1 How did you get your start?
As a child I collected all sorts of items – stamps, postcards, pieces of china – and was very influenced at age 13 by an aunt’s house stuffed with Victoriana. I knew this world was one I wanted to be involved with. I started at Sotheby’s Belgravia first on the counter, moved into ceramics and furniture and was then invited to establish a costume and textile department.
2 You have been a trustee of The Textile Society for 12 years. How does the charity work?
We promote contemporary and antique textiles and organise an annual museum and conservation award and textile student bursaries. Money to support these comes from two antique and vintage dress and textile fairs. One is in Manchester in April, which launched 27 years ago – the first specialist textile fair in the UK. The London fair takes place in October. Our forthcoming fair is at Chelsea Town Hall on Saturday, October 12.
3 What areas are most in demand at the moment?
Twentieth-century artist designer textiles have become sought after. Hand-block prints by Barron & Larcher, Enid Marx & Crysede, among others, are of more interest now than when I started to promote them 10 years ago.
When I started my business, Chinese court dress and textiles was my largest area of business. Now it is non-existent.
4 One highlight in your stock?
With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became a source of interest for design. Christopher Dresser, Bruce Talbert and Owen Jones were all heavily influenced by an Egyptian revival. I have four drops of this striking French hand block printed fabric (detail pictured below) for £1200 + VAT.
5 What do you collect personally?
European woven and printed shawls from the 1780s-1860s. My big passion is shawls of Paisley design. I also collect English embroidery from the 17th and 18th centuries worked by women and young girls.
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