It was 1983 and a moment of envy that brought me back to the UK after my time spent working with Valentino and Lancetti in Rome. At the bottom of The Spanish Steps was Rome's most cutting edge fashion store and in the window a full display of a BodyMap collection. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to start my own business, the spontaneity and brilliance of their work had blown me away. I left the perfume and fur behind.
Caroline Coates was introduced to me by John Richmond, and after working along side her, and many other designers under the Amalgamated Talent brand, we eventually set up business together as Coates & Storey in 1989. We grew the business for 12 years and at it's height had a turnover of £1.5 million, sold in 27 countries and had 3 shops. We sold to everyone from global celebrities to 3 girls from Cardiff, who saved up collectively to buy one gold bead jacket to share when out clubbing.
Caroline brokered the first fashion sponsorship deals with other industries, and the "2nd Life" label set a trend that is still influencing the recycling fashion debate today.
In 1995, struck by personal tragedy, a sense of total burn out and having lost my direction, the business was closed and in its place I sat still to contemplate the future. I wrote Fighting Fashion, (commissioned by Faber and Faber) and Caroline wrote "Designer Fact File" (commissioned by the DTI and The British Fashion Council).
Everything changed, when out of the blue my sister Kate sent me something in the post soon after the book was published.
Fighting Fashion by Helen Storey
Published by Faber & Faber, 1996
“At 35 she is arguably the most original and undoubtedly the most cerebral figure in British Fashion”
The Independent, June 1995