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Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate: Steven Khalil

16th July, 2017

Enjoying lunch with fashion designer Steven Khalil at Bistro Moncur, Woollahra

Steven Khalil is one of Australia’s leading designers, specialising in red carpet and bridal gowns. His creations have been worn by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Jenner, Kelly Preston and Jesinta Campbell. He also launched an e-boutique last month, and is launching a new perfume next month. Khalil, 39, chats to me about dressing celebrities to royalty, and shares his best advice for brides-to-be.

What was your childhood like?

I grew up in Sydney. I was raised by a single mother. I was the youngest of four children … I struggled at school because I was creative and I think back then they didn’t know how to deal with creative students. So I was always in trouble or never really connecting. I could never sit down and keep still. In the end, they had to keep paper and pen away from me because all I would want to do was sketch dresses in class. So growing up was a struggle, but I was a happy child and really positive and I think that’s what got me through.

Did you always want to be a designer? 

Yes, I decided I would make wedding dresses at the age of six.


One of Steven’s wedding dress creations. Photo: @stevenkhalil and photographed by @yervantphotography


What influenced your choice of career?

I was watching Princess Diana and Charles’ wedding and I remember being really excited about the wedding and my mum was really baffled by it and she said, “Why are you so excited about this wedding?” I didn’t know why, and then when I saw the gown I said to my mum, “I’m going to make wedding dresses when I grow up”… I got my first sewing machine when I was 11.

What route did you take to pursue your dream?

I went through high school and did textiles and design at school, I was very drawn to all the creative subjects. And then the minute I left school I went to college and I studied design, fashion and clothing production and manufacturing, and I got my first real job when I was about 19: I was making flower girl dresses for a company. Then I … got head-hunted to go and work in a bridal boutique in Double Bay, called Mark Holt Bridal, when I was 22 years old, and I was living the dream, really. My gowns were on the covers of all the magazines and I stayed there for about seven years, and then I opened my own store.

You’ve dressed so many celebrities and influential people. What has been your biggest pinch-me moment? 

When we dressed Kylie Jenner for the Grammys – it was very unexpected, although that dress was with Jennifer Lopez, so I was hoping she would wear the dress, but it didn’t fit her and so that dress was sent to Kylie.

You recently dressed the Crown Princess of Greece. How did that come about?

The next day after the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia show we received this e-mail [saying that the Princess Olympia of Greece] wanted to wear [a piece from the runway] for her 21st birthday.

Princess Olympia wearing one of Steven’s creations. Photo: @olympiagreece


What was it like to dress royalty?

Well, it’s a first for me … although it has been an ongoing dream for me to make a royal wedding gown because it stems back to the [Princess] Diana thing of me being so obsessed with her wedding dress. So to make a royal wedding gown would be the ultimate for me.

If you could dress anyone, who would it be?

I’ve always wanted to dress Cate Blanchett because she’s Australian and has done so well overseas.

What is the most expensive dress you’ve ever had to create? 

We did a wedding gown for a client in Dubai and she paid $54,000 for that gown. She had seen something that we had done for somebody else, but she wanted a grander version of it, so a lot of it came down to the detail.

What do you love most about being part of a wedding day?

A bride is like the centerpiece of the wedding, isn’t she? The anticipation of her arrival, everybody waits to see her gown. So it’s really special to be chosen to make the gown, it’s such a special honour to do that. So I just love being part of that process.

How do you deal with “bridezillas”?

Over the years I’ve started to realise that it’s so much bigger than me and the dress … You put out the best you can put out… [but] a lot of it is just being patient and they’re under a lot of pressure from their families, [and] under financial pressure a lot of the time, to have this beautiful wedding. So you’ve got to really stop and think about what’s going on for the person and try to be as patient as possible.

What do you think the secret is for a woman looking great on her wedding day?

A lot of it is confidence. I know it probably sounds cliche, but I think if you feel good in something and you’re carrying that really well, you’ll give a good vibe.

What are the biggest fashion mistakes you see?

I think when you seen an image of somebody that looks amazing and you’re like, “I want that whole outfit,” but you always should make something your own. Don’t try to emulate what someone else is wearing because they might have a different body shape to you and the clothes might not fall the same way on you.

Have you got plans to open stores internationally?

I would like to, yes. So what we’re doing at the moment is just developing the brand more, creating more products so that we can then just open beautiful boutiques in chosen cities.


Some of Steven’s new jewellery line. Photo: Steven Khalil

How are you expanding?

