Maureen Doherty Obituary | Fashion


Kinnerton Street in Belgravia, central London, was built as a meeting place to serve stately homes, with stables for horses and crooked servants’ quarters upstairs. Despite a century of conversion of low-lying rows into highly desirable residences, the street retains some original facades with wooden doors wide enough for carriages that open onto the street without a sidewalk for scraping relief.

In 1994, Maureen Doherty, who died suddenly aged 70, chose one of these, no. 36, a former dairy warehouse, the walls inside covered in blue tiles, for her Egg store – no capital letter for design and merchandising purposes. It looked more like an art gallery – Doherty later opened an actual art gallery across the street – and her clothes were expensive, durable and generously body-conscious.

Pink range in Egg. Photo: eggtrading.com

Doherty said she started designing and selling at Egg because she was fed up with fashion shows with their “perfume that smells like accountants and franchise deals”. Her label-free collections used natural textiles cut into layered garments with only minimal changes between decades.

It also sold genuine workwear—a mishfilide tuxedo, a French gardener’s jacket—long before it became a fashion genre, plus the creations of obscure, often young designers.

Its users were creative: Tilda Swinton, Emma Thompson, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Donna Karan, or had other powers – Theresa May posed for US Vogue in an Egg coat. Doherty also dressed her friend Maggie Smith for her role in Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van (2015).

The Egg Shop in Kinnerton Street, London, SW1.
The Egg Shop in Kinnerton Street, London, SW1. Photo: eggtrading.com

Naturally rebellious, Doherty had little interest in large-scale production, advertising (before the Internet, she sent customers photos of seasonal arrivals individually) or selling her creations beyond the Egg. She accepted an invitation for Egg to guest at Dover Street Market in London and the Comme des Garçons Trade Museum in Tokyo, but only after their founder, Rei Kawakubo, arrived, bearing flowers, to beg her presence.

Doherty’s influence on the stores has been considerable over the decades. The stock for sale was never stacked in eggs, just a few hanging ensembles, complete with shoes on the floor below, and space left for Doherty to display her passions for books and especially ceramics. Edmund de Waal had his first big show there in 1998, and it took Keiko Hasegawa a year to make 1,000 pots to place on its floors.

With heritage decor, real fire and natural light, worn furniture and handpicked items like soap or needles, The Little Egg would look less wonderful in Tokyo or Paris, but its sense of reality was a surprise to London-New York. the retail world. Egg-led ideas continued to spread to the Oliver Bonas chain, placing pots, books and chairs next to clothes on the UK’s high street.

Velvet range at Veza.
Velvet range at Veza. Photo: eggtrading.com

Doherty was born in London, the youngest of three daughters to Elizabeth and James Doherty, and claimed that before her 18th birthday she had never owned an item of clothing that wasn’t handmade or homemade. Her father, a structural engineer, put a hard hat and boots on her before taking it off to see its tunnels and bridges; he also loved archeology and two pots from Ur that he gave her for her 21st birthday sparked her interest in ceramics.

In her teens, Maureen studied pattern cutting at what became the London College of Fashion, and was hired as a runner for film director David Lean, aiming to become a costume designer.

In 1970, she worked with Swedish designer Hans Metzen, which led to a career as a buying director and store organizer, starting with Elle on Sloane Street, an independent boutique that boldly selected stock from small ready-to-wear labels. got dressed. and for the next decade she helped establish other stores in London, including Fiorucci and Valentino. When looking for the first Japanese designers to show in Paris, she immediately befriended Issey Miyake, as well as bought from Issey Miyake.

Doherty was tired of the air-kissing and bookkeeping that increasingly dominated the business by the late 1970s. In 1982, she fled to India, returning a year later to take her own life.

The range of eri silk in Veza.
The range of eri silk in Veza. Photo: eggtrading.com

Miyake persuaded her, despite initial refusals, to run his operations in Europe with complete operational freedom, project after project: she worked on the exhibitions and launches of his radical perfume L’Eau D’Issey, and offered the architect David Chipperfield his first. store commission, a Miyake store in London.

Doherty introduced Miyake to her mentor, the potter Lucie Rie, on whose recommendation she moved to Paris to study ceramics with Annie Fourmanoir. She left Miyake in 1985 and opened a small, unsatisfying and, as she said, a lot of shoplifting shop.

In London in 1992, she became head of design for Jigsaw before finding premises for Egg. Doherty’s own homes were as instinctive yet thoughtful as her retail—in Egg’s early years she lived with her daughter, Jessica, in a flat a minute above the store and would ‘fixed her windows in the late hours, on the alarm of the passing police. She returned in 2017 to live in Kinnerton Street, where architect Jonathan Tuckey reworked and redesigned the spaces around the Egg, particularly the nearby former stables, at No 34, to suit her unique style of minimalism, which was the result of letting many things go.

She is survived by Jessy, the daughter of her marriage to Brian Walker, a fashion buyer, which ended in divorce, and her grandchildren, Noah and Matteo.

Maureen Doherty, fashion designer and saleswoman, born 10 December 1951; died November 18, 2022



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