In my March newsletter I told you about one exciting fabric experience. Another has been to discover Carolyn de la Drapiere (is this a made up name? Reminds me of Bob Flowerdew on Gardeners' Question Time) in Barnes. Carolyn designs dresses. She began designing for plus size ladies but now designs for ladies of any size. The dresses or outfits are then made by the three ladies of Barnes Sewing Company. I went recently with a client who wanted "the perfect dress". Not something for best (most of Carolyn's clients are after a Mother-of-the-Bride outfit or a ballgown) but a dress she would feel fabulous in every day. This seemed a great idea to me and to Carolyn. On a "pay per wear" basis, my client would get much more value from her dress(es) than if it were a ballgown. We were ushered in to what I can only imagine one of the French couture houses would be like. Rows of dresses, rolls of fabrics, dummies with sample outfits on them and a velvet sofa for me! Carolyn will make up fabric you take to her but she carries a lot - all exquisite - herself. Some of them are ends of designer rolls - Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana, Armani. My client was thrilled to find all the dresses hanging up were size 16 or larger. She arrived with a clear plan of two dresses she wanted and then was utterly seduced by three off-the-peg dresses which were, to her delight, taken IN, to fit perfectly!
None of this comes cheap. If you want a dress made it will cost £400 for the making. (Having made dresses myself, I know this is not over-priced. It takes many hours to make a dress or a jacket and if it is going to fit perfectly, be lined and finished to a high standard as these are, it is actually reasonable.) Off-the-peg is less expensive and Carolyn has designed styles which particularly flatter a more generous figure.
My client was thrilled with her dresses and said she felt pampered throughout the experience - something she had never felt before. Now all she needs is some nice weather to wear them!