Stories

Christmas Gifts All Wrapped Up

By Justine Tabak

Christmas Gifts All Wrapped Up
Christmas is here! (only allowed after December 1st in our house ) and now the countdown begins. In the madness that is Christmas shopping, I thought I'd suggest a few pieces from the collection that would make lovely presents. Beautiful knitwear and scarves from Scotland, made by small family run manufacturers in Hawick, famous for its natural yarns and traditional homespun craft.
 
My daughter loves this Fairisle Cardi that has just enough vintage charm in three retro colours - rose pink, mint green and gorse yellow. We've also noticed that these patterns have been hot on the catwalks so a nice nod to this modern trend. 
The Gansey Jumper has been a hit since I started this brand and I've had customers who bought the grey last year on a waiting list to buy the new navy. So for those who like a bit of nautical nostalgia then this is the perfect gift. 
Red has been racing down the catwalks this season. I've always loved red for it's warmth and vibrancy and hence this Signature jumper confidently comes in one colour only and flies the flag for British manufacturing. A gift for all lovers of fashion and a classic for years to come.
The chunky Cable Knit scarf comes in two shades -  a bold red and softest silver grey. A timeless, pretty scarf to ward off any winter chills. 
What's clever about this scarf is that it is double sided with light and dark shades either side. Warm, uber soft merino wool in either monochrome mix or gentle rose and denim. A great present for those who have everything.
I've shown my 'knitted gifts' here with a selection of my Christmas wrappings - I've collected vintage wrapping paper for years and find that I can use anything from used string, ripped fabric scraps and even bias binding for ribbons. Used Christmas stamps make nice new name tags and by tucking in a little rosemary into ties and bows, not only do presents look good they smell good too! Just like my tree decorations I prefer to be more eclectic than perfect! 
As a special gift from me to you I'm giving my subscribers a special present of free delivery of any orders within the UK from now until Christmas. Please use the code GIFTWRAPPED at the checkout to receive free postage, one use per customer.
* Last posting dates for Christmas - please ensure you order by Tuesday 19th December for Standard delivery and Wednesday 20th December for Guaranteed First Class *

 

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For the Love of Irish Linen and Lovely Customers

By Justine Tabak

For the Love of Irish Linen and Lovely Customers
I love linen. 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!
https://justinetabak.myshopify.com/collections/dresses/products/columbia-road-dress
https://justinetabak.myshopify.com/collections/s-s-17/products/linen-petticoat-lane-dress
https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/cook
http://www.notsuchamodelmum.com
http://www.pollyhanrahan.com/devanwonderland
https://www.styleandminimalism.com

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Cool Corduroy

By Justine Tabak

Cool Corduroy

The leaves have been falling for a while now, autumn's full glow is giving way to darker evenings and this week seems to have brought the first real chills of winter to come ... but I love this time of the year when the season becomes more obvious and we embrace crisp leafy walks, cosy nights in and the warmth of home cooked food with a glass of hearty red wine! A time to embrace comfort and practicality. That's why I love wearing corduroy this time of year. It's soft and smooth, pretty like velvet but practical enough to be worn every day. It seems to take on a softer patina each time it's washed and has the ability to be at home in both country and city. 

But corduroy is not all about cosy and nostalgic, this autumn the catwalks have succumbed to it's retro charm. A recent article by the Guardian 'Why corduroy-loving geography teachers are right on trend' describes the fabric as 'the height of style for this season' and cites Prada, Mulberry and Gucci with it's 'librarian chic'. (see link below) My styles tend towards soft femininity rather than 'geography chic' with both looks loosely inspired by the Seventies.

With a nod to playful irony, corduroy is having it's moment.

I've been using needlecord since my first season. My Petticoat Lane dress has become my signature style, shown here, in Vintage Red. 

This year I added Autumn Gold and Black into the same corduroy collection.

And here, in a new style, the Bloomsbury Dress in an inky navy cord.

I've also introduced a new, chunkier cord in a wider wale, meaning the furrows of soft velvety pile are thicker and further apart. I used this for my Dulwich Duster coat and for my Seventies inspired Chelsea skirt.

