Am I talking about the Heals curtain fabric in the background, COTTAGE GARDEN that originally sold for £10 9s a yard or the talented textile designer Mary White pictured here with her design? Well if I look as good at 58 as Mary does at 78 then I’ll be happy and if I could ever create something as fresh and exciting as COTTAGE GARDEN , let alone something that still looks modern over 50 years later, the I would be ecstatic.
It’s no wonder that Mary’s daughter-in-law, Sarah Dening couldn’t bear to leave the unused designs gathering dust in the loft. Sarah is married to one of Mary’s sons and his penchant for wearing distinctive shirts must surely have been Sarah’s inspiration for bringing Mary’s “lost” designs to light as exclusive men’s shirts.
Mary never gave her designs names, she left that fanciful part of affairs to the manufacturers who snapped up her designs. Her clients read like a textbook of textile design history: Heals, Liberty, David Whitehead, Turnbull & Stockdale, Gayonne …. I could go on because Mary was indefatigable in the way she traipsed around with her portfolio putting each new batch of her designs in front of the textile buyers in Manchester and London.
It seems that this determination has rubbed off on Sarah Dening with her business Pigletchops that is producing Mary’s original designs for a whole new generation. In the 1950s Mary benefited from a good life style thanks to her designs being produced by British companies. In view of this Sarah has vowed that these British designs will be printed in the UK and the products will be totally made in the UK. That sounds easy enough but as we know most of what we wear has not originated in the UK. It took a lot of hard work for Sarah to stick to her principles but she has done it and the shirts now available at Pigletchops have labels that proudly celebrate this feat.
Photos by, and thanks to Emily Tullett, Manager of fashioncapital; Cottage Garden curtains from private collection of Ruth Marler