Dandy & Rose

Bespoke Western Shirts, Handmade in England


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Queen Bee

Queen bee back

I have been dying to post photos of this shirt! But I’ve been waiting for the all clear, as it was a Christmas gift from a brother to his sister – so I am not sure whether his choice of a fabric called ‘Queen Bee’ was a comment on their respective roles in the family! ūüôā

At any rate, she was reportedly very pleased to receive it Рand it is a very special Liberty print, one of those where you spot more and more detail as you look. I love the crown that the bee seems to be placing on her own head!


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O-sew-retro

Thor busy issie left front

Thor Platter¬†has a new album coming out in October, which I can’t wait to hear. He asked me to source a Liberty print with a retro look, in dusky browns, greens and oranges, to chime in with the artwork for the record sleeve.

It took about a week, but finally I remembered filing this one away at the back of my brain.

thor busy issie back

So retro!

Thor busy issie cuff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Catching up

This year has been such a busy one for research, writing and shirtmaking that I have got rather behind with this blog.

So here are all the shirts I have made so far and not blogged about:

First up a marvel of symmetry in Liberty’s William Morris-designed print ‘Lodden’. It belongs to¬†Thor Platter, a singer songwriter who tracked me down at last year’s Americana Music Association Festival in Nashville. I’m very glad he did!

Then in February, I came across some of one of my favourite out-of-print Liberty designs, a psychedelic paisley called ‘Forty’. So I snapped some up and made two shirts: a black one with red piping for redoubtable Americana tour manager, Andy Washington; and an all-over print for¬†Jim Lauderdale.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Sixties men’s fashion recently and just for fun I made this ruffled shirt in another psychedelic Liberty print that has been a favourite:

amelia star ruffle side front

Find this one for sale in my online shop

A few months later, I was commissioned to make another shirt in the same fabric, this time in a western style:

As summer arrived, I made a couple of short sleeved shirts. The first was for a young man looking for something special for his birthday party. He chose the classic Liberty peacock feather design, ‘Hera’ and went for a non-western style.

The second was made from vintage fabric that I bought from a lady who inherited it from her mum. There was quite a collection and it was hard to choose, but this was one of my favourites:

Finally, this shirt in a sweet, fresh Liberty floral was commissioned as a gift from a husband to a wife. I love being part of that!


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Is it a yoke? Is it a pocket flap?

lagos laurel back

Yokes that turn into pocket flaps are an established element of western wear design. I’ve had it at the back of my mind to try some on a Dandy & Rose shirt, but the idea really took hold when I was doing some research for my PhD in the Nudie’s archive in The Autry Museum of The American West a few months ago. I kept seeing jackets in the style and was suddenly inspired to try the same thing, but with mixed prints.

upper front

My friend and customer Bill DeMain, who is a songwriter and journalist as well as running¬†Walkin’ Nashville, a fun and informative walking tour of Nashville (where, in fact, he and I met), gave me the chance. He picked out a Dandy & Rose favourite, the Liberty paisley, Lagos Laurel. I suggested mixing two colours of the print, and Bill opted for blue and red. Although it’s now a Liberty classic, ‘Lagos Laurel’ was introduced in 2012 in celebration of the London Olympics, and features a laurel wreath in amongst the paisley motifs.

sleeve


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D & R at home (and in London)

Dandy & Rose’s biggest champion, the Grammy-winning singer songwriter Jim Lauderdale, toured the UK during July and excitingly, he played in Lewes, the hometown of Dandy & Rose!

Jamie Freeman of Union Music Store, who is also a singer songwriter, suggested that after the show, we might be able to set a world record for the most Dandy & Rose shirts worn in the same place at the same time. And we did!

group

Left – right (back row) Jamie Freeman, Stevie Freeman, Alasdair Mackay, Andy Washington, Michael Hingston ¬†(front row) Jeff Tickle, Jim Lauderdale, me (Janet Aspley), David whose second name I don’t know!

