The Age journalist Rachel Wells in her Jane Hill dress on her wedding day. Click for more photos

Jane Hill's designs

The Age journalist Rachel Wells in her Jane Hill dress on her wedding day. Photo: Supplied

  • The Age journalist Rachel Wells in her Jane Hill dress on her wedding day.
  • Rachel Wells in her Jane Hill dress on her wedding day.
  • Tanya Ingrisciano (pic editor at The Age), 2012.
  • Annabel Williamson, 1999. "Jane Hill... a wonderful, talented lady."
  • Monique O'Donoghue, 2011. "Jane Hill made my wedding dress for our November wedding. She was amazing, we grew a close friendship with Jane and she became a special part of my wedding preparations."
  • Victoria Harding, 2011. "Jane didn't just make a dress, she created a fairy tale and made you feel beautiful and confident."
  • Sarah, 2008. "She almost instinctively knew what I was looking for (and couldn't find elsewhere) and seemed to really see "me" ... Visiting the salon was always a magic experience."

My favourite scene in the ridiculously funny but cringe-worthy wedding flick Bridesmaids is when bride-to-be Lillian and her troupe of neurotic bridesmaids trudge into a posh Chicago bridal studio.

Minutes after arriving at Belle en Blanc, Lillian and her bridesmaids find themselves bent over toilet bowls, sitting in bathroom sinks and even squatting in the middle of a busy city street, clad in mind-blowingly expensive bridal wear, as a result of a serious bout of food poisoning.

I am happy to report my own wedding dress shopping experience earlier this year was far less traumatic.

Designer Jane Hill.

Designer Jane Hill. Photo: nikoleramsay.com/blog

In fact, for someone entirely terrified at the prospect of being a bride and with just 12 weeks to prepare - the experience was, dare I say, enjoyable.

I must point out that despite living just one hundred metres from Melbourne's best-known bridal strip, my shopping experience was limited to a night propped up in bed trawling wedding blogs, and a five-minute car trip to Williams Road, Toorak.

This is where, in January this year, I first met Jane Hill.

Jane was a far cry from the snooty-nosed wedding shop assistant portrayed in Bridesmaids - and many others I have encountered over the years, while wedding-dress shopping with brides-to-be.

Rather, the woman that greeted my sister and I on that warm January morning felt more like an old friend, and one I immediately entrusted to transform this 30-something journalist into a bride.

She was warm and funny and knew exactly what I wanted even when I wasn't entirely sure what that was.

I left our first appointment safe in the knowledge my wedding-dress shopping was over before it had even really begun (phew!), and looked forward to working with this positive, warm and incredibly creative woman again.

Although I didn't know it at the time, Jane was battling cancer.

Over the next 12 weeks my respect and admiration for Jane grew. She went about creating a gown more spectacular than I could ever have imagined. She gave me curves where I had none and a confidence in myself and my body that I had never experienced before.

More than that, she did it all in between her bedridden "bad days" and with faultless professionalism, positivity, warmth and humour.

She laughed when her wig slipped down her forehead in the February heat and continued to pull and pin me into an unwieldy sheath of sparkling fabric even though her fingertips were numb from chemotherapy.

I've often thought that dressing nervous – and often neurotic – brides must be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Jane made it look easy.

When I told people leading up to the wedding that Jane was designing my gown, a dozen or more women who had also been dressed by Jane nodded with a knowing smile.

I now understand why.

Jane would have dressed thousands of brides over the past two decades and everyone I have ever met has spoken of a "creative genius" with an uncanny ability to "understand exactly what you wanted" and then "make it even more beautiful than you ever imagined".

They also spoke of a woman whose generosity and humour made the often terrifying experience of wedding-dress shopping an utterly enjoyable one.

Jane Hill died on October 18.

*The Jane Hill team has vowed to "continue to grow and keep Jane's memories alive in the business she built and the label she poured so much love into." I know the amazingly talented Soph and the team will do her proud.

Rachel Wells is consumer affairs reporter at The Age and a former fashion editor of The Sunday Age.