Views from a Paris window + vintage

The woman behind the sewing machine...

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What are you up to?
I am originally from Paris but moved to London in 2004 to do the fashion textiles degree at British Royal University, where I specialised in women’s knitwear. I live in a little cottage in central London with my friend and my cat. I graduated a year ago now and have been keeping very busy with different projects such as fashion styling, freelance designing for a traditional hosiery company based locally, my own knitwear/accessories projects and costume making as well as working at a lovely handmade shoe boutique to pay the bills! Apart from that I love growing vegetables in my garden, picnics, cycle trips and a good party to dance off all the chocolate I eat!

Tell us about your designs? What inspires you?
I decided to start the collection off small, as it’s just me working from my studio alone. So I waded through my collection of vintage patterns and picked out a couple of simple summer dress designs that I thought would translate well as daytime but also evening party dresses. I decided that in keeping the designs simple to start we could really emphasise the importance of colour and print, keeping designs fresh, vibrant and more quirky. The designs are easy to wear and relaxed whilst being flattering in cut. I am really inspired by 1950’s fabric prints and wanted to use these simple dress designs to showcase a wealth of beautiful colour and pattern that often people shy away from! In my mind there is nothing more flattering on any figure than a nipped in waist and a twirly full skirt!

What got you interested in vintage fashion?
Growing up in Nottingham my Mum and my Nan owned and ran a brilliant Vintage clothing boutique called ‘Rags and Riches’ they had it for as long as I can remember. Sourcing the most exquisite and often rare women’s and men’s vintage clothing from as early as the 1900’s all the way to the 1970’s. It was a vibrant and exciting atmosphere filled with crazy characters and family friends who’d pop in for endless cups of tea and tuna sandwiches! Anyway my younger sister, cousin and I spent our early years here scrabbling around under rails of frocks and tails with sticky fingers covered in dust and sequins!

If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?
Definitely the 1950’s. Post war times when the new look had relaxed a little and colour burst back onto the scene. Printed cocktail dresses with matching hats and gloves as a must! Tea dances and petticoats and proper structured underwear to squeeze in all the right places!

What is your favourite vintage item?
I’m not sure I have one single piece; most of the dresses I wear now have been rescued from my child hood dressing up box! When my family closed the shop I inherited many lovely things. I guess I’d have to say a black hand beaded 1920’s evening dress that looks like a costume from an Erte portrait and a bright peach 1950’s cocktail dress that has a big V collar that buttons front and back. However, I am a real sucker for a bright floral and seem to have a few of those babys kicking around! Anything with a fun and colourful print wins in my book.

How do you source your materials?
I’m lucky to have picked up some super contacts during my study at Uni they have provided good fabrics. But to be honest in order to keep our costs down I have had to do a lot of shopping around. London and Brighton have some good shops and I have a super lady in Nottingham who has lovely fabrics that are pretty spot on in terms of colours and prints. I’m also really interested in recycling and have a passion for sourcing rare and interesting vintage fabrics. I find lots of things at vintage fairs and markets; these are what I use for the Ltd edition dresses and skirts and are one off finds! 1950’s curtains make a great party dress and are often what they used to use back in the day.

Do you have a vintage style icon?
Not really its more an admiration of an era’s style and designs, although I’d love an Elsa Schiaparelli dress.

Do you have any style tips for people who want to start crafting?
I think its best to start of with simple projects and collecting things that inspire you. Patience is more often than not the key. I’m definitely a believer in make do and mend and really think we underestimate the value of vintage and handmade. If something is made well now it could last us for half a century like a lot of the things in my wardrobe!

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The woman behind the sewing machine... + vintage