I love linen. It makes the perfect dress. I love the dry handle and scrunch of this natural fabric and how it seems to take on its own patina with wash and wear. I've always loved it in the summer but I'm finding it increasingly versatile as an all round fabric, layered up with knits for winter, tights and boots.
I'm obviously not the only one who loves this perennial fabric. These last few weeks I've had lots of requests for my linen Petticoat Lane dress which appeared in Spring. Sometimes it's been bought for a far flung holiday ( have a fab time in India Ellen! ) but increasingly I've noticed that customers just like its ease and comfort for layering into the Autumn season.
Mina Holland who writes for the Guardian 'Cook' magazine popped in recently and took away the duck egg version of the Petticoat Lane Dress, as she quoted "completely in love with Justine's clothes - this number is duck egg blue Irish linen, feels like I'm wearing a nightie, and - rain or shine - I don't think I ever want to take it off."
Which brings me to the Petticoat Lane dress, it's my signature dress that seems to appeal to all. Quite often I develop a personal relationship with my customers who will send me photos of them wearing my pieces, and with this dress in particular I've noticed that it appeals to all shapes, sizes and ages. I am often asked 'what is the age range of your customer'? It was one of the questions that came up time and again when I embarked on my collection and struggled to reply.
Has anyone noticed that the age of pigeon holing just doesn't exist anymore? For me it's more about your own individual style and how you wear it. As I flick through the Guardian's 'for all ages' pages, I'm reminded that happily, unlike my mothers era, the rules have changed and that style is not just the domain of any one group, it's refreshing to think that any trends can be adopted at any age. I have a 16 year old daughter, Daisy, who is just as happy borrowing ideas from me as I am from her. Yes, I don't do the whole Eighties ironic sportswear thing, more out of it being too true to my own teenage days but I'm quite happy to dip into styles and trends 'introduced' as new fashion as long as I can stamp my own individuality on the trend.
With my own brand, I wanted to make the collection age neutral. I understood that making in Britain doesn't come cheap but by making clothes in styles that were simple and timeless, perhaps I could capture those, who at any age, would appreciate the meaning of clothes that could be worn across seasons and for years to come. I also realised that having a unique look would be important in the hugely competitive world of fashion and that my look would not be for everyone, so be it. All things to all people can also come across as bland and homogenised, better to be passionate about what you love rather than trying to please everyone. By using my heart, I have adopted customers of all ages who 'just like the look'. More difficult to track online but at my pop up shops I've sold to teenagers, their mothers and sometimes grandmothers. I don't need to claim that I make style for any age, these customers are simply stylish and want something that suits their lifestyle with a little character and playfulness thrown in.
Below I've included a few photos of various lovely customers wearing my Petticoat Lane dress in a variety of different ways.
Caroline from the blog 'Not Such a Model Mum' wearing my yellow Petticoat Lane appreciating the last few weeks of sunshine and relative warmth in Barcelona this November.
Used in a shoot for Wonderland magazine, I love the idea of layering this roomy dress over a sweet Peter Pan collared shirt.
Martha Ward looking very etherial surrounded by wildflower blooms this summer.
The lovely Vikki from the blog 'Style & Minimalism' on holiday for a friend's hen do this summer in Lisbon.
Me wearing the Petticoat Lane dress myself this summer on holiday with my son in Croatia.
Whilst it's lovely to hark back to warmer days swanning about in linen dresses and sandals in the sunshine, it is a little nippy out for bare legs and no jackets. However, for my autumn collection this year I decided to create a wintery version of this dress called the Columbia Road dress. Whilst similar in shape, I increased the neckline and added a tie velvet ribbon to both keep out the chill and add a little wintery flourish. Made in beautiful blue and green blackwatch tartan, this Irish linen feels a little festive.
My Columbia Road dress is available online now, as are a few Petticoat Lane dresses, particularly relevant if you happen to be lucky enough to be getting away to finer climates any time soon, would like to layer over a shirt with tights, boots and a scarf or just wish to get prepared for warmer days now!