Most of us have heard of the Parisian couture houses and many of the French couture designers have become household names. We read about their intricate hand sewn lace and delicate beading.
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of London’s only remaining authentic British Couture Houses.
Catherine Walker was founded 37 years ago by Walker and her husband and business partner Said Cyrus. The brand has built its reputation upon a unique blend of French luxury sensuality and English Savile Row tailoring. Although Catherine tragically died in 2010, her husband and business partner Said has seamlessly upheld the design ethic and traditions of the house.
Just before Christmas I had the pleasure of meeting Said. He took time out of his busy day to explain some of the techniques used in the process of creating beautiful clothes in exquisite fabrics. I also had the privilege of going behind the scenes at the adjoining workshops in Bury Walk, next to their showroom in Sydney Street, to see for myself how each piece is lovingly crafted by hand.
In the image above you can see the work involved in inserting
beading into the fabric of a collar.
The evening dress above was created for Princess Diana in 1992 . The original was auctioned for Charity. This version is being re-created for display in Madame Taussaud’s. The top is of intricately hand sewn silk ribboning.
The house is very discreet about it’s clientele and although the shop in London is small the house’s reputation is global. Their classic designs can be seen at many social occasions including Ascot, weddings and charity balls.
Princess Diana precipitated Catherine Walker into the limelight in the 80s and 90s and today the Duchess of Cambridge continues to be a fan, you can see the gorgeous red coatdress she wore during her royal tour of Australia with Prince William and their baby son George here. Her mother Carole Middleton also chose a Catherine Walker outfit for her important role as mother of the bride here and Prince George’s christening here. This illustrates that the styles are ageless and timeless. They are so well made that pieces can be handed down the generations from mother to daughter.
It is not surprising that our royal family have stayed loyal to the house as in turn Catherine Walker & Co. has stayed focused on the high octane purity of design, has never cut corners in couture or been distracted by the demands of ready to wear or brand franchising (fragrance, sunglasses etc) because it has remained staunchly independent. All the energy goes into design and customer experience.
Do visit their website here to enter the magical world of British Haute Couture.
Given that Catherine Walker was FRENCH (born as Catherine Marguerite Marie-Therese Baheux in the Pas-de-Calais, France), isn’t this a French atelier, albeit located in London?
Lovely garments, so meticulously executed, I wish………..
One of my mother’s favorite designers. She said that CW knows a woman’s body and how to drape it to perfection. Mum always looked fabulous in her designs, too. Thanks for sharing your visit to their workshop.
Loved this post…thank you for taking us there!
Even though Catherine was of french nationality she started her couture house with her husband in London, it has always been based in the UK and all the clothes and embroidery is hand made in their atelier in London I think it would classify as British. Said I know would agree with me.
Off topic, but I cringed to see Kate carrying the baby down those airplane stairs while wearing those high heels!
Wow! I love her timeless designs. What a fabulous, behind the scenes tour. Happy new year xx
Catherine Walker’s work is beautiful – love it! But what about Dame Vivienne Westwood – when she designs couture the world takes notice!
Hipsterette You have a point I had forgotten about her couture. I wonder if it would be referred to as a “Couture House” as she is so well known for her ready to wear.
Lovely. I remember Catherine Walker from Princess Diana. Beautiful cut and fabrics. Classic.
I also love this blog, always inspiring.
Thanks Cathy and glad you like my blog.