Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs and her business partner Lavinia Brennan started in 2010 their London based luxury fashion brand, BEULAH LONDON (www.beulahlondon.com) to support charity associations that fight human traffic in India. We met Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs that told us about her brand and about her favourite spots in London, through her insider London City Guide.
How did you start your company?
We set up the company in 2010 after an experience we had in Delhi. We heard about human trafficking that’s one of the biggest issues in India, even more than drugs and arms. We were interested in this social problem and in what we could do to help. We spent few months with women that had been rescued from human traffic, we taught them how to saw things and we sold these things back in UK to send money back. It was then that we thought about setting up a business. And in 2011, with no fashion experience, we started up the brand: so it was slightly crazy.
How your passion in fashion grew up?
Well, we have always loved dresses. I used to dress up in my mom’s clothes and Lavinia used to make her own ones. So I suppose that everything came very naturally. We both knew what we like: feminine and beautiful silk dresses. We were much inspired by vibrant colors of India and by their textiles. So we came back here and we started designing. We made our first collection in Lavinia’s mom’s basement. So we started up selling in Lavinia’s house and quickly the business grew up.
How important is London for your design. How do you find inspiration from the city?
We usually design here in London and, as a British Brand, our ready to wear line is made here as well (while the items sold for charity are made in India- ndr). We’re often inspired by things like museums we go to, and things we see around us. There absolutely is a British feel about the brand and we are also inspired by the people we see wearing clothes during events like Ascot, races, weddings. And these events are basically what we design for. We can say that we are mainly inspired by British elegance.
So more by London social life than by the city itself.
Well, by both of them. Many of our costumers go to these events so, to design for them, we might take into consideration this style. But the city as well inspires us. We both live in London and you are always inspired by the things you have around you.
You’ve spoken us about your humanitarian work. What organizations you work with and how?
We work with one organization called Freeset who set up a business in Calicut, India. They employ about 200 women and the work they’ve been doing is amazing. It’s based just outside the biggest red light district of the city. They give the women they rescue a bank account, the health insurance and the chance to build a new life free from abuse. We went there once and we were impressed from their work. We met some of the women that were very inspiring for us.
The organization is set up as a business so it’s very easy for us because we don’t have to oversee the entire production. And the skill level is good. In the past years Freeset employed more than 50 women more (not to serve only us but also other brands that product there) that have been saved from the streets of Calicut and from abuses. So you can see the power of employment.
You have dressed many important women, many celebrities, among which the Duchess of Cambridge. Which women gave you the greatest satisfaction to make clothes for?
It’s amazing to see our designs on women on the public eye, but even on every women that come to our store and feels beautiful in our creations. We love to dress every woman can embody well our style and so we love designing for everybody that we dress. If you ask me one in particular, one of the woman we loved to dress was Emma Watson. We love everything she embodies: she’s a powerful women but with softness and kindness. She’s very feminine, strong and charitable. She supports very important charity issues, being a UN ambassador, and she cares about women’s rights. A total beauty, inside and outside.
Talking about London and its tradition about style. London has always been between two different but complimentary concept of style: the traditional British tailor elegance and, especially in the recent decades, revolutionary trends as the ones pioneered by Vivienne Westwood. How would you say these two sides of style live together in London?
I think that London is known for its very beautiful tailoring traditions. And even traditional British womenswear has an almost masculine look. This is why what we’re doing is on the polar opposite. Our style is very feminine and the aesthetics are beautiful silhouettes. What I love about the style of the people in London is these opposite trends. Some people are very trends-led, others are very classic and aren’t so consumed in trends and fashion.
My personal style is more feminine and timeless. I prefer to invest in pieces that I am able to wear forever or that I even can pass out to my daughter. And with a very good quality. They’re not going to be out of fashion in one season. We can say it’s sustainable fashion. You can do a bit of modern and a bit of vintage field definitely. I think that with the high street being how it is now and having places like Zara, it’s easy to pick things and get an instant boost into your wardrobe. Its easy now to mix both, Zara with high street and with vintage pieces.
London Fashion week is approaching. I would like to know your thoughts about how London fashion week is compared to other fashion weeks in other cities.
I think that London Fashion Week is the celebration of every British brand. In the city there is a very fun atmosphere, very buzzing. We love going to shows or things involved in that side. I do think that however fashion is changing. I think it would be better to bring fashion week more in tune and in line with the seasons because presentations are done too far in advance, about six months. But now you have bloggers, video streaming, people instagramming fashion shows, so the consumers want what’s going on now on the runaway and not was going on six months ago. Before there was more elitism in the fashion shows and in the fashion business, so people used to see collections when coming out, now everything happens much quicker, and fashion should move quicker as well.
To follow: London insider city Guide that Lady Natasha Rufus Isaac gave to The Italian Eye. All her favorite spots to go to during London Fashion Week.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN LONDON
Berkeley Hotel (Wilton Pl, London SW1X 7RL)
‘Because of the fabulous Bamford Spa on the last floor of the hotel’
Five stars Berkeley Hotel, conveniently located in Knightsbridge offers his guests a great service, an old style, a renowned spa and a swimming pool. Its Blue Bar is a very fashionable spot in London. Just five minutes walking from Hyde Park, the Berkeley has a two Michelin stars restaurant (Koffmann’s) where to enjoy some of the best food in town.
