Last week we had our first chance to see our designs made up in the fabrics we had selected. We were so excited, they looked wonderful – grown up glamour in all its glory!
The fabrics look gorgeous; striking jewel colours, some more neutral and plenty of black – naturally! We are now in the process of fitting them on our sample models and making final adjustments before we have our patterns graded to the size range we’re going to offer (8 to 16). Our next step will be to have the dresses made in the various sizes we’ll need for our photo shoot…
Over the past two years we’ve planned, researched, raised our start up funding – and of course we’ve designed our first collection.
Once we started putting the designs on paper the ideas came thick and fast, and the real challenge was deciding what to include in the first collection and what to leave out. Having decided on our designs we researched fabric suppliers and manufacturers. We are passionate about supporting British industry and were delighted to discover superb quality wool, silk and cotton in the most gorgeous colours, being produced in the UK. We also identified English manufacturers to make our dresses.
We found an excellent pattern cutter to interpret our designs and produce the patterns, from which we made our Toiles [where the dresses are made up in calico].
At the first fitting of the Toiles on our sample model we got an impression of how the dresses would look – and they looked great. Calico is an unforgiving fabric; it doesn’t drape, pleat or hang like a good quality silk or wool would, but as our pattern cutter said ‘if they look good in calico they’ll look good in anything! We could see some minor adjustments were needed and the pattern cutter took her marker pen and scissors to our Toiles, adjusting an armhole here and a hemline there, we looked on as our precious Toiles were marked up, chopped and pinned.
After a final check of the revised Toiles it was off to the manufacturer with the patterns and all our beautiful fabrics for a full set of pre production samples. We should see the dresses in the actual fabrics at then end of next week. We are beyond excited!
Our communications team is building our website and our holding page has just gone live (www.janeandmarilyn.co.uk). We are currently planning our (very glamorous) photo shoot – but more on this to follow soon…
A special friendship:
We met when we were just 8 years old, [Jane was at the local Convent school in Exmouth Devon and Marilyn’s family had just moved there so she was the ‘new girl’]. We hit it off immediately the main catalyst being an insanely silly sense of humour that even all these years later still has the power to reduce two now very grown up women to giggling schoolgirls. We have been as close as sisters from the beginning, through all the trials and tribulations of growing up and unsuitable boyfriends to marriage, motherhood and the necessary moving around the country for career and relationships. We’ve always remained in contact and the friendship is as close today as it’s ever been.
Even in the early days we adored glamour, in particular the polished glamour of Hollywood’s glory days. We were avid fans of the old movies they used to show on Saturday afternoons and we just loved the clothes of the 30s, 40s and 50s [Jane loves to draw and even then would sketch the costumes she saw on screen].
In our late teens and early twenties we, and a group of girlfriends, would design and make our own clothes. There was great local fabric shop selling silk and cotton jersey in gorgeous colours and on a Saturday we would all buy our fabric and spend the afternoons at our sewing machines furiously running up our creations (usually complete with sequins) to wear to our local pub that night. All of us had something of a Marilyn Monroe fixation [Marilyn was actually named after her]; we’d all get glammed up in full make up, big hair, lots of red lippy and even diamante jewellery and our new frocks and meet in our local to compare and admire our efforts. Looking back this must have been quite a spectacle for the rest of the locals, but for us it was normal.
We’ve always had a love of fashion, but the thought of having a career in it just seemed like a lovely fantasy – real life, and work, gets in the way.
Over the years, trips to ‘season’ events like Royal Ascot, Henley and Glyndebourne along with the usual round of weddings and parties proved challenging as far as finding stylish, flattering clothes which met the required dress codes – not too strappy for Ascot, not too short for Henley – while allowing for the unpredictability of our British summer.
So our desire to create our own label grew, driven not just by a love of clothes but also of necessity, and the frustration of trying to find the right thing to wear. We wanted to produce wearable, versatile clothes that could satisfy the needs of real women. Flattering clothes that look, and feel, great.
Jane & Marilyn is born
Then one night a couple of years ago, we were at a spa hotel and after dinner, and a bottle of wine, we started one of those ‘who would you have at your fantasy dinner party’ conversations. Marilyn Monroe was an obvious guest and we then started chatting about how brilliant her partnership with Jane Russell was – and the inspiration hit like a flash bulb – we’d name our brand after our glamorous namesakes. It was a perfect fit – we knew we wanted to create ‘grown up glamour for real women’ and we’ve always loved those gorgeous designs from the fifties with their flattering cuts.
In addition, we wanted to base our designs on the most versatile item of clothing in a women’s wardrobe and to many a ‘best friend’ – the dress.
So we had our brand, a brand that’s all about two of our favourite things – friendship and glamour.