Monday, 28 November 2016


After the gargantuan success of Maker's House [see below], Burberry and The New Craftsmen have continued their collaboration with an over-haul of Thomas's Cafe which is adjacent to Burberry's Regent Street store. 
A place to escape the West End's hoards of stampeding festive shoppers, Thomas's, re-vamped in the subtle, simple but luxurious flair we've come to expect from The New Craftsmen, is an oasis of understated cosy calm.  From the furnishings to the crockery there is the stamp of high-end considered craftsmanship and gentle colour partnered with a weekly changing menu of British fare. 

Above, Thomas's Cafe

To celebrate Thomas's new coat of paint, in the run up to Christmas, there will be a calendar of events. Every week a craftsperson will be stationed upstairs in the gift department demonstrating their skills.
I was thrilled to come and make tassels from 18-20th November and produced three new designs in exclusive Burberry colours in Shetland wool, and my signature horsehair using many techniques that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries.

Above and below, set up and ready to tasselate

A tasseltastic table

Above, trimming tassels,
Below, the three exclusive designs for this project.
Available from Thomas's Cafe until 24th December


Thomas's Cafe Events at Burberry Regent Street in conjunction with The New Craftsmen

London is full of magical places. Some are permanent, always present like an uplifting old acquaintance who always brings you joy, others those discoveries you make when looking up from a street you've walked a thousand times and never noticed, and some are fleeting moments, here today gone tomorrow, but still somehow manage to embed their presence in your city psyche. Burberry Makers House was one such spellbinding location.  Conjured up for a week and housed in what was the old Foyle's bookshop on Charing Cross Road, but now cavorting around the mind's cosmos, as will, sadly, the building that housed it, which is going to be demolished to make way for more generic 'luxury' flats.
This event, in conjunction with The New Craftsman, was to mark Burberry's new 'See now, buy now' concept of live streaming its show which would then be instantly available to purchase. They could have stopped there but instead went on to create an extraordinary event that became the talk of the town and may have changed the way fashion operates.
This was a match of two halves-an upstairs-downstairs scenario. After having entered from the sooty, scurry of Soho, through a calm, statue be-decked courtyard garden and Thomas's Cafe onto the ground floor, you were greeted by the flurry of activity of makers and artisans. Sculptors, print-makers, saddlers, bookbinders to embroiderers and a passementier worked on individual and collective pieces, inspired by Christopher Bailey's main points of reference for the Burberry collection, Virginia Woolf's Orlando and decorators like Nancy Lancaster. 
The ground floor also served as a mood broad plastered with sketches, swatches and ideas to illustrate the journey of the new collection from concept to actuality.
There were themed areas from The Library where JamesPlumb installed a beautiful twisted staircase that spiralled to nowhere in a space lit with the softness and warmth of candle light to The Ditchley Bed, inspired by beds of state like the Great Bed Of Ware.

Above and Below, the garden.

Above,The mood wall.

Above, JamesPlumb's Library Stairs installation where Pin Drop gave daily live readings from Orlando.
At the top was a seat to curl up on and hide in the warm darkness. 
The Ditchley Bed, which makers added to from patchwork by Rachael Scott to embroidered cushions from The Royal School Of Needlework, Aimee Betts and Harriet Styles over the course of the week.

The Burberry trench coat fabric tented space where Rosalind Wyatt   delighted visitors with personal calligraphy and then Tom of Holland mended invisibly.

Above where Grant McCaig sandblasted visitors.

Thomas Merritt's sculpture in progress.

The precision workshop where myself, Aimee Betts and Harriet worked.

On the first, plushly, bespoke British woven carpeted floor the collection was displayed in full on mannequins in the exact same way it had been shown on the catwalk. You could get, undisturbed, up close and personal to every garment, and they were beautiful, not just visually, but in their construction, and, yes, I did check every seam [I'm not OCD for nothing, you know]. The attention to detail-the thin silk piping on the pyjama style shirts, the shaped jacket vents-was perfect. 

Stairway to Heaven

Above and below the clothes as they appeared on the catwalk

A military inspired ensemble

My favourite jumper
Yes, please!

…And then, shock, horror, Makers House was open to the public. Yes, the hoi polloi was allowed to come and become part of that elusive, exclusive and elitist [I've been pushed out of the way by the odd fashion editor in my time for being too lowly!] fashion bubble. And how they came- over 22 thousand visited to touch, watch and talk. An immersive experience that all could partake and a rare chance to see makers demonstrate their processes and skills.
I first realised I was involved with a slice of enchantment when I stepped out of Charring Cross Road's fumes into a building site. Although still under construction, the space exuded a premonition of what was to come, but it wasn't until during the orchestra's first rehearsal of the specially commissioned composition that was to accompany the catwalk show that the wonderment of what was to follow really hit home. Everyone stopped to listen and there wasn't a dry eye in the house when the last note faded from sound.
For me, at an age when everything is just slightly over my shoulder rather than a great expanse in front of me, Makers House took on a poignancy I hadn't expected. After 25 years in the creative industries I've been blessed to work on many incredible projects with an array of exceptionally talented and creative bodies but this felt like the pinnacle of what has been an extraordinary journey.
It also made me question the future of my craft. When I retire as the last working passementerie weaver in London, it's highly likely my industry in this city will die and maybe the only way forward is a re-emergence of the concept of patronage to keep it alive. This event gave me the support and a highly visible platform to highlight those imperilled skills and maybe such exposure will help keep endangered crafts such as passementerie alive.
Burberry's Makers House has also become a truly magical memory and one I've put in that part of the brain marked treasure trove.

A passementier ponders her future and that of her craft.

BIG thank you to
Christopher Bailey
and his amazing team,
The New Craftsmen
and their amazing team,
My fellow awe-inspiring makers