This is the fourth in a series of collaborations with creative professionals from other fields. Previously Kenneth Grange, Sam Hecht and Dan Pearson - leading designers in their own disciplines - gave their take on the shirt - all practical, all personal. This time Margaret asked Georgina von Etzdorf.
Georgina is best known for her unique fabric designs which show her instinctive gift as a colourist. Margaret Howell is not well known for using colour - her aesthetic takes a different direction - but that doesn't mean she does not understand it and love it. So she was excited to see what Georgina would bring to the partnership
'When Georgina came through the door of our studio clutching a packet of West Country biscuits and an old pyjama jacket, her face beaming, brimming with enthusiasm, I realised little had changed since I first met her at her degree show in 1977. I was impressed then by her colours and painterly approach. A few years later I was pleased to be one of her first customers selling her printed silk scarves from St Christopher's Place'
Like the other three she brought clear ideas for a practical garment, one with her own identity; a shirt jacket - comfortable, strong, lasting - something to use and keep and also something that could work as well for men as for women.
'We began with her own well-worn pyjama top. It seemed to me the pyjama jacket was used as a blank canvas onto which Georgina worked her palette; applying one coloured piping then another; playing with the pockets using deep blue needlecord; a splash of pattern and suddenly an original Georgina von Etzdorf print lines the breast pocket. And finally the signature: an injection of crimson.'
'With its references to utility clothing, and the classic pyjama, the 2 layers of piping highlight the contours of the jacket with a vivid drawn line effect. The breast pocket is where the 'Georgina von Etzdorf' printed fabric finds its natural home - close to the heart.
It's been a pleasure to work with Margaret and her team - for them meticulous attention to quality and detail is paramount.'
This shirt will live on in my life, stuffed with paintboxes, brushes, sketchbook, the odd snack, a fluff-covered sweet, and general paraphernalia. I move about a lot, so I love a piece of clothing that incorporates generous pockets, a hard-wearing material, colour, texture, and is roomy enough to layer clothing underneath without compromising style.'
- Georgina von Etzdorf
Von Etzdorf believes her early years in Peru exerted a strong influence on her dynamic sense of colour and texture. After studying textile design she graduated from Camberwell School of Art in 1977, and founded the Georgina von Etzdorf partnership in 1981 with Martin Simcock and Jonathan Docherty. Based in the garage and stable of her parents' home, the partnership began producing in-house when unable to find firms up to the challenge of printing her designs.
By 1985, in addition to its signature silk and velvet scarves, the company had diversified into a wide range of men's and women's wear, as well as household items such as kelims and cushions.
It also gained a reputation for experimental and complex printing techniques on 'difficult' fabrics such as chiffon, organza, chenille and wool boucle.
'Georgina thrives on colour. It excites her, feeds her: it is her element.
She is known as a fabric designer, her signature incorporated into richly coloured designs, many printed on silks and velvets. But from working closely with Georgina I feel it is the artist who comes first.'
- Margaret Howell
In 1977 Von Etzdorf was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI). She holds an honorary Doctorate from Winchester School of Art, and in 1999 was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of the Arts, London.
In her spare time she is an aspiring ukulele player.
Today Georgina paints. She will be exhibiting her latest work at Cassian de Vere Cole, 50 Elgin Crescent, London from 27 November to 14 December 2013.