Guy Behind The Gowns: John Zimmermann

John Zimmermann, a mainstay in New Zealand’s bridal fashion industry, welcomes us into his world.

  • Story by Julia Steel
  • Photography by Supplied & Main Photo Carolyn Haslett

For years, kiwi brides on the hunt for a bespoke wedding gown have headed to John Zimmermann Couture .

The eponymous designer, whose shop is located in Grafton, Auckland, has even been called New Zealand’s answer to Valentino.

Introduced to couture by legendary 80s and 90s designer Patrick Steel, his appreciation for advanced design techniques and luxurious fabrics inspired him to open up shop 20 years ago.

“What really excites me about couture is that it’s always something new. We’re always moving forward,” he says.

Naturally, wedding attire is a significant portion of business as brides look to invest in a one-of-a-kind piece for their special day.

“There’s more scope for the fanciful techniques and materials we use,” he adds.

The first appointment in the design process is a meeting of minds, with John and the bride discussing ideas and inspiration and viewing the stunning gowns on display in the showroom.

He emphasises that each creation is something of a collaboration and, because each piece is made from scratch, it’s a completely different process to altering a gown already in existence.

“You choose a couture gown for the personalisation. We never do them the same twice. We really want the end result to work for the bride – for her body and personality.”

Beginning as a ‘toile’ – a test garment made in an inexpensive fabric – the style, proportions and fit of the gown are perfected before manufacturing of the final garment begins in the chosen materials.

Six months is the recommended timeframe, but the team is flexible and has even managed to create a gown in just two weeks!

While John Zimmermann Couture’s former best-seller has been a lace design, his personal favourites tend to be sexy figure-hugging dresses with trains – now something of a signature.

“The more flamboyant styles are the ones we like to design the most! But there is always something in each gown that you just absolutely love.”

John Zimmermann predicts that the future of couture bridalwear will see less all over lace and more embroidery.

“We’re seeing a cleaner, more classic look with high bateau necklines and pared back sixties details that, in many respects, is influenced by the royal weddings,” he says.

“Just as Kate’s dress was the catalyst for lace, I think satin-look fabrics will be a strong trend over the next few years stemming from Meghan’s gown.”

Click here to view his entire collection .

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