In 2017 I entered the bi-annual nationwide tailoring competition the Golden Shears.
The brief is to design, cut and make an outfit to the pre-defined measurements. Each competitor must enter a co-ordinating outfit of at least two garments, one for the top half of the body and the other for the bottom half. Garments may be for menswear or womenswear.
The elegance, the lines and the silhouette has always resulted in the white tie being my favorite tailored ensemble.
The white tie has always been for gentlemen, and the desire to mix my favorite tailoring with ladies wear is where my inspiration for my entry came from. Marlene Dietrich in Morocco was my first insight into white tie for ladies, but I wanted to create a more feminine cut, I wanted the outfit to be made for a woman, with the formula for female cutting instead of gentlemen’s suit that has been altered to fit a female. This is when I decided to cut the white tie from scratch for a female, building in the suppression and the bust shape as I go.
The outfit consisted of the traditional Marcella white waistcoat. The dress trousers were a spin on the tradition, instead of using silk braiding down the outside leg of the trouser I used the same Marcella from the waistcoat to create a box please down the outside of the trouser meaning when she would walk there would be a small flash of white, subtle enough to not over power the trousers, but bold enough to be noticed. The white tie jacket has hand stitched quilting, in keeping with the traditional construction of the jacket. White Marcella piping is hand-stitched in at the edge of the lining to create a bridge and connection between all the pieces. The final piece was an evening cape, with hand stitched braiding following the line of the hem and a stand and fall collar. The choice to create a ‘swallow tail’ shape where the front was shorter and swooping down to the longer length at the back was to mirror the shape of the white tie, which the cape would be worn over.
The white tie featured hand stitched ivy vines in sterling silver wrapping themselves around the shoulders of the jacket. This was because my inspiration and the reason for the love of this trade was down to very special lady, my mothers’ mother; my Nanny. She was an extraordinary woman, with the ability to create the most beautiful wedding dresses. We’d sit hours making dresses for my dolls and toys as a small child, and she bought me my first sewing machine at 13. She was unfortunately taken away from us before I was able to enter the competition, but I know she would have given her right arm to be there watching the catwalk, and by using her ivy tattoo as inspiration for the embroidery it meant she could be with me on the night.