It seemed wrong that Jim didn’t have a new shirt for his tour, so the following week we picked out a print from Liberty’s current range called ‘Wild Flowers’. It was designed by the paper cutting artist Su Blackwell, who says it reflects her childhood experience of wandering the countryside, discovering native flora. Su’s work is stunning and you can see more of it here: ¬†sublackwell.co.uk

wild flowers folded

Just as I was giving the shirt a final press before dashing up to London to deliver it to Jim before his London show (which was great!), I noticed the word ‘Strawberry’ hidden amongst the stalks and leaves in the design.

IMG_3208.JPGHow wonderful to work with designs that are so detailed and exquisite that there is still something to discover in them when you have been looking at and handling them for many hours!

 

 

Jim teamed his new shirt with a pair of sparkly, embroidered trousers by Manuel. The combination was marvellous!

wild flowers with trousers

Jim Lauderdale in his Dandy & Rose shirt in Liberty’s ‘Wild Flowers’ print, onstage at King’s Place, London, July 27th 2017

 

 


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Celtic or Knot?

One thing I love about working with Liberty prints is the complexity and depth of their designs.

This one, Gambier, is from their 2015 A/W range and I loved it so much that I bought a length ‘on spec’, hoping that someone would fall for it as much as I did. A couple of customers did, and they both commented that it looked Celtic. I agreed – that’s a thistle in the middle of the design, isn’t it? And look at that knot! Celtic, if ever I saw a knot!

I had a vague memory, though, that Liberty had said the design had Tudor connections. Now, I have had a fascination with Tudor history since I can’t remember when. Then, a¬†few years ago, I started dressing as a Tudor in out annual torchlit November 5th procession here in Lewes and¬†now I find that, when I am not thinking, reading about and making western wear, I am thinking and reading about Tudor dress. And making it. O, and wearing it, too. But only on November 5th.

anne-boleyn

So when I checked back on Liberty’s website and learned that this design was based around textiles in the paintings of Henry VIII’s court painter, Hans Holbein (1497/8 – 1543), I was intrigued. The dress history geek in me just had to go hunting.

I love Holbein. I went to an exhibition of his drawings of Henry’s courtiers at the Tate Gallery a few years ago and looking at them, I felt they could have been standing alive in front of me. Even the mightiest were made humble by his humanising strokes.

Here’s poor Anne Boleyn in her nightie.

1540-rome

 

It was Holbein who created the image of Henry VIII, ¬†in all his bulky, murderous masculinity, that we still hold as iconic¬†. So that’s where I looked for the motifs that inspired the designer of our Liberty print. It turns out that the central motif is not a thistle but a pomegranate, a symbol in Tudor times of fertility and abundance. In 1540, when Holbein painted this portrait ¬†of Henry, he wore¬†a coat made from fabric decorated with a stylised pomegranate design, so we would all know what a fertile and abundant man he was.

 

But I think the actual inspiration for it must have been a portrait of one of Henry’s close friends, Sir Henry Guildford (1489 – 1532). Sir Henry was at one point the King’s ‘Master of Revels’ responsible for organising the court’s entertainments. But by the time this portrait was painted in 1527, he had the responsible role of Comptroller of the King’s Household. He looks as if he was a force to reckoned with, doesn’t he?

sir-henry-guildford

Holbein has used gold leaf to show us how sumptuous his robe is – and look at that chain!And look closely at the pattern on that gold cloth… here’s our pomegranate:

collage-guildford-pomegranate

And here’s our knot:

collage-knot

So… not Celtic, after all. It turns out continuous knots occur in the art of many cultures – Islamic, Buddhist and at the court of that most English of Kings, Henry VIII.

I guess there must have been continuous knots all over these islands, in the same way that there were versions of the same familiar folk songs from England, Scotland and Ireland.

Does that design still look Celtic to you? It still does to me! But that’s alright, I think. Like a great¬†song, a beautiful design can cross cultures and have more than one meaning, depending on what angle you see it from, or how your ear is cocked. That’s all part of our richness, and what makes human culture so¬†life enhancing.

gambier-cuff-and-placket