Framfield-born couture designer Lisa Redman
PUBLISHED: 10:52 10 August 2015 | UPDATED: 10:52 10 August 2015
Couture designer Lisa Redman is heavily influenced by her downland childhood, with her designs reflecting her early interest in Charleston and wartime photographer Lee Miller. Jenny Mark-Bell visited her Notting Hill atelier to find out more
Lisa Redman, the Framfield-born and bred couture designer, epitomises that old Coco Chanel quote, “Fashion changes, but style endures.”
Lisa’s fashion education began, like the best adventure stories, with a treasure chest. But all that glistened was not gold: the flash and sparkle was of sequins and beading on little capes; fine silks and leather gloves. This was a legacy of her grandmother, whom Lisa cites as a serious fashion heroine. “She was just super-glamorous. She used to have her hair rolled on top of her head and she would wear these great big Fifties prom dresses and tiny white leather gloves. She just looked amazing, so cool.”
Casting my eye around Lisa’s Notting Hill atelier, I take in the nipped-in waists, cropped swing jackets and embellished leather gloves, and reflect that early lessons die hard.
Longevity is very important to a designer like Lisa, whose pieces are, there’s no getting around it, a serious investment. She designs for wealthy and aristrocratic women who require a wardrobe that won’t let them down. They might build a bespoke wardrobe around a handful of colours that suit them, knowing that every piece works with another. And most of her clients keep their clothes beautifully, says Lisa: “A lot of my clients are like that: you will go to their home and everything is wrapped in tissue paper, the arms are stuffed, they keep everything pristine. I like the idea that they are made for them and they are little works of craftsmanship. That was what I always wanted to do: make things that people would keep forever and maybe unearth in however many years’ time and they would still be beautiful.”
Lisa’s clothes speak a certain language: they are feminine, in the finest fabric and shades of pastel. Embellishment and beadwork is a bit of a signature.
In fact, it is the visual vernacular of her downland childhood. “I have been obsessed with Charleston since I was really young…like, obsessed. I think it might be where my love of pastel comes from: all those pastel painted rooms.” It was a preoccupation that was to last throughout her years at Uckfield Comprehensive (she’s still in touch with her art teacher). “When I was at school, my major study was the whole Charleston thing. Just being in that peace and quiet and those rolling hills, where it’s all soft and pretty…
“I always used to drive from my parents’ down to Brighton every day, and there’s that bit where you’ve just passed Glynde, and there’s the chalk pit and those great stripes of colour, where you have the rapeseed. It’s just beautiful. It was a fairly idyllic childhood – our home was an oast house and it’s covered in wisteria.”
It all translates into these beautiful clothes. I run my hands wistfully over the butter-soft leather of gloves in myriad pastel shades – isn’t this one just the exact colour of wisteria? – and learn that the love of a finely worked glove can be traced to Sussex days too.
After school, she did a Foundation course at Brighton Art College before progressing to Chelsea to do Textiles. Her degree show was sponsored by Cornelia James, glovemaker to the Queen and mother of our columnist, crime writer Peter James. Lisa worked alongside the late Mrs James for months, making the gloves for her show.
Now Lisa would like to get her embellished leather dress gloves, which are beyond beautiful, into Fortnum and Mason. “I need to make sure I am in the right places and it feels like the right fit,” she says. “At the minute our bespoke clients are ordering our gloves and they seem to be going to the right people. I’m intent that by the winter my gloves will be seen at all the best parties.”
The bespoke couture business has been established for nine years this summer and Lisa wants to “get to new people and do new things. I love bespoke and I want to keep doing it, but I want to see the business do something.” She is currently exploring new opportunities. Personally, Lisa, her husband and their young son Joseph are looking into splitting their time between town and country, which means more time in the Sussex countryside. I can’t wait to see what designs our staggeringly beautiful scenery will continue to inspire.
Lisa Redman, 2-4 Exmoor Street, London; 020 8968 1234; www.lisaredman.co.uk
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