2 October 2012
Marie LeFay Designs
Hailing from the Midlands, Lindsay Jones is the creator of Marie LeFay Designs and specialises in gothic and historically-inspired custom garments and wedding gowns.
Lindsay was inspired to pursue dress-making after attending Whitby Gothic Weekend, during which she found it difficult to find the style of clothing she liked in the quality she wanted. Marie LeFay has been a real hit, and now Lindsay is working on new items, including 18th century influenced corset couture. Blackavar chats to Lindsay to find out more.
What was the process in starting up Marie LeFay and how long have you been dressmaking?
I started dressmaking when I was about 13 years old as I was a waif of a girl and none of the alternative clothing used to fit me off the peg, so I had to customise items I bought from the high street to achieve the look I wanted. This gradually increased to making my own skirts and eventually bodices. I then stopped sewing for a about 2 years when I sat my A-levels at 17. My love for dressmaking didn't really start again until I got engaged and had trouble finding the dress I wanted in the UK for the price I could pay. We had a Medieval wedding but I didn't want the 'usual' dresses that seemed to be floating around on eBay, so I decided to take the plunge and make my own dress. After the wedding I began just making dresses here and there to see what I could do, until I am where I am today.
Did you learn dressmaking to pursue the dream or was it an existing talent of yours?
It was something I had to learn from scratch when I first started. I remember my Grandma and my Mum knitting when I was younger so I was always around crafters. I have had no professional training and learnt most of the techniques I know today from YouTube tutorials and some good old trial and error!
Your designs indicate a love of history and the romantic, often with a modern twist. What influences your designs?
I am heavily influenced by literature and period based films. I remember when I watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and wanted to make all the dresses Marian wore! I love everything about the structure and thought that went into dressmaking in the Medieval, Tudor, 18th Century and Victorian times, however I also love modern tailoring and, to be honest, who wouldn't want to wear a Marie Antoinette dress if they didn't have to wear the corsets?
What is the creative process involved in designing a new garment?
I always start by doing research into the periods I am looking at making the design from; whether it's searching on the internet or watching films. I then sit and sketch out my ideas. I always say that if I do not feel 'existed and inspired' by the thought I will not pursue it, which is one of the luxuries I can afford as I only make things for a hobby. I then move on to make a sample of the design so I can see how it looks and moves on the mannequin. I do change a lot of things along the process like necklines or cut of the waist etc.
What is your personal fashion style and what are you own favourite designs?
I am an old-school goth so I really love long skirts and bodices with pale makeup and dark hair. My favourite design I ever made was the Lilith set as I absolutely adore the material I used on the bodice.
How do you feel artisans and dressmakers such as yourself can influence the fashion industry?
The fashion industry sometimes seems to go around in circles and gets more masculine every time I see a catwalk show, so I think people like me who embrace bygone fashions and update them slightly could offer a lot the in the industry as a whole. Women feel amazing in a flowing gown and there is nothing wrong with that.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to turn a creative talent into a career or business?
You need to take your time. A lot of people make the mistake of seeing people make dresses and assume that they must be making thousands when 99% of the time this is not the case. Do it because you love it not because you want to make money. I told myself when I started up my page that I would do dressmaking as a hobby as I do not want to be in the situation where I am making dresses I do not want to. Another bit of advice I will offer is to give your weekend or your evenings, never both. You need time to be you and spend time with family and loved ones.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently doing photography alongside my dressmaking which I am really enjoying. I love seeing the end process and the gown being worn on a model and also the feedback from the images. I also work alongside some fantastic photographers and provide my designs for use on their shoots. I would like to do photography and dressmaking full time and set up a business at some point, but for now I am happy to just make items on a hobby basis.
Models pictured (from top):