Brad Webb is Australia’s undisputed master of bridal couture but his early designs were a world away from the altar, writes Christen Hill.

As a child, Brad Webb dreamed of Olympic medals in figure skating but never thought he’d win gold for bridal wear.

He’s the softly spoken, creative genius behind Darb Bridal Couture and over the last 20 years has dressed some of Brisbane’s most beautiful brides in exquisite, made-to-measure masterpieces.

He’s won the equivalent of three Olympic gold medals; the Australian Fashion Design Awards Supreme Award in 2005, 2006 and 2009. He’s taken home silver and bronze as well, winning another nine awards across bridal, fashions on the field and evening wear.

As a young skater, the thrill of competition was heightened by wearing his own designs.

“I used to do all the outfits, all the hand beading on all the costumes,” says Brad.

After 14 years on the ice he decided fashion was his future direction. Brad’s migrant parents supported the bold move.

“They said you’re better off regretting something you have done, than something you didn’t.”

Darb Bridal Couture is considered the premier bridal design house in the country. Now, Brad’s mother, father and sister all work in the business.

Clients include a virtual who’s who of Brisbane celebrities, including former Miss Universe Australia winner Kimberly Busteed, who tied the knot this month with former Queensland Bulls player Chris Simpson.

“I treat each bride as special. I know how important the gown is to each bride.”

His first award, in 1997, still ranks as a career highlight. The winning dress is one of his favourites.

“It was silk organza that was hand-painted like a watercolour, with soft little flowers. Having colour on the bride was unusual but it was so soft and delicate that it didn’t really look like flowers.

“I wish people would be a little more courageous. It can be really good if it’s done properly and I like softer colours for bridesmaids, or navy blue and black,” he says.

Brad keeps letters from grateful brides in a box at home.

“Around Christmas I had a bride-to-be who thought she’d have to lose a lot of weight to feel beautiful, but then she told me she already felt beautiful trying the calico sample on. That was really special.

“I am a perfectionist and want everything to be spot on but sometimes you forget how important a part of the day you are and what an impact your work has.”

Brad has lost count of the number of gowns he’s created.

“There would be a fair few. I’ve often thought it’d be quite interesting to get a photo of me with all my brides in one spot. I don’t know how you’d track everyone down but it’d be kind of fun.”

He’s considering expanding operations to Sydney and Melbourne but only if he can ensure the integrity of each gown is maintained.

“The business is so hands-on and made to measure. I’m not interested in being mass produced.”