The fine world of Oldfield: satin, silk and denim overalls

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The Independent Online
Bruce Oldfield, who designed dresses for Diana, Princess of Wales, is turning his hand to boiler suits. Kim Sengupta looks at at the latest in designer industrial wear.

It could be called egalitarian chic. Bruce Oldfield (right) has signed up with a clothing company to provide an image makeover for industrial uniforms.

The man responsible for many of Diana's evening dresses and described as Britain's answer to Yves St Laurent, will be devoting his creative energy to suppliers Alexandra of Bristol and a range of intended customers from receptionists to painters and decorators.

The company's managing director, Julian Budd, said of his coup: "Over the last decade our design and marketing have become rather staid. We see Bruce Oldfield as being able to give us inroads into markets which we have been excluded from. We supply a whole range of clothes, from boiler suits to office uniforms, and we expect Mr Oldfield to have an input in all our designs. We want to supply garments which not only offer protection but which the wearer is pleased to wear and enjoys wearing. Mr Oldfield will be helping our design team as well as directly designing certain garments for us". The financial details of the deal, however, are not being released.

This is very much a departure from Oldfield's normal clients who have tended to be the rich and the glitterati. Some of his creations are regarded as classics of the genre, and are housed in various fashion museums. One of the dresses he designed for Diana, a black velvet number she wore at the opening of Les Miserables in l985, was offered for auction in the US to raise money for an Aids charity. It was the first of her objects to be offered for auction since her death.

As well as designing dresses for the Princess, Oldfield became one of her friends and recently helped to establish a student scholarship in her memory. The bursary will be run by the British Fashion Council and awarded to one British design student every year.

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