We are adding more to the line, adding in jewellery, robes; we’re going to go into more beautiful lingerie as well … So we’re working on a new collection for that, because the first season of those christening gowns sold out so quickly… and we still have waiting list for them.

Tell me about the perfume. 

The perfume is really gorgeous and it’s going to be launched in [early August]. We’re just finalising all the labels and the packaging at the moment. The fragrance consists of rose, patchouli and lily of the valley… I want people to come into the store and be able to buy various products, not just the dress. So it’s kind of following in the footsteps of Elie Saab, Vera Wang, to create a really beautiful brand experience.

If you hadn’t gone down this career path, what would you be doing?  

You know, I have no idea because this was the only thing I wanted to do … when I was growing up, so many people were saying to me, “You can’t be a dressmaker, that’s not a real job.” What is a real job? So I thought about becoming a hairdresser or a lawyer.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

I love going out with friends to eat, I love Sunday morning breakfasts, I love being by the water. Yeah, I’m quite simple … I love to shop, I love beautiful clothing, I love going to art galleries.

Where do see yourself in five years?

I would love a concept store with sales people, beautiful products everywhere and just a really beautiful shopping experience.


We went to Bistro Moncur, Woollahra

We ate Pan Fried Barramundi Fillet, Mashed Peas, Creme Fraiche & Confit Spring Onion, Sunflower Seed & Caper Beurre Noisett

We drank San Pellegrino Mineral Water

Steven wore Ralph Lauren shirt and jacket and Nudie Jeans

Kate wore a Hansen & Gretel top.

Photograhy Jessica Hromas, SMH.


Wedding series: Find the perfect jewellery

24th August, 2016

You’ve got the dress, you’ve got your shoes but have you chosen your jewellery? Beautiful accessories are often the finishing touch of your entire look and finding the perfect pieces is key. Much like your dress your jewellery will largely depend on your style. Are you opting for a relaxed bohemian vibe or something modern and edgy? Do you want to go minimalist or go bold and dramatic? There are plenty of great pieces available at various price points so you’re sure to find something to fall in love with. Just keep in mind key things like your dress’ neckline (sometimes a dramatic neckline means you may be better off skipping a necklace); how you’re wearing your hair (for example bold earrings may sometimes work better with an up-do) and keeping your accessories consistent, for example having all dainty jewellery or opting for something that makes a bigger statement.

Check out some of my top picks below:

Fashion, Shop

Wedding Series: Dreamy wedding dresses from $263 (yes, really!)

10th August, 2016


I remember when I was shopping for wedding dresses and trying on multiple options before finally settling on the first dress I tried on! That’s the thing with wedding dresses – you won’t be able to stop thinking about it when it’s The One. So whether you’ve got a Pinterest board full of options or have no idea what kind of dress you want all I can say is you’ll just know when you’ve found it. I’ve rounded up over 100 dress options for you from designer labels to up and coming brands to one as little as $263 so you may just find the right one for you… Good luck and happy shopping!

Fashion, Shop

Wedding Series: Find the perfect bridesmaid dresses

4th August, 2016

Me with my bridesmaids at my wedding

Bridesmaid dresses can often be a bone of contention for brides as it’s often tricky to find one style of dress that will suit an entire bridal party; that will work within your budget and complement the theme of the wedding. For my own wedding my bridesmaids (see below) wore neutral-toned Carla Zampatti gowns but they wanted to wear different heel heights so in the end I had them all wearing the same shoes for photos then supplied them with ballet flats that they could change into. Compromise is key!

Scroll down to read my top tips for choosing bridesmaid dresses along with bridesmaid dress options to suit every wedding style.


My gorgeous bridesmaids


When choosing a bridesmaid dress consider…

Your dress

It’s important to choose dresses that will work with the style of your dress. So if your dress is quite sleek and modern, it might not work to have relaxed boho dresses as they’re two completely different styles. Ultimately you want your bridesmaids to complement your dress for a cohesive look on the day.

Colour scheme

Consider the overall colour scheme of your wedding. If you’ve opted for soft pastel hues for the event it might look jarring to have dark coloured gowns for your bridesmaids as it may look a little too harsh.

The type of wedding you’re having

Make sure that your bridesmaids’ attire works with the style of wedding you’re having. For example if yours is a relaxed, rustic affair a statement gown in a show-stopping cut or colour might not work and you may be better to opt for a relaxed silhouette in a slightly more romantic, feminine colour.

Skin tone and hair colour

Your bridesmaids will all be quite different in terms of skin tone and hair colour so think of one unifying shade that will work for all of the bridal party. For example you may need to consider that some shades might not work with olive skin as well as it does with fair skin or that tones that work for blondes won’t work as well with redheads.

