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A Brief Encounter

Posted on 20 December 2014

Janie Britton asked me for an interview last year, but I am waiting for her
selfie in her dressing gown! Ok I went down to Evans in Marble Arch, I was in a hurry. Just needed to check something out. Before I could get on my way I was cornered by 2 ladies Madge and Rachel, big girls tag-teaming me with a battery of questions.

Q. Why do you only sell Scarlett & Jo through Evans?
A. Because a deal was there to be done. We had never done Plus Size before and realistically Evans were in a position to deliver a good platform. They’ve been Supportive. 

Q. Why did you decide to do plus size then?
A. Because it was a challenge. I feel that the fashion industry
generally is in a mess. Retailers very much act as censors of what is on offer. So great product doesn’t get onto the market and when it does often the emotion of design and intent is taken out. I felt that if we could design and make plus size dresses that commercially worked, that actually is much more difficult than it sounds, it would put us in a better place to negotiate on the much easier standard sizes market. Never knew we would enjoy the plus so much.

Q. It sounds like you had a point to prove?
A. Yes we did and I think on the whole we have!

Q. So, what is so challenging and difficult?
A. Fit and Cut. It’s a bad enough generally in the high street. But with
apples, pears, busty and hour glass shapes, then factoring in variation on height, variation between short waist and long waist, bust, waist and particularly hip differentials etc. Unfortunately most people in the industry lack that awareness and have difficulty in understanding the dynamics of the body or how fabric behaves. I think we have done well if what we create fits over 80% that try on. It’s a challenge! My approach to design has a great deal of engineering in it. 

Here is Rebecca in this season’s Fit & Flare Leopard and Georgina in her mum Marie’s crepe and lace. Georgina is 5 foot 3 and Rebecca 5 ft 9/10.  

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Q. Why do you think you are any better than any body else?
A.
I do like to think we are, though we have much to improve. We are very sensitive to the shape that we want to create. That shape has to flatter, has to be feminine. The cleverest thing is to be simple. I don’t really want to give away any secrets. But the most important thing is comfort and confidence in wear. To create a dress that makes a lady feel good about herself. Women are naturally attractive in that zone. Most plus size ladies need elongating through the shoulders so we do use small pads often, need to be able to sit comfortably, like to show that, that she is a lady. A lot of shapes on offer just don’t flatter and aren’t comfortable to wear. We just don’t follow trends, we don’t go there. Prefer to create our own.

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This is probably our best fit to date in a 50’s prom dress as seen on the gorgeous Sophia Brad. The cut and the oriental print fabric is the innovation. Should suit whether Apple, Pear or Hour glass. Only weakness is on busty ladies - then it’s tight squeeze.

Q. A lot of your dresses appear to be retro or vintage inspired.
A. Yes that is because I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. But
producing better wheels using better materials. For example we use stretch cotton 97% Cotton 3% elastane poplin sometimes a good weight stretch sateen in our prom dresses. That is not actually so much for the stretch but because the cotton/elastane doesn’t crease so much. Or in the 40’s dresses we use our heavy but smooth viscose elasticated stretch jersey. The fabric drapes, flows and has stretch. Our stretch viscose crepe allows for fit & flare or swing in a substantial as opposed to flimsy way. You know a lot of the challenge is to create an illusion of body shape that flatters make it an inviting mystery. We tailor soft fabrics.

Pictured below are the lovely Becky and Caroline looking gorgeous in our Black Spot and Floral Jersey Dress. I have designed another style for Caroline who has inspired me to design a new silhouette to follow on from this style! Under wraps until March!

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Q.There isn’t a lot of mystery with some of your necklines, is there?
A. Women have their assets; yes I do want to make cleavage an attraction. Accentuate that and that’s where the eye focus is. But we do also use a lot of discreet meshes and laces as well. You know that is all part of the cut, we use small shoulder pads, I think they give women that bit more confidence. In the 80’s they used big pads and called it power dressing.

Q. Are you planning to do some retro 80’s?
A. think we have been doing that with some of the body cons. Actually the tunic and legging look which started in 2005 and is still with us is very much an early 80’s silhouette, basically Katherine Hamnett’s over sized T shirt over a legging. Hides a multitude! What we do is go further and enhance a woman’s features or at least that is the intention when we do tops and tunics.

Mayah Thomas always looks stunning in our powerfit body cons, a style which we will continue next season. 

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My very hard working team and me wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and and prosperous New Year.

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