At the grand old age of 22 I headed back to education as a mature student and did Fashion Design. It was probably a career choice that had a certain inevitability about it.
My father was an importer/buyer from Hong Kong, and his mother, was a well-known and sought-after fashion designer. She had her own shop in Duke Street, opposite Selfridges, designing for the Queen Mother, along with other satisfied clients and creating stunning outfits for society weddings and other impressively grand occasions. My grandmother was my inspiration, and I grew up surrounded by lusciously luxurious fabrics and taking on board family knowledge, experience and expertise, I probably learned to judge the drape of a piece of material, before I could walk!
I loved my degree course but couldn’t wait to get out there and put everything into practice. I deviated from design for a while, and went into buying for M&S where I helped establish the teenage and babywear departments.
When I married, and had my children, I left M&S to set up my own Evening Dress Hire Company, Frocks & Rocks supplying gorgeous special occasion outfits and high quality jewellery, loving the interaction with the clients, the purchasing of some incredible gowns and of course, the opportunity to help women find what made them look a million dollars.
After a few years, interior design started calling to me – it was the time when stencilling was the ‘in’ thing and I started painting furniture and stencilling designs. However, it didn’t take me long to realise that I could hand-paint the furniture, to a much higher standard and with far more originality, so I began to copy antiques, and when my own home was bulging at the seams with completed pieces – started selling them. Commissions from clients gratifyingly followed, and I found myself working on far bigger projects including murals and trompe l’oeils.
Having been pleasurably and successfully painting furniture, special effects and murals for nearly thirty years now, the time feels right to head back to my fashion roots and create yet another niche for myself. And I’m loving passing on my accumulated years of experience of colour and style to contemporaries who may have temporarily mislaid their identity and confidence.