One of the reasons I started this blog is because I love sharing new discoveries, be it travel destinations, restaurants, boutiques, designers or cafes serving good coffee. Recently, I have made a new exciting discovery: a designer brand whose philosophy resonates with my view of fashion – DEPLOY demi-couture.
On my way to DEPLOY’s event at Home House in London last week I had no expectations and intended to only stay for under an hour. But the story about independent sustainable fashion business I heard and the stylish, feminine and, what inspired me most, customisable clothes I saw that night left me very curious. Keen to learn more, I arranged to speak with DEPLOY’s designer and creator, Bernice Pan at her boutique near the fashionable Marylebone High Street in London. This small elegant boutique is filled beautiful clothes that flatter a female figure, made from luxurious natural fabrics, that are sourced from certified ethical suppliers. I felt like I travelled back in time to the pre-mass consumption period in history when clothes were tailored for the customer and the service was very personal.
Bernice, who has a PhD in Fashion Design Innovation and a background in architecture brings a new, multi-disciplinary approach to fashion. She founded DEPLOY in 2005 creating a fashion brand that revives the golden-era couture and at the same time embraces innovation and puts the concept of ethical consumption and sustainability at the core of the business model. The name “DePLOY” signifies action for Bernice, it means applying the ethos of responsible, sustainable high quality style throughout the whole supply chain. But also, according to Bernice, “trends can become a ‘ploy’ to increase consumption”. And while she understands that it is natural for a business to want to increase sales, she is concerned with the amount of waste we create as a result of such consumption. So DEPLOY wants to offer a new form of consumption to “de-ploy” obsolescence. This is why the clothes she designs are not for throwing away every season. They are made specifically with a person or function, not a trend, in mind.
I, personally, loved two things about DEPLOY: the creative element that each piece of clothing carries and style aesthetics of the brand and the boutique: think old-style glamour, luxurious fabrics and textures, quality and attention to detail, and flattering ultra-feminine cuts.
The fact that the clothes are designed in a way that allows customers to be creative and wear one piece in many ways is what, in my view, sets DEPLOY apart. Dresses become skirts and blouses, jackets become vests, there are removable decorative details, such as additional folds of fabric or ruffles, on some jackets or dresses. Many of the detachable parts are interchangeable making the entire collection very interactive.
This definitely takes personalisation of fashion to a new level. “Designers are not the only people who are creative,” says Bernice, “creativity is for everyone”.
This approach to fashion – “less prescriptive and more liberal” – definitely speaks to me and many other women, I am sure.
The fact that all designs are inspired by real women and their needs really appeals to me too. “The starting point for me as designer is what the clothes can do for you,” says Bernice. Women and what they need to look comfortable and confident is what inspires her designs. My guess is this is why the clothes are of such high quality and the cuts are so flattering. Most pieces are designed to accentuate the waist and flatter (or help to create, as in my case) feminine curves. “Women walk out surprised at how feminine they can look,” shares Bernice.
I try on a jacket with detachable sleeves that helps to do exactly that – add womanly curves, something I always attempt to do with clothes for my straight up and down figure.
Other pieces I am shown promise to work like magic by creating shape and curves in all the “right” places and hide what us women are not so keen to show.
Ever keen to define what style is, I ask Bernice to share her thoughts. “Style is about the grace of the woman herself, people don’t need to try and be someone else,” she answers. I could not agree more.
If you don’t know DEPLOY already, I highly recommend visiting their website http://www.deployworkshop.com or stopping by the boutique in 34 Thayer street in the Marylebone area in London. I will be coming back before too long, having added one of DEPLOY’s dresses and a jacket to my A/W wish list.
Some of the photographs used here were provided by the DEPLOY team