I've been fascinated by Theresa May's scarf wardrobe of late, and tracking down some of the more patterned pieces has been a tricky task! Luckily, I worked out that some of her most favourite designs have come from the established brand Pazuki.
A unique name I hear you cry, and even more unique designs! A British brand based in London, Pookie Blezard is the creative brains behind the Pazuki brand. Blezard is engaged in a continuous evolution of printing and embroidery techniques, colour and fabric experimentation – producing women’s clothes and accessories, (and sometimes men’s) for anyone who wants something special. Pazuki’s ethos is to enable women to feel confident and express themselves as individuals through pattern and colour, with no rules or regulations- the perfect fit for our fierce Prime Minister!
Theresa May has been spotted in a few Pazuki scarves, including the Antique Bird, Windswept and most recently, the Mesh design, new for the 2017 summer collection.
With her scarves a firm favourite of female world leaders and powerful women, I caught up with Pookie to find out more about the design process, her thoughts on Theresa May's fashion sense and her plans for the future.
What is the story behind Pazuki and what inspired you to start your business?
Pazuki started as a partnership with my friend from college Suzy Thompson in 1983. We both wanted to print our own designs and to carry on from what we had been doing at college (Camberwell School of Art and Crafts) but also in my case, a lack of knowledge about how to get a job in textiles.
2 months doing work experience in a Paris design studio made me realise I wasn't very suited to designing work that the industry wanted, I enjoyed all the lunches at local restaurants around the rue des Petits Champs though.
Suzy and I started screen-printing in my long-suffering parents' attic and had eleven years together with all kinds of escapades, carrying huge rolls of fabric strapped to our motorbikes, driving to Paris for trade fairs in Suzy's Deux Chevaux having been up all night making samples, trips to Japan and the USA.
It wasn't until the early 90s that we started to get serious wholesale orders, selling our quirky patchwork scarves and silk shirts to top boutiques and department stores worldwide
What have been the highlights and challenges?
Lots of ups and downs, but I think the urge to create and love of fabric has always kept me going. I'm a lot better at being creative than I am at business and marketing, although I do quite like production - I love seeing metres and metres of my designs and all the garments going out to stockists, but inevitably there are a few cock-ups! I think one of the worst things was when we had 1,000s of metres ordered for Paul Smith's shirts and the printer left out the blue in the dye, so it was grey, luckily it was accepted, but I remember that night going to see Madame Butterfly and only being able to think about grey fabric. High spots have been a huge order of patchwork scarves selling out within 3 days when Barney's opened their Madison Avenue store, Oprah being photographed wearing one of my embroidered shawls, Joni Mitchell trying to replace her scarf that was lost, because it inspired her for her painting, designing Renoir inspired printed and patchwork scarves for the Museum in Tokyo last year, seeing a vintage Pazuki print dress from costume archives on Alicia Vikander in the film The Danish Girl.
What inspires you in the design process?
Everything really, inspiration is everywhere. I'm a bit of a magpie, I pinch things from here and there and then re-process them. Recently I've been doing a lot of oil painting that I've adapted for designs, and soon I'm off to Oaxaca in Mexico to get inspiration for Spring Summer 2018.
What is your best selling design?
Best sellers always seem to be prints with themes, Chandelier, Mantelpiece and Home Sweet Home were all based on friends' homes, Tara's Dressing Room was an abstracted photo of Tara Fitgerald's theatre dressing table, with make-up and post cards. Susan's Garden from one of my paintings is big for this summer.
Theresa May is the latest world leader to be photographed wearing your scarves. What do you think about the way she dresses?
I'm so glad she wears colour, or if she's in a sombre suit, accessorises it with one of our scarves. She obviously really likes clothes and isn't afraid to wear some quite bold pieces. It's very refreshing. I hate women wearing black, it may make you look thinner but it's very gloomy and draining. Clothes communicate so much about you, and I think our prime minister is expressing, "I'm not just a politician I'm a human being too", and that she has a lighter more fun and creative side to her.
|Theresa May's Pazuki scarves|
If there could be one famous figure that you’d like to see wearing a Pazuki item, who would it be?
Only one? Emma Watson, JK Rowling, Meryl Streep, Adele, Amal Clooney, I don't know, I'm always thrilled to spot anyone wearing Pazuki!
What are your thoughts on the future of the British fashion industry?
Although I make mostly in India now as our wonderful factory in East London closed, I'm hoping that the cost of shipping and need for greater flexibility will bring more production back to our shores. I think this is starting already, but we are heavily dependent on workers from elsewhere as they have the skills. It's only the older population that have the knowledge and it's not being passed on to the young.
What are your plans for Pazuki in 2017?I'm hoping Mexico will shake up my ideas and give next summer's collection a really new feel. There is a queue of men waiting for my men's shirt collection, so I want to get going on that. I have a few other ideas but I don't want to jinx them by talking about them!