Carol Alayne

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Archive for 2010

Harmonicas and birthday suits

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Grand CanyonI spend much of my time focusing on the close-up detail of cutting and sewing, so half way through a full-on year at TfW I decided to take a break and treat my eyes to a panoramic feast, thanks to the Grand Canyon. The trip of a lifetime – and I’m still feeling the benefits, months later.

TfW was created nearly three years ago to cater for the women’s business suit market, and these garments are certainly proving to be our staple fare. (more…)

How was it for you?

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Dr. Frances Carter is seriously accomplished. Despite her retirement from active medical practice, she continues to teach and lecture throughout Europe and Asia. I have made many outfits for her business wardrobe over the last 10 years, but now that she has retired she commissions my time for tailoring lessons. She tells me that preparing for this new hobby has been the perfect transition out of the regular work routine of her profession. (more…)

DM Buttons

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Nobody ever thinks of buttons unless they come off. But I can tell you there’s a whole technology that exists around buttons and buttonholes. I guess most people imagine that tailors know all there is to know about buttons, but it’s far from the case. When I need some special button feature, I pop along to the trade’s best-known button specialist (more…)

Tools of the trade

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Da VinciI make no secret of my love of craft – the special skills, the attention to detail, the creativity. This week I’m privileged to speak at a meeting of the City Women’s Network (London), a forum for female professionals from all sectors and I’m going to return to my favourite theme of craft in the guise of tailoring. Quite by chance I came across an episode of the UK cult TV series ‘The Dragon’s Den’ the other day. (more…)

Singing suits

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Singing suitYou might think that bespoke tailoring inhabits a rather old-fashioned, fuddy duddy world where respect for tradition and convention is more important than innovation and fashion. Well it’s true that I’ve posted several articles celebrating the traditions of the tailoring craft and fabrics made of natural materials. Fine tailoring tends to have a single objective – to make the person look and feel good and to reflect their status in professional or social circles. We’re stuck with certain given factors: two arms, two legs, a head, a torso. And it seems unlikely that this will change much in the near future. So there’s little room for radical innovation, certainly not in terms of shape, structure or form.

We’re used to fabrics which have many different properties – heat resistant, cold resistant, porous, impermeable, light, heavy, rigid, flexible, contour-hugging, loose. And of course man-made fibres have been around for almost a century already. But if you look at those, especially nylon, polyester, acrylic and polyolefin used in clothing textiles, their main purpose has been to imitate or improve on natural fibres. They weren’t invented to fulfil new functions.

On the other hand, the world of fashion has always had a weakness for the extravagant or the bizarre, such as garments made of glass, feathers,  paper, or decorated with Swarovski crystals. Clothing materials can consist of almost anything, but the end result is still a piece of clothing – that’s all it does.

The best garments respond sensitively to movement and change of shape. And of course the secret of the tailor’s craft is to design garments which can anticipate many different postures and gestures using materials which will maintain a basic look no matter how contorted.

But recently I came across an article in The Economist and it made me realise that there could be a real open door to innovation after all. If textiles can respond to movement and manipulation why not also to other stimuli, such as changes in temperature, light levels – or sound? Why not a singing suit? The Economist report outlines some recent research by Dr. Yoel Fink and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have managed to create a fibre which can respond to acoustic or electrical waves, rather like a microphone or loudspeaker. Imagine a microphone in the shape of a length of thread.

The science is mind-bogglingly complex, but the idea is simple. Now we have the possibility of a textile which can not only respond to changes of shape and position, but which can ‘hear’ vibrations and sound waves. So far the fibres produced are rather too large to be able to weave into a wearable textile, but that’s only a matter of time. And the open doors? Imagine hosiery which could detect obstructions in blood flow in critical areas of the leg by ‘listening’ to the blood circulation, like a permanent stethoscope.

Sadly, TfW is not yet geared up to working with ‘intelligent’ textiles, but you can be sure that when they arrive, we’ll be the first to offer bespoke services with the intelligent fibres you can trust!

Matsuri mix

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Matsuri 2009Last year I posted about the wonderful Matsuri which took place in Spitalfields Market in East London, just opposite my studio. Well, it’s back, and this time I’ve managed to organise my posting to let you know in advance! So if you are anywhere near London this Saturday (Sept 18), try to find time to get to Spitalfields (close to the City) and I guarantee you will be overwhelmed by an extraordinary sensory adventure – the colours, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of Japan. (more…)

Several Saviles

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Savile RowDuring the summer my thoughts were solicited by THINK, a style magazine based in Dubai. It was running an article on the latest in bespoke tailoring and how a personal ‘image’ is so important even in the highly regimented worlds of international business and finance. It was especially encouraging for me that the magazine’s correspondent, Ashlee Beard, chose to mention the female angle (more…)

Pockets of consistence

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

If you wear one of these…
Where do you put one of these?

We all know the traditional answer – in the handbag of course. And we all know the consequences. It rings at an embarrassing moment. You don’t want to be noticed but you have to excavate the handbag to find the phone and switch it off. It stops ringing just when you find it. But for other more aesthetic reasons women sing the praises of handbags. (more…)

The power of good service

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Bluegold MacawWe all understand the term ‘power dressing,’ referring to how the style and cut of garments can enhance an air of power and authority. Of course we might not always want say ‘I am the boss’, or ‘I am the richest’. We might want to say ‘I am the most popular’ or ‘I am the coolest’. But most people, at some time in their lives, choose their clothes to say ‘like me/love me’ or ‘obey me/listen to me’ or just ‘notice me – I am unique’. And of course once these basic games have been learned, the mind-games clothes can play start to become more interesting. (more…)

The Red Dress

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Red dress 04Last week I put the finishing touches to this glorious red dress and sent it on its way to New York for a client who will attend the Tony Awards on Broadway in a few days’ time. She will not feature on any of the artiste lists at the ceremony as her involvement in theatre is as an investor. An unsung but essential (more…)


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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