The cord is sourced in Lancashire by a family business who have been running since 1869. Where possible, I try to find local sources who support small businesses like mine.....but rumour has it they also make for Prada!  

 Just now, I'm wearing my Bloomsbury dress all the time. Love how I can wear it over a simple polo or a nice canvas for a favourite scarf. And of course, like all my other cord dresses, it has all important pockets ! 

 

Happy Autumn! 

You can buy all these pieces online now or in store at 99 Essex Road.

 https://www.justinetabak.co.uk/collections/here-comes-autumn

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/aug/29/corduroy-loving-geography-teachers-on-trend

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Happy Brand Birthday!

By Justine Tabak

Happy Brand Birthday!
Last weekend I was lucky enough to be featured in the Telegraph magazine as a 'Name to Know'. I've had such a great response from this article, (hello to all my new lovely subscribers!), and it made me take a breath and contemplate how far I've come. My brand is just one year old, in it's third season. In the whirlwind which is running your own brand I forgot to celebrate my it's birthday back in August, so I thought that now would be a good time to celebrate with customers new and old! A huge thank you to all, I wouldn't have made it this far without your continued support! 
 
This time last year I was fortunate enough to be named one of the 'great British Brands to know'.
'21 great British Brands to know for the new season'
by Sophie Warburton
10/9/2016
Shortly after I launched my first season with my 'Pearly Pop Up' in a beautiful historic Huguenot house in Spitalfields, the perfect place to introduce the collection that took inspiration from the kings and queens of the east end with their finery of pearl buttons. My grandfather had been an East End tailor, a Russian immigrant who had settled here to start afresh and two generations later, my children had been born in Whitechapel when we lived as a family in this very house, a former Huguenot silk weavers merchants house. 
Daisy, my daughter modelled my very first dress, the Pearly Queen dress. The print was created by hand sewing on buttons into a pattern inspired by the the Pearly Kings and Queens of the East End, before digitally printing onto gorgeously smooth satin silk.  She was an East End Pearly Queen for the day!
I also shot my first collection within this house in Princelet Street, which has been used as a location for shoots and filming for years. The vintage charm and character provided the perfect background for my clothes, giving authentic atmosphere with a touch of Edwardiana. Here are a few of my favourite shots from the shoot:
Following the spirit of slow timeless fashion, I've repeated some of these pieces available in various sizes to buy online and in store at 99 Essex Road, Islington. To find these pieces online please click on the image below to link to my A/W Archive section:
 I wouldn't be able to do this without all of your support! Here is the team at Wallace Sewell who kindly let me into their shop to pop up in my first season. 
A huge thank you to all of my loyal customers, friends and family.
Justine xxx

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The Isle of Wonderland

By Justine Tabak

The Isle of Wonderland

How charming is this original Alice in Wonderland footage? Preserved and pieced together by the BFI Archive, this is the first known film of Lewis Carroll's incredibly enchanting Alice's Adventures in Wonderland story, first published in 1865...

Way back in June, whilst researching this season's collection, I came across this cinematic gem and loved the playful innocence of the home made costumes, especially the scene with children dressed as playing cards. So when I found this vintage print in my archive, I couldn't wait to develop it into this season's new print story...

 

... the print features all the symbols from classic cards shrunk into a micro pattern as if dipped in a bottle of 'drink me' potion. The result is both quirky yet sophisticated on dreamy washed silk. I worked it up in it's original colours of black, cream and red and then repainted a version on navy with spades, hearts and diamonds of cream, gold and green. Nostalgic and charming with just a touch of attitude, made for a modern day Alice.  Here are the designs which feature this print, all available to buy now.

 

 

 

 

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Tartan Fling

By Justine Tabak

Tartan Fling

Tartan fabric epitomises the turn of autumn weather to crisp and cool with its rugged Highland provenance and has to be one of the most famous Scottish exports around the world. It never seems to go out of fashion and is one of those fabrics steeped in heritage but appears on the catwalks every autumn, a perennial favourite. 

This season I fell in love with its charm, whether it be woven into yarn dyed Black Watch Irish linen or boucle wool. It reminds me of school kilts, dressing up at Christmas, the lining of a childhood duffel coat. 

Children playing hopscotch in their tartan school skirts
Girls  playing french skipping in their tartan school skirts.

