DEBORAH COATES has been designing clothes since she could draw, as a child countless Sunday afternoons were spent growing up watching old movies that would bring sheer joy and delight at those marvelous costumes, expanding her mind and ruining her eyesight “ if you get any closer to that box you will have square eyes” her mother would say.
When moments of inspiration occurred (from a shadow on a building, a crack in the pavement, to a vision of pink on a weeping cherry blossom tree) Deborah would grab whatever was available, a napkin, a receipt, her wooden school desk, much to her teacher’s disapproval, to fervently document the ‘light-bulb’ moment. Being a pioneer, looking at things in a different way sought her to use mediums not necessarily for their intended purpose. At art college, Deborah looked into developing a new ‘art genre’ by trying to sculpt ‘light’. Fascinated by light mounds in Ireland and the Pyramids of Egypt, somehow wanting to bring more colour into the world of sculpture, she discovered that essentially colour is light.
Studying BA Hons Fine Art she created what appeared to be a solid floor to ceiling square block sculpture that slowly changed colour. Entering the art installation space through a square low tunnel entrance, it opened into a larger, quiet, dark space where you would encounter an ephemeral standing stone that vibrated, merging slowly into different colours. After your rods and cones in your eyes got accustomed to the darkness you realised the block was in-fact not solid, that you could enter the block and then see the physical sides of the block from inside, it was purely just 'light' sculpted to appear as a solid mass. It is important to mention that you were also having a colour healing at this point as the bulb used was as close to visible daylight, effecting your well-being, so having a physical effect too. Deborah states that a massive thank you at this point must be given to the lighting director at the BBC for the loan of a £30,000 piece of kit that without his kindness would have left her doing a lot of explaining come Degree Show day!
Moving decades along from those early experiences and her Fine Art training has left her with what she calls a “unique visual alphabet”. With this language she still sculpts but her medium is fabric and the female form. She likes to design items that surprise by having the option to be worn in more than one way, ( ref: the costumes of old movies) She likes to emphasis the balance that is required on each individual ladies form like the balance required in a composition (ref: years of drawing/painting) She refers to not only looking at the clothed spaces when designing a bespoke outfit for a client, rather she focuses also on the ‘negative’ spaces i.e the measurement of the arm on show after a sleeve length but in conjunction with the width of a neckline, waist or length of leg on show ( ref: the com-positional element of a painting or sculpture) She loves colour and talks of “instantly seeing which colours one of my ladies should adorn”( ref: knowledge of artists/painters, e.g Picasso’s blue). Deborah says “I listen to my clients, their own story, to get a full understanding of what they need from their outfit because like Art, for me, it has to have an effect, dare I declare .....its kinda spiritual”
“Its all in the design” is Deborah’s mantra along with...“It’s not about fashion, it’s about style”. Deborah offers a fresh approach to an existing Occasion Wear market, she has become known as a destination for clients wanting something not already available out there, for instance she caters for Mothers of Brides or Grooms who are exhausted by the limited options available to them in shops and online. This extends to Brides who “like the top in that picture... but the bottom in that one and in this fabric” ...to which Deborah responds by getting her sketch pad out and within seconds has ‘nailed’ the design to gasps...”That’s it...that’s my dress”!!! She also has a very popular Ready to Wear collection suitable for informal to formal occasions that exude elegance. All her designs are very feminine with an emphasis on well-balanced silhouettes such as the infamous ‘wiggle’ and 'shirt-waister' dress.
Deborah's initials are Christian Dior in reverse and it’s no surprise she gets comments on the similarity of his feminine yet alluring designs from his prolific period in the 1950’s...” I’m very happy with that comparison and thrilled to be able to design my collections and bespoke pieces for women who want to show their femininity, there’s such power in elegant attire, as one of my ladies let me know, telling me of a younger counterpart that whispered to her declaring that ‘all the men’s eyes were on her’....she was in-fact wearing one of my beautiful simplistic,shirt-waister dress designs (made to measure), proving the old adage that less is indeed more” … and there I rest my case !