So Very Devine -
An Interview with
Rosie Wolfenden

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Tatty Devine’s quirky jewellery designs have been winning the hearts of fashion fans since 1999. For those who want something fun and like to stand out from the crowd, it’s the go-to shop in Seven Dials. Co-Founder, Rosie Wolfenden, lets us into their world.

When and how did you start out?

Tatty Devine was set up by myself and Harriet Vine. We met at art school in 1996, where we studied fine art, not jewellery design. But we started making jewellery and accessories together as soon as we graduated in 1999, and started doing market stalls at Portobello and Spitalfields. Before we knew it, we had the likes of Urban Outfitters and Harvey Nichols wanting to buy off us, so we thought we’d better come up with a name! 

Where does the Tatty Devine name come from?

Harriet’s nickname at college was ‘Miss Devine’, and we were always rummaging through stuff at markets, junk shops and car boot sales - looking for old and interesting things. ‘Tatty’ therefore fit the bill, standing for something that’s old and has been kept and loved for a long time. Hence we came up with ‘Tatty Devine’, and it just kind of stuck!

What’s so different about your designs?

We discovered acrylic on a research trip to New York in 2001, and we came across a sign-makers shop in China Town. They were selling all these acrylic shapes that you’d ultimately stick on to a sign, like little cocktail glasses, poodles – that kind of thing! We brought them back to London and made them into jewellery. We took them to London Fashion Week, and everyone loved them so much. There was just nothing else like it. It kind of resembled quite kitsch 1950’s costume jewellery. 

How did you go about creating acrylic designs of your own?

No contemporaries were laser-cutting acrylic, but we found an architectural model maker in London who did, and he started cutting shapes for us. We ended up buying our own laser-cutter because we were spending so much money with him! That was all back in 2001, and we’ve been using acrylic for our designs ever since. Every year we’ve been developing our techniques and making bigger and better jewellery. We still make it all by hand ourselves, and we now have a team of 15 people making in our studio in Kent. 

How do you go about creating your new designs?

Well, we create about 300 new pieces of jewellery every year, and we tend to design around themes, and what Harriet and I are currently obsessed with. Last autumn/winter’s collection was inspired by witchcraft, but for this spring we’ve really explored nature, and there are some really beautiful pieces. There’s kingfishers, butterflies, bird nests and bluebells, mostly on statement necklaces, and some earrings and bracelets too. We’re really having the most success at the moment with our necklaces. People seem to really want the large statement pieces. The seasonal collection is limited edition, so you can buy a particular necklace and know it is only one of 50, and they are numbered. We tend to get people collecting our jewellery, so it really feels significant that certain pieces are limited edition. You can only buy those pieces in our store, or on our website. They are exclusive to us.

What other collections do you have?

We’ve got our classic collection, which is about 70 pieces and consists of early designs from when we started out, and popular items from over the years. They really carry our signature style, and they are just always there. We also have a non-limited line every season. This spring we’re also doing a special collection for International Women’s Day, which is on March 8. And we have an exciting new ceramics collection coming out, featuring vases and mugs. Other non-jewellery items we make include makeup bags and fun coin purses.

How would you best describe your designs?

Our aesthetic is a combination of mine and Harriet’s personalities and all of our points of reference. We’ve created this design style that didn’t really exist before. It’s very distinguished. You can tell when something is Tatty Devine!

What sort of crowd buy your designs?

Women who like to look a bit different and like to think they are individuals. We’re all about originality and telling a story. In fact, there’s a lot of story-telling in what we do. You can’t wear a piece of our jewellery without somebody stopping you and asking you what it is and where it’s from. People make friends wearing our jewellery!

Do you do any collaborations?

Yes, we’ve been doing collaborations forever. We’ve always liked coming together with like-minded artists to create something unique and to make something we wouldn’t otherwise have made. Recently we’ve worked with the Tate Modern, and the Barbican, to make jewellery to work alongside shows they’ve put on. We’ve also worked with musicians, such as Belle & Sebastian, and we’ve worked with the artists Gilbert & George. 

What’s the appeal about your Seven Dials shop?

I just really love our Seven Dials shop! We’ve been here about eight years now, and it just feels like home. The girls working in the shop are so knowledgeable and into the products, and it’s the perfect size for a jewellery shop. I used to be taken to Covent Garden as a child, and it was always a special treat. I was always really fascinated with the Seven Dials because it’s such a rabbit warren of interesting things. We were also drawn to it because there were so many independent British companies here. There’s a real sense of heritage. It’s a very real and alive shopping destination, it always has been, and it always will.

What else is special about the shop?

You can design your own personalised ‘Name Necklace’ or ‘Speech Bubble Necklace’, and watch our skilled team make, laser cut and hand finish it on the spot!

To check out the latest Tatty Devine collections, visit the Seven Dials store at 44 Monmouth Street.

Portrait photography by Toby Coulson.

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