A little history on the most perfect perennial pattern........

The simplest description of a tartan comes from the Gaelic word breacan, meaning chequered. 

Tartan has been noted by travellers to Scotland where it has been worn for centuries by its inhabitants. It has always been a favourite with the Royal Family and one of the earliest references to the use of tartans was by the treasurer to King James 3rd, who in 1471 purchased a length of cloth for the King and Queen. King James 5th wore tartan whilst hunting in the Highlands in 1538, and King Charles 2nd wore a ribbon of tartan on his coat at his marriage in 1662.

 

Antique photograph of two girls in Highland dance tartan.
Antique photograph of two girls in Highland dance tartan.

There are well over 4000 tartan designs that are registered. However, there are only about 500 tartans that have ever been woven.

 

A female tram driver and conductor of the Glasgow Corporation in 1918.  
Tram driver and conductor of the Glasgow Corporation in 1918. 

Tradition has it that those who have no tartan of their own clan can wear the Black Watch, the Universal or Government Tartan.

 

Tartan fabric shopping for Autumn Winter 2018. 
Tartan fabric shopping for Autumn Winter 2018, I chose the cotton check in the centre! 

For my Autumn Winter range I chose a tartan Black Watch design for my Columbia Road dress in yarn dyed Irish Linen, my Annie dress is in brushed cotton and my Highland Mini in boucle wool made in a small English mill. All are now available online.

Columbia Road dress.

 

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Doing a bit of stitching

By Justine Tabak

Doing a bit of stitching

 

‘Mother’s in the kitchen,  Doing a bit of stitching..’

Playground rhyme , 1960's onwards.....

I’m so pleased with the quality of stitching from the factory that makes my clothes.  High standards and old fashioned finishing is always what I wanted when I set up my new collection.

I’m old enough to have learned hand sewing at primary school (does any school do that any more? ) – making my first top age 9!  Dressmaking at home was an important way of keeping up with trends and as a teenager those skills were essential in adapting many outfits.  I can’t count how many times I took in my jeans to make them ‘skinny’ in the late 70 ‘s  - not available in the shops but great to wear with my dad’s old 'boyfriend' jumpers.  And a friend has recounted the trouble she had with an outfit she wanted to wear to a Blondie concert – just imagine wrestling a black binbag in a sewing machine!


Illustration from my well loved Ladybird Book of 'How to Sew' 

 

But the other end of the scale is where I’m at now, with precise work on french seams, taking inspiration from little-used sweet smocking details, specifying tailoring details like facings and bias cut edgings.  It does take more time to plan and costs a little more to produce but the end product is then an item of value which lasts .   

My inspiration board with stitch pattern prints and vintage florals 


Stitch floral design on my Meadow Cotton Top

I also love taking stitch and embroidery patterns as inspiration for prints. This season I looked at some vintage embroidery manuals with their stitch motifs. Satin, cross, feather and herringbone patterns make interesting patterns when painted and printed in trompe l'oeil effect. 

Indira making a sample 

One unexpected result of insisting on fabulous skills in manufacture is that the inside can be as beautiful as the outside – and so one customer demonstrated how she chose to wear her Pearly Queen jacket inside out for evening as the gorgeous printed  silk lining made a statement, and the quality of the finish means not a stitch out of place. The machinists at the factory I use takes real pride in showing me new finishes and the careful detailing such as covered seams on my lace, bias bindings around necklines and the tiniest of hand stitches for buttons and loops. 

 

 

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Heart on your sleeve - in celebration of Valentine's Day

By Justine Tabak

As a celebration of Valentines Day I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite fashion images with hearts and love as their theme.
Danielle Darrieux, one of France's great movie stars wearing a glamorous sequinned heart dress.
I just love this 1920's 'Queen of Hearts' flapper dress 
The unmistakable Twiggy wearing a 1960's dress in a pink and yellow heart print 
Sophie Dahl wearing Vivienne Westwood in this Nick Knight shoot for Vogue 2003
Catwalk model wearing Schiaparelli 2014
And the not so wearable 'fluffy heart' worn by Cara Delevingne
shot by Mario Sorrenti in 2016

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