Maquien is a small online label making a big name for itself by creating classic country tailoring with a twist. Lucy Oates meets its founder, Vonny Law.
When she was a little girl, Vonny Law would make exquisite little items of clothing for her dolls and that’s when her passion for tailoring began.
It was inevitable that she would gravitate towards the fashion industry and, at the age of 18, she embarked upon a course in tailoring. A stint in the press office at Harrods department store in London followed, where Vonny would put together outfits from the shop floor for magazine editors keen to feature them in their publications.
In her twenties and, by this time living in East Yorkshire, Vonny opened a boutique in Beverley called Perks. She recalls: “My slogan was ‘Fashion that works at Perks!’ The clothing was fairly casual, but I’ve always had a fascination with jackets and later, when I sold the shop, I felt that I had unfinished business in that particular area.”
As her two daughters were growing up, Vonny honed her tailoring skills on a course at Bishop Burton College, near Beverley. When her daughters flew the nest to carve out careers of their own in London, Vonny decided that the time was right to plan her next move. Five years ago, she launched Maquien (www.maquien.co.uk), an internet-based business specialising in beautifully tailored, British-made countrywear.
Vonny, who works from a studio at her home in the village of Ellerker, explained: “I got the idea for the business whilst on a fishing holiday in Scotland with friends. I was wearing an old, threadbare waistcoat and suddenly realised that I could make one myself.”
Vonny sources the tweeds, wools and linens used to create her garments from mills in the UK. Her trademark is to add a quirky twist or an unexpected flourish to designs that otherwise have a classic country look and feel.
She revealed: “I like to add a touch of colour in different places, such as under the cuffs, in the pockets or even as a trim.”
Although Vonny’s products are stocked by a small number of exclusive stores and she has a presence at some of the larger country shows and game fairs up and down the country, much of her work involves tailoring bespoke, made-to-measure garments for customers.
She said: “I do lots of bespoke work; customers can come to see me at the studio to look at different fabrics and styles. They can choose every last detail, right down to the buttons. Many customers come to me whenever they want something special – I recently made my third jacket for one lady and was also commissioned to make a velvet suit for a high sheriff.
“Although I had contacts from many years spent working in the fashion industry, my business has grown organically through word-of-mouth.”
Recently, Vonny has started supplying items to what she describes as a “high end” mail order company in Germany, where the very British style of her garments is proving extremely popular.
Although Vonny works with tweeds all year round, she has recently introduced a range of lightweight linen skirts and jackets ideal for the summer months. Most of her garments are for women, but, at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh last year, she launched a range of riding jackets for children and made-to-order jackets for men, which have since proved to be a huge hit.
Key to the success of Vonny’s latest venture is her desire to offer a level of customer service that’s in keeping with the high quality of her garments. “If I don’t have something that a customer wants I will go out of my way to find it for them,” she said.
“When I’ve tailor made an item for a customer I usually make a follow-up telephone call to check that they’re happy with it. It’s lovely making connections with people.
“I think my customers know that I’m particularly fastidious about detail and that’s why they come to me.”
Find out more about Maquin on www.maquien.co.uk