Tatty Devine


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Saga Sig, Lucia O'Conner-McCarthy
07 Monday 07th May 2012

Harriet (L) and Rosie (R), wearing some of their own designs

To start with, could you tell our readers about how the Tatty Devine brand started out? What were your initial hopes for it?
We both studied painting at the Chelsea School of Art and Design and instantly had some sort of connection. We lived together, waitressed together at the V&A and realised early on that we made a fantastic team. When we left Chelsea we decided it would be fun to make stuff together, which quickly developed into making accessories since creating small decorative items fit in well with what interested us.

We picked up skills as we went along; we were making leather cuffs at first and soon worked out for ourselves the best way of doing things. The brand development was very organic and is the result of our conversations, joint interests and individual obsessions. Harriet plus Rosie equals Tatty Devine.

When you first started selling pieces together, when did the moment come where you thought 'wow, we could look at doing this full-time soon!'?

Initially neither of us were looking far into the future. We both wanted to become successful artists but quite quickly realised Tatty Devine was all-involving. There was a moment around September 1999 when in one day we were invited to take our collection to Vogue House and got an appointment with Pippa Holt - who was the Press manager at Whistles - to talk about making something for them. We realised we had something special! Soon afterwards we had to quit our part-time jobs at Steinburg and Tolkien and the Camden Arts Centre.

A Mexican embroidery necklace from the SS12 line

Now that you've gained a strong fashion & craft following, what do you think the Tatty Devine brand stands for?

It stands for original design, individualism, fun, colour and celebrating ideas and people.

How much of a role do you have in the formulation of new designs and collections?
We design every piece of jewellery ourselves. We come together and talk about what and why we want to make something new, the mood it should have and when would you wear it. Harriet then develops the ideas into jewellery, pushing the techniques and what you can do with the material.

Why perspex? How do you think it informs the Tatty aesthetic?

Harriet and I went to New York in 2001 and stumbled upon Canal Plastic on Canal street. We instantly fell in love with what was there: acrylic shapes for sign making and model making. We brought back a few shapes and experimented with turning them into jewellery. So far we had just made jewellery out of found objects like tape measures, guitar picks and cake decorations.

A sugar skull ring (available in white) and brooch from the SS12 line

We were starting to sell more pieces than we could find components for, so needed to find a way to manufacture the items. We were both drawn to the bright colours of perspex, and also to the fact that we could cut out any drawn shape in it.

We couldn't afford to get moulds made to manufacture at high volume, so the idea of laser-cutting perspex and being able to either make 1 or 100 of something was very appealing. We found a local model maker in London who was prepared to help us cut out shapes out, and we never looked back. The aesthetic has definitely been informed by the limitations of perspex, and we constantly strive to do different things with it.

Which other designers, artists and general sights have influenced the last few collections?

Frida Kahlo, Grayson Perry, Sue Kreitzman, Vita Sackville West, and PJ Harvey.

The sugar skull link necklace, from the SS12 line

Finally, what are your plans for the autumn/winter line, and the rest of this year's first quarter?
Opening a concession in Selfridges, where we'll be live laser cutting customised jewellery, as well as selling our mainline collection. We aim to keep growing, keep making fresh, exciting and original jewellery and to work with lots more exciting people.

To see what they've pulled out the bag so far, head to the Tatty Devine website here.

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