Less than a month ago, Thai followers of the royal wedding took to social media in excitement upon discovering that Thailand also had a role to play in the royal affair. A Facebook post that went viral pointed out that Cressida Bonas—an actress and model who previously dated Prince Harry—had not only attended the wedding of her former beloved, but had gone dressed in a Hmong dress.
The dress was in fact a piece from British fashion label Eponine London. Founded in 2014, Eponine London is known for exquisite craftsmanship and forms meticulously curated to accentuate the best in the female form. While every garment is personally designed and made in London at the label’s atelier, the collections include an array of unique styles—with influences ranging from Japanese kimonos to northern Thai attire. The result is a blend of global inspiration with a core that is quintessentially British—a rare trait which perhaps explains the label’s popularity amongst British royalty.
Thailand Tatler got the chance to have a quick chat with the face behind the label, Jet Shenkman, and here’s how it went.
What inspired you to start your own fashion brand?
The elegance of 50s dresses and the quirkiness of the mod era. In both cases women still dressed like women. I feel that Eponine is an antidote to the more androgynous look one often sees today. In fashion terms I think that I was definitely born in the wrong era; I’d love wearing a hat, gloves and a huge petticoat every day!
Were there any challenges you faced when you first started out? How did you overcome them?
As my four children grew up and we moved between Hong Kong and Japan, I worked as a freelance stylist with private clients but had no knowledge whatsoever about tailoring. When I decided I wanted to start my own label I hired a graduate from the London College of Fashion to hold my hand and help me understand the process, from design to fabric and then from pattern cutting to tailoring. My life changed overnight when I met my fantastic designer Petar, with whom I have now worked for seven years. We make a great team.
Recently, Cressida Bonas was seen at the royal wedding sporting Eponine London. Could you tell us more about this design?
Cressida’s dress was made from handwoven Hmong cotton fabric and for the hem, we used a beautifully embroidered trim. We wanted to make something unique for her and I think that we succeeded!
What inspired you to create a dress out of Hmong fabric?
On my honeymoon I spent two nights in a Karen village high in the mountains in Chiang Mai. One of the things I always remember were the fabulous colours of the beautifully embroidered pieces the women there were wearing. When I started Eponine and was looking for inspiration, I very much wanted to incorporate these pieces in my designs as they are unique and the craftsmanship something you don’t find here. When I was then able to source them online I cannot describe how excited I felt!
A lot of your collections have Asian influences. Why is this?
The Asian inspiration comes from our travels in the region. I lived in Japan with my young family for many years (twice in fact), and we lived in Hong Kong for 4 years. During those years we travelled extensively so those experiences have 100 per cent inspired the use of all these various fabrics in our designs.
Your designs have been well supported by British royalty. What do you think is the reason behind this?
I am not sure of the exact reasons, but I guess because our designs are elegant and classic with a twist, and produced in our studio in London.
What makes Eponine London different from other fashion labels?
At Eponine London, we always provide our clients with a one of a kind, fully bespoke service. The whole experience is uniquely tailored to our client from the moment they walk through our doors. At Eponine, we also do not follow any trends, which is wonderfully liberating. We are small enough to do exactly what we feel like without having the pressure of meeting targets. In that, we are very different from other brands.
What are your hopes, if any, for the fashion industry?
I hope that it will become more sustainable and that people will buy less but better quality.
Do you have any exciting projects you’re working on right now? What can we expect from Eponine London in the future?
There is always something exciting happening in our studio. Our new AW/18 collection is almost ready. The public should always expect fun, colour, beautiful fabrics and cuts from Eponine London.
For more information, visit eponinelondon.com.