Stories

Sunshine Escape

By Justine Tabak

Sunshine Escape

All hail to this glorious sunshine! Whether at home or away I do hope you're basking in its rays. 

A couple of weeks ago we shot our brightest styles in a field in Essex; glowing linens, vibrant blooms and free flowing styles to enjoy come rain or shine (admittedly we had both on the day hence the wellies!) 

Please note some sizes are already sold out or very low in stock. We batch make slowly in London with low waste principles and therefore do not carry large stocks.

Wishing you a wonderful summer ! 

Justine x

 

FESTIVAL FLORAL. Our bright painterly Riviera Fiesta dress in cool Liberty Tana Lawn is a celebration of summer in a dress.

 

 

FREE SPIRIT. Kind and conscious linen in the brightest of hues; the ever popular Petticoat Lane Dress in zesty orange, peony pink and fresh green. 

 

 

GREEN LIVING. Just a few of the green Pimlico dresses left, batch made in London in environmentally conscious linen. 

 

 

SIMPLE ELEGANCE. The Holland Park dress, above, flows in breezy luxury linen. 
Below, the Sunshine Meadow Pavilion dress positively blooms with happiness. Just a few left in stock.

 

 

SUNSHINE MEADOW. This limited edition print has been a big hit and we sold out of the skirt in a flash. We have just enough fabric to make 6 more so please pre-order online to catch the last few being made, ready beginning of August. 

 

 

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Check It Out

By Justine Tabak

Check It Out

Finally some sunshine! With an impending heatwave on the horizon, and the possibility of summer jaunts here and away, it finally feels like the time to bring out the gingham. Think crisp cool cotton and Irish linen in nostalgic ginghams, rainbow checks and summer tartans.

Whether you're still staying home and retreating to the garden, or heading out to explore on new adventures, summer's favourite perennial check will always be in style.

Justine x

Our Market dress in navy gingham has been a favourite this season, with it's soft flat collar and gently puffed sleeves. Wear loose and free for everyday style, or cinch at the waist with one of our gingham sash belts you can now buy separately online.

Pretty in pink! This deadstock check is a winner all around. 

Our Greenwich dress is our version of a proper summer kaftan, with its notch neck opening and trimmed with Nottingham lace. Wear loosely or cinch in with your favourite belt.

Irish linens make for the perfect summer staples. Try our Whitby dress for the warmest days, or our Rye dress with it's clever cut that simply flatters all figures. 

Just a few left of our ever perennial Primrose Hill dress left in red and white gingham.

Last but by no means least, take our Margate dress out for a spin in the sunshine...

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Daisy Roar

By Justine Tabak

Daisy Roar

Introducing Daisy ROAR! Meet our newest arrival, the Daisy Roar Camden Passage Dress.

Cut from Liberty Tana Lawn cloth, our newest print sits somewhere between an animal and a floral, and we thought it just perfect for our best-selling Camden Passage. Wear now with brown sandals and sun-kissed skin, and transition later with black chunky boots and a jumper for Autumn.

We've cut this style in an expanded size range from XS to XL (size 8 to size 16), and this shape sits within our 'easier fit' category so if you're between sizes or prefer a neater fit please size down.

Justine x

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Tess Newall : The Edit

By Justine Tabak

Tess Newall : The Edit

Last week I introduced you to Tess Newall, in the first of our 'Meet the Maker' series. What a pleasure it was to interview Tess, learn more about her work as a decorative artist and reflect on our shared ethos: our love of Bloomsbury, how motherhood can shape careers, and the careful balance between prettiness and practicality in clothing. Tess chose several pieces from the summer collection and at eight months pregnant at the time of the shoot, comfort was a must whilst keeping in mind longevity and fit for the future. Think soft cuts that flatter, like our Pimlico dress which neatly frames your shoulders or our Pavilion dress with an elasticated neckline for ultimate ease. 

Explore Tess's edit below, all pieces are available to buy online, and if you missed our newsletter you can find the post on the website blog. 

Justine x

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Margate Check

By Justine Tabak

Margate Check

Like a breath of fresh air, welcome to the Margate Dress. Made in a refreshing 'sorbet' check, this confection of a dress was named to reflect its namesake seaside town.We found an artisan maker to weave our 'Neapolitan' cotton gingham, and whipped up this simple tiered dress that will make you feel nostalgic and cool all at the same time. 

Enjoy!

Justine x

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I Love Linen

By Justine Tabak

I Love Linen

We love linen! And in celebration, we are taking part in the international 'I Love Linen' campaign, to promote linen as one of the most sustainable and kindest fabrics to wear.

The oldest ever recorded fabric, linen was prized by the Egyptians, the Romans and the Greeks. Centuries later, we love linen for it's natural luxurious quality, it's green credentials and ease of wear for modern life.

