factory visit

Oh la la Lesage

inside Lesage couture embroidery studio with Chanel

“There is only one person who knows how to make this piece; this lady has been working here for thirty years.” This, and many other such factoids are the type of geeky nugget one gobbles up on a visit to the Lesage couture embroidery workshops on the outskirts of Paris. On an industrial estate that’s a step up from your average (think sun-dappled and tree-dotted), it’s where the hands of dedicated embroiderers stitch and bead Chanel’s finest couture showpieces. (more…)

In case you missed it – the Disneyrollergirl highlights

julia sarr jamois

2015 has been a busy old year for me. I’ve been juggling working on a book (ETA August 2016 – whoop!) with freelance writing for my regulars and consulting on a new brand. Trying to fit blogging around all that has been a challenge! But I’ve been privileged to work on some great collaborations, as well as getting some amazing behind the scenes access and insights that I’ve loved sharing. (more…)

Factory visit: Elgin calling

 Johnstons of Elgin Factory

When a brand invites you to visit their factory, it’s a sign they’re proud of their craft and story. And one of the biggest perks of being a fashion writer and blogger, is having that access. Not just getting down to the nitty gritty of how things are made, but understanding the real history of the brand and the provenance of its products. Hence my delight at getting the chance to head up to the Johnstons Of Elgin factory and design studios near Aberdeen one September morning, where the 218-year-old Scottish brand produces woven fabrics and scarves for its own line as well as an impressive roster of luxury brands.

A 7am Heathrow call time was followed by a swift BA flight to Aberdeen, where we were met by the sprightly George, who ferried us along scenic roads of lush Scottish landscape. Despite being braced for freezing gales and gloomy skies, we arrived at the picturesque Johnstons of Elgin HQ in a blaze of autumn sunshine and brilliant cobalt sky.

 Johnstons of Elgin Factory

While Johnstons of Elgin’s coveted cashmere knitwear is made in Hawick in the Scottish borders, the Elgin factory is reserved for wovens. From here it supplies Savile Row tailors with their suiting cloth and the world’s best luxury brands with shawls and scarves, including one famous for its monogrammed check ponchos and another for its equestrian motif blankets. (more…)

Smythson stories: how the Mara diary is made*

Making of a Smythson diary Mara midnight

“Our Featherweight paper is the same paper that’s used for bank notes. It’s extremely thin but durable enough to be written on without the ink showing through.”

I’m being taken on a personal tour of Smythson’s Hertfordshire bookbinding workshops, where its famous diaries are produced, from printed page to hand-finished leather covers. My guide is pointing out each artisanal technique while I take in the familiar sky blue paper hue that serves as a permanent presence throughout the premises. (more…)