Carol Alayne

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Archive for August, 2008

Moving in diplomatic circles: Minister Mami Mizutori

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

With my first trip to Japan to research the design of the ‘kimono‘ imminent, our latest commission couldn’t have been more appropriate.

These are samples from an elegant dress we created recently for the Minister of Culture at the Japanese Embassy, Minister Mizutori, (now Director of Finance for the Japanese Foreign Ministry).  The garment was required for the formal ceremony at Buckingham Palace when the new Ambassador, Shin Ebihara, presented his credentials to Her Majesty, The Queen.Mami Mizutori

Minister Mizutori is a prominent figure in Japanese diplomatic circles and she is widely acknowledged as having achieved much by the innovative ways in which she has promoted Japanese culture in the UK.

There are certain protocols that have to be observed when dressing for this kind of event such as the length of sleeves, acceptable décolté , and how to fit in with other attendees.  Also, the fact that it was during the middle of the day made for a brief with some additional challenges.

Decision time: Bespoke or ready-made

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Last week one of our new clients brought a suit in for alteration – not one of ours, but we try to help out.  I was glad to have the opportunity to spend a little time with this garment because it reminded me of some of the differences between the processes of bespoke and ready-made, some of which are not always obvious at the moment of purchase.

The first thing I have to say is that despite the fact that the garment was a ready-made item, it was not an inexpensive garment and had been purchased from one of the more recognisable suppliers.

In alterring a ready-made suit one is faced immediately with problems caused by its construction.  Rather than canvasses and inlays being basted together, and seams being bound together with thread, in the interests of mass production  the process of attachment is now the use of glue.  This is not to say that fusing doesn’t have a place, but if you are likely to need any adaptation in a garment – let’s face it we all tend to change shape – once a garment has been fused there is little you can do.

Bespoke or Ready MadeThere is another matter I have noticed with regard to the use of such glues.  After a suit has been taken to a dry cleaners a number of times, and particularly when a steam iron has been used on a garment, this combination of chemicals and robust pressing techniques soon starts to weaken the adhesive properties and you will notice that the garment will start to ‘bubble’ particularly on the lapel.

Finally, it is usually the case that in a bespoke suit allowances are left within the seams for any later adjustments that need to be made.  In most ready-made suits, largely in the interests of economy, there is generally very little additional fabric available to allow any ‘easing’.  So other than changing the length of sleeve or trouser leg there is little one can do.

I can see the argument for buying ready-made garments particularly in these financially challenging times however it is interesting to note the number of articles appearing in the press recently suggesting that it is now better to ‘buy up’ into a better and more reliable quality range than go for cheaper alternatives.

Holland & Holland

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

The gunrooms of Holland & Holland are known the world over.  The weapons they make for the shooting field are highly prized and they have a reputation for making some of the finest hand crafted products available.  They have a tradition dating back to 1835 and  have their own dedicated factory and shooting school close to London.   Their main store is in Bruton Street, Mayfair, although they also have showrooms in Paris, New York and Moscow.

Tailoring for Women in NYDuring the period when I ran their bespoke tailoring department I was commissioned to create a special garment for the Millenium.  This maribou-lined chintz jacket and hand printed silk kilt ensemble was featured in their showrooms in Manhattan and Beverley Hills

Countess Pinky Le Grelle: British Shooting Champion

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Tailoring for Women and Pinky Le GrellePinky has had an illustrious career as one of the leading sportswomen in trap and skeet winning 5 European Championships, a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, and joins the ranks of top women athletes as one of the few to be voted Sportswoman of the Year.  She was the first Briton to take part in the Olympics in both trap and skeet and was the inspiration behind the first of the shooting waistcoats I was commissioned to make for the British Shooting Team.

Unknown to many of her followers is the fact that she also designs and hand makes exquisite jewelery from semi-precious and precious stones.  Some of her work is currently on view at Holland & Holland, Mayfair.

“Carol has a great eye for detail and it is wonderful to find someone with such an understanding of the value of hand-crafted items.  I applaud her new venture and wish Tailoring for Women every success” Pinky Le Grelle


Recognised as a pioneer of bespoke tailoring for women, Carol Alayne has over 25 years experience of creating striking garments for arts, sports and media personalities and business wear for professionals and executives.



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