David Fielden - Fashion Designer Encyclopedia



British fashion designer

Career: Studied theatre design, then choreographer, Ballet Rambert, in France; choreographed for Ballet Theatre Contemporain; returned to London, specialized in fashion, concentrating on bridalwear and eveningwear. Address: 15 Lots Road, London SW10 0QD, UK.

Publications

On FIELDEN:

Articles

"Fielden's Body English," in WWD, 12 June 1991.

Fallon, James, "British Waiting for the Rebound (Women's Clothing Industry Emerges Slowly from Recession)," in WWD, 16 February 1994.

"It's Show Time," in WWD, 23 February 1999.

***

David Fielden is a small British fashion company producing ladies' eveningwear and bridalwear, mainly ready-to-wear, although some pieces are made to measure. Fielden's designs are similar to those produced by Catherine Walker or Caroline Charles in London, but are perhaps less understated and sophisticated, more brash, bold, and glitzy.

Fielden uses a lot of traditional eveningwear fabrics in his collections, such as crêpe, velvet, chiffon, and georgette. Embroidered fabrics, fabrics using bugle beads, sequins, and fake stones are popular as is lace, especially imported from France. For a small company the collections are unusually large; the winter collection for 1993, for instance, contained over 130 pieces. This is advantageous from a selling point because many different themes and styles can be covered, catering to various different customers. Smart navy and white ballgowns head straight for Saks Fifth Avenue, while short, brightly colored halter neck dresses with net petticoats head for Italy.

Fielden built up a loyal band of followers when he had a shop on London's King's Road in the 1980s. After the shop closed, the clothes were sold through a number of distinctive stores throughout Britain such as Harrods in London, Á La Mode, and Pollyanna with an international clientéle. Boutiques from Italy, Germany, the U.S., Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia all place orders.

A typical Fielden customer is a woman who needs a large amount of occasion wear in her wardrobe. She is not particularly fashion-conscious but is involved in county or society events and an avid reader of society style bibles like Harper's & Queen and The Tatler. She probably aspires to buying a Valentino or an Yves Saint Laurent, but cannot quite afford it.

Fielden is often nominated for a glamour award by the British Fashion Council, acknowledging his undoubted contribution to this area of fashion. Popular styles include long, simple and elegant vest top dresses in velvet, enhanced by beaded belts; sharply tailored double-breasted coat dresses with satin lapels or velvet tuxedo-style jackets; short, sexy cocktail dresses with revealing back and side slits, and the romantic glamor evoked by embroidered, full-skirted, tulle and taffeta ball dresses with matching stoles. Fielden is also noted for the recurrent use of brightly colored satins in his eveningwear.

Fielden himself is the sole owner of his company. He oversees the production and design and is at the end of the day financially responsible. This is probably one reason why the company is so small and has not expanded into lucrative licensing areas like perfume and accessories. Fielden's decisions affect the entire business and a wrong move by him could close the company. Fielden has a definitive niche within British fashion, producing distinctive clothes that often compete with the best of Italian and French eveningwear. The irony is the clothes emerge from a culture that is still similar to a cottage industry. Teams of outworker specialists work on production, while the company itself is streamlined to be a small, cost effective unit. This is probably one of the strengths of British fashion and companies like David Fielden can acknowledge credit for this strength, from the 1980s through the remainder of the 20th century.

Fielden designs have continued to be classic, understated, and elegant. American buyers, too, became more aware of Fielden's eveningwear, some from visiting his London shop, others from viewing his collections, like the dresses shown in Milan in 1999. Though not as world-renowned as many designers, David Fielden may be the best-kept secret of British occasionwear.

—KevinAlmond;

updated by NellyRhodes

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