Jane and Marilyn – Our Story
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.