A few months ago, during a torrential downpour, my friend Sophie appeared on my doorstep with what looked like an enormous heap of wet rags and dumped them on my kitchen table. On closer inspection they turned out to be her mother's cherished wardrobe archive dating from the 1970s.
Sifting through them I was particularly thrilled and intrigued by a number of exquisite garments by Catherine Buckley. Until then I had never heard of the British Boutique designers, or Catherine Buckley, and the clothes and fabrics were so unusual I had to find out more. So I emailed her and she has been kind enough to agree to help identify and date the clothes and to give us a bit of background.
‘I started 1963 in a basement with £59 and 5 old rusty dress rails, experimented on and off with old fabrics in the 60’s and in 1970 I purchased 1 1/2 tons of Jacquard fabric in Scotland dated 1880 to 1930, from an abandoned warehouse, and embarked on a collection of patchwork creations sold to Liberty’s, Harrods , Fortnum & Masons and across the world.
‘In between I made Elizabeth Taylor’s 40th Birthday dress and Purdey’s outfits in the New Avengers Tv series etc etc . Did I start the adventure into Antique fabrics that is now so in vogue? Quite possibly and probably yes '
Publicity Still from the New Avengers, c. 1976
Liz in a Catherine Buckley patchwork creation from 1971, made from antique 1890 jacquard fabric, with Richard Burton. Fabulous as ever.
Over the years from c.1987 up until her retirement in 2003, Catherine dressed countless romantic brides in her exquisite trademark style.
Catherine is producing a catalogue of her dresses and of the sensational fabrics she found in the abandoned warehouse nearly 50 years ago. Follow this link to her website for the full gallery of images:
Some weeks later, I went to photograph the beautiful Isadora modelling the outfits at my friend Miranda’s house in Wiltshire – in another torrential downpour, as it happens. We rapturously held up the clothes and I shared with them my excitement at finding Catherine still working at her catalogues. Miranda dug out her own wedding album from 1990 and to my utter delight she was dressed in Catherine Buckley…. A lace tabard covering her noticeably pregnant belly.
Here are some photos of Isadora, in Sophie’s mother’s clothes by Catherine Buckley, at Miranda’s house, taken on a rainy day in June 2017. Click on photo for link to online listing.
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