British fashion house
Founded: in 1984 by Tanya Sarne. Company History: Opened London shop, 1994; opened flagship London store, 1997; launched G2 collection, 1997; opened boutiques in Paris, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam, 1998; signed licensing agreement with Oliver Goldsmith for eyewear, 1998; introduced shoe and knitwear lines, 1999; launched signature fragrance Ghost, 2000; planned second women's fragrance, 2001-02. Awards: British Apparel Export award, 1992. Company Address: The Chapel, 263 Kensal Rd., London W10 5DB, England.
Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion, Third Edition, New York,1996.
Fallon, James, "Ghost: Getting the U.S. Spirit," in WWD, 11 January 1993.
Spindler, Amy M., "Color It with Silver and Spice," in the New York Times, 4 November 1993.
"New York Update—Ghost," in WWD, 11 April 1994.
Orlean, Susan, "The Talk of the Town: Fashion Designers Uptown and Downtown Get Ready for This Week's Shows in Bryant Park," in the New Yorker, 7 November 1994.
Fallon, James, "Ghost readies Trendy G2 for Spring-Summer 1997," in WWD, 20 August 1996.
——, "Ghost Focuses on Growth," in WWD, 18 June 1998.
Hammond, Teena, "L.A.'s a Ghost Town," in WWD, 24 June 1998.
"Ghost—Fashion Designer Tanya Sarne," in WWD, 29 September 1998.
Watson, Shane, "Tanya Boards the Ghost Train," from London Life, available online at www.thisislondon.co.uk , 1999.
"Ghost Story," in Soap, Perfumery & Cosmetics, February 2000.
"Fashion Marches On," in WWD, 23 February 2001.
The British label Ghost was founded in 1984 by Tanya Sarne and has since become a firmly established name in the fashion industry. The company's signature use of flowing fabric, with its softly crinkled look cut in loose, flowing shapes, forms the basis of each collection. Ghost designs are not usually viewed as the cutting edge of fashion; this was particularly true during the power-dressing period of the 1980s, when strict tailoring and padded shoulders were a major element in fashion. A label such as Ghost offered an individual and alternative way of dressing.
Fabrics are the hallmark of each Ghost collection and almost all of them are woven from viscose yarns derived from specially-grown soft wools with a fluid, crêpe-like texture. An intricate process of washing, shrinking, and dyeing is applied to each garment, which is constructed from the unfinished material or "grey cloth" and dyed at the final stage. These "grey cloth" garments are cut several sizes bigger to allow for the ensuing process of shrinking that occurs when the viscose is boiled to the consistency of vintage crêpe fabric.
The traditional dyeing and shrinking process employed by Ghost is rarely used in production today, due to its cost and the fact that it is extremely time-consuming. Another feature of Ghost design is its richly varied use of color, which can achieve great depth on the viscose fabric and changes each season from softest pastels and pale powdery shades to rich autumnal and spicy tones. The signature fabric is also treated with surface decoration such as embroidery, cutwork, and broderie anglaise lace effects. Due to the soft, fluid nature of the fabric, Ghost was initially perceived as being primarily summerwear. Over the years, however, new fabrics have been introduced, such as in the autumn-winter collections which have included quilted satin, velours, and mohair wool mixes.
Like many of its British counterparts, the vast majority of Ghost's business is export, of which America and Japan represent around half of its sales volume (Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, and the Middle East make up the rest). Sarne began selling her designs in New York through high-end department and specialty stores in 1987, and Ghost' winning of the British Apparel Export award in 1992 gave the company a much higher profile. The following year, 1993, Sarne began showing her collections in New York.
According to Sarne, her philosophy of creating clothes (which she describes as "by women, for women,") is the key to the considerable success of the Ghost label and its appeal to a wide-ranging age group. The revolutionary nature of each Ghost collection, which means existing pieces can be added to each season, is another appealing feature of the company's designs and may be the key to dressing in the 1990s. "It's a unique product and very feminine," says Sarne of the Ghost label. "It also has a very 'antipower dressing' stance—a look I believe will only increase in importance as the decade progresses."
Sarne and Ghost were very busy in the mid-and late 1990s. A London store was opened in 1994, followed by a 3,500-foot flagship store three years later. Sarne expanded her design range to include
Sarne's lovely, hardly-there viscose dresses have remained a favorite for women around the world, but especially in California. To mark the opening of her Los Angeles shop, Sarne threw a festive bash well attended by the area's glitterati. Though the company's roots are still firmly planted in the UK, Sarne much admires her American clientéle. "Our clothing is perfect for the L.A. climate and the L.A. mentality," Sarne told Women's Wear Daily in June 1998. In New York, stores like Neiman Marcus, Henri Bendel, and Barneys do a brisk business selling Ghost designs, but as Sarne explained, "People in New York think they're trendier and sharper, but our best sales have always been in L.A."
So just who wears Ghost designs? As Sarne told Shane Watson of London Life, from the This is London website in 1999, "I can find any woman a Ghost outfit that will make her look wonderful. Guaranteed, any shape, any size, any age." In 2000 Sarne admirers had a new way to wear Ghost, with the debut of a signature fragrance, with another women's scent planned for the next year or so. Back in London, Sarne and her new head designer, Amy Roberts, showed a winning collection of dresses and separates in February 2001. Women's Wear Daily commented (23 February 2001), "This collection should definitely give the label a boost."
updated by Nelly Rhodes