Susie Cave

Love, loss, soror­ity and sal­va­tion are threaded to­gether in the dra­matic dresses from the multi-tal­ented cre­ator of the Vam­pire’s Wife.

Harper's Bazaar (UK) - - Susie Cave - By Susie Lau Pho­to­graphs by SOLVE SUNDSBO

The tran­si­tion from muse and model to le­git­i­mate fash­ion de­signer can be a tricky path to nav­i­gate. More of­ten than not, the re­sult­ing work can come across as hack­neyed. Susie Cave is an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­cep­tion. An in­spi­ra­tion to the likes of Hel­mut New­ton and Guy Bour­din, and the wife of the mu­si­cian Nick Cave, Susie has al­ways ful­filled real sar­to­rial needs in in­ge­nious ways, whether by trans­form­ing her friends’ flared trousers into drain­pipes at the ten­der age of 12 or dye­ing her own clothes for test shoots when she was mod­el­ling. Her brand the Vam­pire’s Wife (named af­ter the ti­tle of an un­pub­lished novel writ­ten by her hus­band) was born out of cre­ative ne­ces­sity. ‘Every time I went out with Nick, I never knew what to wear, or the things I wanted to wear were so ex­pen­sive,’ she re­calls. ‘I thought, “I’d love to make my own clothes so I won’t be spend­ing all this money!”’

And so in 2014, she set up the la­bel with her busi­ness part­ner and friend Alex Adam­son. In a stu­dio in Brighton, Cave used a cup­board of vin­tage dresses as ref­er­ences, and be­gan de­sign­ing clothes with a co­quet­tish fem­i­nin­ity that women all over the world would fall hard for. But just when the Vam­pire’s Wife was be­gin­ning its as­cent, the fam­ily was struck by an unimag­in­able per­sonal tragedy that al­tered the course of the la­bel. Three years ago, the Caves’ son Arthur, a twin to Earl, died in a tragic ac­ci­dent at the age of 15, when he fell from a cliff af­ter tak­ing LSD. ‘I re­ally thought I was go­ing to close the com­pany down,’ says Cave. ‘I was in such a fog for such a long time. But then I dragged my­self into the of­fice. I just re­mem­ber think­ing, “I can do some­thing for some­one.”’ Daisy Lowe had re­quested a cus­tom dress for an awards cer­e­mony, and Cave ad­mits that hav­ing a pur­pose and be­ing needed felt good. ‘Some­how I made that dress and then it was all over the pa­pers. It was a re­ally chal­leng­ing time,

but I found that work­ing and be­ing cre­ative was very help­ful.’

To­day, the la­bel’s co­terie of fa­mous ad­mir­ers in­cludes Cate Blanchett, Kate Moss, Ruth Negga and Florence Welch; and there are let­ters from cus­tomers on her site who are ef­fu­sive about how the clothes give them ‘next level joy’ (to quote one). ‘I feel the same about ev­ery­body wear­ing the dresses, whether they’re celebri­ties or not,’ says Cave. ‘I so want them to have some­thing to make them feel good. I don’t want to dis­ap­point any­body. The la­bel has also given me this whole new re­la­tion­ship with women, as I’ve al­ways been sur­rounded by men – from Nick to my broth­ers and my chil­dren.’

Cave is sen­si­tive to how women feel in the clothes; the Vam­pire’s Wife is a brand that val­ues the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a pa­tron and her dress­maker. She pays at­ten­tion to de­tails such as French seams and non-itchy threads, and the re­sult is a re­li­able arse­nal of sil­hou­ettes that have been tweaked to per­fec­tion. When you wear one of her cre­ations, it feels as though it was made ex­pressly for you: the ruf­fles will be just so and the cuff of a sleeve will fall at ex­actly the right place. Her hus­band has an in­put into the choice of fab­rics, and once sug­gested that she use a deep shade of co­ral-pink vel­vet rem­i­nis­cent of a dress Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe wore on the red car­pet for the Os­cars. Ul­ti­mately, though, it is Cave her­self who up­holds her own ex­act­ing high stan­dards, and in a world of throw­away fash­ion, the Vam­pire’s Wife is a highly per­sonal pas­sion. ‘If I wouldn’t wear it, I wouldn’t sell it,’ she says em­phat­i­cally. And if it’s good enough for Susie Cave, then it’s good enough for us.

‘It was a re­ally chal­leng­ing time,

but I found that work­ing and

be­ing cre­ative was very help­ful’

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