← Critic Award Winners: Jane Woolrich
For over 30 years, Jane Woolrich has been at the forefront of designer lingerie and sleepwear. Her bias cut shapes and use of the finest of French laces have combined to create her own special “handwriting,” ensuring that the Jane Woolrich Collections are always very feminine and romantic. Based in the heart of the English countryside, her brand and design epitomize the essence of English Romanticism.
Jane studied fashion at college, where she was awarded a first class honors degree. At the same time, the British Fashion Council awarded her a Fashion Bursary, which she used to visit leading Italian design houses, including the Missoni family. In 1978, she started her career and quickly established a high reputation, designing for leading eveningwear companies in London’s West End Fashion District. Jane’s passion though, has always been for lingerie. She was offered a role as a consultant designer for a large group manufacturing for leading chain stores. While working there, she met Mark Smith, and together began working with premium groups such as Selfridges of London.
In 1984, Jane started her own business with the Jane Woolrich label in the city of Lichfield. She works with a team of highly skilled seamstresses, several of whom are still working with her, three decades on — a source of real pride to Jane and a testament to the special teamwork that is so important when making couture pieces.
Within a short period of time, Jane’s romantic image saw her featured in nearly all leading British stores and specialist shops, including Selfridges, Fenwicks, and Harvey Nichols in London. As the business grew, the company was soon selling abroad. The first major international group to feature Jane Woolrich was the Galeries Lafayette in France, and Jane Woolrich was soon seen in all of the leading Parisian boutiques.
Over the years, Jane has sold to clients throughout the world and has a strong following in the Gulf States and Russia. Having supplied Bloomingdales in the United States in the 1980s, Jane started working closely with The Limited Group in the early years of Victoria’s Secret. The 1990s saw a real development with leading American retailers as well as store groups like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Jane established a long and close relationship with specialist stores such as La Petite Coquette in Manhattan, Trousseau in Washington, and Sara’s Lingerie in Los Angeles. Her corsets have regularly been featured at retro specialist Trashy Diva of New Orleans, and she has customized styles for edgy stores such as Religious Sex in New York’s East Village.
Business continued to grow internationally, but in recent years, Jane’s desire to balance her passion for design with her family commitments has led her to downsize the business. As well as allowing her more time to design, it gives Jane the opportunity to offer a more personalized service. Since 2000, Jane has taken the company into a more bespoke direction as she places greater emphasis on couture. She continues to work with selected clients in the U.S., Canada, and the Gulf and enjoys relationships with shops in major capitals such as Paris and Vienna. She recently visited longtime client Estele Adony, which has an impressive collection of superb stores in Moscow and St Petersburg. As well as enjoying her nine grandchildren, Jane has returned to her passion for painting. Overseeing the continual development of Jane Woolrich Couture means that life continues to be busy, creative, and rewarding.
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