I’m a lover of the dramatic, gothic, elaborate and sumptuous, I fell in-love with Mr. Mortimer’s Wife, the Tiaras are gorgeous and allows every woman to live out her life as a queen or princess, whichever she prefers. Samantha is the go-to for inspiring gothic fairytales and living your life in and shall we use fairytale again? I think so.
Samantha in-between creating her masterpieces, and encouraging us to embrace our inner magpies, found time to answer a few questions.
Fashion Icon: I hardly know where to begin. Perhaps close to home. My mum was accepted into a prestigious art college in the 1960s, and there are many photos of her wearing snappy little outfits back then. She had a very defined sense of style. My grandmother was a seamstress to royalty in the 1930s, she worked in the Court Dress Rooms on clothes worn by Queen Mary. She was an incredibly talented dressmaker, and made most of my clothes when I was young, even my coats. Her grandfather was a tailor in Victorian times, so perhaps it was in the genes.
I think these various influences taught me that, in terms of fashion, having your own ideas about style and your own likes and dislikes is one of the most important things. I think that it’s different to following trends.
Then of course there are more obvious, tangible sources of inspiration; a few things spring to mind. I’ve always admired the way Helena Bonham Carter dresses, for instance, and I love watching costume dramas.
Time and again I’m drawn back to the Regency period in my work, everything about it was beautiful and feels like home to me. I do think I was born 200 years too late. I’d say my main inspiration for what I do is historical styles and fashions, from Tudor to Regency, Georgian to the Roaring Twenties, Ancient Rome to Victorian, and everything in between. There is often a heavy sprinkling of Victorian gothic drama in my work.
The jeweled styles seen on the runways in the early nineties still make me go a bit weak at the knees. Clothes dripping in sparkles with big, chunky costume jewelry to match. I vividly remember falling in love with a Dolce and Gabbana corset I saw in a magazine, it was covered in jewels in all the color’s of the rainbow.
As a child and young teenager those bright, vibrant color’s that were everywhere in the late 1980s and early 1990s had an enormous effect on me. In fact I haven’t really thought about it before now, but my abiding love of brightly colored jewels began at a very young age, and comes out in a lot of my work.
Last piece of item purchased before the pandemic: Not really an item, but the main thing that I remember, very shortly before lockdown began here in the UK, was spending a perfect day at the V&A in London. It was at the beginning of February 2020 and there was already a nervousness in the air about what was potentially coming our way, but I spent that day in a bubble and had such an amazing time poring over the paintings, clothes and jewelry, and buying guidebooks, that it kept me going for a few months afterwards.
If you could live in any piece of clothing what would it be: Well it would have to be a tiara, wouldn’t it? I’d wear one every time I went out, to pubs, restaurants, shopping trips, days out, dropping my kids at school – everywhere. Maybe with a big Georgian gown.
Favorite Restaurant: I think going anywhere at the moment would be a real treat, I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to go out for the evening. There are so many places I would go, but if I have to pick one restaurant then I’d plump for Andrew Edmunds in Soho, London – a candlelit restaurant in an eighteenth century townhouse. I’ve had one or two great evenings there. Having said that, I’m not really a posh restaurant kind of girl – for an night out I’d much rather find a rickety old pub with a roaring fire and a resident ghost.
Last Book Read: I always have several books on the go, usually about history, ghosts, and mysteries, and it’s quite a feat if I manage to finish any of them. I have just finished reading The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini by Reggie Oliver, a collection of stories very much inspired by M.R. James, my favorite author. We went to see Reggie Oliver read some of his ghostly tales at the theatre in 2017. I’m embarrassed to say it’s taken me this long to read the book that I bought that evening.