Joel & Son Fabrics Interview: Q&A with Stewart Parvin

Written By Coby Bull


Joel & Son Fabrics Interview: Q&A with Stewart Parvin

Stewart Parvin is one of London’s best designers, he is a couturier most famously known for being the Queen’s dressmaker. We sat down with Stewart to discuss his career.

Q: When did you first realise you wanted a career in fashion?

A: I think from a very early age. When I was a child at nursery school I knew the
difference between Chanel and Saint Laurent because the lady whose house the school was held at was a very well-dressed woman and I know now, that is what she was wearing in the late sixties. I would go home and tell my mother that is what you need to buy - you need to buy a tweedy suit with big gold buttons at probably the age of three or four.

Q: What was your first job in fashion?

A: My first job in fashion was working for a wonderful man called Donald Campbell, who was probably best known for making a lot of the clothes worn by the young Princess of Wales when she first married Prince Charles. I think he probably got a lot of his fabric at Joel and Son Fabrics for his special events even then, thirty to forty years ago.

(Stewart and his dog, Max)

Q: Where do you find your inspiration when you are designing clothes?

A: When I am making my collection, we have pre-bought a lot of things and I take my
inspiration for what I am doing from the fabrics that I have chosen, putting them into silhouettes and styles that are ‘my kind’ of signature.

When I am working for individual clients, we often start with a fabric and then
through talking with them and choosing fabrics which in itself is an amazingly creative
process, I think drives you forward and pushes you to make beautiful
things for them.

Q: What is your favourite fabric to work with?

A: I think at the moment one of my favourites is a heavy sort of double-face
coatings that you can make wonderfully relaxed, easy comfortable shapes.
Also possibly a soft crêpe de chines, because you can make things that are
really easy to wear at the moment.
They are still glamorous and fantastic but actually stuff that you want to wear in lockdown
and these crazy times.
Maybe in a few week’s, it will change and it will be amazing brocades and hoping we will have
gorgeous things to wear in the summer.

Q: What is it like to work with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II?

A: Working for the Queen is an amazing honour, I have been doing it for nearly
twenty years now and it’s an incredible honour. It’s still exciting to see her
arriving in something you’ve made, always looking so amazing and so radiant.
She wears so many colours and so many prints so fantastically
- it’s a real privilege!

(Annie Leibovitz photographs the Queen)

Q: What is your favourite garment that you've made for Her Majesty?

A: I think possibly my most famous and most memorable dress is a wonderful state gown made out of ivory satin, which was a vintage piece of fabric made specifically for the Queen. She wore it at several state dinners in Parliament but most famously worn for the Annie Leibovitz photographs for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. Her Majesty is pictured in the robes and the diadem, it’s just an incredible dress.

(Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Jamaica)

Q: What was the first dress you made for Her Majesty?

A: Probably one of my most memorable dresses, was one of the first dresses I ever made for the Queen, it was an amazing cobweb blue evening dress, made out of Jakob Schlaepfer fabric which came from Joel & Son Fabrics.

Her Majesty was due to wear it in Jamaica for the state banquet, and as she was getting ready to come down for the dinner, the lights went out across the whole of Jamaica, there was a power cut, so Her Majesty had to come down the stairs at Government House dressed in the tiara with lots of diamonds and my beautiful dress. Everything glistened because it was all lit by candlelight.

Q: What do you think is important for anyone who wants to work in the fashion industry to know?

A: I think the most important work ethic anyone working in fashion can have is that they have to work really hard, and then to double that. It is not an easy job, there are hundreds of people that want to do the job, that you want to do. You have to be the most creative, the most charming and the most hardworking. You have to chase and fight for everything you want to do. It’s never going to be easy so if you don’t love it, do something else.

(Stewart with Coby, Gary and Alfie of Joel & Son Fabrics)

Q: What would you advise all the fashion students who want to go into the industry?

A: I think anyone coming into the industry they have to be prepared to work hard and they should be open-minded. The design schools turn out so many people to be designers, but there are so many other jobs within the industry that can be as creative and as fulfilling and perhaps are more suited to some people. It might be a route through to another job, so don’t just solely focus on being a designer, think about the whole industry and where else you can work.

Q: How would you describe the Stewart Parvin style?

A: I think my style is very simple, it’s very enduring. It’s for the classic women, for the elegant women who always wants to be beautifully dressed. They never want to be screaming what they are wearing, they want to be subtly understated.

Q: If you could go back in time, what would you advise your younger self?

A: I think I would tell myself to ‘believe in yourself, work hard and enjoy yourself along the way, but work hard and then maybe it will all happen for you’.

(The Motcomb Street boutique)

Q: How can we connect with you?

A: We would love it if you would come and visit us at 9 Motcomb Street, where you will find our store only a stone’s throw away from Harrods, for those of you who don’t know London. You can also visit us at or stewart_parvin on Instagram.


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