Catherine Walker was a French-born fashion designer who first opened her business in 1977 on Sidney Street in London. For 30 years, she was a successful couturier designing two seasonal collections per year and designing for famous celebrities and members of The Royal Family.
Some of her most famous designs were those worn by Diana, Princess of Wales. She was noted to have designed more than 1,000 garments for Diana, including the black dress that she was buried in after her tragic death. Catherine Walker was Princess Diana’s favourite designer; their professional relationship started in 1981 and lasted 16 years until her death.
Catherine Walker was awarded Designer or the Year for Couture in 1990 and Designer of the Year for Glamour the following year. In 1995, she was diagnosed with breast cancer; she was treated surgically and became a founding sponsor of Breast Cancer Haven. She later died of cancer in 2010.
Upon her death, her husband Said Cyrus took charge of the company as head designer. He has the same philosophy as his wife and focuses on bespoke garments for clients, staying clear of marketing campaigns and wholesale trade. Their designs can take weeks or months to complete, depending on their complexity. To guarantee a perfect fit, trial garments are made using cotton fabric https://www.higgsandhiggs.com/fabrics/plain-cotton-fabric.html or silk ,which is transferred to paper. They then make another garment to fit on a mannequin before moving on to the finished fabric.
This year marks 40 years in business for the firm. Fittingly, the anniversary coincides with Kensington Palace’s major exhibition, Diana: Her Fashion Story, where half the dresses on display were designed by Catherine Walker & Co. Said Cyrus said it is an honour to look back at the beautiful things that were designed and worn by the Princess, adding that she was the star, not the dress. To mark their anniversary, they have collaborated with Italian jewellery house Gismondi 1754 to design a beautiful necklace. The piece is shaped like a butterfly, which they will use as their logo, and is made from natural rubies, the 40th anniversary stone, with a navette-cut diamond in the centre. The butterfly is said to describe Catherine, who was elegant and graceful. Twenty per cent of the proceeds from the collaboration will go to The Breast Cancer Haven charity.