Linen is not just a brilliant looking fabric, it's an ecologically remarkable fibre for of it's regenerative qualities; it can be grown with rainwater alone, and enriches the soil that it's grown in with no need for fertilisers and polluting additives. It's a zero waste fibre, with every part of the plant used in its life cycle, and once cropped, flax growing leaves the earth enriched and naturally fertilised. Incredible linen really does the planet good!

'I Love Linen' for its natural and authentic qualities. It's a fabric that supersedes fashion trends and takes colour beautifully from soft naturals to bright. It's a fabric that feels soft whilst weighty, with a dry handle that is cooling and comfortable. It has that knack of adding sophistication to a dress whilst effortlessly chic. 

And linen not only keeps you cool in summer, it's an all year round fabric with it's sweat-wicking, anti-bacterial and insulating quality, and linen is easy to wash with naturally stain-resistant properties. For me it's an essential fabric within every collection, no matter the time of year. 

All made with kindness in mind, and to be cherished for years to come.

Justine x

 

 

Flax grows up to 1.2 metres high, with flowers that are the prettiest of soft blue. It grows best in cool, humid climates and once cropped looks like silken bundles of flaxen hair. It takes around 100 days for the flax to be ready from seed planting to harvesting using rainwater alone. A truly green fibre.

 

We have created our own bespoke dyed linen colours this year in a palette of trusty blues, an all season khaki and some colour pops of green, peony pink and juicy orange. Our linen shapes are simple and stylish with just a touch of romance, soft gathered tiers or a ruffled edge. 

 

 

Our 'ice cream' ginghams are woven in Ireland, at a small sustainably run family mill. We have styled our ginghams into our 'practical and pretty' petticoat lane styles and our new Rye dress. 

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Meet the Maker - Tess Newall

By Justine Tabak

Meet the Maker - Tess Newall

In this new series, Justine meets with other makers who share her values, finding common ground and fresh inspiration in equal measure. First up, decorative painter Tess Newall talks about her work, her love of the Bloomsbury Group and how motherhood has shaped her career.

 

The day I meet artist Tess Newall, we are both wearing gingham. This is entirely by accident but somehow perfect, because we end up talking about the unconscious style of Virginia Woolf, who lived just down the road from where Tess now lives near Lewes in East Sussex. 

We talk about old photos of Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell, sitting in the garden at home at Charleston. I’ve always loved the clothes they wore – they were really lived in and worn with ease, a style rooted in practicality – and Tess agrees, adding how the Bloomsbury Group were “champions of bringing a playful sensibility to the everyday”, seeing little boundary between art and life. “I love the concept of bringing art into domestic spaces, as they did, through functional objects like candlesticks, book covers, fabrics, furniture,” she says, an approach which has evidently rubbed off onto her work as a painter.

 

 

Tess is a decorative artist, creating, conceptualising and painting anything from large set designs to furniture, murals and children’s chairs. She works from her garden studio in Sussex – her literal “room of her own” – a flint outbuilding overlooking grapevines and an unruly garden, just a few metres from the house she shares with her husband, furniture designer Alfred Newall and two children (with a third arriving this summer). 

We talk about some of her recent projects, which include a painted lamp stand for interior designer, Kit Kemp. The pattern was inspired by a pelmet of a curtain in the garden room at Charleston, which is made of a fabric that Duncan Grant designed for the first class lounge on the Queen Mary boat. She has also recently worked on a bespoke, commissioned wallpaper based on a room full of decoupaged botanical prints in the home of 18th century Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus. 

But inspiration can come from anything, she says – books on Austrian painted furniture, postcards of American folk art, sketches of patterns from a tile I once saw, antique embroidery scraps: “I think my style is probably still evolving; I’m someone who gets excited by many different things that I see, and techniques that I want to try. I would love to learn to paint fresco, for example, where paint is applied onto wet plaster and gives a beautifully subtle, faded feel.”

 

 

After school, Tess got a place on a foundation course at Chelsea College of Arts, but decided instead to study anthropology, which took her, briefly, into advertising. Unsatisfied at work, she did an art therapy course at Goldsmith’s and, at weekends, assisted set designer Clementine Keith-Roach on installation pieces, mostly for the fashion industry. She remembers in particular a Selfridges shop window inspired by Shakespeare, and a giant polystyrene swan that she had to cover in mother of pearl buttons. “It was like being a child in a toy shop,” she says, and left her job to pursue set design, “suddenly I loved what I did.” Tess built up her portfolio, gained confidence, learnt a lot. “To this day I use a lot of the same toolkit – double-sided tape, glue guns, an oyster card for pressing air bubbles out when I’m wallpapering a wall!”

