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The origins of Margaret Wray

Margaret Wray wedding dress designer, Jamie Richards, smiling at camera
Jamie Richards, Founder and Lead Designer at Margaret Wray

Welcome! And thanks for stopping by our brand new Journal here at Margaret Wray. With this first post I wanted to share a bit more about myself (Jamie – that's me in the photo) and how I got into this wonderful world of wedding gown design.

I credit my family for giving me my start in fashion design, and family is really at the heart of everything Margaret Wray – from my early days learning to sew, to the reason I’m now based in Central Otago, and even the name, Margaret Wray.

My mum is the one who encouraged me to start sewing, and the one I thank for buying all the patterns I used to make my own clothes as a young girl. I actually made my first dress when I was just 12 years old!

By the time I was in high school I had already progressed to designing my own patterns using newspaper, then using those to make my own garments. I found clothing and fashion design to be a fantastic creative outlet and great way to express my individual style.

I had such a passion for the world of fashion I headed to Wellington to study Fashion Design and Technology. I even got my first taste of wedding dress design while there, creating a custom-made wedding dress for my aunt when I was just 21.

After graduating, I started a role with a local Wellington fashion designer, where I spent four years learning the ropes. While I started out as her assistant, I quickly progressed into production before managing the business alongside the designer while she was abroad for four years. It was a lot of responsibility at a young age, but it gave me great insight into the design world and solidified my passion for the industry. I also made my second wedding dress during my time in Wellington – this time for a cousin.

My curiosity and sense for adventure next took me overseas to London, where I began working as a garment technologist. I spent 15 years in England working for a number of fashion houses, building my expertise and diverse skill set along the way.

It was also during my time in London that the vision for Margaret Wray was born. I had continued making wedding gowns for a few friends over the years, and it was always such a special experience, as it had been when I made my first wedding dresses for my family. I knew it was something I wanted to pursue, so I began freelancing as a garment technologist while I set up my new wedding dress design house, Margaret Wray, named after my grandmothers.

back of a silk Margaret Wray wedding gown with beading on display in Margaret Wray atelier in London, England
Original Margaret Wray atelier in King's Cross, London

I loved living and working in London, creating beautiful wedding dresses for women around the world from my atelier in King’s Cross. But I had started spending more and more time back home in New Zealand – particularly with two very special little people (my niece and nephew) – and leaving them at the end of summer became harder and harder. Eventually, I decided I wanted to be closer to my family and the places that originally inspired my sense of design – and so I returned home, settling in Central Otago.

While Margaret Wray is now based in southern New Zealand, I work with brides-to-be from all over the world, helping ensure their visions for a perfect, bespoke wedding gown come true. Whether you’re newly engaged and just starting to gather ideas, or know what you want and need someone to bring it to life – you’ve found the right place. I look forward to getting to know you further, and chatting about how I can help you create your dream wedding gown.

Groom and bride, wearing Margaret Wray Lily wedding gown standing on a mountain overlooking lake in Central Otago, New Zealand
A bride, wearing the Lily style from our Couture collection, and groom, on their wedding day in Central Otago

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