"The fashion house set up by Belinda O’Hanlon in 1970, offered a made to measure couture service as well as ready to wear garments"
Annabelinda may not the most well known of British fashion brands, but this is something that I predict will change in the coming decades and the first book focusing on the history of the brand is already underway.
The fashion house set up by Belinda O’Hanlon in 1970, offered a made to measure couture service as well as ready to wear garments. Customers could pick up an off the peg dress in the AnnaBelinda shop based in Gloucester Green, Oxford, and this was also the location where the garments were designed and made.
"It was the quality of the hand-finished detail afforded to every garment that really makes AnnaBelinda designs so special"
AnnaBelinda designs frequently demonstrated the influence of oriental design, with rich colours and Chinese braiding frequently employed to beautiful effect.
Liberty fabrics also appeared frequently in the brands repertoire and Belinda O’Hanlon professed to be an avid devotee and collector. The brand also had an outlet in the iconic department store’s designer room where it sold dresses that were designed and made in the brand’s Oxford home.
This dress in Liberty Print floral cotton served as this beautiful brides wedding gown. AnnaBelinda dresses have that wonderful quality that allows them to be worn everyday without looking out of place, and yet can be worn on the most special day of a woman’s life and look like they were made for the job.
However, it was the quality of the hand-finished detail afforded to every garment that really makes AnnaBelinda designs so special. Where techniques could not be achieved in house, they were outsourced to local craftsmen and seamstresses for details such as smocking which was used regularly in garments from the 80’s.
Oxfords leading couture house may have only been closed for ten years but it has already been the subject of a retrospective exhibition at Abington County Hall museum in 2008, the year the fashion house closed its doors.
Belinda O’Hanlon in 1970 standing in front of her Gloucester Green AnnaBelinda store in Oxford
At the exhibitions launch, anyone who owned an AnnaBelinda garment was asked to come along wearing it. Despite some of the outfits being over 30 years old, by all accounts it ‘looked a very modern gathering. ’ This is a testament to the timeless quality of the designs produced by AnnaBelinda, designs that always kept a toe in water of changing fashion but that always held the women who them as the foremost influence.
Links for further reference:
A short video that offers and inside look at the Oxford Boutique and the process of creating a couture garment:
Written by Hannah Mays Chandler for Dressedinhistory.com. Please do not cite this work without the explicit permission of Dressed in History.
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