Her shop is a favourite with Kate Moss, Alex James says she’s Fabulous and her clothing line is intended to provide “stealthy, beautiful staples”. We interviewed Carole Bamford to find out why and how she went about expanding her business from food to fashion and the kind of woman Bamford is really designed for.
Q. Can we start with the Bamford customer? You design for a cosmopolitan 30+ woman, was that an obvious decision for you at the beginning?
A. I think all women, whatever age, have many layers to their personality and many demands on their time. We are mothers, wives, lovers, friends – we work – we are busy. So we like our style to be effortless, yet elegant and we like to feel comforted – and comfortable. That was the starting point. What remains important to me is that our pieces should be simple, easy to wear, soft to touch and above all well made.
Q. Your pieces are also frequently talked about as the ultimate in luxury cover-ups – they are just what we would want to take on a trip anywhere! What are your ultimate travel staples from the collection?
A. Our Double Faced Cashmere pieces travel very well and for our Autumn Collection we have made them reversible so that you can be wearing Chocolate Brown by day and flip the pieces inside out to Black for the evening – two looks in one. Our Knits layer up easily and combine to make different looks – from ultra fine under-pieces to cosier warm styles – and we have beautiful woven scarves which pack as nothing but can be added to your wardrobe to add a touch of style – versatility is important for our busy lifestyle.
A Bamford shawl in your holiday wardrobe…
Bamford design signatures are inextricably intertwined with their origins – for example your pieces from India are Khadi (the Indian handspun and hand-woven cloth linked with the country’s independence) – how has that had impact on the pieces you design that are made in India?
Yes, India is very special to me and Khadi cloth fits so perfectly within our Collection. It’s an honest, traditional and practical fabric – cool and comfortable to wear and beautiful to touch. We have used it in our Meditation Gown and Spa influenced pieces…simple Kurta shapes which are easy to wear and again, perfect for travel – either as cover ups by the pool or simply for relaxing at home.
Bamford works with crafts people in Italy and of course the UK, how did you go about setting up an international network of artisans and do you find you are adding to your suppliers constantly as you discover new sources?
We partner with workshops who are expert in their particular skill…Italy has a long tradition of making Double Faced Cashmere, so it was natural for us to begin looking there when we wanted to champion this technique. Also, Scotland has a strong heritage in Cashmere Knitwear, so our Knits are developed with small businesses who preserve traditional methods. The team are always on the look out for new ideas and even return from their holidays inspired by local crafts! Jewellers, weavers etc…We’ve been also been lucky in that we have been approached by some interesting people with ideas to share. Our suppliers become like family – so we are not constantly adding but are always interested to see new techniques.
When was the moment when you decided to extend your organic food and beauty business into clothes – was it a wardrobe crisis?!
Not quite! But I did feel that a simple and natural style of clothing could celebrate the same values we were promoting through our food – it seemed a genuine extension of our need to care for the land and for ourselves. I believe what goes on the body is as important as what we put inside the body. Our fabrics are made from natural, noble fibres and will wear and age beautifully…each piece is made to last and each Collection evolves from the last so you will always find pieces to give new life to the last season.
Finally, are you planning to expand your lines in any further directions in the future?
For now we would like Bamford to be the destination Collection for women who want to wear good quality, sustainable and unique items which blend with their existing style. We want to concentrate on refining and perfecting these values and delivering that for our clients.
Once the Big Reveal had happened and we knew it was McQueen the fascination with the royal wedding dress didn’t stop, oh no! We wanted detail, intricate detail: the embroiderers with their gossamer rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock motifs, as small as a five pence piece, washing their hands every half hour to keep the lace pristine and changing their needles almost as often. We longed to see them at work, possibly with some dreamy romantic music on the soundtrack to keep the ambiance just right…
Workshops are just so intriguing. These incredible places that make beautiful things by hand, using Hammers and Scalpels and Stitches to turn leathers into exquisite handbags.
We wanted to show you a little of what goes on behind the scenes at our designers’ workshops so we started by asking if the gorgeous Anya Sushko’s team could keep a photo diary of the making of the mini shoulder bag samples.
Here are some of our favourite pictures…
The Tools And Sewing Machine
Mixture of tools and compartments for the bag: metal ruler, owl, scalpel, leather loops with the rings and metal turn locks.
