Talented Bournemouth – LeMaitre

Bournemouth is filled with talented entrepreneurs, artists and musicians, honestly there’s loads of them! So I thought that once a month I would dedicate a blog to highlight one of these amazing people.

This month is dedicated to Mary, the designers and creator of LeMaitre Designs. You may remember that Mary created some beautiful vintage pieces for the shoot at the Cottonwood Boutique Hotel in September (you can read more about that shoot by clicking HERE).

Specialising in vintage fashion from 1947-1957, Mary creates custom pieces to suit her clients.

When I arrive for our interview, her home is pure vintage, beautiful furniture, vintage fashion magazines across the coffee table, the beautifully decorated Christmas tree and the smell of a freshly made gingerbread house. Greeted with a huge smile, we start talking fashion!

So what is it about 1947-1957 that inspires you so much?

I love that, on the whole, fashion wasn’t so casual – it seemed people dressed with purpose. You went out with hat and gloves, and matching handbag and shoes. It was not acceptable to go out to the shops in your dressing gown – our equivalent of a onesie for example. To me midcentury style is fun, elegant, feminine, and very flattering.

When did you start designing clothes?

My mum has school work books where I’ve doodled faces, shoes and hats in the margins, I must have been 6 years. I used to make vintage style paper-dolls and create outfits for them

Do you collect any pieces?

I have a dressing up box – I still add to it! It was never a traditional dressing up box with Disney princess dresses but pieces I found in charity shops or items handed down in the family. I have a treasured Victorian shawl and a lot of my Grandma’s late 50s early 60s ballgowns. My best haul was being gifted some dresses from a dancer in the mid-fifties. I’ve always researched not only how clothes were designed, but how they were worn. From a young age I could look at a garment and know what era it was from. 

If you could rummage in anyone’s wardrobe, who would you pick?

I’d quite like to rummage in Doris Day’s wardrobe, as she’s got some pieces from her films. It would be great to rummage through Lauren Bacall or Elizabeth Taylor – all great dressers!

Doris Day

What’s your most hated fashion trend?

I try to avoid anything too garish as it dates easily. I know I’m wearing bright red tartan, but tartan is a very classic print so it never dates. I tend to design using classic fabrics and colours that will look stylish for longer. I’d rather spend money on something that will last a long time.

What was the first thing you made?

I think I crocheted a square with my Granny. From a young age my mum used to make me clothes, and I would help her. I liked to turn the handle on the Singer sewing machine for her. First thing I made by myself was a skirt in university. It was a classic A line skirt pattern, but an exact replica of a 1940s skirt.

Did you ever make scrunchies when you were in school?

*Laughs* I think we all did!

So what’s a typical day as a designer?

If I’m meeting clients, we’ll discuss their favourite clothes and I get to know what their style is, how they like to wear their clothes and the fabrics they like to feel against their skin. With this knowledge I can combine their favourite elements and create something suitable for the occasion.

Otherwise I’ll be fabric sourcing, finding embellishments like metal zips and buttons to create something authentic.

A lot of the day is doing research into what the styles were and how people wore vintage fashion, the little details that I can bring to my design work and make it genuine to the era.

And you’ve just launched the LeMaitre etsy shop!

Yes, it’s now open. At the moment I’m sampling new designs which will be added in January. The shop is focusing on day-to-day wear as generally the vintage garments you can find in the shops were kept because they were special or had sentimental value, but you can’t go to the shops in a ball gown! I want to bring back the jersey tops, tailored skirts and trousers, pieces that not only give you the look but give you authenticity of what would have been worn then, day to day.

Please do me a favour and stock those really wide leg tailored high waist trousers, I hate skinny jeans!

*Laughs* Yes that’s what I’m currently sampling! The sailor palazzo trousers. They’ll be out in spring. I have lots of people asking for them. 

Can you do custom designs?

Absolutely, I love working with clients to create something special or unique just for them – you just need to drop me an email. 

What’s your top fashion tip?

Simplicity. You’re less likely in 10 years time to look back at a photo and say “what were you thinking!”. I don’t like feeling cumbersome in clothes with heaps of accessories and bits flapping about. Fashion should be fun and stylish but practical! When you look at photos and think “she’s so stylish” “she’s timeless” the chances are the line of the outfit was very simple – it might have been a beautiful fabric, but the cut would have been simple and clean. That’s timeless style. 

Like what Coco Chanel said?

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” – Coco Chanel

Exactly! She hated overdressing. 

How does photography impact your business?

It has a huge element of my business. For research it’s invaluable as it’s not an illustration of someone’s ideal or fantasy. A photograph shows exactly what people were wearing and how they were wearing it. That’s a key thing, how they were wearing it, it’s not like going to a museum and seeing clothes flat on a mannequin, the garment comes to life in a photo. You can see the flare; was the beret flat on their head, at an angle or did they tuck their hair into it. You can see the life in a photograph! Photography is a time capsule. Even today, when I have my garments photographed I want it to capture the moment, To make something beautiful and have it last forever in an image, for someone else to enjoy another time. 

What’s your life moto?

Be in the moment

Want to know more about vintage fashion? Follow LeMaitre on Facebook  or visit her new etsy shop.

Lotus Photography is thrilled to offer Commercial & Bespoke packages to help advertise your business. If you’re interested in photos for your business needs, visit the Commercial & Bespoke packages page for details.

Interested in being featured? Know someone you think should be featured? Drop me an email!


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