Let’s start with a couple of adorable facts about Olivia Rose Havelock: her grandmother taught her to use a sewing machine when she was just 8-years-old (the ‘Beryl’ dress is named in her honour), and her website has scrapped the blinking cursor thingy and replaced it with a little pink rose. Cute. All of her pieces are handmade and made to order, and you’ll want to wear them all. summer. long.
1. Her designs are dripping with romance
We’re not talking about a scattering of ruffles or a little bit of lace trim. We’re talking theatrical Wuthering Heights full-on flounce – cue dreamy design details like leg-of-mutton sleeves, sumptuous smocking and trailing ribbon ties.
2. …but they still look modern, relevant – and a little bit sexy
Don’t be bamboozled by the Victorian heroine vibes. Even though Olivia looks to the past for inspiration when it comes to ‘volume and shape’, her approach to creating statement looks is very 2018. ‘I’ve always followed fashion and constantly research trends, so I look to mix both those elements to create one-of-a-kind pieces,’ she tells us.
The vintage inspo is grounded by straight-up sass, like plunging necklines, sultry cropped lengths and body-con smocking. That’s why her puff sleeve tops don’t look remotely prissy and her billowing dresses look totally at ease with your favourite beaten-up Converse sneakers.
3. She makes getting ready EASY
If you’ve been wearing cropped jeans and denim shorts on repeat all summer, adding one of Olivia’s major blouses is like an instant outfit defibrillator. Oversize ruffles, sumptuous prints, and clavicle-exposing necklines… pop one of these flamboyant tops on with your failsafe denim and you’ll feel both ultra-feminine and empowered at the same time.
4. You can actually afford it
‘I would never want anyone to miss out buying an item because it is too expensive,’ Olivia says – and means it. Her shirred and ruffled bandeau top is £45, while the ‘Ophelia’ dress in a decadent brocade will only set you back £140. Whaaaaat?
5. The pieces are ethically produced
‘My customers love and respect that my items are handmade; it’s a more personal process and they know that they’re getting an item that’s made with love,’ Olivia points out. She creates each item in her UK studio by hand and to order – sidestepping the wasted resources and fabrics that are part of larger retail productions.
6. She’s made a deliberate decision to keep production small
If you compulsively tick the ‘next day delivery’ box when you’re shopping online, brace yourself: Olivia can only create around 30 pieces a week in her studio, so you can expect to wait at least 3 weeks to get your hands on one, no matter how badly you want it. It’s the polar opposite of ‘fast fashion’ but, according to Olivia, her customers don’t grumble about delaying their gratification: ‘I rarely get complaints about waiting longer for items as my customers know that it means that there are only a handful of them made in the world.’