For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb
Psalm 139:13

Friday 7 March 2014

MimiBespoke: I Couldn't Make Without...

The lady herself, rocking a tricorne hat like it's nobody's business. Photo by Joanna Jacobs.
Fashion design, pattern cutting, sewing and millinery, is there anything Emily can't do? The super-talented creative madam behind MimiBespoke talks weddings, Grace Kelly and Japanese style.

Hey Emily, can you tell us about what you make and how you got started? 
"I make garments and hair accessories for everyday wear and occasions such as weddings. My designs often stem from period fashion, mainly the Victorian and Rococo eras. I think to look forward in fashion we need to look back at those times with fresh eyes and create something elegant and new. I mainly make bespoke wear for clients, but I do have a stock of ready-to-ship garments and accessories too. 

 I've always been creative and liked making things, and my mum taught me the basics of sewing and how to cut dresses and outfits. I've never been a fashion follower per say, but I've always had my own style and I was able to make the dresses I wanted, with my mum's help.

I studied art and design at the Arts Institute in Bournemouth, which is now called the Arts University of Bournemouth. That's where I got my first taste of historical and theatrical garments. I was fortunate enough to do work experience with the costume department of the university. I fell in love with costume and wanted to create those beautiful garments and see them up on stage.  My love of theatre and film has not diminished, even though I have taken a different turn and gone down the fashion route rather than the costume route. Isn’t fashion a form of costuming anyway, as we all wear a style to convey who we are? I chose the fashion route because I feared losing my love of theatre. I've seen what it does to people with my own eyes when they work from morning till night on a production! Also because I met my lovely husband and a life in the theatre is not always a good one for relationships, especially if the other half is a chef! After uni, I went to work in a bespoke bridal salon where I cut all the wedding dresses out for 18 months. I learnt a lot from my time there about cutting. All of these stepping stones are what have got me on the road to starting my own bespoke occasion wear line. I was very fortunate to find what I enjoyed most and what I was best at from a young age.

Victorian-inspired dress and fascinator. Photo by Poole Portraits.

You have such a variety of fab designs, what inspires you? 
Lots of different things inspire me! I'm always researching different eras, at the moment I am loving 1920s and 30s fashion - its simple elegance really stands out. Other things that inspire me are art and theatre, nature and Japan. I love Japanese fashion, it's so fun and fresh but also draws inspiration from the past. In Japan, it's not about blending in but standing out and showing your personality. 

A 1930's-inspired bias cut gown from her new collection. Sigh. Photo by Emily. 

How do you stay motivated? 
What keeps me motivated is my clients, finished garments and how happy they are wearing the garment on their special day or event they are involved in. It gives a sense of accomplishment. The other things that keep me motivated are learning new skills and experimenting, I have been working on and off now for a year on fascinators and period style hats. I have done courses in millinery and I hope to do more, I love learning new skills and improving the ones I have. The best feeling is looking back at your work and seeing how far you have come in the last year.

You've made some really stunning gowns. What's been your proudest making moment?
 It's hard to say. I'm generally proud of my work because I put a lot of effort and time into each piece, with the help of my business partner. If I were to pick just one dress, it would be the one I made for a client the summer just gone, it was a beautiful vintage-style dress. It reminded me of Grace Kelly, it was demure but sophisticated and suited the bride perfectly. 

Endless lace and tiny buttons? Umm, yes please. 

And finally, what is the one thing that you simply couldn't make without?
 It would have to be a good pair of sharp scissors, without accurate cutting you can’t make a perfectly fitting dress. The cut is the most important aspect of the garment, if that's not right then the rest of the garment will not go together easily and will not look as beautiful as it should."

Gah! So fabulous. MimiBespoke is on Facey B at so you can see what Emily's been stitching and snapping lately. I'm off to gawp at her gowns and appreciate my scissors.

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