From the West End stage to wedding dresses
The theatre is a magical place, and for seamstress Ceris Davies, when she graduated from university with a fashion degree, it was where she wanted to work.
“I love shows and the theatre,” she smiles.“I started applying for jobs when I left De Montfort University and someone gave me a chance at the English National Opera.“I hadn’t moved down to London so I was commuting from Leicester. It wasn’t too bad, a couple of hours each way.“I suppose I was young and naive and got the chance to do it so I said yes. You just have to do these things and take opportunities when they come up.”
The first production she worked on after leaving the English National Opera was Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat starring Lee Mead, here she was a dresser and worked her way up to wardrobe assistant.
During her career Ceris has worked on photo shoots for Children in Need, music videos and a production of Sweet Charity at the University of Chichester.While working in the West End she was a production sewer on Phantom of the Opera, dresser and production sewer on The Lion King and worked in the wardrobe department on The Rat Pack.“My last show in London was Matilda,” she recalls. “I loved working on it from a design perspective I was constantly in awe of it.”
However, having to work weekends and evenings, and with her partner in Horsham, Ceris decided that family life and being in London weren’t going to work so moved to Sussex in 2010 and started to make dresses.
The first wedding dress she created was for someone who worked on Matilda.“When I decided weddings was what I wanted to do I didn’t have anything to show anyone,” she says. “I asked her if she trusted me enough to make her wedding dress for free.“She said yes. I owe her a lot really for letting me do that as it was my starting point.”
Ceris explains how she loves how wedding dresses can be quite theatrical and the style she enjoys creating can be quite elaborate with intricate design and lots of detail.“I love working with a bride and getting their ideas and making it work, being like ‘we could do this’ or ‘how about changing that’ and going from there it is an amazing thing to be able to do for someone,” she says.“Initially I started with prom dresses but I did 15 one summer and they all had the same deadline whereas I can do that many wedding dresses but for different deadlines.”Wedding dresses she says are still seasonal with the summer months and September particularly popular,“For summer weddings I start the planning in September the year before and have the final fittings in April or May,” she explains.
A mum to a one-year-old, Ceris does a lot of her work in the evenings and weekends, and already has four dresses in the pipeline for 2019.
As plans for the future it seems the theatre still holds a very special place in Ceris’s heart.“I love the theatre anyway and it has such a nice feel to it everyone is so friendly,” she explains.“I still do alterations and that for Matilda when the cast changes, so I still do something I’d be sad not to do anything I like to keep my foot in the door.“It is something I would like to get back to eventually.”
From the West End to weddings Ceris is loving being able to create something magical and special for those that come to her.
Close up pictures of dresses: Steve Cobb