If you’re really having troubles with this you could consider having a tonal scheme where everyone doesn’t have the same shade of dress but simply in the same colour family, for example you could choose pink and have dresses in a dusty rose right down to a pale pink.

Your bridesmaids’ body shapes

It’s very rare that all the ladies in your bridal party will be the same shape or size. It’s important to be mindful of this to ensure that you choose a dress style that will be flattering to all. This is one of the trickiest aspects of choosing bridesmaid dresses as you want everyone to look great but at the same time you need to find dresses in the same style. Have all your bridesmaids try on as many dresses as possible to determine a style that works.

Alternatively if this all sounds like too much of a headache you could consider having your bridesmaids wear different dresses but all in the same colour to give it a unifying theme.

Your bridesmaids’ opinions

It’s ultimately your day so you will of course, have the final say but it’s important to factor your bridesmaids’ wishes in your decision making process. Allow your bridesmaids to voice their concerns and opinions (they could have lots of ideas that you might not have even considered yet) as you want them to be comfortable in what they’re wearing but ultimately they have to respect that it’s your decision.

Your budget

If your bridesmaids are paying for their own dresses it’s important to consider their financial situation in the dress you choose. Yes, you may have fallen in love with a $600 designer dress but that cost will be prohibitive to most – you don’t want to stress your bridal party out unnecessarily.

If you’re paying then the decision on what you spend will come down to what your budget allows for. If you want to splurge then go ahead but know that there are plenty of beautiful dress options out there that are budget-friendly, too (see below for proof).


Find a bridesmaid dress to suit your wedding style:





Photography: Morlotti Studio




Getting married? Steven Khalil reveals his top tips for buying a wedding dress

12th May, 2015

A bridal look from Khalil’s couture show at MBFWA

I know when I was trying to choose my wedding dress I tried on more than you can possibly imagine trying to find the perfect one. I ended up going with my first choice in the end but it was certainly a time-consuming process! To help make things easier, I asked designer Steven Khalil to impart his best tips for finding the perfect gown…

What are the key things brides should look out for when buying a wedding dress?
It’s very important for brides to be clear on their preferences. That and to be aware of their body shape, no matter what size and what styles, and silhouettes will flatter them. Fit is so important- it’s one of the biggest moments in your life so the gown should reflect that.

What are the top 3 things brides you wish more brides would do when it comes to picking a dress?
To choose a gown that they love, not what they think everyone else will love. To go for something a little unconventional or different and to listen to their heart and work with the designer on something special to surprise everyone on their big day…

What’s one look that’s flattering on most brides?
Simplicity works for every bride. A beautiful form flattering shape that skims their body and isn’t too tight.

What’s the biggest no-no when it comes to buying a wedding dress?
I think a big mistake is to copy another bride just because you like that gown. A wedding gown is so personal and I love it when I can work with a bride to design the perfect gown for HER – and only her.

What are the big trends brides should look out for?
A simpler silhouette is making a comeback- no long trains or huge skirts- simple silhouettes that are more form-fitting and less over the top and embellished. Textural fabrics are also coming through in bridal looks- more about the fabric details than loads of embellishment.

What’s the key to a timeless wedding dress?
To me a timeless gown has an element of simplicity to it. A beautiful classic shape that fits well and is tailored will last the test of time.

What have been your fave celebrity bridal looks of all time?
Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier
Kate Middleton
Princess Diana- my inspiration to start my business
Jennifer Lopez in lace Valentino
Peaches Geldof
Caroline Bissett Kennedy


Fashion, Lifestyle

David Jones Bridal Showcase

22nd October, 2014

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I love weddings! (Especially mine) but I also love attending friends weddings and seeing all the gorgeous details. From the table setting to the floral decoration but nothing compares to that moment that you get to see THE DRESS!! Bridal fashion is so gorgeous as there are so many styles to suit so many brides. That’s why I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to host the Bridal Showcase at Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel recently.

David Jones, presented bridal collections from some of the biggest and best names in the bridal business, including Monique Lhuillier, Oscar De La Renta, Carolina Herrera, Temperley London, Steven Khalil, Rachel Gilbert, Karen Willis Holmes, Mariana Hardwick and Lisa Gowing.

I hosted the event with the lovely Terry Biviano over an intimate lunch held within the hotel’s Hamptons-inspired Sunset Room. Here are some of my favourite dress designs and some other images from the day. Also make sure you catch the behind the scenes from the event on Fashion Bloggers at 8:30pm tonight!

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No wedding dress is complete without the perfect pair of heels. Shop the look…