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Wednesday 20 April 2011
Words Spindle

Capes; usually reserved for fairytale characters visiting their grandmothers, Autumn/Winter 2010 saw the cape going down a storm with the fashion world. From a kitchen table in Brixton, Roya Fraser has been creating something a little different.

A world away from that standard camel cape, Roya’s uses fabrics sourced from places such as India, Brixton and Shepherd’s Bush markets and central America to create bespoke capes.  They’re all unisex, reversible and really useful to throw on in summer or winter to add something special to your outfit. Perfect for festivals, they have big hoods to give you shade and keep out the cold. With collections designed with Wedgwood teapots full of rum punch in mind, and Marina of Marina and the Diamonds sporting two bespoke capes on her tour, I decided to catch up with Roya and find out more about how her cape making began.

How did you start making capes?
It was a couple of years ago. Everyone just looks a little more fun and dramatic in a cape. My Grandma has this beautiful turquoise cape she sometimes wears to formal occasions that she never let me borrow it (quite rightly) so I made my own. Whilst traveling in India and seeing all the beautiful fabric markets, I was desperately missing my sewing machine. I just got it into my head that people needed capes and got straight to it as soon as I got back, with all the fabric I’d sweatily lugged back with me. I brought a few along to Glastonbury festival to test them out. They went down a storm among my friends. We made a lot of new friends that weekend; people love a person in a cape.

I think i’ve always needed to make things to feel sane. As a child I’d make my toy Lamb new outfits to change with the seasons (actually I say as a child but I was once caught by a housemate in my second year of uni at 3am one night sewing Lamby her new winter jumper). I studied performance art at university in Brighton and took a lot of interest in doing all my props and costume myself and I now work in production doing much the same prop making and art directing music videos. Making things has always been my release, even after a long day at work making things I get out a bit of knitting. So I thought I might as well start to try and sell my creations online.

What inspires your designs?
Right now, tropical fruit, Brixton Market, banana bread and disco.

Tell me about the collections so far…
The first one, last summer, was sort of if you imagine a Scottish clan that have gone to live in a desert of gold dust… lots of purple and jade peacock colours, tartans and shimmery gold detail. I wanted to make a cape that I could imagine Natasha Khan from Bat For Lashes wearing on stage.

The next collection is called Cafeteria Nigeria which uses a lot of African patterns. It’s traditional English with a tropical edge.

What’s next for your capes?
I’m thinking along the lines of ‘disco pagan’…but seriously there are big things happening. I’ve teamed up with a friend of a similar makey nature (my long time Sunday crafting buddy) and we’ve just set up a new company for our products called Key Lime Pie. She is the Key and I’m the lime. We’re just preparing for our first photo shoot.

How can Spindle readers get their very own cape?
At our new website: www.key-lime-pie.co.uk where you’ll find other products such as lovely handmade hooded scarves, headbands and a range of home wares and gifts for kids.