An Interview with Helene Berman
9 March 2020
It’s no secret that we’re a fan of quality British design. Made from premium fabrics right here in the UK, our sell-out collaboration with London-based designer, Helene Berman was a match made in sartorial heaven, and now it’s back with four brand new styles.
With over 45 years of expertise, it’s safe to say Helene knows a thing or two about crafting the perfect coat. In this exclusive interview, we caught up with her to find out about all the details behind her designs.
Helene, what first attracted you to becoming a designer?
I have to say it’s in my blood. My grandmother was in retail and had a group of shops before women ever worked; a kind of pioneer if you like. I would go there and open these drawers full of fabulous flowers and things to decorate dresses, so it was never really a question of being in anything else but fashion design. I’m very lucky to be in a job that I’m passionate about: there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.
You’ve had an impressive career spanning almost fifty years – what would you say was a highlight?
I adored being at college and I was very successful there. In those days there were a lot of competitions run by The Sunday Times, which was an impressive time for me because I won many of those awards. Around that time lots of people were buying French and I always had a thing about producing in the UK. I worked for a chap who had a factory and I learnt my trade there. We started a trouser line, later using that factory to make women’s trousers, which was quite interesting because women were only just getting into wearing them, so I suppose one of the highlights was this collection being bought by Harrods straight away. As my career went on, I was picked up by Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Tailor - I have had the most amazing partnerships these last 25 years. Helene Berman is a niche company, it’s small and run by myself with a small team, but we were taken up by these big, American stores and I have to say that was really a high point.
How would you define your signature style?
I love leopard print, black and white, bold jewelry setting everything off and white shirts. You’d expect to see me with a leopard print skirt, or an animal print skirt or coat.
‘My signature coat would allow you to layer up underneath it, and always want it to be useful’.
When choosing a coat for yourself, what is it that you look for?
I’ve got to be comfortable and not be too restricted. My signature coat would allow you to layer up underneath it, and always want it to be useful. I am quite small, and although I do love a long coat, often it’s easier just to chuck on something not quite so long.
What was your inspiration when designing your latest collection?
I am continuously out there looking for trends and I never stop - it’s a continuous process - but the very first thing I do is look at fabrics and fabric trends and from there the whole thing just gives me the answer. It’s all about the fabrics for me. Also, everything needs to be able to be layered up. Everything that is in Crew’s catalogue which is not a coat will be able to go under one of our designs.
What are your favourite Crew pieces?
For me, I love the knitwear. That’s not something I make, so I love it. In the winter collection I loved the star jumper and the Grasmere blazer, which I thought looked fabulous. I wear a lot more leopard than sparkle, but I’m certainly a magpie as well.
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