September 17 2010
Lucia van der Post
Bespoke always sounds wonderful in theory: fits like a glove, one-off, beautifully made are just a few of the clichés trundled out, but, unless you’re in the hands of a master designer, there are pitfalls aplenty along the way. I’ve tried it in Hong Kong, Udaipur, Delhi, Shanghai and Johannesburg, and unless I have asked for a precise copy of something I already own, it’s always failed to come up to scratch.
Pussy Willow, a small, relatively new Bermondsey-based atelier, has started a bespoke business with a crucial difference – it has a range of sample clothing to try on first (eg, the Colette dress, pictured, £520). Then, if the customer likes the design and it suits them, Pussy Willow makes it up to order and to measure. In other words, it avoids the chief pitfall of most bespoke – not having anything to try on before commissioning the piece.
Pussy Willow was started by Amanda Thompson, an actress who began making her own clothes as a way of dressing herself inexpensively. She loved doing this, and now has a whole range of grown-up, made-to-measure clothing. Besides eveningwear (she did a lovely deep-blue silk dress with dramatic sleeves for Sophie Ellis Bextor), she has some terrific silk blouses, skirts and jackets that are perfect “going to work” wear.
As well as being made to fit, small design changes can be incorporated. It’s a great service for all those who are less than standard size. If you fancy, say, a Roland Mouret-style dress but can’t get into the store-bought ones, Pussy Willow has a very similar number that it will make no matter how daunting the hip or bust size. Prices start at £245 for blouses and tops, a work dress is about £420 and evening dresses start at £800.