get the word out about what you were doing? Was there anything in particular that you did that was instrumental to it?

We couldn’t and still can’t afford to advertise so we took every opportunity to lend out dresses and accessories for photo shoots, events and tv. But we can never thank Kat enough for all the amazing things she has said about us and brides she has featured on her brilliant blog. We’ll do our best to thank her with frocks…

Photography Credit: Steve Gerrard Photography

What inspires you?

Some designers we worked closely with as costume supervisors, in particularly Mark Thompson, who taught was a lot and who we loved working with. He was always prepared to change a design to suit a body shape, to completely flatter an actress.  And each other, of course.

What are you best at?

We pride ourselves on our creative ideas whilst always keeping the integrity of the vintage dresses and giving the best personal service we can.

We feel very passionate about making sure our brides are happy and ready for their big day.

Photography Credit:  Emma Case Photography

What’s the best and worst pieces of business advice you’ve ever been given?

The worst is someone told us we should be showing our dresses off on models. We prefer our real beautiful brides, looking radiant and happy on their big day. Which is why we have lots of pictures of them in our shop and fitting rooms, as well as our blog.

Best piece – don’t spread yourself to thin… we really try and concentrate on giving as much time and attention as possible to our brides rather than trying to accommodate sheer numbers.

Was there one particular moment when you thought you’d ‘made it’?

We will let you know when we have made it.

Photography Credit: David McNeil Photography

Are there any particular things you’d accredit to your success and do you have any advice for anyone struggling to get a bridal fashion business off the ground?

You need to be passionate about what you do. Running your own business, you never ever, stop thinking and worrying about things. And everythng you do, you learn from to make things a bit better.

Do you have any regrets in the way you’ve run your business so far? Is there anything you’d go back and change?

No regrets.

Is there anything you wish you knew before starting your business?

How much London business rates are.

Photography Credit: Made U Look Photography

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Having a fridge full of bubbly. That, and getting to know our lovely brides, their family and friends and being part of the lead up to their big day. And of course, receiving photos and emails about how much our brides loved wearing their dresses.

…And the worst bit?

Saying goodbye to our brides. And the very worst is that vintage dresses are, on the whole, only in smaller sizes. We hate not being able to help curvier brides, although we pride ourselves on working hard searching for more realistic sizes. We can make some dresses bigger, but some sizes in vintage just don’t exist.

Finally, what’s next?

See the answer above and watch this space…

Photography Credit:  Emma Case Photography

Ooooh intriguing and very very exciting!! I’ll be sure to report back on this development as soon as I have the info!

You can see all the gorgeous Fur Coat No Knicker’s brides that I’ve blogged here.

16 comments

  1. Nikki

    The Girls ar Fur Coat No Knickers truely are amazing!!!! They are currently helping me with my Wedding dress for October and every visit is so much funand you can really tell they love their jobs.

    Every visit to the shop is as enjoyable as the first, they even gave me a packet of smarties when i said i didn’t drink Champagne (which i thought was amazing!!!!)

    I can’t wait to see my finished dress and to finally see what they envisaged become reality. eeekkkk!!!!!

  2. I’ve had a bride RAVING about their customer service (and had a birdcage veil of theirs for my own wedding, already had my dress by the time I found them in 2010)…can’t wait for the wedding now to take photographs of the thing of beauty!

  3. Lou

    I went there after an exhausting day of dress shopping, and it was the first place I’d been made to feel special and beautiful. I didn’t really think I could find THE DRESS until I found it there!
    Emma is so kind and imaginative, and they were the first boutique I went to not to be appalled that I wanted a dress in less than six months. I’d heard so much about them, and couldn’t believe they could live up to all their hype, but they did, and more!
    Definitely deserving of all the exclamation marks!!!

  4. Rae

    I love love love love FCNK!! They made a non-weddingy girl love weddings and i was so amazingly happy in my dress. They are seriously amazing! (and kat, no way do you use too many exclamation marks!!)

  5. Sarah Minns

    Fur Coat No Knickers is an absolute gem of a place. Everyone should pop into Kingly Court, even if it is to just meet the fantastic Laura and Emma. The care and attention that goes into this shop is unbelievable. The dresses and accessories are absolutely beautiful. GO, GO, GO!

  6. I want to be this good when I grow up. These ladies are such a massive inspiration in every way and all thier brides are styled so perfectly. Major Business Crush.
    Here you go !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love exclamation marks, boys don’t get it.

  7. I love FCNK! They completely saved me it’s a fairly long story about how I ended up 3 months before my wedding with a dress that was hideous and a vintage dress that was way to small and had way to many ruffles. Things looked pretty hopeless until I called into Laura and Emma! They were lovely they really cared about what me and my Mum were going through. I’m still going to fittings and having the dress altered but every time I go I feel welcome and comfortable, it’s lovely to find a wedding space where being plus size isn’t an issue. Also after one fitting and the dress was already looking more beautiful than I could have hoped I can’t wait to wear it on my wedding. Every bride should be treated the way FCNK treat their brides.

  8. getting my dress at FCNK was a magical experience and the best choice I could ever, ever make about my wedding. Laura & Emma are just so amazing, patient, smiley, cheerful, excitable, helpful, skilled…and I could go on!! I was always looking forward to my next fitting and always felt super at ease and totally safe in their skillful hands!! Every bride deserves to be treated in such a special way and I’m just so grateful to FCNK for making my wedding dress shopping experience so enjoyable, stress-free and ultimately unforgettable! Oh, and my dress was awesome, of course!!! :)))))

  9. Fearful Dress Shopper

    It’s really lovely to see these comments about how great the shop is/dresses are, but this makes the sting even more stingy as was told (in a very polite way) I’m too big at size 16 for the dresses there. I’m looking for alternatives as am not desperate for a “proper” vintage dress, just one that that has the same type of style/tea length. Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

  10. Antonia

    whenever I feel stressed with the wedding planning process, I take a sneaky peek at photos of me wearing my dress in the shop and get excited about my next visit. Laura and Emma are so welcoming they didn’t even make me feel guilty about rocking up with 4 (or was it 5??) of my friends for my last fitting. just plied us all with bubbles. I don’t recommend doing this though – it was chaos with far too many opinions in the beautiful room! next time it’ll be just me, so i can hear what these gorgeously lovely experts have to say!

  11. These gals totally rock. I’m furiously recommending them to EVERYONE so I have an excuse to go back and hang out. Couldn’t imagine planning any wedding without them especially having since been to ‘proper’ wedding boutiques with friends for their weddings and seen how snooty and pressured they can make the process. Luckily I had no idea of that side having gone only to FCNK after seeing so many great brides in their dresses on Rock n Roll Bride, and just spending all that time giggling, gossiping and drinking bubbly (and eating cake) instead of worrying. If you see a dodgy character hanging around the shop, it’s probably just me missing you guys!

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