Tatty Devine is 15
Fifteen years ago, I started as shopping editor at a young Metro newspaper. At almost the same time, two Chelsea School Of Art Fine Art students - Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden - were launching what was to be come a cult jewellery brand.
I remember when the early press releases hit my desk (as photographs. This was the late 1990s, after all). I’d never seen anything like them before. The jewellery, laser cut from colourful perspex, were by turn funny, naughty and moving.
The ordinary became extraordinary. Glittery swallows, toy dogs on wheels, gem-encrusted lobsters and rabbits popping out of hats: the girls transformed everyday objects into cute, kitsch pieces to wear around the neck and wrist or dangling from ears.
Imitators followed - the 2000s were flooded by labels that attempted to capture some of TD’s chutzpah - but no one had quite the same ability to tap into what was going on around them and turn it into something so fresh and clever.
This year, Tatty Devine turns 15 and to mark the anniversary, Harriet and Rosie have re-issued 15 pieces from their archives, one from each year. From the now iconic plectrum necklace (2001) to the cuckoo clock brooch (2005), from the cutlass necklace (2006) to last year’s banana necklace: fans will recognise them; newbies will covet them.
Scouted by Vogue while working at Steinberg and Tolkien, embellished leather belts by the girls appeared in in the Millennium issue of the magazine, photographed by Mario Testino. It was quite a way to kick off a career and it’s never really slowed down.
Tatty Devine’s collaborators read like a Who’s Who’s of the fizziest talent in fashion: Ashish, Peter Jensen, Eley Kishimoto and Louise Gray. With artists Rob Ryan and Gilbert & George, Tatty Devine established relationships with the Tate, Barbican, V&A, BALTIC, Museum of London and MoMA.
Music has always been central to Tatty Devine’s output, inspiring individual pieces such as the iconic plectrums as well as work with Belle & Sebastian and Chicks on Speed. Madonna and Lily Allen have commissioned one-off designs; Kate Moss, Bjork, Beth Ditto, Katy Perry, Rita Ora and Kate Nash have all toted other pieces.
Last year, Harriet and Rosie were awarded MBEs for services to the fashion industry, and Tatty Devine won UKFT Accessories Business of the Year. It was a recognition, well deserved, not only of an endless imagination and creativity, but also of their positions as pioneering female role models in entrepreneurship, technology, craft and UK manufacture. There are few brands, after all, as quintessentially British as Tatty Devine.
‘We're so proud to have created our very own world, enabling us to share ideas, push boundaries, tell stories, collaborate with like-minded designers and most importantly, bring people together,’ says Harriet and Rosie. ‘We can't wait to see what the next 15 years will bring!’ Neither can I.
Tatty Devine have taken over the Royal Festival Hall Southbank Centre Shop for the month of September. Find all 15 anniversary editions there as well as drop-in jewellery-making workshops. Workshops take place Saturday and Sunday during September, noon to 8pm every day till Tuesday 30 September.