50 years ago most women had a close relationship with their dress maker. This would have been someone who understood their shape, particular attributes that needed flattering or indeed emphasising and what fabrics and shades they liked. Today, unless you visit a couture house, dress styles are decided by a designer, fabric chosen more often for cost than for quality and then the pieces are cut in China or India in factories that have little or no regulation.
We pay a premium to buy these pieces from a ‘brand’ whose main outgoings are not the cost of manufacture but their marketing campaigns. The sizes are regular and pieces are not made to last more than a season. More annoyingly you will often see someone else in exactly the same piece but of course this seems never to happen on the tube where you can take solace from the anonymous crush but at weddings or family parties where uniqueness is on display.
I believe that women in those bygone days were on to something smart. Their choice of fabric was from some of the wonderful British mills that as a country we excelled at and they had unique classical clothes that transcended fashion and could be worn again on each successive season.
Luckily there are still a few mills left in the British Isles weaving exquisite fabrics: soft cashmeres from Yorkshire, silk woven plaids from Cumbria, Harris Tweed from Scotland and English silk woven in Sussex. These fabulous mills are not under pressure to produce lengths of 100 meters but are able to weave 3 meters for a single coat, often with beautiful touches of individual customisation.
Without the mass market those lucky women of old also knew that they were highly unlikely to bump into another coat or dress of the same fabric and cut at the same party. Particular insecurities were disguised. If a narrow waist was a particular asset and balanced a short leg then the waist seem was raised. If they did not want to show their upper arms then fitted sleeves were added.
Shoulders and waists are usually not the same so shoulders were cut exactly to the tip, thereby narrowing the silhouette. What fun they must have had adding a trimming, choosing linings, raising or lowering hems and perhaps adding a fur collar or changing the lining for the next season.
Having worked for London-based tailors, I have seen what a difference a tweak to the sleeve can do for an arm length or what closing of a cross back can achieve so that a jacket sits flat to the skin. I have been lucky enough to see the satisfaction achieved when a customer puts on their bespoke coat; for it is as if it fits through magnetism.
It is with huge delight that I have been able to follow my passion and work with these artisan British mills, meet the weavers, collaborate with master tailors either working or trained on Savile Row and be able to provide a service that still has pride of place in a wardrobe.
I am able to work closely with you on developing a unique design : sketching out your initial ideas and creating a calico so that we can then together create a wonderful addition to your wardrobe whilst also offering a made-to-order service. Recently, we have used hand painted silks, commissioned an Irish plaid fabric, made a side saddle habit and created men’s jackets with a vast amount of pockets. Each a classic and an investment piece that with a little care will last your lifetime and transcend fashion. It’s designed for you, forever.