Thursday, May 29, 2014

Belinda Bellville: Society Dressmaker

Belinda Bellville is world renowned for her stylish dress designs, and as co-founder with David Sassoon of Britain’s foremost couture label "Bellville Sassoon".

Born in Leicestershire, the eldest of three children, Belinda had a traditional upbringing being educated initially by a governess in Wales and then at the girls school “Miss Faunces”. There was no opportunity for design qualifications in the 1930's and 1940's, however Belinda remained determined to design clothes. With no formal training, but as a former debutante, she knew the social circles she needed to attract. In 1953 she created the label "Bellville et Cie" and dressed young women and their fashionable mothers at every ball, party and society event of note.

Then in 1958 she met David Sassoon at the Royal College of Art. David brought experience of pattern cutting, as well as expert technical know-how in the  creation of women’s clothing. Together they went on to perfect what she had started. They developed an ever-changing collection of wonderfully glamorous couture dresses, bridal wear and a ready-to-wear collection, as well as a successful licensing relationship with Vogue Patterns.

Belinda Bellville with model - Photo by John Young
The 1960's and 1970's saw a whole host of glamorous women wear Belinda and David's clothes, including many members of the royal family, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Catherine Deneuve. By the end of the decade, a survey showed that Bellville et Cie had made more society wedding dresses over the past 30 years than any other couture house. In 1970 David was made partner and the name was changed to "Bellville Sassoon", they now had a staff of over 100. The business continued to prosper through the 1970s. (Text taken from:

The yellow kimono above designed by Belinda Bellville featured in Vogue UK June 1968 issue and blossoms with dragon flowers and green vines, wide trousers that touches down to the floor and the most amazing sleeves you ever seen. 

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