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Norwich fashion designer is dressed to thrill

PUBLISHED: 13:32 08 November 2011

Norfolk fashion designer Emma Jackson with one of her vintage inspired dresses. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk fashion designer Emma Jackson with one of her vintage inspired dresses. Photo: Steve Adams

Archant 2011 0

Her 40s and 50s inspired designs and quirky prints has put Norwich fashion designer Emma Jackson's Monkey Mash designs firmly on the fashion map says Emma Harrowing.

A T-shirt designed by Vivenne Westwood was the catalyst that inspired Emma Jackson to start designing and making her own clothes.

“I saw the T-shirt in the window of a Vivenne Westwood boutique and it was one of those must-have moments.” says 24 year old Emma. “I couldn’t afford the T-shirt and so I decided to make one myself, taking inspiration from the design.”

This was five years ago. Since picking up a needle and thread and teaching herself to pattern cut and sew, Emma designed clothes, handbags and home accessories for friends and family before setting up her own market stall in her home city of Sheffield.

“I have always loved collecting pieces of rare printed fabrics and so I would turn pieces into bags for my market stall,” says Emma. “However it soon became apparent that a stall on a market was not the right place to sell my designs. As the fabric I use is rare the bags were quite expensive for a market. It was then that I decided to branch out into clothes design. I made a few dresses and set up my fashion label Monkey Mash, developed a website and starting selling online.”

Emma studied at the University of East Anglia, lived in Belgium and Italy and has recently returned to Norwich to live with her boyfriend. She is working full-time in the city, working on her designs in the evenings and at weekends from her spare room which has been converted into a makeshift studio.

“It is my dream to become a full-time fashion designer. All of my designs are custom-made to fit and all are made from fabrics I source from America from print designers such as Alexander Henry and Michael Miller.”

Emma’s designs are inspired by 40s silhouettes, an increasingly popular trend among Norwich fashionistas. So it’s no wonder the Monkey Mash label has been snapped up by vintage-inspired boutique Daisy & Lola’s in Norwich.

“When Sarah, the owner of Daisy & Lola’s, said that she wanted to stock my clothes in her boutique I was excited beyond belief,” says Emma.

“Sarah wanted 24 pieces to sell in her shop and so, as I make to order, I decided to make an exclusive collection for her boutique that is sightly different to the designs on my website.

“It was a tall order to fulfil, especially as I work on my own, but it was an amazing achievement to see my designs in a boutique.”

It is Emma’s ambition to sell her Monkey Mash Label in other independent boutiques in the UK, but at the moment she is happily fulfilling her order for Daisy & Lola’s while working on designs for the increasing number of fans of her label.

“At the moment I’m designing a pencil skirt dress made from fabric that has a naked cowboy print on it,” she says laughing. “This is what I love about designing clothes – working with playful prints and creating stylish clothes.”

Find Emma’s Monkey Mash clothes at www.monkeymash.co.uk

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