Karen Millen – The Atelier

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This caught my eye while walking through Selfridges. At first I thought it was just a novel visual merchandising display from Karen Millen but on closer inspection it was something far more exciting. The concession is called Karen Millen – The Atelier and they are offering made to measure tailoring for women. I browsed round and saw this.

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And this.

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Aren’t these toiles exquisite? The feint lines on the calico are pencil lines and show the pinstripe or plaid pattern of the final fabric.

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I love the draping on the front of this dress. The skirt front is made up of three pieces coming out diagonally from the pleating at the waist and creates a really flattering drape. I’d describe the collection as contemporary tailoring. Although the colour scheme played it safe with black, greys, whites there was a lot of texture through the use of different fabrics.

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Pinstripe coat with leather sleeves

I got talking to the sales assistant and she said take up had been really good. It’s great for people who want to wear Karen Millen who don’t conform to conventional RTW sizes. The made to measure service is by appointment only. It’s also a pop up and was closing in a few days which adds to the exclusivity. She told me you first select a style from a selection of pieces.  You then choose your fabric, lining and buttons, get fitted and your made to measure garment arrives six weeks later.

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Pattern pieces hung on the garment rail

The pieces in the collection were beautifully cut and made with luxury fabrics. Bespoke was available for coats, jackets, trousers and skirts, wardrobe staples people are willing to part serious cash for. Confusingly two of the toiles on display were dresses but I suppose they were there to show off the design process. I had a peek at the prices to compare off the peg with custom made. A classic black wool trench coat was £375 from the rail but starts from £900 made to measure. Yes, pricey and out of reach of most people’s budgets. But hey it’s Selfridges and I can see it competing with the designer collections a few floors up. Jackets start at £600, trousers £300 and skirts £200.

Selection of fabrics

Selection of fabrics

It’s interesting to see a women’s wear retailer offering the same bespoke service as a Savile Row tailor. And there seems to be a market for it. What piqued my interest, apart from getting to see industry standard toiles and patterns up close, was that The Atelier was giving the non sewist a taste of what I love about sewing, namely input into the design of a garment. Here’s a list of what you can personalise.

Customisation options

Customisation options

But I love sewing not just for the design element but also for the making part too. So even if I did have a spare £900 for a bespoke coat I would much rather sew my own.

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