Here at PAOLITA, we are lucky enough to exist within two of the most gorgeous pockets of London- at least we think so anyway. As a core part of our brand, we really value the spirit of community and wanted to shine a light on the incredible local businesses, as well as historic institutions and landmarks which surround us in our Marylebone and Notting Hill homes.

To kick-start this series, we thought who better to talk to than the extraordinarily chic, Suzannah Crabbe-  favoured designer of the Royals.

1. As our neighbours at New Quebec St. we’re extremely lucky to be based in such a gorgeous part of London, what is your favourite thing about being in this little corner of the city? 

I love the fact you feel like you have stepped into a village when you are 2 minutes’ walk from Marble Arch! I love all the independent shops and businesses and the community feel. Many clients remark on how calm and special our area is. It’s so smart and is increasingly interesting too. The Cool Nobu hotel and Zetter Townhouse are on our doorstep with pockets of independent strength from unique British brands, eateries and businesses in between. There is a real artisan feeling to our street now.

 

2. Where are your favourites local haunts to grab a coffee, cocktail and post-work dinner? 

I love to grab a coffee from Daisy Green, meet friends at the Goat after work now that we can again, and for Cocktails.- Seymour’s bar at Zetter!

 

3. Suzannah London has experienced many milestones, being a favourite among A-Listers and Royalty, but what is your first memory of having an interest in fashion, to begin with? 

I have always loved clothes and adapted this love from a really early age. I remember buying vintage clothes in my teenage years and changing and altering them around. There was a real lack of shops where I grew up, so this is what I knew. My mum always looked incredible, and there was a huge emphasis placed on an immaculate appearance.

 

4. To follow on from that, tell us a bit about your journey into fashion design, from studying and starting out, to having your own label?  I studied textiles and fashion in York near my home town before venturing onto do a fashion degree.

Throughout all. Of my studies, at every holiday break I took part in a work experience, I worked in the fashion cupboard at Vogue through to the design rooms at Ally Capellino and Reiss, and for a luxury Italian cloth mill. I tried to immerse myself in all aspects to work out which area of fashion I loved most and I realised my heart lied within the realms of design and tailoring. Beautiful cloth has always and will always be my weakness, it makes my mind race, it makes me happy. When I find or develop a material I really love, I immediately imagine a silhouette, the image appears in my mind instantaneously. After I had this revelation, I went on to work in the industry as a designer and design manager and then worked as Head of Trend forecasting for Womenswear for M&S.

Soon enough, I began to really miss designing and I went on to create my own line, alongside my full-time job. I had collected vintage and vintage couture for years and started by creating a collection of 10 ultimate dresses, which embraced my love for luxury cloth and textiles. My line progressed from there. I took on a small shop/studio in Little Venice and made to order from my collection and vintage references. 15 years later, here I am in W1 with two boutiques and a little fashion army of an amazing team and a wonderfully loyal clientele of all age’s dynamics and nationalities. All with the same mission of looking beautiful and immaculately timeless be it day-to-day or for an event.

 

 

5. Your business is one that is extremely client facing and personal with your bespoke Atelier and made-to-measure collections. How does a business like your own navigate a pandemic coupled with a huge reduction of events?  

Well, it hasn’t been the easiest time and It felt like a very unpredictable game of snakes and ladders! However, we got through it. Many loyal clients still commissioned pieces and bought from my collections for their wardrobes throughout the pandemic. I held Zoom consultations and Facetime calls. Me and several team members took part in a ‘sustainability in fashion’ online course run by the London College of Fashion, which provided the stimulus to develop a sustainable fashion ready-to-wear collection, which allowed us to learn even more about sustainability. Our business is really responsible anyway as it is small considered and controlled in terms of the whole ethos of creating investment, timeless pieces to order. However, I wanted to explore and push the business further and improve and set new goals- something that’s key with any business.

I also felt it was a good idea as I wanted to start producing more daywear off-the-peg pieces too. So, to me, this was the perfect combination, creating these fab shirt dresses and tea dresses in organic certified cloths and peace silks. It’s been great and went to a flying start with our Venice Shirtdress becoming our brand best seller!

 

6. Throughout the year you must be catering to various calendar events – do you have a favourite? If so, why? 

I love Royal Ascot the most. It’s fun, its often quite last minute and it involves a total look from head to hem. The milliners we work with have a fab time creating unique colourways and special pieces to go with our outfits. Everyone ends up with a different slant and custom element to their look created by styling. Obviously, it wasn’t the same this year as there were less people going, and a lot of nervousness around events still. However, we still managed to be there.

 

7. Have you ever had any strange dress requests from any clients – if so what?   

I used to, but not anymore.

 

8. If you could dress anyone in the world for the red carpet, who would that be and why?   

Elisabeth Moss. I really like her. Such a talent. I loved her in Madmen and The Handmaids Tale. She has an unusual but classic look about her and looks amazing in Vintage style clothes which celebrate curves.

 

9. Evidently, you place a real emphasis on your sustainability efforts— tell us a bit about your journey into sustainability and the models of responsible fashion you’re adapting at Suzannah London? 

This is such an ongoing process to get better and better and more responsible for our planet as a business. Introducing our sustainable line has elevated the practices of the whole business.

This being said, we have always been very good at no-waste and conscious, effective production. Where I have developed the business from scratch without any financial backing or support, we have had to always make very careful decisions and mindful choices from the very beginning-  nothing has ever been flamboyant or overproduced. We have mostly produced in London or in Europe out of choice because of the levels of workmanship needed for our products. However, we have been mindful to introduce better printing methods and more certified organic cloths and washable pure natural fibre items. We also make a conscious effort to use up our stocks of cloths and to buy fabrics that are traceable. We have also built a custom tea dressmaker on our website to up-cycle our existing stock cloths and end of line rolls of fabric to create the customers perfect tea dress.