Claridge’s Hotel (Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4HR)
‘The best place for an afternoon tea with a huge variety of teas and delicious pastries’
Claridge’s Hotel is glamorous and elegant. It is in the heart of Mayfair, close to the bustling shops of Oxford Street and Bond Street that are just 3 minutes walk away. Its luxury deco style make this hotel very sumptuous. The Reading Room, the restaurant of the Hotel, has a delicious fusion cuisine menu, while at The Fumoir, the lobby bar, you can enjoy great cocktails.
The Goring Hotel (Beeston Pl, London SW1W 0JW)
Just a few hundred meters from Buckingham Palace, The Goring hotel is the perfect place to stay in order to enjoy London’s sightseen. Spacious rooms (many have also a terrace), a restaurant with a great wine list and a fitness club are just some of the hotel facilities. The hotel is run by the same family that in 1910 built it and that, since then, has provided the best service to its guests.
WHERE TO EAT IN LONDON
High Road House Brasserie (162-170 Chiswick High Rd, London W4 1PR)
“I love to dine here on Friday evening”
Simple but cozy ambience in this restaurant inside the High Road House Club, one of Soho House affiliates. You can go to the restaurant even if you are not a member. The food has an all day dining menu similar to a French Brasserie with home cut burgers, fresh calamari and French plates. Deco style furniture and a beautiful terrace where to enjoy food and drinks from breakfast to late night.
The Arts Club (40 Dover St, London W1S 4NP)
“The garden is a lovely place to enjoy dinner in spring and summer”
Fusion cuisine (from the Japanese to the Italian one) with the freshest fish and also great meat plates. The ambience is superb, cozy, elegant and with a lovely garden to enjoy in the beautiful season. The entrance to the restaurant of the club is limited to members and their guests so, in order to go, you necessary need to be with one of them.
WHERE TO SHOP IN LONDON
Bionda Castana (73 Elizabeth Street, London SW1W 9PJ)
“My favorite shoes in London”
Half Italian and half British design, but totally Italian craftsmanship, for the Bionda Castana shoes. The brand opened last year its flagship shop in London. The two designers, Natalia Barbieri and Jennifer Portman, make timeless elegant but understated shoes with a contemporary touch: this was the secret of their success.
Club Monaco (various locations in London www.clubmonaco.com)
“I love the lifestyle of that place”
Club Monaco stores look more like a house than a selling place. They have men and women clothing and accessories, mixed with few home accessories like candles and books. Club Monaco style is bright and elegant.
WHAT TO VISIT IN LONDON
Victoria and Albert Museum (Cromwell Road, SW7)
“There is always a plenty of interesting exhibitions”
V&A, as usually people refer to it, is the most important museum of the world for the decorative arts and design. Founded in 1852 by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria it has a hugely width collection that passes trough the entire history of Britain.
Art Galleries on Park Walk, Chelsea.
“Beautiful pieces of Art that nobody knows”
Park Walk is a little and picturesque street in the hearth of Chelsea, just behind Fulham Road. Coming from Fulham, at the beginning of the streets, there are some arte galleries such as The Little Black Gallery, Jonathan Clark Fine Art, Cooper Park Walk Gallery and Cricket Fine Art. A walk in the streets could make you discover some hidden treasures inside these garreries.
WHERE TO HANG OUT IN LONDON
Loulou’s (2-5 Hertford St, W1J)
One the most exclusive spots in London. You have to be a member, or with a member, to get in but that’s how it works in any single exclusive place in town. The interiors are very sophisticated with a colonial attire. There’s a restaurant at the first floor and a club at the ground floor with music and dance. The Loulou’s mixes the idea of the classic British members club with a more glittering and modern touch.
The Thomas Cubitt Bar (44 Elizabeth Street, SW1W)
“The perfect place to have a drink after work”
You can enjoy a beer or a good cocktail sitting at the old wooden bar or at a table in the dark and crowded room. The atmosphere inside is very buzzy while outside there is a large terrace where you can stay in sunny days. You can also have something to eat while sipping cocktails. Or if you want a proper dinner the formal restaurant upstairs won’t disappoint anybody.
South Ken Club (38 Harrington Road SW7)
“We presented here our fall/winter collection”
SKC is a private member’s club founded upon the belief in the importance of a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. The club provides many facilities such as a gym, a science-led treatments menu, and all you can expect about health. A bar, a Mediterranean restaurant and a clubhouse are then offered to members. To become member of the club you don’t need a proposer or a seconder but the only requirement is to share the values of the club.
FAVOURITE PLACE IN TOWN
“A place in London that has meaning to me and that I love is Hyde Park. I’d often go for long Sunday afternoon strolls with my husband or picnics in the summer with friends. I’m a country girl at heart, so I love space and country side!”
by Federico Sigali