There is a long, green, silky dressing gown, subtly printed with a map of Venice, that is much in demand at Maude & Tommy – and it’s all down to the queen of the TV kitchen.
“A dressing gown that we sold to Nigella Lawson, she wore on the TV, and it’s been, like, whoa,” says Anne McCrickard, owner and founder of the independent York store.
Nigella wore the slinky gown in the first episode of her latest series, Nigella: at My Table, running on BBC2 at 8.30pm on Mondays. Viewers watched her tiptoe downstairs after hours to her magical twinkling kitchen, where she made herself a night-time snack of chocolate brownies before sitting demurely on the stairs to tuck in. As you do.
Nigella fans went into meltdown on social media. “Nobody rocks a dressing gown and holds a bag of frozen peas quite like Nigella. Pure class,” said one.
After being inundated with requests to reveal where she had bought the gown, Nigella herself tweeted that it was from Maude & Tommy. It caught the store by surprise. “We don’t have any left,” says Anne. “There are several similar in store. Her stylist has been buying from us for a few years.”
The Venice print dressing gown – which is not actually silk but a lovely silky viscose blend – is by One Hundred Stars and costs £65. It’s part of a range that includes prints of maps of Paris and London. Anne has drafted in a team of elves to help secure more but, as they are made ethically in India, it might take until January before they arrive in York.
The ethical ethos behind Maude & Tommy is important, but not at the expense of style, says Anne. “It’s an add-on for a lot of our customers. They like what we do, what we have, and they like the fact that we have thought about the sourcing.
“Unless they are desirable, why would somebody buy it, just because it’s ethical? It has to be both – a win-win.”
And it is becoming easier to be ethical, thanks to more style-conscious brands and the increasing popularity of sustainable, natural fabrics. Maude & Tommy brands include Thought, Nomads, Terry Macey, Eribe, Privatsachen, Les Filles d’Ailleurs and Ewa i Walla.
Anne says: “Thought has a great range of bamboo leggings and T-shirts and tights, so a really good sustainable fibre, lovely to wear. It feels very luxurious, keeps you warm and cool, it’s hypoallergenic, washable, wears really well.”
Maude & Tommy was opened 10 years ago on Grape Lane, near York Minster, with the aim of being a positive force in the world, stocking only products that provided a decent wage for skilled workers, by brands conscious of environmental impact and with business practices underpinned by justice and equality.
Anne, who grew up near Keswick in Cumbria, was a solicitor in London before moving to York in the late 1980s and teaching law while her three children were young. Once they had grown up, she decided to do what she had always really wanted to do, and open a shop. She named it Maude & Tommy after a brother and sister who used to babysit her when she was a little girl.
Unlike many independent fashion stores, Maude & Tommy is thriving. “We’re doing very well,” says Anne. “Obviously our collection is quite quirky and colourful and individual. People want to buy things that are not High Street. They want to come here and buy something lovely. We have customers all over now, including ladies who come up especially from London.
“It’s not easy to be an independent shop, because of rates and rents and all your shop costs, so it’s quite challenging. We’ve been here 10 years so we’ve now got a really lovely, established clientele, and that helps. And we are in York, where we do at least have a degree of visitors.”
Establishing the online business also has its challenges for independent stores with a small stock, she says.
However, with Christmas in mind, Maude & Tommy has stocked up on lots of lovely velvet dresses and coats in reds, teal green, blue and gold – both contemporary and classic.
“Our approach is to buy things that we describe as ‘slow fashion’, so things that are not going to date,” says Anne. “You’re buying a timeless piece, a beautiful coat or a lovely Terry Macey dress – you’re going to be wearing that in 10 years time.”
Maude & Tommy is at Grape Lane in York and on www.maudeandtommy.co.uk
There’s more fashion at https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/lifestyle/fashion and https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/lifestyle/fashion
Photography: Mike Nowill at www.mikenowillphotography.co.uk
Location: York Racecourse
Models: Deborah Hirzel, Carolyn Amos, Rachel Croft
Hair & make-up: Floosie Beauty
Styling: Anne McCrickard