Wednesday, 12 February 2014

{Gilda & Pearl - The interview}

Lingerie to Love, Made and Handfinished in the UK

As I mentioned on Sunday, I was at House of Fraser, Glasgow to meet with Diane, the founder of Gilda & Pearl and here is the interview I promised you all :)

Diane, who is originally from Glasgow, has been designing for as long as she can remember... Whilst working in magazines in London she had the opportunity to train with the designer who created Princess Diana's lingerie trousseau for her marriage to Prince Charles. She helped Diane make some samples which she took to Portobello market and shortly thereafter her pieces were being stocked in a boutique in the city area of London. The Observer magazine photographed them and Figleaves placed an order with her... all in a matter of months.

Diane explained to me the reasoning behind the name Gilda & Pearl...

"Gilda refers to Rita Hayworth's character in the movie of the same name. She's very glamourous and gorgeous and her wardrobe is all made to measure or bespoke. It credited her in becoming the ultimate femme fatale. Her costume designer also made the nude crystal dress that Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang Happy Birthday Mr President. Beautiful clothing and beautiful details can become quite iconic and feminine but also quite strong.

Pearl refers to something that is really beautiful to look at and never mass manufactured... something timeless."

The vision for the brand was clear from the outset. Gilda & Pearl is a heritage brand offering a bespoke service, which adds something unique. Diane was also keen for her pieces to be made in the UK as much as possible.

"It's a high price point and a luxury product, but to be able to say it's been made carefully and in the UK is important."

The brand, which was founded 5 years ago, is already international with stockists in China, Japan, North America and Australia. The pop-up shop in House of Fraser, Glasgow, is the first time the main collection has been sold in Glasgow. Diane is aiming for Gilda & Pearl to be available in at least one department store in the next six months.

I was intrigued by the design process. Diane collects clippings throughout the year and has great fun looking at lace, satin and trims that inspire her. Her favourite fabric to work with is silk, although she has sourced a sheer silk tulle which is also excited about. As far as possible the materials are sourced from the UK. For example, the lace used in the How to Marry a Millionaire range (such a great name!!) is from their Nottingham supplier.

Diane also wears the lingerie she creates. This way she knows how it lasts and if there's any room for improvement. It was a tough choice for her to make but her favourite pieces are the luxurious loungewear.

After having had two little ones, I'm a bit self conscious about my tummy. So I was keen to hear if the brand catered for all shapes and sizes.

"Absolutely, Gilda & Pearl is about making the wearer feel fantastic. We have a number of very flattering robes, kimonos and beautiful slips to suit all shapes. We're also looking to introduce a range of shapewear."

Lovers of Montparnasse Babydoll, £195 (one of my favourites!)

What are your five must haves that you carry with you in your handbag?

"I carry so much around with me at the moment as I'm so busy! I'm always emailing, so my phone and iPad or laptop are two essentials. I'd also have a kimono if I'm travelling - if there's a problem with my luggage then I know I can get to the hotel and relax. My lipgloss is another essential. And then I'd also have a book of some kind. I'm currently reading about Marilyn Monroe's life. Quite light reading but I enjoy it."

What three things should every woman have in her wardrobe?

"A gorgeous, well fitting bra makes you feel really good... A great accessory - for me it's a big fur stole that instantly makes me feel good... Lastly, a beautiful bag that stands up to the wear and tear of busy life."

I asked Diane what advice she would give to anyone who wanted to become a fashion designer. Her wise words are applicable across many industries...

Believe in yourself.
Get as much experience as you can.
Listen to what people are telling you,  but trust your own instincts.
Be as creative as you want.

The Gilda & Pearl pop-up shop is open in House of Fraser until Friday 14th February (Valentine's Day!). The lingerie is also available to purchase online here, where there is even Drop a Hint and Get It By The Weekend services.

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