Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Softly, softly on Sloane Square

It's often East London that gets the credit for being the go-to place for Fashionistas. Reading street style blogs and designer bios anyone would think that Shoreditch was the centre of the style universe. Yet, Fulham is replete with fashion history. It's the home of Laura Ashley. The World's End was (and still is) the venue for Vivienne Westwood's iconic first shop (with that kooky Alice in Wonderland outside clock that spins round and round). And last week, we were delighted to learn from charismatic Brora founder Victoria Stapleton, that Fulham was the scene of her first studio also!

Sojourn in Fulham aside - although we do like to fly the home flag - Victoria's story is both interesting and inspiring. Not only is she a prime example of a successful female entreprenur, she's effortlessly elegant in a wonderfully cool and casual way, very articulate and engaging and crucially, a passionate supporter of keeping things British and supporting those who help her run her business. Born and bred in Cumbria, Victoria started her relationship with the Hunters of Brora Mill in Scotland when her father saved it from administrators in 1990. The mill had for a long time provided tweed to some many of the world's iconic luxury brands, from Burberry to Hackett to Chanel, and provided work to several generations of local families. Breaking away in 1993, Victoria established Brora as a mail-order Cashmere business. She opened her first studio in Fulham and the rest is history - she now owns over 10 shops around the country and has been nominated for many a Businesswoman of the Year award too! Almost all her wares are Made in Britain (the kids' woolies are all handknitted in Scotland) and she has sourced her cashmere from many of the same Mongolian herds for years. She uses only the finest threads for her cashmere, and employs traditional methods like teasles to give it that soft brushed effect. Continuing the heritage theme, many of Brora's 40s-inspired tea dresses and non-wool products use reworked Liberty prints from the archives, re-dyed to fit in with that season's palette so that all the collection can be worked effortlessly together. If you like a bit of ethical luxury, Brora is a go to brand.

Below is the AW Brora palette: I love the Periwinkle, Mulberry, Pigeon and Murano colours.

We visited Brora's second Chelsea store (the first opened further up the Kings Road in 1995) last week to listen to Victoria speak about the Brora story and to preview the Autumn/Winter collection. In the impeccably laid out, bright and airy Sloane Square venue we were treated to canapes and Prosecco (lucky us!) and spent the best part of two hours swooning over the impossibly soft cashmeres, mohair knits and the very chic accessories line (new in the past year or so). I hadn't realised Brora did a line in accessories, and my goodness do they do them well! They're fun, on trend, everyday chic classics, and my personal favourites were the beautiful snakeskin belts, brown felt fedora and black buckle boots.

There's something luxurious, covet-able yet hugely homely and comforting about cashmere. It's not something I own a lot of, but money-permitting I'd spend all winter in it if I could. I found myself lusting after a beautiful Aran knit charcoal grey jumper and a fun black-and-blue mohair knit sweater - both of which are now at the top of my Christmas wish-list.

Brora's Sloane Square store can be found at 6-8 Symons Street, Chelsea, SW3 2TJ
The A/W is available for purchase now

1 comment:

  1. I loved that blue & grey striped mohair jumper as well- its so fun!




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