The Luxury Channel Meets The Founders of British Ethical Fashion Label Beulah By Antonia Peck
Beulah London was founded in 2011 by Lady Natasha Rufus Isaacs and Lavinia Brennan – friends in their twenties who met as congregants at the same church in London’s South Kensington. The Beulah London brand has already won a loyal following of high profile devotees, from the Duchess of Cambridge to Sienna Miller and Sarah Jessica-Parker.
It is easy to see why; the Beulah designers encapsulate an aesthetic that combines British timeless elegance with beautifully understated glamour. The stunningly luxuriant seasonal collections and bespoke pieces commissioned for weddings and society events, each one named after a butterfly, is only half of the Beulah picture however. It is the story behind Beulah and the work undertaken helping the victims of sex trafficking in India that has captured the imagination and support of its followers.
Beulah works with a government-guaranteed scheme to provide women in Delhi and Kolkata previously embroiled in the horrors of sex trafficking a sustainable and salaried livelihood. The women are either involved in producing the pieces or are being trained to develop the skills. The connection with India is deeply rooted in the Beulah genes – Natasha’s great-great-grandfather was once a Viceroy of India.
What are the origins of the label and its philosophy?
Beulah London traces its origins back to 2009, when the two of us had a life-transforming opportunity to work in an aftercare home in the Delhi slums. Having witnessed the harrowing effects of human trafficking and sex trade, we felt moved to raise awareness of this important issue. With no formal training in fashion, we hit on an idea of launching a luxury fashion label that aimed to help provide an alternative, sustainable livelihood to those that have come out of sex trafficking, through employment. Beulah is symbolic of the philosophy behind the brand. It is a Biblical term which is used to represent the ‘forsaken’ or ‘desolate,’ being ‘unforsaken’ and coming into a place of restoration and freedom.
What would you say epitomises your design aesthetic?
We aim to create timeless pieces that go beyond seasonal trends and which can be kept in one’s wardrobe and passed on generations. Timeless elegance, effortless glamour.
Which other British designers do you find inspirational?
Bruce Oldfield – very classic and elegant; Emelia Wickstead – simple, elegant pieces and incredible sophistication; Anya Hindmarch – she doesn’t do clothes, but we love the very simple but elegant pieces. We would also count Valentino as a hugely inspirational designer for us – sadly, he is Italian though!
You have a very high profile following – what would you say it is about your designs or brand that attracts such support?
We feel incredibly blessed with the following we have received. We hope it is reflective of our designs but also probably the story behind the brand, which is quite different to anything in the market currently.
You have moved into bespoke and wedding attire – Natasha, you are getting married this year (to lawyer, Rupert Finch), will you be designing your own wedding dress?
Yes (A smile but no, our bride-to-be remains tight lipped on further details!)
What is the one luxury you can’t do without?
Natasha: My cashmere eyemask.
Lavinia: My shellac nails – it sounds silly, but I have always bitten my nails, especially when I am stressed, so I have been trying to get my nails done to help me stop!
Care to share a favourite place from your little black book?
Natasha: Megan’s Cafe. We used to have an office just off the New Kings Road and would go to Megan’s everyday! Now we’ve moved to Grosvenor Crescent, I do miss it!
Lavinia: The Courtauld Gallery. I studied History of Art for A level and then at University – it’s such a peaceful place with a beautiful collection of paintings. I did my dissertation on Degas, so it’s always nice going back there and seeing his work. I also love Somerset House, so couldn’t be in a better location!
What is luxury?
High quality finishing, perfect and flattering fit, expensive material, somewhat exclusive.
The Beulah London collection is available in Beulah’s Grosvenor Crescent showroom and online now, or select stockists are listed here.