Maker The Velvet Metier

Interview with Founder

SALLY CHENNERY

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Drawing on a background in design, Sally speaks about the heart of her inspiration, thinking ethical and finding expression through style, products made from delicate palettes, in soft considered fabrics, all individually handmade by Sally at her home in Newcastle.

Interview questions by Lucy Harbron

When did you get into it- who/ what inspired you to work in fashion?
I never doubted I'd work in the arts. I fell into fashion organically and I feel so content and fulfilled in what I do. I started at Cleveland College of Art and Design (now Northern School of Art) straight from school. I was studying animation and as interesting as it was, I just didn't get the instant gratification I craved. The fashion design course they ran was (is) one of the best in the country, I watched the girls and boys that walked round looking like superstars and I was so jealous. The head tutor on the course was a short sassy man with a posse of tall female technicians, it was amazing. I finished the course I was on because truthfully, I didn't really think I was cool enough to study fashion. I know now it doesn't work like that. 

What's your best advice for making wardrobes more Ethical?
The absolute number one thing everyone can do is extend the life of their clothes. I understand how difficult it can be to shop totally sustainable and ethical on a tight budget. Patch your jackets, re-dye your jeans, shop in charity shops and donate to them too. Consider your purchases for a week before buying no matter what- the price is irrelevant. If you can't honestly tell yourself you'll love the garment until its threadbare don't buy it. You don't need a huge amount of clothing, you just have to trust in your personal aesthetic and own it.  

What's the best thing in your wardrobe?
I have this Italian linen dress. It was £25 from TK Maxx. It's sort of just long and square. I wear long sleeves under it for work or cowboy boots with it if I'm going out. It does all occasions and I miss it when it's in the wash. 

If you could only wear one colour forever, what would it be?
Black, no bother. I only dress in monochrome as it is- a left over habit from having colourful hair that just feels like me now, plus I'm way too messy for all white. 

Who is the ultimate inspiration behind your work?
My parents, my sister and my boyfriend equally. My parents not only gave me my work ethic, but also the confidence to trust in my ideas. My boyfriend is a successful artist and inspires my creativity. My sister is the hardest person to please I have ever encountered by far. If I can get her approval, I've done something right. 

What's the most embarrassing look you've ever sported? 
I grew up through the 90's. I was a mosher. In college I had this very loosely hand crocheted top I found in a charity shop for a quid, I wore it with a bra that did not have adequate coverage. Once I wore the same top with novelty plasters in place of the badly fitting bra. The amount of times I've walked through central London with my mini skirt tucked up under my backpack is past funny and well into tragic. My mums nickname for me is 'French bag lady' as in, a chic version of the lady that feeds the pigeons in Home Alone. Probably a generous nickname really. 

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Charlotte Righton