Sadly, the Lanes in Brighton recently lost two of my favorite places to go and get inspiration: the Crane Kalman Gallery and the North Laine Photography Gallery above Snooper’s Paradise. However, in the case of the NLP, I discovered some consolation when I trekked upstairs from Snooper’s Paradise to check out its replacement. Several local designers have set up shop there, and one of them – Mari Hughes of Sow’s Ear Couture – is of particular interest for anyone who wants clothes – including wedding and bridesmaid dresses – that are locally made, ethical, eco-friendly and unique. Mari makes all of her clothes out of recycled and found fabrics, which means not only that each piece is a one-of-a-kind, it has a story. She makes dresses from vintage shirts, scarves, jumpers, blankets, linens etc and often refashions them from dresses that had another life. People often give her clothing and fabrics in the hopes that they will be put to good use; in particular, one woman gave her her wedding dress and asked Mari if she could make a new wedding dress out of it for someone else. Another woman, recently widowed, gave Mari a load of her late husband’s jumpers; Mari made a dress out of them for her, something which she could put on and continue to feel close to him. Given the originality , beauty and ethos of Mari’s work, I’m bummed that I didn’t know about her before buying my own wedding dress in 2009 – of course my own dress was gorgeous but, alas, it was mass-produced and I would have loved to support someone local instead.
In the pictures on the left you see a selection of the fabrics Mari’s used to create her designs, and below you see some of her wedding dresses, including one on which the flowers have been hand-painted (and which I love, love, love!).