Not Just A Label – Wendy Dagworthy

WendyWendy Dagworthy was born in Kent in 1950. She learnt how to smock at Northfleet Secondary School and quickly showed a knack for style and passion for design. She was one of those people to whom things just came naturally. In 1966, she enrolled at the Medway College of Art, where she studied for two years before moving on to the Hornsey College of Art and Fashion. Her graduation collection was noticed and her career as a designer began. Dagworthy began by designing, producing and delivering garments to a shop called Countdown on the King’s Road, as well as designing the odd piece for Bryan Ferry. She also became involved with wholesale manufacturer, Radley.

In 1972, Dagworthy borrowed £800 from the bank and £300 from her mother and finally set up her own business. Betty Jackson was employed as her assistant a year later, in 1973, before the young designer set off to start her own label, no doubt inspired and enamoured with Dagworthy’s style and design. There was an immediate demand for Dagworthy designs, very soon she was receiving orders from prestigious international stores. Italy proved to be her most lucrative outlet, ordering almost half her total output during the early 80s. She soon expanded her business to include a menswear collection, which matched the vibrant colours and prints of her womenswear counterparts. The Wendy Dagworthy label continued to enjoy successes during the 80s, her collections shown in London, Paris, New York and Milan, each show strengthening her international reputation. She received many awards for her collections, as well as honorary places in designer collectives. The business was closed in 1988, however her influence and stature in the fashion industry was not weakened.

Dagworthy was a big name and strong supporter of British fashion. In 1975 she joined the London Designer Collections, a prestigious group of British designers who promote the industry. By 1982, she was director of the association. It was during this time that she began her slow but steady drifting into fashion education, working occasionally as a lecturer and acting as a consultant at fashion colleges and universities. In 1989 she took the plunge and became the course director for the BA fashion program at London’s Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design, where she remained for 10 years. Her presence and influence solidified the College’s reputation. Dagworthy was then offered a place as head professor of fashion at the prestigious Royal College of Art, where she remains today. Her impact on the program has been evident and greatly celebrated and noted by critics.

The Dagworthy aesthetic is a kaleidoscope of colour, accented by bold prints, embroidery and Caribbean style batik. Her fabrics almost always have strong individual textures, such as mohair and thick woven wools. Each individual component of her garments is married in a cohesive and impressively slick style, testimony to Dagworthy’s monumental talent.

Shop Wendy Dagworthy in our collection, Rare 1980s Wendy Dagworthy Skirt