Chester fashion designer Alice Naomi is hoping her floral creations can help her raise thousands for charity
PUBLISHED: 20:11 22 September 2014 | UPDATED: 20:11 22 September 2014
Alice Naomi admits she’s no gardener but there can’t be many people who know more about flowers.
The designs for the one-off dresses she creates stem from the beauty of flowers but there are no floral prints among her work. They have names including iris, orchid and honeysuckle and they take more than just their titles from the flowers – Alice’s calla dress has the sweeping curve of the lily and her fuchsia dress shares not only the colour but also the delicate layered petal effect.
‘All my work is inspired by flowers,’ said Alice, also a keen floral photographer who worked for a time in a florist’s shop. ‘I don’t find that limiting, it gives me a focus. I take elements from the flower – its texture, colour or frills – and work from there. I have to make it look like a dress, not a fancy dress costume. I see flowers and I see a dress, is that weird? Maybe it is, but I believe in what I’m doing so much.’
Naomi, 21, has launched a unique fundraising effort which combines her love of flowers and fashion.
She raffles off her dresses through her website and gives all the money raised to charity. Alice only hit on the project a few months ago, but she has always had an urge to help others. ‘When I was about ten I told my mum and dad that I didn’t want any presents, I wanted them given to children in Africa. I cried when they gave me a stocking full of presents until they told me they were all from charity shops so the money would be helping people.’
The former pupil of Birkenhead High and St John Deane’s college in Northwich has always wanted to work in fashion, but took a tortuous route to be where is now. Between dropping out of university business courses at Manchester and Chester she launched her own label but was forced to change her plans when she suffered some misfortune.
‘I met a man in London who said he had good contacts and could get my designs made. I paid him £10,000 but I never saw any work. It was awful. I’d taken a loan.
‘After that I went back to uni in Chester on another business course but I dropped out again because I just knew it wasn’t for me. I have learned so much in the last few months than I think I would have done on a business course.’
Despite the setbacks Alice, who lives at Woodbank, near Chester, with her parents and three younger brothers, has raised thousands for charity and is happy that fashion is helping her to help others.
‘I don’t want to wholesale my dresses, I only want one person to be able to wear each one. I design the dress and it gets made by a wonderful seamstress on the Wirral called Debbie Spedding. Then a celebrity models it on my website, people can pay a small amount to be in with a chance of winning the dress and all the money raised goes to charity.
‘There’s no-one else doing this but I’m doing it my way. It’s a difficult way and people don’t quite understand it yet, but my family are very supportive. My dad couldn’t understand why his A* pupil daughter would choose not to go to university and he didn’t talk to me when I left uni! But he can see what I’m doing now and he believes in it.’
Her latest design is based on the favourite flower of former glamour model Peta Cavendish, the wife of cycling star Mark Cavendish. She is pictured on Alice’s website – www.alice-naomi.com – wearing the dress and by donating 99p visitors to the site can guess which flower inspired the dress. Those who guess correctly will have their names put in a hat and one will win the dress. All the money raised when the competition closes on November 20th will go to the charity Help For Heroes, of which Peta is a patron.
‘Sometimes I work with a celebrity’s favourite flower and sometimes the dress is inspired by the charity – their colours or logo perhaps,’ Alice added. ‘My dresses are made of natural materials, like silk and cotton velvet. They’re all pure and all natural, like flowers.’n
To see more of Alice’s work visit www.alice-naomi.com