We loved our interview with Diane Houston back in June 2013, founder of luxury lingerie lable Gilda & Pearl, so much that we have decided to re-post this interview below.....we enjoy the inspiration behind the gorgeous designs by this made in Britain design house.....

The full sheerluxurylingerie interview with Gilda & Pearl is shown below. Thank you very much to Diane Houston for giving us a great insight into the world of Gilda & Pearl back in June 2013.

Sheerluxurylingerie.com Interview with Gilda & Pearl

Tara Blackman: When did you start designing?
Diane Houston: Do you know, I can’t actually remember when I started -it’s just something that’s always been with me. I remember receiving a tiny sewing machine as a child and I was hardly away from it. An outfit was made for everything! 

What was the first item you designed?

Tara Blackman: Does anyone or anything inspire your wonderful designs?
I think the idea of that sassy, beautiful femme fatale that Rita Hayworth played in the 1946 film Gilda still inspires me. She’s so gorgeous, vivacious, glamorous and sexy, but not overtly so. It’s kind of a flirtation, a suggestion – done with such class.

Her wardrobe for the film was made from the most luxurious fabrics, and it helped her to become known as ‘the ultimate femme fatale’. Gilda & Pearl is about femininity, about the sheer pleasure of beautiful things, but it is also mindful of true beauty- for example that it is made ethically here in the UK. The ‘pearl’ part of the label’s name refers to something exquisite, that is never mass-produced. 

Tara Blackman: You have true commitment to British design and manufacture, why do you feel that this is so important today?

Diane Houston: It’s important to me personally that I can keep an element of control over how my designs are made and under what conditions. It’s something I have a firm commitment to with the Gilda & Pearl label. There’s so many other things I want to look at- fabric sourcing for example- for now I’ve taken a small step. 

My mother worked with Jaeger and I remember going to their factory in Scotland just after it closed down- that day really stayed with me and perhaps spurred me on in what I do today. Also, it’s great to hear people telling stories about the factories they worked in until fairly recently and to see their skills at work- wouldn’t it be awful if similar skills and stories couldn’t be passed to the next generation?

We have such a strong manufacturing history in this country. If I can help to keep a little bit of that alive, that makes me happy, as does the quality of our garments. You can really see and feel the difference.

Tara Blackman: The names of your lingerie items are very original. What is the inspiration behind these names?
Diane Houston: Again I think it’s about the idea of indulging in femininity. Things like ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ come from classic films- which I am a huge fan of! The names can be tongue in cheek but they’re all feminine, flirtatious and sassy, again without being overtly sexy.

Tara Blackman: Do you have any famous Gilda & Pearl followers? -if we are allowed to know this!
Diane Houston: We do have one or two celebrity clients, but I’m not at liberty to say! Also, I don’t see Gilda & Pearl as a celebrity label as such- I designed it hoping that it can be kept and worn by any woman, anywhere, and instantly add to how fabulous she feels. 

Tara Blackman: You use wonderful materials in your designs, why do you see this as so important, and how does this add to the beautiful lingerie?
Diane Houston: Our lingerie is made to last and you can only do this with the best fabrics. Also, the silks and French laces we use are so soft to the touch, very sensuous, and I think that’s important. Some of the dyed silks are so soft and lustrous that they’re almost liquid-like when they move- beautiful- and those gorgeous, diaphanous chiffons on our babydolls have such a dreamy quality to them. I’ve chosen the qualities and colours very carefully because all of these things add to the experience. We also offer our own Gilda & Pearl printed silk fabric - it is printed in the UK and offers a little something a little different and fabulous. I also use English lace in some of our work, and I’d love to look into ethical fabrics in the future. 

Tara Blackman: Does music influence your designs in any way?
Diane Houston: I absolutely love music and it’s a big part of my life- playing and listening. I’m not sure how it would particularly influence any one design, but it’s more something that runs through all the collections I think –music is always, always on throughout my working day. Also, some of the collection names have been inspired by song lyrics and we’ve made lingerie for some fantastic rock n’ roll clients.

Tara Blackman: Who do you most admire in the world of design?
Diane Houston: It’s so hard to say- there are so many! In terms of brands however, I really love discovering labels that are a little different, that put a lot of thought into their designs and have a strong individual ethos. Belle & Bunty and Knomo are two examples whose lines I’m very attached to, and on a recent trip to New York I bought some incredibly delicate, beautiful silver jewelry from an ex ballet dancer who had recently launched his own handmade jewelry line. I’m always on the hunt for ‘different’ pieces and labels who do their own thing and do it brilliantly- I find that very encouraging and inspiring. 

Tara Blackman: Do you find inspiration when travelling?
Diane Houston: Yes, definitely. Though I’m inspired by the colours, shapes and styles I see (and the relaxing!), I think mostly I get inspired when I see traditional techniques being used- it can be anything, from traditional working methods on rubber plantations in Brazil, to textile dyeing in Cambodia. I’m just back from a trip to Sri Lanka went I went to a small bobbin lace-making factory on the coast. It was set up by a group of women after the Tsunami, so that they could meet and work on traditional skills together, and sell their work. I got huge inspiration from that. 

Tara Blackman: Where do you see Gilda & Pearl in 5 years from now?

Diane Houston: Gilda & Pearl has come really far in the last four years. Recently, we’ve introduced cup sizes up to F cup, and we now start at back size 30. We’re stocked in Australia, north America, China and Japan, as well as Europe, and of course at Sheer Luxury Lingerie, which is amazing. Gilda & Pearl’s press coverage also ranges from the Independent’s top 5o Lingerie Brands in the UK to Harper’s Bazaar magazine in China, thanks to our stockist in Beijing, le Macaron.

I’d love to see Gilda & Pearl continue to grow as a ‘boutique’ brand that stays true to its own values and offers amazing customer service. It’s also important to me that Gilda & Pearl continues to offer new and beautiful lingerie, and responds to customer’s needs and suggestions, for example as we did with the introduction of our larger cup sizes last year.

Tara Blackman: You must be very proud of your awards. What is your proudest achievement to date and do you have any other you particularly want to gain? 

Diane Houston: It’s so hard to pick one as I adore my job and there have been so many fantastic highs. It was wonderful to be selected as ‘Talent D’Intima’ for my first Salon de la Lingerie show in Paris- knowing that my babydoll was on the Paris catwalk was a great feeling- though I couldn’t even see it as I was so busy at my booth! 

Also to be chosen for support by the Prince’s Trust was fantastic. The ongoing contact and support from them is incredible. I have been asked to give a talk for them a few times, which is always a pleasure.

Receiving positive feedback from our customers is also something I also consider to be a really proud achievement every time. It means the world to me.

As for other achievements I want to gain, how long have you got?! I want to keep growing Gilda & Pearl steadily whilst remaining true to the label’s values. I want to keep working and growing with our fabulous stockists, and I also have several plans in the pipeline for international expansion within the next three years.

As well as working with our amazing production team in England. I really hope to increase our production in my native Scotland too. Offering apprenticeships to young people in the city I grew up in is something I would love to do.

The beautiful Loren babydoll shown below has been designed and made in Great Britain exclusively for sheerluxurylingerie by Gilda & Pearl in 100% silk with flattering padded cups. This beautiful garment is available on the link below: