From the prestigious walls of Central St. Martin’s Louise Caplan has learnt a thing or two when it comes to expressing creativity via fashion. Louise decided to take the reigns and create her own label ‘Bambie & Butler’. With a vision of “the sustainability of a raw materials and ethical fashion” her approach to fashion is both selfless and innovative. With a musical love for Nina Simone and her admiration of the chic grace of Victoria Beckham, The Digital Fashion Platform took this perfect opportunity to grab an interview with Louise to talk all things creative and all things fashion business.
When did you decide it was time to create your label?
B&B: When I graduated from University (St.Martin’s) it was then I chose to channel my creativity and immerse myself into the founding of ‘Bambie & Butler’, The new collection I wanted to create and to become my own boss.
How did you come to name your label Bambie & Butler?
The thought behind was how can I take reference from each gender dress code and formalities and interchange them to create some exciting new ideas. For example; the Bambie & Butler dress patterns are modelled around a men’s vintage shirt pattern and re-modified to create new silhouette. This is very much ‘Bambie & Butler’s’ signature handwriting.
Tell us about where you learnt how to design?
B&B: I learnt to design through varying great hands, but my love for design and learning came when I enrolled at St.Martin’s, my tutors were so inspirational. We were given such brilliant design projects, such as ‘River Island’s Sustainability project 2009’ I feel there is now more say for a designer to think more about ethical values and sustainability through the design process, even more so in the luxury sector. Sustainability is no longer a ‘fad’ it’s a way by means of creating a carefully thought product with a story and longer shelf life.
What is on your musical playlist right now?
B&B: I like to listen to the old and new and have very eclectic tastes in music, so at this moment in time it is – Nina Simone – ‘Summertime’, Basement Jaxx ‘Raindrops’ all of Lourdes album ‘Pure Heroine’ and a little bit of Chuck Berry to get me motivated between meetings and phone calls.
Why does Bambie & Butler draw on British country characteristics?
B&B: My memories of vast British countryside and open fields from my childhood have influenced me greatly with the botanical prints in which I sketch and the embroidery of flowers and leaves used in my collections. I’m a sucker for all things whimsical and floral!
What is your favourite childhood memory about the countryside?
B&B: My favourite childhood memory would have to be riding my Pony Spike through the Berkshire countryside. There is something about being on a horse that is like nothing else on earth, those days to me were golden.
Who or what inspires Bambie & Butler?
B&B: The colour schemes and combinations I use tend to pull reference from old 1800’s Victorian ‘forna and florna’ botanical ref book; I find the detail extremely fascinating! But I could be walking down the street and find a button on the floor then I go home and sketch an idea for a new piece.
B&B: I absolutely adore Alice Temperly, she has been my idol for many years, and her designs are every bit sumptuous and beautifully crafted. Like her, I love the notion of British eccentricity and femininity. Strong women know how they want to dress and her designs evoke this response in feminine empowerment.
“Ethical responsibility & sustainability through luxe” is one of your key elements, how do you maintain this with each garment?
B&B: ‘Bambie & Butler’s’ ethical responsibility and sustainability is maintained within each stage of the manufacturing process. It is very important for us at ‘Bambie & Butler’ to keep reducing our carbon footprint wherever possible.
All ‘Bambie & Butler articles are sourced and produced in the UK. The only material, which we have to outsource, is our Mongolian fur, this comes from a FairTrade producer/ farmer in Tibet. The uses of our 100% reclaimed silk scarves are sourced from vintage and charity awe never see any material go to waste. Once material turns to scrap, we then put back into clothing banks and therefore minimise any chance of material going straight to land fill. We at ‘Bambie & Butler’ pride ourselves that luxe can still be ethical.
Describe a bespoke tailoring session with Bambi & Butler?
B&B: Tailoring for me starts out as a mad scribble jotted with Indian ink in a moleskin journal. Then it takes on a life and journey of it’s own. We like to explore a wide range of possibilities and styles for our customers and I like to always start with a consultation. This includes lifestyle and leisure in mind. Then we go through and measure up, this can happen from my studio in Oxford or from my showroom in Mayfair. It depends on budget restraints as to the material, cut and embellishment but dresses start at £650 for a completely bespoke piece and can climb in upwards of £2,500. For me it’s about giving the customer a handcrafted, unique piece they can treasure for years to come. That has, and will always be the ‘Bambie & Butler’ way.
Why does your label works with reclaimed Fur?
B&B: Image Source: Bambie & Butler FacebookThe label started to take shape a few years back when a customer asked me ‘Why does everyone have such a problem with wearing fur?’ This is when an alarm went off in my head. I realised in the fashion world there will always be a demand for fur and in the luxury sector you will have a decision to make about wether you as a designer will be anti or pro. Now to say this was an easy decision, it was not and so for me I decided to take the idea of using fur in my collections and only use ‘OA (Origin Assured furs) and reclaimed fur. This means I only used fur in existence i.e.. the fur coat collecting dust in a charity shop or fur from a flea market. I would never scale the business up in such a way that there was no transparency in where my materials are sourced.
What has been a major highlight in your design career so far?
B&B: I think my major highlight so far came when working with Stephen Jones (milliner) when creating a hat for Princess Beatrix for Ascot 2001. I loved exploring a new skill set and accessories, including hat making, it is a beautiful craft.
What part of your own style is reflected in your designs?
B&B: I think that there is a little magpie in us all and for me I love to include bright separates and colour clash. This is definitely reflected in my designs as of late. My new S/S accessories line has been greatly influenced by birds-of-paradise. I love a colour in a huge way and couldn’t imagine my life without it!
Name three things you can’t live without and why?
1. YSL – Touche Elacte – lifetime cosmetic staple.
2. My Alice Temperley Filofax – This is a must for all appointment making and dates! 3. Fresh Flowers – the house resembles something from ‘Gardeners’ World’ I cannot live without them!
How do you make your bespoke designs stand out?
B&B: Every season we try and create a collection whereby the artisan approach really comes into it’s own. We use UK manufacturers; which use old established mastery, soft tailoring, all created in-house, traditional flat pattern cutting methods, piece work and lovingly hand sewn garments with traditional embellishment that pre date the 18thcentury.
Where is your favourite place to shop?
B&B: My favourite place to shop is MIU MIU. The brand is so beautifully crafted with unusual silhouettes. I have a fab pair of her heels that just bring a great Disney-like quality to any outfit.
What are the two most important things a designer should have with them?
B&B: For me I am nothing without my moleskin journal to sketch, jot down anything I see on my travels and my trusty iPhone 5 to capture any inspiring imagery, pattern or colour-ways when I am out and about.
What is the first thing on the agenda for Bambie & Butler in 2015?
B&B: We are seeing the shift in Bambie & Butler’s retail and tactical approach; venturing into the brave new limitless world of ready-to-wear! We will see fantastic new product lines, an international buying platform and of course showing at LFW A/W 2015!
With her passion for fashion, her steady drive and ambition and a fashion label that is evolving at each step make sure to visit her work and follow her growth and design journey via her social media links: