In todays newsletter we're showcasing something quite different, our recent collaboration with the wonderful Haines Collection.
Jules Haines, founder of her eponymous company and with over a decade working in interiors, saw first-hand the high volume of waste the industry creates. Passionate about the environment, she has created a pioneering platform for the resale of home furnishings that otherwise would be headed for landfill.
So when Jules offered me the chance of repurposing a donated vintage curtain, I jumped at the opportunity to create a dress and coat. With the Sound of Music ringing through my ears, enjoy the story of our curtain collaboration!
Justine and Jules xx
The Haines Collection provides a solution to the environmental challenges facing the interiors industry today. They're a pioneering platform for the resale of unwanted textiles, wallpaper, lights and accessories that would most likely be headed for landfill. With a shared passion for less waste, it was a brilliant creative project to work on, upcycling old curtains into a new life!
The Curtain. When the huge vintage curtains were unfolded we were struck at the beauty of this incredible painterly design, unmistakably created by world famous 'Collier Campbell', so we set to task to discover more about the design. With the wonder of Instagram we found that Sarah Campbell still designs from her South London studio, and she was delighted to let us interview her about the history of 'Paysanne', the design used for the curtain.
Q. Jules and I fell in love with your print, can you tell us when it was designed and the inspiration behind the design?
"The pattern was designed in 1991, developed from another pattern we had 'Gypsy Dance'. Interestingly, that design was a direct response to the fall of the Berlin Wall when I imagined that we would start to see lots of Eastern European folk ceramics. It was also designed in the terrible time of AIDS which took away so many designers, so we wanted to make it colourful, cheerful and optimistic to celebrate the creative community."
Q. What do you think of the idea of taking home furnishings across into the fashion world?
"It's really very satisfying to see an old design being given new life – being re-imagined - I love to think of the patterns earning their living!"
Q. Can you tell us more about the craft of textile print designing in a time before digital printing?
"I have spent my working life, since the '60s, painting patterns for textiles; indeed when Susan and I started our careers there was no alternative. Our designs, painted in repeat in gouache on paper were then skilfully engraved by hand, colour by colour, and then transposed to rollers or screens. The number of screens, size of design, mesh and engraving decisions, the order in which the colours were printed down were all integral parts of the process; the skill of the engravers, printers and colourists was paramount. Designing for Liberty of London Prints, which we did until 1976 or so, was a great way to learn about all this; neither of us studied textiles at a college. Over the years the processes in conventional printing have changed, but beautiful printing still relies on skilful work. I retain the idea that painting a design at its proposed scale, whether a 4” repeat for Liberty or a huge bedlinen at 220cm from top to toe, makes for a better understanding of the rhythm and balance of the pattern. Making a pattern on a small square computer screen with very little reference to scale and purpose must make that difficult. And then there's the colour....
I still make all my designs, repeats and colourways by hand – primarily I love paint and painting; I believe in and rely on its subtleties and joy, and the very real dialogue between the hand, the eye and the surface."
The Design. I set about to create a dress and coat with the curtain and pattern in mind. For a big scale print, it seemed apt to design a dress with drama whilst still wearable. I took one of our prairie dress shapes (the Riding House dress), lowered the square neckline a little and added a frill to the hem. In true JT spirit pockets were added, and the dress crosses the boundaries between characterful, vintage inspired made modern.
Jules had requested a coat and I loved designing the shape with the print in mind. We matched the pockets on either side and carefully placed the pattern pieces to reflect the repeat of the design. Jules had some beautiful olive suede buttons treasured from her grandmother which toned beautifully with the fabric.
Q. Jules, what do you like about the design?
"What really draws me in with this design is the use of colours. It's actually quite a varied colour palette but I love the way each painterly sweep works perfectly with the next. Such skills to be able to pull this together so cohesively without it feeling over the top, it's amazing. Wearing this you feel like a walking piece of art, so unique, I love it."
Once completed, the dress was spotted and immediately showcased at Isabel Spearman's recent Daily Dress Edit Pop Up. Isabel, a champion for small independent designers and consciously minded businesses, invited us both to talk about the project.
The dress is now available to rent via My Wardrobe HQ, a rental platform for designer dresses and we think a very fitting place to give even more longevity to this special piece!
The Sound of Music lives on!