As you might imagine, I get a fair amount of emails in my inbox that are about something I might want to feature on Rarely Wears Lipstick. Most of the time it’s messages from PR companies who clearly haven’t read my site and are offering me exclusive interviews with sports stars or other completely inappropriate things. Quite often, it’s stuff I think that you guys would like and so it’s probably worth sharing. Very occasionally, there will be an email telling me about something I really can’t wait to find out more about. The message from Folie A Deux founders Halimah and Katie was one of those rare exciting emails. They described their brand as “an enchanting, vintage inspired womenswear clothing line that exudes dark glamour and a playful spirit” and I could not have been more excited at the thought… well, until they said their clothing was also made right here in London! Their press release told me:
Folie A Deux is a shared dream, a shared madness, born out of a love of dressing up and old fashioned glamour. Our womenswear collection is a delicious dressing up box of bold silhouettes, enchanting colours and curious patterns. Our pieces blend classic shapes, quality fabrics and a playful personality with a dark twist. Our collection is designed and sourced with fanatical attention to detail by Folie a Deux founders Halimah Haque and Katie Sangers. Our partnership started in 2008 in the world of high end cosmetics. After developing and launching many make-up collections together, we’re turning our love of dressing up and creative expression into a new, alternative womenswear brand.
We stand for bold expression, individuality and confidence and this is reflected in the timeless treasures that we have crafted to celebrate the playful spirit and beauty of the women whom they will adorn. Katie’s infatuation with bygone glamour, passion for colour and obsession with detail are ingrained in the Folie identity. Halimah’s fascination with the unusual and penchant for the macabre can be seen reflected across the Folie collection.
Despite having flirted with goth looks as a teenager, my love of the darker side of life can often get lost in my choice of clothing these days. Although I like vintage-style dresses for the shapes and fabrics, it’s not always easy to find something that isn’t geared towards the pin-up or cheesecake aesthetic. What if you want something dark, but fun? What if your style icons are more like Maleficent and Shirley Manson than Dita Von Teese and Paloma Faith? Apparently Katie and Halimah are pretty good at spotting a dark and twisted gap in the vintage-inspired market! I was delighted to be invited along to their official launch event at The Arts Theatre Club in Soho, and am happy to say that it gave me the perfect insight into the ethos of the brand, as well as a chance to get my hands on the frocks themselves.
In the darkly glamorous underground bar, we were treated to a warm welcome and tasty monochrome cupcakes – topped with the Folie A Deux logo, skulls, chequerboards and Pierrot – all designed and made by Lady Luck’s House of Cakes. The designers mingled and chatted to guests about their designs and the brand, then we all grabbed a drink before being officially welcomed with poetry and a beautiful ‘clockwork’ ballerina performing in the velvet Melancholia dress (pictured at the top of this post). It was abundantly clear that this is no ordinary clothing brand. The dresses themselves are made from fantastic quality fabrics that have stretch where needed and are beautifully cut and finished, plus the trims and edgings are all extremely well chosen too. The pencil dresses which appear to button up the front actually have a clever hidden zip and the pretty vintage style buttons are only for show, so there is no unsightly gaping. That is a big win in my book!
Every dark persona you can think of is covered in the styles – including vamp, evil doll, 90s grunge/rock chick – plus there’s a few slinky wiggle dresses and a big swirly pastel 50s frock for good measure. Everything can be dressed up or down – well, apart from the Starlet (above), which is clearly a ‘dressing up’ frock! – and the clothing is often styled with Doc Martens and plenty of dark make-up on their website to give you inspiration. I love the variety of sizes in the models they have chosen for these images too. I chatted to Katie, who was wearing the fantastic Waster dress, about the designs and the fabrics they use. She told me about how they love having their dresses manufactured in London and that it means they can easily visit the factory and speak to the people making them. I asked her about the Folie A Deux sizing too – they currently go from XS (approx a UK size 6-8) to XL (approx UK 16) and are hoping to expand into larger sizes in the future. I really hope they manage to as I think some of the shapes and fabrics would look wonderful on ladies like the fantastic Georgina and Callie. Right now though, I just need to make up my mind about which of these dresses I want for myself. It’ll probably be the ‘girl for all seasons’ Gwen in the multi coloured print, but I might treat myself to Mirror Mirror for my graduation next year. These are frocks worth saving up for.