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VICTORIA ENGLAND BEACH
Inspired by the explosion of colour, traditional crafts and tropical beaches found on her travels, Victoria England designed a range of pretty beachwear with more than a nod to boho chic.
The truth is I am self-confessed beach bum. I spend hours reading travel guides and looking for those elusive, unspoilt beaches that have a price tag that won’t put me in the coronary unit of the local hospital.
Of course, I am a woman of a certain age and I find the mere thought of prancing around in a skimpy swimsuit terrifying. So I need a range of cover-ups which are sexy but will also give me confidence when walking to and from the beach, the pool and, if I am lucky, the cocktail bar.
So, after two decades in the New York garment centre, when it came to setting up my own label, I wanted to create a brand built on my experience in the fashion world and my addiction to the world’s colourful and exotic places.
Victoria England Beach is a range of pretty beachwear leaning toward boho chic. I have designed kaftans, blouses, dresses and shorts in flattering cuts and beautiful colours made from quality fabrics. Each piece is hand beaded or embroidered using traditional techniques from India and are inspired by a lifetime of global foraging. My designs suit all body shapes, all ages and will become favourites each time you head for sunnier climes.
My obsession with fashion began a long time ago. I am the eldest of three girls. We all played with dolls; mine was a Mary Quant Daisy doll. I spent hours making miniature outfits from my mother’s fabric offcuts. She taught me to sew and my grandma taught me to knit. I used to fill sketchbooks with designs. Later, I went on to art school in Brighton where I took a BA in fashion and textiles.
After graduation, I moved straight to New York with $600 in my pocket and no job.
What I did have was talent and determination and after pounding the pavement for three days I landed my first job as a weaving assistant, later moving into knitwear. I never looked back. Soon after, I caught the travel bug. My boyfriend (at the time) and I packed our bags and explored his native Philippines for three months. The people, the food, the vibrant markets, the varying landscapes and most of all the amazing beaches were a revelation. Miles and miles of secluded white beaches framed by palms.
After returning to New York to replenish the bank account, my next stops were Mexico and Guatemala. Everywhere I went I saw an explosion of colour. The market at Chicecastenanga in Guatemala was a designer’s heaven. The indigenous textiles - intricately woven and embroidered -meant each piece was a work of art. I remember buying a traditional pair of men’s trousers in bold woven stripes with tiny delicate hand embroidered birds around the hem. Of course, I learned that what works in New Mexico doesn’t always work in New York.
After a few more years in the city my feet started to itch again, so I loaded up my backpack and set off for South East Asia; first stop India.
Landing in Delhi was a shock to my senses. The pungent smells of the food wallahs’ stalls along the roadside, the cacophony of noise, rickshaws and Bollywood soundtracks escaping from passing buses, and most of all the kaleidoscope of colours from clothing, spices, flowers and saris.
I fell in love with Rajasthan. Looking across Lake Pichola to Jag Niwas in Udaipur, I was transported back in time to the era of the Maharajas. My memory is so clear that I have used some of the traditional Rajasthani mirrorwork, also known as Shisha, in several of my designs. The delicate circles reflect the light in bright sunshine and offset vibrant colours.
In Indonesia capitol, Jakarta, I happened upon a huge indoor market in the centre of the city selling everything from shadow puppets to hand woven fishermen’s baskets and clothing. Here I found traditional kebayas, delicately embroidered blouses worn by women over batik printed sarongs. The handwork was beautiful and I extended my textile collection with several purchases. When I started designing my cotton kaftans I knew that this delicate embroidery would be perfect.
That trip changed me; helped me put things into perspective. When I returned to New York I began the endless interviews for another job. Everywhere I looked women were dressed in black, moaning about their jobs and their lives. I had just returned from a Hindu island where people were content with a simple lifestyle and where colour was inescapable. I wanted to click my heels together and return but course I couldn’t. Since then I have had children, other jobs and moved back to London. I’ve had some life changing experiences and now my chance to produce inspirational clothes has come around.
After all, it’s an inescapable truth; once a beach girl, always a beach girl.
www.victoriaengland.co.uk for beautiful pieces for your next global adventure.
©RiverTribe Magazine 2017