My favourite sewing machine, ADLER. All the items are stitched with help of this and other similar machines. This one is the best, Love it!
All the leather and other parts of the bag are cut with scalpel by hand.
Adler In Action!
Hammering holes with hole puncher in order to attached little leather loops for the rings of the strap/chain.
Inserting The Lock
Stitching in the label
The Finished Piece!
The Lovely Anya herself in situ…
Portrait: © Catch/Compose Photography
Surrealist designer Yang Du has been blasting London with colour this year from her dedicated ‘Bright Young Things’ window at Selfridges. Her brilliant cartoon-graphic silk squares memorably billowed up the London Fashion Week staircase, as if Astro Boy and the Powerpuff girls had used them to parachute to the exhibition (probably to go and meet Batman and Superman on Yang’s stand – below).
LUX FIX caught up with the fabulous Yang on her label’s mission to ‘blur the line between art and fashion’ and (as) if you needed any more to whet your appetite we can promise superpowers and Peter Blake by way of a Chinese toy factory…
Q. The name Yang Du is synonymous with surrealist ‘walking art’ designs, when you were very first studying at St Martins, which artists inspired you?
A. There are a lot of artists over different times who have been inspiring me. The first was Gilbert & George, then was Richard Linda… but overall, it is Franco Moschino who is my all time favorite artist.
Q. We can imagine one of the Pop artists dressing his muses in your pieces for a hot date – what from your new collection “3 Times Lucky” are you getting excited about dressing up in? We already have the Mr Superman handkerchiefs ear-marked for our potential dates’ suit breast pockets!
A. I am imagining the pop artist Peter Blake dressing his Muse (who would be?). I would be wearing the Mr Superman orange Lion Jumper (below) and Walter Steiger leopard print platforms to the hot date.
Q. Where else can you imagine a Mr Superman silk handkerchief (below) having an impact? They are so bright and beguiling they really take away the need for a button hole…
A. I can imagine them working in interior design… for me they are the piece of art itself.
Q. Raw meat seams to be having a bit of a fashion moment after THAT Franc Fernandez dress last year. We want to know more about the prints you made for your degree out of steaks?
A. I was walking past a butcher in the small town next to the “Valley Of The Kings” in Egypt a few years ago. It was a really bizarre experience. I guess I was having a very surreal moment where I could see that meat can be so beautiful as a piece of painting. So I did some sketches and paintings from the photos I took and, eventually, I hand-dyed the yarns and decided to use crochet to achieve the meaty feeling of textures…
Q. Your S/S 2011 “He is a Superman” collection incorporates Superman, Batman and Astroboy (!) – what inspired you to bring superheros from the pages of comic books into fashion? Have you always been interested in the use of colour and proportion in comics?
A. The collection is based on a story of a very good friend of mine who believes he is a superman. It is also about everybody having a superhero moment in life where we are really taking risks, believing in ourselves, making things happen. It is also inspired by the Toy Museum in Seoul where there was a whole collection of comic superheroes from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s…….
Q. Tell us a bit about the things that inspired you while you were creating your A/W 2011 collection “3 Times Lucky”?
A. The collection was based on the love of friendship and my trip to a toy factory in China.
Q. Finally, if a Yang Du piece could give it’s wearer special powers, what would they be?
A. They would be Miss/Mr. Super Happy.
Both from A/W 2011 “3 Times Lucky”
Our event this week is infamous tubular bracelet from from Lady Gaga favourite, avant-garde designer Maria Francesca Pepe. It’s been rocked all over the world and our resident stylist has also cooked up some home-grown London looks to get you inspired by this modern classic. So without further ado…
Sienna Miller likes to make hers stand out with subtle greys and blacks.
LUX FIX resident stylist works it with electric blue for a glamorous day look.
Leighton Meester uses hers as statement jewellery with a subtle pop of neon.
Turquoise nails look fabulous with MFP gold, not to mention the leopardskin…
A double up on S/S trends – statement jewellery on statement print!
Agyness Deyn triples up on trends with neon, statement print And her MFP Tubular.
And to finish she keeps it simple for a night out, highlighting the gorgeous varnished gold.