A Family Affair: An Interview with the Designer’s Behind Curse

The name Curse is an oxymoron for the aesthetic of this brand; which can only be described as a fairy-tale meeting between 1970s pop culture and the best of Edwardian high fashion. Every person who has ever found themselves particularly entranced by a piece of art will find a piece of themselves in the passionate designs of Curse. The term wearable art has never been more fitting, as Curse successfully combine historical periods with floral infused accents and translates them into lovingly handmade pieces. Siobahn Palmer has spoken to The Clothing Lounge about her family’s eco-friendly brand and how they put the art back into expression.



When and Where did you first begin?


We started Curse at the end of June, 2020. My mum and I had been sharing ideas during the beginning of the first Lockdown in March. We are based in Suffolk UK, on the East Coast of England and work in our small home studio. 


Which eras or historical periods are you most inspired by?


We love the 1970’s for its style and music. We are often listening to Black Sabbath, looking at old photos of Woodstock Festival and flicking through back issues of British Vogue from that period. We combine this with Victorian and Edwardian style ruffles, pleats and statement collars to give it our own unique spin. I also love art, especially the Impressionist movement referencing artists such as Monet, Renoir and Degas. 


How do you incorporate art into your designs?


We see all of our creations as 'art'. Art inspires many aspects of our design process, be it from referencing colour pallets from Impressionist or Renaissance paintings, to looking at the light and movement of a painting and the emotions it provokes. Art is the freedom of expression and we want people of any gender to feel confident and free to express who they are in our garments and accessories. I studied surface pattern design specialising in printed textiles, and I work as an artist in my spare time. We are currently working on a collaboration aimed at bringing my personal art into Curse, which is very exciting. 


How does Curse set itself apart from other slow-fashion brands?


We don’t necessarily think of it as setting ourselves apart from other slow fashion brands. We are very passionate about trying to keep the sense of community we have found with other small businesses. We have met some incredible creatives through social media who have been so overwhelmingly supportive and inspiring. We are more focussed on creating what we love and feel genuinely excited about, whilst being conscious about the environment and creating less waste in the process. We are embodying the term ‘slow fashion', having consideration for the materials we use, how the garment is made and who is making it. In our case, that's my mum, Jane.


What have been your biggest challenges so far?


Our biggest challenge so far has been keeping up with the high demand and only being able to take a certain number of orders before quickly closing until the next collection arrives. My mum and I both work full time jobs, so we are very busy on our days off. We desperately want to avoid any disappointment, therefore we only accept the amount of orders we know we can fulfil in a four week capacity. Our focus is on quality, not quantity, which naturally means that if customers want to shop with small businesses, they might have to be patient. 


Which parts of the creative process do you enjoy the most, and the least?


The best part of the creative process would be when our three person team can relax in the studio; exchanging ideas, sketching, and experimenting with new patterns. Sometimes ideas will come to us at the most unexpected times, so it’s important the team always keep notebooks at hand. Sometimes, when we bring our ideas to life, they are not exactly what we were expecting, so instead of wasting the fabric, we will cut, fold, pleat, pin and rework it until we achieve exactly what we had in mind. It's important not to get disheartened if a design doesn't work as planned. We persevere until it's perfect. We also love to see our final pieces come to life. It's a very proud moment to acknowledge that we created these pieces of art as a family.


What are the best aspects of working with your family?


We don't see it as work. We are very close and get along very well. This should not be misunderstood to say that we don’t have the occasional dispute, but that's only because we're so passionate about what we do and are very honest with each other. I can trust my mum and sister with anything. Trust is a big element of our relationship in working with one another and enjoying what we do.


What are your favourite pieces from your collections?

My mum’s favourite piece is the blue gingham Ethylene blouse, accompanied by the Gingham 'Margot' reversible collar. My favourite is the Candy Pink Ethylene blouse with reversible 'Margot' or 'Ivy' Collar. When I wear them I feel as though I should be on the set of a pastel- infused Wes Anderson film. My sister Macie’s favourite is the Florence collar in Black.


What is the best piece of advice you have been given as a small business?


I think the best advice we've received is to stay true to who we are and to not lose sight of why we started this journey. My mum studied dressmaking at school and made her own dresses as a hobby and has said that since we have started Curse she feels she is fulfilling her ambitions. This is even more meaningful as she is working with her two daughters.


What are you working on next?