Here at Sisters Guild we are constantly searching for incredible designers, beautiful pieces, wonderful places and inspiring ideas to bring to our boutique and our blog.
When we began our journey these reasons were at the essence of our adventure. Firstly that we believe that imagination is contagious. Secondly that we wanted to bring together a collection of pieces that we believe mark the style, the era of the new blossoming generation and in that the pieces that will become the classics. Thirdly we wanted to become a platform from which new designers can leap from, a place to find inspiration through our ideas and inspiration pages, and fourth, perhaps the most crucial part we wanted to share the joys we have found and sing from the roof tops about those people, places and ideas we have discovered. Supporting the independent creators we find.
This is the first in a new series of blogs where we want to do just this. We want to sing from the roof tops and share some of the treasures we have found.
It is appropriate to start this series with homage to Damselfly, not just because it's a designer I want to sing about but because it was discovering Damselfly that inspired me to start writing this series.
'Imagine a child with her arms open wide, running free and wild down a hill with the wind blowing her clothes and her hair. She’s laughing, full of wonder, and feels as if she can do anything ... maybe even fly. Her coat is flowing open and she loves the flash of colour and the sheen of the silk lining. Someone has spent time hand working patterns onto the cuffs in silk thread and they catch the sun as she runs. She knows that she is special.'
This is the vision of Faith Tilleray who designs and creates the collection of beautiful clothing that is the wonder of Damselfly.
A new British label to emerge from an idea that children's clothing should give the feeling to the girl who wears it that she is utterly special, that perhaps even with her dress billowing behind her she may even take off.
It's a vision I share with Faith. As a mother of two girls and having grown up in a predominately female household I am believer in the idea that clothes should give the person who wears them feelings of joy and beauty. We know as grown-ups how a particular dress can suddenly transform the way we feel about ourselves, the way it fits, the soft feel of the lining against our skin. We transform who we are and convey our moods everyday by what we wear. It is easy to forget this feeling when dressing a child but if you were to ask your child what their favourite item in their wardrobe is they would most probably reply with something that made them feel special, a skirt with ruffles as though made for a queen, a raspberry coloured coat that made them feel as though they had special powers to fly.
When getting dressed for the day Sessi (Sophia 4) will first look at the weather, think about what we're going to do and choose her outfit according to how she wants to play... so if we're heading to the park on a sunny day and she knows she'll be running around I can guarentee she'll choose a layered billowing skirt or a dress that will twirl around her in the breeze. She chooses her clothes not because they are practical but because she knows how they express an idea of who she is and who she can be.
Faith creates clothing that captures these moments that makes the child feel on top of the world, a world full of wonder with adventures ahead of them.
The creative process from design through to its detailed finish is a story of attention and love. Faith taps into the skills of local seamstresses and embroiders and adopts a 'whole garment' system whereby each piece is made by the same individual as opposed to the rigour of vast manufacturers who repetitively sew the same action again and again, never seeing the whole garment completed. In the 'whole garment' approach a sense of pride is given to each craftsman with each complete garment.
The designs are drawn and the patterns cut by Faith herself who favours this part of the creative process, manipulating fabric to achieve different lines and fullness creating its shape.
Faith insists in each creation that aesthetics comes first; she says 'I don’t put anything into production unless I love the sample so much that I have to go back into the workroom at the end of the day for one last look.'
The fabric is selected for its sumptuous feel, organic cottons, unbleached woollen cloths woven from British sheep often from named traditional breeds and dew retted Belgian linen is chosen for its natural production avoiding harsh chemicals. All materials are sourced as close to home as can be and chosen with respect to both environment and skills of its source. The fabric is hand dyed, hand embroidered, hand stitched with each dart of the needle adding intricate and special detail to every garment. If this was a recipe it would taste sublime!
All the pieces in the collection are made in Faiths workspace or that of others close by, working with a small team of highly skilled craftspeople. Faith is committed to sustainability and hopes to keep the business independent from the large manufacturers and is determined to continue to work with local craftspeople and independent suppliers of fabric.
When asked why she started a children's label Faith says 'I’ve done lots of different things in my life so far. I enjoyed them and learned a lot, but none of them made my heart really sing. This does.'
Enjoying all aspects of what she does Faith draws a comparison of the intensity of focus as 'something like the difference between a sonnet and a ballad with 53 verses.'
Faith admits that she eats sleeps and breathes the business but it is an obsession born of love.
A romantic, drawn to designs of centuries past and adding her own unique touch, Faith's love of design, her respect for the environment and of those whom she employs to create with her shows through the garments.
The Spring 2011 collection takes a journey with dairymaids and duchesses, inspired by the 18th century dairy at Berrington Hall.
With ruffles textured like bubbles on whipped cream, creamy linen with deep red detail that is 'reminiscent of traditional cream and red woven cloths of days gone by'. There are simple stylish shift dresses with a hand dyed belt made of three different types of silks. The collection feels like for a sunrise picnic of strawberries and cream.
I fell so deeply in love with Damselfly I simply couldn't resist the dairymaid dress for Sessi, always a dairymaid never the duchess! The Apron dress is made with soft linen and lined with primrose silk. The apron style panels at the front with ruffle silk plunge into deep pockets, deep enough to fill with the days dreams and Sessi adores it. I watched Sessi in front of the mirror admiring her new dress, moving about and feeling the silk against her skin, like a bride in her gown, she had a look in her eyes that said 'I am beautiful' and 'today is going to be wonderful!'
It is with designs like these that little girls feel so utterly special and with Faith
I have faith I absolutely know that Damselfly will continue to bring us collections for the heroines and wayfarers that are our daughters.
......1 , 2 , 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! Ready or not Damselfly here we come....!