Singaporebrides | Fashion
Meet the Artist: Shirley Li of Flamingo Bridal
Known for the naturally flowing lines of Flamingo Bridal boutique’s romantic wedding dresses, Shirley herself is a genuine, natural personality whom brides love to work with for custom-design dresses.
Tucked into the quaint Duxton Road, next to the popular Pince and Pints, is the charming alcove of the Flamingo Bridal boutique, where designer Shirley Li dreams up soft, romantic wedding dresses for bohemian brides. Walk up a vintage flight of wooden stairs and you’ll find a beautifully conserved shophouse, where an air of its craftsmanship heritage still lingers. An intricate Peranakan window frame hangs on one wall, and lovely lace gowns adorn the others. With its soft furnishings and beautiful vintage touches, the serene boutique is an inviting space where brides can share their wedding visions with the experienced team.
Brides come for the natural romance that Flamingo Bridal is known for, but they also find an unaffected and natural designer in Shirley. Warm and authentic, wearing a bright smile and a striking timepiece from her watch collection, Shirley immediately feels like a friend.
That’s one of the things Breanne Hensman loved about customising her wedding dress with Flamingo Bridal. Unable to find a suitable gown off the rack, Breanne came to Shirley for a custom design after strong recommendations from many of her married friends. “Shirley is an awesome person who is incredibly sweet and caring in addition to being an absolute pro!” says Breanne.
Working with soft Chantilly laces and silks, Shirley drapes her designs on the dress form so that she can perfect the way the fabric falls. “You can express yourself better in draping,” Shirley confides. “You can see draping. It’s three-dimensional; you can see the actual dress take shape.”
Using draping techniques creates organic folds and a beautiful flow in her dresses. “Most of my dresses are soft and flowing, even my ball gowns, where I use lightweight materials like silk or silk satin, so that they still look soft and flow beautifully,” says Shirley. “I don’t like to go very formal or very traditional with my gowns. I like to do things that are more like a dress than a gown, something bohemian, something that would suit a garden or a fairytale.”
Known for her romantic style, Shirley is also experimental in her designs, crafting short sheaths and skirt overlays, or working with unconventional fabrics. “I like to try new things, such as taking things that are usually done for casual wear, like trimmings or cuts, draping, and I reimagine them for my dresses,” she says.
Shirley’s aesthetic of soft, flowing silhouettes and clean-lined cuts flatter the figure instead of shrouding it in stiff and confining shapes. Her dresses allow brides to be their natural selves on their special day, something that Breanne appreciated in her custom-designed wedding gown.
“Women are so particular about their bodies so it was great to feel like my best self on the day of my wedding,” she says. “I can honestly say I felt beautiful and comfortable on my wedding day.” Everyone at her wedding thought she looked stunning too, and even applauded her outfit during the wedding. “I really wasn’t expecting so many compliments or a round of applause during the ceremony for how beautiful I looked. While it was a bit embarrassing, it still made me feel great!” Breanne laughs.
Shirley’s sense of style and honest advice helped Breanne decide on a wedding gown design. “Shirley was recommended not only for the gowns she creates, but because she helps you design something that fits your body and makes you feel beautiful,” Breanne shares. “And since I don’t have family in Singapore, that was incredibly important—every girl needs someone objective who can tell them what they look good in!”
Together, they designed something elegant and classic, based on Breanne’s design reference merging certain aspects of three different dresses. “The design process was a lot of fun!” Breanne says. The two of them met regularly to discuss the fit and confirm the fabric choices. “Shirley went particularly out of her way to find just the right lace,” Breanne remembers.
Such care and attention to detail is what keeps Shirley’s clients coming back after their weddings, customising evening gowns for special events, or asking for her help with intricate embellishment. “One of my regular clients wanted me to lengthen her gown and embellish its hem to match the lace designs on its neckline,” says Shirley, gesturing towards the mustard and grey lace gown her team were carefully creating coloured lace appliqué for.Shirley’s very first gown Delicate lace and tulle details give Shirley’s gowns their signature romance Shirley doing hair and makeup for a Flamingo Bridal Boutique bride
From creating her very first gown for her graduation project in La Salle, Shirley has come a long way in achieving her dreams. “I’m very lucky to be able to do what I like,” she says with a smile. “But if I weren’t a designer, I think I’d be an art teacher for children with special needs,” the mother of one boy muses. Her care for these children has led her to volunteer her design and sewing skills to a special needs centre, crafting costumes and doing makeup for their concerts. Find out about Shirley’s other loves in a questionnaire we made her do!
Credits: Images of Breanne Hensman by Colette Kulig Photography. Other images by Flamingo Bridal boutique.