Creating one off pieces

As much as I love designing ready to wear collections, there is something about creating a bespoke piece, which is rewarding, in a different way. 

Imagining and bringing to life a ready to wear collection is like creating a story. Each piece is connected to another and there is a thread that runs through the whole collection. 

Whilst I have the freedom to create whatever I want, I have to think about the bigger picture. The pieces have to make sense individually and as a whole. I also have to be aware of what the catwalk trends are for any given season, though this is not at the forefront of my design process, as I feel compelled to be true to my creativity.

In contrast, a bespoke piece stands alone. Of course, my client and I might take inspiration from the fabrics and shapes I have used in my current collection, or we might start with a complete blank canvas.

The priority is to think of this one piece and the person it is being made for. The reason doing bespoke is so rewarding is because it is a collaboration.And this is why I love to do what I do - because I enjoy working with people and I appreciate having those face-to-face relationships. 

Some customers come in with a very specific idea of what they want or a few general ideas, whereas others come in to the shop not even knowing they want something bespoke but are inspired by another piece. 

When we have decided on an idea, I make a toile in calico (the ghost of a dress) - the structure and bones of the garment. I design something based on what the customer wants and then I will add my inspirations as well. The beauty of this process is guiding the client through and building a strong foundation of trust, which allows me to explore ideas they wouldn’t necessarily try.

I recently had the pleasure of designing a dress for the lovely Tracey Ullman to wear at this year’s Emmy Awards. I was recommended to her and we set up a time for her to come to the shop and try on some things.  

Meeting her was wonderful as she is so warm and engaging. She picked out some pieces from my new collection that I had out on the shop floor. She had seen my “Russian Doll dress” on my website and asked to try it on.  I pulled it out and she immediately fell in love with the print.

Anyone who knows me will know fabrics are key to my creativity. Tracey had tried on a few items that looked beautiful on her but when she put on the Russian Doll dress her face completely lit up and she looked stunning. It was an immediate ‘this is the one’ moment. 

We decided to use the fabric and designed the dress differently to show off her back and I added some jewelled details. I love the buzz of creating something new, and not knowing at the beginning how the dress will turn out. It is a journey and an experience that I share with my client.

Tracey, like all my clients, was so lovely to work with. And to see how happy, comfortable and confident she was in her dress is exactly why I enjoy creating bespoke pieces.