Today we are discussing my Favorite British Designer – Catherine Walker & Co. The regal and elegant designs of the label are on my hit list. The majestic label was established by the brand’s namesake Catherine Walker and her better half Said Cyrus in 1977.
Their atelier is situated in Bury Walk a pretty Chelsea mews where seven huge studios are run on Parisian lines with independent workrooms committed to fitting, dressmaking and with expansion talented skilled workers and ladies utilized for weaving. Today the label is quintessentially a solid pillar and a leading face of British Fashion Industry.
Catherine Walker was born on June 27th in 1945 in Calais, Department du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais as Catherine Marguerite Marie-Therese Baheux. Catherine did her Master’s in Esthetics and Philosophy at the colleges of Lille and Aix-en-Provence. She moved to London while pursuing a PhD. She became British resident after her wedding to an English lawyer John Walker in 1970.
Catherine and John had two daughters. In 1975, Johan Walker died in France during the holidays. Catherine remarried to an Iranian teacher at the Chelsea School of Art – Said Cyrus. But she kept her last name as Walker. Catherine’s voyage as a fashion designer began with a kids’ apparel line. With time she began designing event wears and wedding dresses for ladies. Her label came into life in 1976 with her own company The Chelsea Design in Sydney Street and formally opened in 1977.
Catherine Walker came into the spotlight with the royal warrant of Princess of Wales, Diana. Her expert association with Diana started three months after Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles in 1981 and went on until Diana’s passing after sixteen years in 1997.
During this time Walker gave the Princess a large number of her most notable pieces of clothing, including the well-known ‘Elvis’ gown.
It is believed that Catherine provided more than 1,000 outfits for Diana, Princess of Wales, who was buried in a black dress created by Walker at her funeral. Catherine got Designer of the Year for Glamor and in 1990 Designer of the Year for Couture at the British Fashion Awards.
Today the most unmistakable name in lcustomers is Diana’s daughter-in-law, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Since her wedding to Prince William, Duchess of Cambridge has shown the same trust in the British label that her late Mother-in-law had.
It shows from the decision made by Duchess of Cambridge to step out in a dazzling salwar kameez designed by Walker’s husband Cyrus’ for her arrival in Pakistan.
The other remarkable name is Carole Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s mom. Carole wore an outfit designed by Walker Company to her daughter’s wedding to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and to the wedding of Prince Harry in May 2018.
Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995. She died on September 23, 2010, in a hospital after being found unconscious by a neighbour at her Sussex home. She founded a charity for women suffering from Breast Cancer – Breast Cancer Heaven. After Catherine, her husband Cyrus kept the label alive and brought it to its glory today. In one interview Cyrus said,
“Catherine Walker & Co.’s tailoring for women makes strong use of techniques that are usually found only in men’s tailoring. This is most evident in the sharp, almost military shoulder falling to a softer feminine silhouette – and this is flattering both in person and in pictures.
Our embroidery focusses on English symbolism, and crucially it is carried out by our own craftspeople in Chelsea. We believe that combination captures something quintessentially English.
My wife and I spent a great deal of time researching what Princess Diana wore for official visits, even visiting countries in advance to make sure we had it right. We worked hard to ensure that our designs bridged her ambassadorial role for her own country but also paid respect to each destination.
It is important to remember that these designs were not chosen as most people would choose clothes in everyday life. They were work clothes to do a complicated job as an ambassador for the UK. We saw our role as giving her the tools to do that job.”
Talking about his wife’s relationship with Princess Diana he said, “She [Diana] was such a great style ambassador for the UK and had an instinctive sense of occasion. She will always be remembered for her humanitarian work. In the end, she used her dresses to save lives.”
Today, Catherine Walker is providing sharp and military-style silhouettes that are feminine and strong at the same time.
To serve their customers around the globe the label is offering e-couture which presently implies that clothing can be requested from anyplace around the globe, if customers follow prescribed steps, and secure the services of an approved local tailor or dressmaker to ensure the precision fit for which the House is renowned. If you would like to acquire their outstanding E-couture service then you can contact them online here.
From feminine Day Dresses to structured Coats, Evening Gowns to Business and Occasion Suits, the creativity behind the label has already written its name in the history books of the fashion industry. The only downside I can think of the is a price tag attached to each amazingly graceful piece, but then they say the best things in this world are free but the second best is the most expensive.
The hard work going behind each piece makes the outfit a real investment that is going to last for the next coming decades without becoming a victim of ever-changing fashion trends.