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"Any Vintage Gown Can Inspire Me" LBW Designer Gill Harvey Opens Up About Her Love Of Vintage Fashion And More

Women who tend to prefer more classic style fashion usually have a hard time finding evening or wedding wear to suit their taste. Even though there are a few designers who create vintage inspired collections but they hardly constantly incorporate vintage elements into their designs. I spoke to Gill Harvey, an award-winning designer who took notice of that and decided to do something about it.


"Any Vintage Gown Can Inspire Me" LBW Designer Gill Harvey Opens Up About Her Love Of Vintage Fashion And More
A gown from Gill's "Grand Voyage" collection.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your life and how it lead you to design?
A: "I grew up in Swansea, South Wales and came to London when I was eighteen years old to study first at Central St. Martins, and then The Royal College of Art for my MA in Fashion. Fashion was in my family and I would be the third generation to work in this field. My mother told me that “Eliza Jane Howell“ was established in 1890.

My maternal Grandmother started her eponymous business which was described as “Wool Merchant and stockings knitted to order” with her aunt. They used hand knitting machines from home which still fill the attic of my mother’s house in Swansea. Their sweaters and socks in crazily colored Argyle patterns were sold from Swansea and Neath markets.

Eliza Jane Howell“ soon had a loyal clientele including several football clubs who wore knitted garments long before the tech fabrics of today took over. My life as a designer started with the glamorous Italian knitwear collection for the “Medici” brand. My knitwear always leaned towards occasion dressing and so it wasn’t long before I started adding beaded evening gowns to the collection."
"Any Vintage Gown Can Inspire Me" LBW Designer Gill Harvey Opens Up About Her Love Of Vintage Fashion And More
One of Gill's gowns at London Bridal Week 2019.
Q: How and why did you choose to design wedding and evening wear?
A: “Just under seven years ago when Andrea Cutts and I started working together, we wanted to create a stunning, new Bridal collection. I had known Andrea for many years and had always admired her individual style and marketing skills in the fashion business. We both felt that Bridal dresses were not catering to the modern bride who is far more aware of fashion trends and has developed a personal style long before she is ready to choose her wedding gown.
So, we took two dozen of our most glamorous evening gowns and remade them in ivory to show at the Harrogate Fair. All the dresses were hand beaded and made in less than five weeks. Our stand was mobbed and “Eliza Jane Howell “ was reborn.”
Q: Many of your designs are inspired by the ‘20s and ‘40s how did you develop such a passion for vintage fashion?
A: “I grew up watching repeats of old movies from Hollywood’s golden era and I was constantly inspired by the costumes of the magnificent Edith Head. The great couture houses of Chanel, YSL, Dior, and Givenchy dressed many of the most successful actresses including the style icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. These wonderfully dressed women were a constant source of inspiration on and off the big screen.”


"Any Vintage Gown Can Inspire Me" LBW Designer Gill Harvey Opens Up About Her Love Of Vintage Fashion And More
A gown from Gill's "Debutante" collection.
Q: Which era do you think you take to most inspiration from and why?
A: “Any vintage gown can inspire me. The craftsmanship involved in creating such wonderful gowns is hard to find today. Usually, only the highest levels of couture are able to work with such talented artisans. We pride ourselves at “EJH” that we do work with some of the few remaining best beaders in the world today.”
Q: Your grandma was also a designer, is there a design of hers in particular that you favor the most?
A: “Her Argyle socks and stockings would look as outrageously fashionable today as when she first created them.”
Q: Which collection has really stuck with you so far and why?
A: “It is always the most recent collection that sticks in my mind and that I am most proud of. So, this would be our 2020 collection aptly named “The Roaring Twenties”!”


"Any Vintage Gown Can Inspire Me" LBW Designer Gill Harvey Opens Up About Her Love Of Vintage Fashion And More
A gown from Gill's "Debutante" collection.
Q: All of your dresses are hand-beaded. Can you tell me a little bit about the design process? What materials you like to work with the most?
A: “I can’t give away my secrets but all of the gowns are created from scratch. I design the beading patterns, choose the beads and accessories, sketch the artwork for the fabric and the shape of the new gown. There are many stages in the creation of a new gown.”
Q: You make each dress by combining traditional techniques with ones from past eras; can you name one in particular?
A: “We often add a touch of silver or gold metallic thread hand embroidery to enhance the beading on a gown. This was traditionally used in the past for military dress uniforms and badges. The Maharajahs costumes were adorned with metallic embroidery and exotically patterned beads.”
Q: You combined vintage elegance with modern charm. How do you maintain such a well balance between the two?
A: “We think of our gowns as modern vintage and an heirloom to pass to the next generation. I wonder in twenty years time whether we will still be able to work with beaders of such a high standard.”
"Any Vintage Gown Can Inspire Me" LBW Designer Gill Harvey Opens Up About Her Love Of Vintage Fashion And More
Gill Harvey.
Q: Any up and coming projects or collections that we can look forward to?

A: “We are preparing for our new photoshoot which will have a completely new feeling for the 2020 campaign - a younger, fresher feel but still displaying our beautiful vintage inspired gowns. Vintage, but with a modern twist!”

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