In times of recession we begin to think more carefully about what to spend our hard earned cash on. Classic styles are chosen over catwalk lead trends and quality trumps quantity as we seek out pieces that will last more than one season. Charlotte and Jane, the fifties inspired clothing brand started by design duo Jane Skovgaard and Charlotte Cargin, offers timeless, elegant custom made pieces that are made to last a lifetime.
Although inspired by Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn, the Charlotte & Jane brand is 100% Irish. The duo design work from their Cork based studio, source linen, wool and tweed from Irish mills and employee local seamstresses to create their feminine and glamorous designs.
Now, you never have to fear turning up in an identikit dress to another woman at a wedding or on race day. Unlike most modern brands, clients get to be part of the design process too! They can select their style from the extensive selection of Charlotte and Jane designs, select the fabric and colour they would like their clothes to be made with and even select the length and sleeve type too! Each order is then made to the client’s specifics and to their size.
Established in 2009, the label has quickly built up a strong following including rockabilly songstress Imelda May. Wigsandgowns caught up with one half of Charlotte and Jane, Jane Skovgaard, to hear the story behind the brand.
Wigsandgowns - What inspired you to start the brand?
Jane Skovgaard - A mutual love of the fashion of the 1940s and 50s, there was a complete dearth of any styles on the high street that we wanted to wear. And there was the need for each of us to do something new with our lives!
Wigsandgowns - What’s your fashion background, did you study fashion at University?
Jane Skovgaard - I am a fine art graduate from Durban, South Africa where I specialised in print, which I love, and I have a real feel for fabric, texture and design as a result of my upbringing in Africa. Charlotte is a fashion graduate of Central St Martins in London where her specialty was knitwear and she has a tremendous eye for detail and finish of the dresses as well as fab styling abilities!
Wigsandgowns - How did the idea for made to measure come about?
Jane Skovgaard - First of all, to manufacture in Ireland, which is what we do, drives the cost right up so stocking in boutiques just wasn’t working, as well as the fact that each figure is different so a fitted dress has to be made for each individual. We have a completely personalised service for each customer; we meet them by appointment and spend time on getting the fit perfect.
Wigsandgowns - What’s been the biggest challenge?
Jane Skovgaard - Starting mid recession and making a go of it. Being artists and learning how to do business!
Wigsandgowns - Would you like to see ready to wear versions of your clothes stocked in bricks and mortar shops?
Jane Skovgaard - No for the reasons above. But we would like to expand to Europe and the US and run dress viewings over there. The gorgeous Irish wools we use would be fabulous in Scandinavia and any wintery climate especially in our sassy retro styles!
Wigsandgowns - Who, if anyone, would you love to see wearing your designs?
Jane Skovgaard - Any one with the curves to fill them!
Wigsandgowns - What’s been the biggest highlight so far?
Jane Skovgaard - Our recent trip to India this last January/February. We have brought back custom printed silks, custom embroidered collars and cuffs, gorgeous trims as well as coming back chilled out and energised!
Wigsandgowns - I’m sure lots of our readers will want to know when will your designs be available here in the UK?
Jane Skovgaard - We will be over in London in 2013 definitely.
For more information on Charlotte and Jane click here. And stay tuned to Wigsandgowns for updates on Charlotte and Jane London dates in 2013!