The word “perfect” comes up a lot when speaking to Pauline Burrows. The fabric she chooses must be of the “perfect quality”; one recent dress existed as eight calico pattern toiles before she found the “perfect flow”; a “perfect fit” is essential to her simple and clean designs. “I enjoy finessing the finer points, those that are hidden, such as the stitching or clever little functional pockets,” she explains of her bespoke creations for both men and women. “These details make the clothes individual.”
After operating a shop on Marylebone’s Chiltern Street for 10 years, Burrows recently moved her appointment-only bespoke atelier to southeast London. Here, she meets clients for up to five fittings per garment – from shirts (from £630) and silk-lined trousers (from £950) to cashmere jackets (from £3,500) and raincoats (£2,200), a popular commission. “It suits me doing business this way,” enthuses the designer as she heads for a fitting in New York. “I like meeting people face to face, getting to know their personality and understanding their lifestyle to deliver something they love, something that’s beautiful, unique and practical.”
Practical is a word Burrows uses to describe herself, too, attributing it to her upbringing in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She is very hands-on, with initial client consultations, sketches and pattern cutting all done by herself. She handpicks woven fabrics from top mills in the UK, Europe and Japan, and sources technical fabrics from Italy and Switzerland, which are assembled in her London atelier by a team of three seamstresses. “I think my clients appreciate the authenticity that goes into the pieces,” she says, adding that she tends to be commissioned by people in other creative industries such as publishing, film and television. She won’t disclose current clients’ names, but does reveal that she made clothes for Carrie Fisher and David Bowie. “I find the process a real meeting of minds,” she says.