Helen Moore’s mid length cape in Jet, £295
A surprise hit of London Fashion Week last month – off the catwalk at least – were Helen Moore’s faux fur collars. Worn over T-shirts, jumpers and biker jackets, these candy coloured collars were cropping up everywhere. Say ‘fake fur’ and you’d be forgiven for imagining flammable fabrics made far from these shores, but this fur has a rather unlikely origin…
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Based in a village in rural Devon, Helen Moore’s designs are all made by hand in a factory just a three-minute stroll from her house. The factory employs local people which is a boost to the community, but this also means Moore is able to have a standard of quality control not possible with imports. ‘We’re able to monitor every part of production’, she says, ‘which is not the case if you get a container load from China.’
Peter Pan collars in Turquoise and Magenta, £35
Moore studied Fashion and Textiles at Goldsmiths college in London but says that ‘this is the last thing I expected to be doing’. She and her husband Stan, an artist who studied at the Royal College of Art, began by designing greeting cards in the early 1980s. Moore would use fake fur in some of her cards, fabric that was in those days of a ‘pretty ghastly’ quality. Once she discovered there were better quality faux furs available, she began to design accessories. Now their three children are all involved in the business, with their daughter Hester (also a Goldsmiths alumna) designing the catalogues and look books.
Moore’s designs have been praised in the press for their high quality. That’s because they are made from modacrylic, a higher quality than standard acrylic. Working with faux fur is a particular skill, Moore says, and whenever they take on a new member of staff they are trained carefully. All the pieces are cut by hand – “with scissors!” says Moore – on one of the factory’s three cutting tables (if it’s not cut by hand, it ends up looking ‘chopped’, she says). The pieces are then sewn and sent to the finishing department where every seam is ‘brushed out’, meaning any trace of puckering of the fur is removed.
“Because the fur can get caught in the sewing machines, often with cheaper versions that are mass produced the seams are very visible.” She challenges anyone to find a seam on one of her pillbox hats…
Shirt collars in Blaze and Powder Blue, £40
Moore’s designs are stocked in Anthropologie (with whom she is working on a collaboration), Liberty, Selfridges, Fenwick in London and boutiques across the country. The look book, too, is understated and chic (styled by Stella Magazine’s own Steph Stephens). She’s also gained fans from Pearl Lowe (who likes her throws), to Kelly Brook and the models Coco Rocha and Caroline Winberg.
Moore is the main designer and it was her idea to introduce the colour-popping brights in the Spring range. Has it helped her that fake fur is currently a big thing? “Well, they say that every year”, she says laughing. “Perhaps it’s helped that it’s more ‘extreme’ this year.”