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Interview with Rosemary Goodenough

You know when Paul Alger, Director of International Affairs at UK Fashion and Textiles, advises to you register your innovative design immediately, you're on to something good. Rosemary Goodenough caused a minor sensation at London Collections: Men with her ingenious woven tie-less ties, becoming the first person brave enough to reinvent the design in 150 years. 

'Alongside the ties sits a collection of luxurious pocket squares and scarves to complement the most basic or ostentatious ensembles'

Most people are familiar with her work as an artist, but her designs act merely as an extension of her paintings, reinterpreted through the medium of silk twill. We had the chance to sit down with Rosemary to discuss the origins of her business, her top styling tips and of course, those infamous ties.

Being such an established artist, how and when did the segue into Men's accessories occur? 

“The whole process has been extraordinary really as at an exhibition of my Paintings and Sculptures in 2011, someone said "If that Painting was a Scarf I would wear it"! As an artist, I thought it would be fascinating to see my work on a different surface. Our research led us to the great Silk Printers at Lake Como and I was thrilled with the results.” 

Can you talk me through the process of making scarves and pocket squares? 

“I taught myself how to manipulate the colours in Photoshop, but always remained true to the composition of my own original oil paintings. Eventually I started using the same process with my other oil paintings and in two sizes: a classic 90cm square Scarf and a 45cm square Pocket Square. They were printed digitally as there are so many colours in each of the designs that silk screen would be impossible. The skill of the printers was incredible; it was very difficult to print digitally on silk twill which is why most digitally printed silks are made on satin. For me, it added a dimension of interest and luxury that I felt was lacking in satin. The process was also fairly lengthy as my husband, Michael Waller-Bridge photographed my painting, I made the digital colour changes and he sent the technical information to the printers. We then checked the strike-offs so I can ensure that the colours are exactly as I want them to be and of course the quality had to be perfect.”

In a previous interview, you mentioned that you like to maintain the relationship between yourself and the medium. How did you ensure that a product made in Italy still carries your signature input? 

“I suppose it was really through [an] obsessive attention to detail. For example all the hems were properly hand-rolled and are black to denote the frame of a painting. Instead of a label describing the care and content, the name of my original oil painting, the colour variation number and care information [were] printed directly onto the silk and each one carried my signature logo. In the end, it was all about immaculate quality and of course I also designed my logo and the boxes so they are presented beautifully.” 

Can you give any advice to the man who wants to try a scarf? 

“It's a great way to differentiate from other people and it can [either] be done with a scarf that is very close in colour to their suit or a wild contrast if they are feeling flamboyant. I think for the first time wearer to feel relaxed about it, the simplest thing is to fold 2 corners together then keep folding the scarf towards the middle so it is long and quite narrow. Then, tuck it neatly under the collar and lapels with as much or as little showing as they would like. It's great as it can be either a very smart look or extremely relaxed depending upon the styling of the suit or jacket.”

The 'tie-less ties' were such a hit at LC:M. How did you come up with that idea? 

“We were at a dinner party and our host asked if I would design a Tie, [but] he wanted something different. I wondered whether it was possible to design a Tie which, when tied, had a knot of contrasting colour to the blades of the tie. That couldn't be done as it is too difficult with neck sizes etc. but I started to get excited when it occurred to me that the 'knot' didn't have to actually be part of the Tie but could be an accessory for a Tie!” 

What's next for Rosemary Goodenough? 

“I have just completed my new designs for two long scarves in different widths and different weights. Each design will come in 6 colourways and use my original oil paintings. These two new scarf designs are a new adventure for 'Rosemary Goodenough Man' as I am having them woven in England by the weavers who weave the fabric for my Ties. I am very keen to produce as much as I possibly can in Britain. For the future I would like to consider designing bags and would also love to design Shirts, as I have some very particular thoughts about collars and cuffs; then of course there is knitwear to think about: the possibilities are endless!” 

*Image credit TYD Magazine

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