In a bold move, designers Louisa Guy Roeder and Christina French Houghton decided to leave their respective jobs and follow their passion by starting a line of women’s blazers they’ve named Guy French. Based in New York City, all of the label’s pieces are focused on fit, detail, and quality of materials. Each garment is made with 100% silk liners, imported Italian wool, and 4-ply silks fabrics, made by hand in Manhattan.
tFs had the chance to chat with Christina, who was born and raised in London, and most recently worked at Sotheby’s auction house in New York, about why her and her partner chose to focus on the blazer, the craftsmanship that goes into creating a Guy French pieces, and more…
Q: What made you focus on blazers for your debut collection?
A: A blazer is a staple in every woman’s closet. Especially in times of economic turmoil, women return to the basics, and we wanted to offer something that was timeless and versatile. A blazer also has good value – it’s something you can wear again and again.
Louisa and I also wanted to start by focusing on one item and learn how to craft it very well. Jacket and blazers were the perfect place to start – especially since Louisa has been obsessed with them since the age of 15. She has a library of roughly 75 styles that she’s amassed over the years, so it’s something she knows quite well.
Q: How would we describe your clientele?
A: Our clientele consists of sophisticated women from metropolitan areas who pay special attention to quality and detailing. We appeal to these women not only because of our attention to detail, but also with our classic silhouettes, and fun, patterned liners. Many of our clients are bankers and lawyers who like to wear feminine, tailored blazers as a way to express their femininity within these male-dominated professions. We also do well with women who are culturally savvy, and who use clothing as a means of expression.
Q: Do you have any tips on how women can take a blazer from day to night?
A: Yes – a blazer can be worn any time, it all depends on what you pair it with. You could wear our Isabel jacket, for example, buttoned over a dress for work. To go from day to night, you could put on a great pair of heels, unbutton the front closure, and undo the buttons along the sleeves for a more casual, sexy look. Alternatively, you could wear our Margaret jacket closed during the day and open at night as a loose, bomber jacket. You could also wear our Camille on the reversed side for a slightly sexier look.
Q: Can you give us some insight into the craftsmanship that goes into your garments?
A: All of our garments are made by hand in New York. We pick out all of our fabrics in limited quantities – most are imported Italian wools, 4-ply silks, etc. We manage our production team on a weekly, if not daily basis.
Q: If you could dress any celebrity in one of your blazers, who would it be?
A: Sarah Jessica Parker – she’s a style icon for all ages, and would look great in one of our blazers. She also likes thin-cut arms, which is a signature look in our fall collection.
Q: Do you plan on continuing to focus on blazers in the coming season, or are you thinking of adding other forms of outerwear?
A: We’re focusing on jackets for the next couple of years – we think they have wide appeal, and we really want to create the "perfect" blazer and build our reputation in this area (Burberry started by just making trench coats, and we look to them as a model). In fact, we want to add a trench to the collection for Spring, and our next step will likely be to start a line of men’s blazers. We have already received a slew of requests from our male friends to start this line right away (which Louisa and I playfully refer to as "French Guy"). We will do dresses and pants (to wear with the blazers) after that.
Q: What have been the biggest hurdles in starting your brand? And what has been the most exciting part?
A: One of the hurdles has been managing the work load between just the two of us. Starting a company is a huge undertaking, and we often work 80-hour weeks.
Virtually all aspects of the business have been incredibly exciting – from finding inspiration in our day-to-day lives, designing our first collection, creating our website, and learning about production and sourcing.
Q: Can you tell us where/when some of your upcoming trunk shows will be?
A: We’re having a trunk show in Katonah on March 18 and one in London on March 25. We are considering a show in Paris in late March or early April. Our designs are also available for purchase via email at [email protected]