Caroline Charles was born in 1942 in Cairo, Egypt, of English parents who were staying there at that time. She attended Swindon School of Art, Wiltshire, England until 1960. She then became an apprentice to Michael Sherard followed by almost two years working with Mary Quant. She set up her own design business in late 1963 and during the 60’s proved to be a popular designer of young, fashionable clothing. Among her clientele were Cilla Black and Barbra Streisand. She designed min dresses and mini skirts in pure cotton and flannel. During the 60’s she also worked as a broadcaster and journalist alongside her fashion work. From the tunics and trousers of the late 60’s, she moved with ease to the long, flowing fashion lines that predominated in the early 70’s. Using beautiful, luxurious prints and patterns, she established herself as a designer of more sophisticated clothes. After such an auspicious start in the 1960s, she reflects that the 1970s were “a terrible time for fashion.” But the 1980s saw her in full swing again, attiring the newly married Prince of Wales in a tartan suit for the Braemar games and an oatmeal wraparound dressing-gown coat for a walkabout in Wales. She became one of the exclusive breed of “Royal Designers.” The exuberance of the swinging 1960s had given way to a more classic, sensible look. Charles has an eye for lavish fabrics combined with easy wearability. Hers are beautifully-made clothes with simple accessories; she hopes her clients would wear them to the supermarket. Her many illustrious clients, Lady Lloyd Webber and Dame Diana Rigg among them, have attested to the beguiling quality of her fabrics: perennial velvets, rich wool paisleys and elegant brocades, and, in the 1990s, black leather mixed with flippy lace skirts (a slightly vampy departure for the designer) toned down into wearable sexy party clothes. The 1990s have seen yet another phase of extremely successful, well-thought-out business expansions. A new flagship shop in Bond Street, and with it an entirely new Bond Street customer, opened up a whole new market for Charles. Caroline Charles has been invited over the years to be a design consultant to major Brands such as Burberry and Marks and Spencer as well as having design collaborations with major accessories and textile companies. Carolyn Charles has been a very popular designer for many years since. In 2002, she received an OBE from the Queen, for her services to British fashion, which is very well-deserved. Her collections are essentially practical and are based on the idea of a cohesive working wardrobe. She has enjoyed nearly 40 years in the fashion industry by dressing women specifically for a big event. Her signature black-tie luxury of sumptuous velvets, sequined silks and lavish embroidery is indelibly associated with clothes for the mother of the bride, speech day at college or Ascot.
Fluid jersey separates have also long been the anchor of her original Caroline Charles London label and their flexibility and interchangeability are exploited in all her recent collections.
Clothes that can make the leap from office hours to a cocktail party are not easy to balance, but Charles works through this difficulty by staying true to her tried and tested principles, a stark silhouette subverted by furious prints and lush fabrics. Diana, Princess of Wales, ringo Starr, Petual Clark, madame George Pompidou, Barbra Streisand, Lulu, Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger, Cilla Black, Jodie Kidd, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Andie McDowell, Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren,
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