We enjoy an afternoon tea and chat with Tara Palmer-Tomkinson about her brand Desiderata London and the wardrobe-revolutionising ‘Kubbi’
We were invited for afternoon tea at Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s West London home to hear all about the Desiderata clothing brand which she has recently launched, all of which is manufactured in England. Here’s how things went…
Tara can you start by telling us a little bit about why you decided to launch Desiderata London?
I decided to launch Desiderata London because I have always wanted to run my own company, where I could have the continuity of girls working together as a team, which I feel I’m best at. But most importantly, I wanted to launch Desiderata London not just as a fashion line, but as a garment that was missing from every woman’s wardrobe.
You have a wealth of experience in different industries as a television presenter, model, charity patron and columnist. How have you found the experience of starting a clothing brand and what has been the most enjoyable part so far?
Even after all my experience in the industry (spanning almost three decades now), I don’t think anything could have made me realise how much stamina was required to start a fashion line. I used to think that drawing a picture, having a vision and expecting people I trusted to do the work they were told, was all it took. That’s not to say I didn’t think it would have some hurdles, but not in any way the obstacles and years that I have spent perfecting what Desiderata London and its first product ‘The Kubbi’ are today. If somebody had laid out a manual and said “this is what it will take to do this”, I would never have done it. It has been a learning process; it has caused me blood, sweat, tears and with a good British sense of humour I have been able to laugh and overcome it, but it has been very, very, VERY hard work.
Can you explain the concept of The Kubbi for our readers and who the garment is aimed at?
The concept of The Kubbi is first of all something for every woman – it is designed as an undergarment because it is essentially a stretch body with a collar and cuffs. I designed it because I used to cut off my father’s Saville Row collars and cuffs and stick them with toupee tape to the skin and everyone used to say how lucky I was to wear these outfits because they thought they made me look really slim.
Crisp collars and cuffs – especially on a man’s shirt – can really set out an outfit. If you think of the collars and cuffs as being accessories (as they are sold today on Net-a-Porter, where you can buy them separately) we have designed The Kubbi all in one to slim your shape and smart your style.
The Kubbi is made of fabric that cleans very easily; it’s very robust; it’s very versatile; its very wearable and it doesn’t have that restrictive feeling of “thank God I’ve got this off”. So the whole thing is clean lines and comfort, giving the woman a perfect silhouette, making her look her best when she’s going out.
I am lucky enough to have worn designer clothes such as Azzedine Alaïa, where there is a lot going on underneath and this also has an impact on the way you hold yourself. It is very important, the fabric, the stitching and the tailoring you put in to even the simplest thing like The Kubbi. If it was something that was cheap and cheerful we would have had it out in 6 months. It’s taken me three years to bring this thing out so I feel that I can now say The Kubbi is perfect.
We know you are passionate about Desiderata London garments being made in the UK, how challenging have you found it to achieve this?
The most important thing about Desiderata London is that all of its products are made in England and it represents British heritage because that is my family background and I come from an ancestral family tree. I’m very patriotic and The Kubbi would never be made in any other country, it’s absolutely fundamental to me that it is always made in England.
Having the Desiderata London outfits made in the UK has been a really wonderful experience because the UK has so much to offer. Firstly, there are teams of people who are really nice and easy to work with and generally we have experienced great input. I’m very grateful to Make it British for their support because what I like most about working with British people is that they have a good sense of humour and they speak their mind.
In the past there’s always been a big machine of people behind me but now I have a small team of people who I really trust and believe in and, most importantly, it works vice versa – they believe in me too.
What are your plans for further variations of The Kubbi, and are you hoping to expand the collection into other garments?
Further plans for The Kubbi are currently underway. I have three major ideas, all based on my own wardrobe, but I’m not ready to talk about them just yet. What I can say is that I draw my inspiration from archived and original pieces.
The beauty of The Kubbi is the longevity in it. There are a lot of variations of shirts and at the moment we have so many people of all sizes buying The Kubbi. What is great about buying online is that you can try it on in privacy and always send it back or exchange it, I would never want anyone not to feel like a ‘desired thing’ in my designs.
The Kubbis are undoubtedly trendless and timeless and I wanted to build Desiderata London on this concept. I want these garments to be the staple diet of every woman’s wardrobe and with that I don’t want to discontinue favourites with the changing of the season – I want Desiderata London to be the reliable source, which always has what you want. This, I believe does qualify it as timeless.
At the moment The Kubbi is only available on the Desiderata London website, are there plans to have it stocked anywhere else, or plans for a Desiderata London store in the future?
There are plans for Desiderata to do many different things, especially in stores. To all the mothers with children out there let me just say this, I don’t know what it’s like to be the mother of a child but I DO have what I feel is my baby and it is Desiderata London. Therefore, I find myself very stubborn about letting it go, although I am incredibly grateful to the department stores in this country – a major one especially – who we are in talks with.
To find out more about Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s Desiderate visit www.desideratalondon.com