In many ways, however, it was motherhood that opened the door to the decorative work she now does. When her first child, Wilf, was six months old, she was commissioned to paint a children’s chair, which she designed and worked on while the baby slept. “Painting like this gave me a whole new lease of life, new purpose, and once pictures of my new work started to be shared on social media, orders came flying in,” she tells me. "I created a business, Pierrot Chairs, for which I now employ a small team. I love thinking of how they will be used – bedtime stories, tea parties, building dens – and of them becoming heirlooms that these children’s grandchildren will sit on. They are designs that don’t date, I think: decorative, timeless, but not twee.”

Painting the children's chairs then led to furniture and mural painting commissions, which has made up the majority of Tess's work for the last three years. In that time, her daughter, Romy, was born – in the first week of the first national lockdown, no less – and Tess has juggled the everyday demands of parenting with her commissions. When it’s not a little person waking her up in the small hours, it’s work; at eight months’ pregnant, she’s still upon a platform painting onto the likes of eight foot tall cupboards early in the morning.

Life’s practical demands require equally practical clothes, which brings us back to talking about the Bloomsbury Group. That sensibility of beauty born out of the everyday, of effortless style, so intrinsic to how the likes of Woolf and Bell looked is evident in Tess’s style – both in her work and what she wears – as well as my own. We both love hard-wearing linens and natural looks that feel painterly and soft without being precious. And, always, there’s thought for a garment’s utility, how it will work for the lives we lead. 

It would be easy to assume that the dresses I design are purely romantic, a pastiche, perhaps, of a rural idyll, but there’s always functional modernity to them. For example, we’ve recently made the pockets deeper on my three tier Petticoat Lane dresses to accommodate smart phones, which seem to be getting bigger. Tess is quick to add how much she values the pockets, not just for her phone but for paintbrushes, pens, tape. She loves to wear things that fit easily, such as smocks like Barbara Hepworth’s, or empire line dresses she can just throw on with an apron and trainers.

 

 

Tess picked out a couple of pieces from my collection, pictured here, all of which have a fitting air of Bloomsbury about them, from the Sky Pimlico dress with its natural linen and unstructured cut, a nod to an artist’s smock, to the Primrose Pavilion dress, structured for ease with its soft elasticated neckline and raised empire seam. While I don’t associate Woolf and Bell with floral patterns, this one is a Liberty archive print from 1935, real Bloomsbury era. Tess also looked lovely in the Market dress, a simple, unfussy check dress with a collar. I can’t help but think that Woolf and Bell would have approved of its workaday style and, of course, the gingham.

Thank you Tess Newall @tessnewallstudio on instagram, or visit www.tessnewall.com 

See her children's chairs @pierrotchairs or pierrotchairs.com

Photography from James Ratchford www.jamesratchfordphotography.com

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From Liberty With Love

By Justine Tabak

From Liberty With Love

Firstly, I wish you all a very happy weekend and hope you all get to enjoy this well needed sunny weather! 

For most of you, I'm sure it's no surprise that I'm a lover of all things made in Liberty and have selected fabrics from their beautiful collection for many seasons. And now that it really is 'dress weather' I thought I'd give you a little insight into our chosen prints and the inspiration behind their beauty.

All printed on Liberty Tana lawn, this cotton is simply the finest, a smooth canvas for their incredibly detailed prints and with all the credentials of the 'Better Cotton Initiative', you can be sure that this cotton is kinder to the environment too.

So enjoy a scroll through our swatch book of Liberty (actually an old accounts ledger where I stick all our fabrics ) and as sweetener, for this Bank Holiday weekend only, I am offering free postage for all UK orders.

 

Have a wonderful weekend

Justine x

 

 

Sea Blossoms

This small all-over floral print was originally created for Liberty in 1966. Meandering trails of wildflowers create a sense of movement, like a gentle breeze sweeping through a meadow of blossoms.

 

 

Waterfloral

A contemporary Liberty print which they called Hazy Days. We renamed this print Waterfloral as it reminded us of blurred watercolour florals and the dreamy paintings of Monet's garden.

 

 

Pottery Print 

No prizes for why we named this cheerful print Pottery, with it's happy blooms dangling out of blue and white china vases.

 

 

Primrose Path

Based on an archive design from 1935, this charming botanical epitomises the classic Liberty print style. Soft yellow primroses clamber across a midnight blue ground with the freshness of white flowers adding crisp definition. Nostalgic and modern in our new Pavilion dress.

 

 

Sunshine Meadow 

In this enchanted meadow landscape, the flowers loom as large as trees, with a river meandering slowly through the flower speckled pastures. The design is drawn in pencil and filled in with flat colour, finished with a highlighting outline.

 

 

Riviera

Originally hand painted in 1992, this large-scale floral is the epitome of a garden in full bloom. Bold painterly flowers including peonies, violets, roses and poppies create an extravaganza of texture and form.

 

Chive

Chive is a famous all over Liberty design, printed in various colours since its creation in 1979. We selected this green and blue version from their archive and it is an exclusive to us this year.

 

 

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