Carol Alayne

In association with Tailoring for Women Ltd.

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Harmonicas and birthday suits

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. But it’s not all pinstripes and waistcoats at TfW. So what better time to highlight some of our unique creations than an end-of-year round-up?

Corset DressesAlmost as popular as the business suit is the day dress, and amongst the more unusual commissions were these made from natural wool and cottons, with a lycra mix for cool stretch comfort. They are exceptional in their simplicity and practicality, with integrated foundation support and a theatrical corseted back. They can team up with a jacket or knitwear for work, or by themselves make a stunning statement at an evening out.

Harris TweedA favourite special occasion commission was undoubtedly the ‘birthday suit’ for the artist Ruth Addinall. For her 2-piece suit she chose a Harris tweed fabric in a weave that reflects all the hues of her beloved Scottish landscapes.

Another signature showpiece: a tailored evening jacket in metallic linen with lace appliqué. Metallic Linen

And who could resist the invitation to NewYork City  and the Tony Awards’ red carpet with the red dress?

Our profile continues to rise, through regular speaking engagements. The Union Society of the City of Westminster welcomed me as the first women speaker in their 227 year history. No pressure there, then! You can see the complete list on TfW site Press page.

The King's SingersTfW does have a male clientèle, too. This year we were thrilled to be asked to design a set of stage attire for the legendary group The King’s Singers. I chose a unifying wool worsted fabric and designed six unique bespoke suits, all with individual details – including a specially engineered pocket… inside a pocket… in a waistcoat… for a harmonica. Anything for you, Philip!

We continue to receive applications for apprenticeships. I wish we could take them all. Next year (2011) we will be working on a shared programme with one of our Savile Row colleagues, to expand the apprenticeship opportunities.

Ash clouds and snow storms presented the sort of unexpected challenges that are impossible to prepare for, and getting the finished product to its destination on time once or twice defeated our collective travel expertise. But for the most part, thanks to our partners DDI, Addison Lee, Holland & Sherry (plus a team of quick-witted apprentices) the majority of sighs were of relief for a job delivered as planned.

Will we make any changes for the coming year?  In the flurry of activity we often miss the opportunity to capture an image of the finished pieces. Since all our garments are originals, our on-line gallery should reflect more the variety and the possibilities of the bespoke process. Therefore, an on-site photo booth has to be in the works. My New Year resolution for 2011: sorted.

A very happy New Year to you all.

Grand Canyon image by Tenji , creative commons licence
Other photos by Carol Alayne.

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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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