Helen Storey can be described as an artist, scientist and designer who has demonstrated success in all of the aforementioned industries. The focus and interest of so much of her work is the crossover and interaction between these disciplines. The Semple team met with Helen whilst in conversation with bespoke womenswear designer Susie Stone at her studio on Bermondsey Street.
Do you have a treasured piece of clothing you have kept for a particular reason?
Yes I have several and I do not think I could choose a favourite. I think it is because my tastes have changed over the years; what was a favourite at 16 is no longer a favourite now. I also have some dresses that I have never worn but that I made. I just like the process and enjoy the making of it so much, so it is precious to me for that reason.
Can you describe one of these dresses for us?
There was one that was a planet velvet dress and it comes from us discovering a way (which is done frequently now) called devioring. This is when you strip away the surface of a fabric and you find the backing right there. We managed to make it look like the universe.
We sold one to Catherine Zeta Jones actually, although we over-did the acid and it ripped her dress. At that time she was going out with a very cantankerous man who came storming into the shop the next day and obviously her bum had been hanging out on the red carpet!
I am sure that gained you plenty of press coverage!
Yes it did, indeed. She didn’t come back. (laughs)
Which woman is of most inspiration to you?
Again, different women at different times. So I met a women called Polly Higgins the other day who has been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize three times. (A lot of her work is around convincing the United Nations to consider a 5th crime against peace, ecocide) She stood up, did a talk and then showed an image of what peace looked like. It was amazing.
The world is full of inspirational women, it is just the luck of meeting them. And whilst I was growing up, Edith Pierre was actually my female idol.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice?
Don’t be scared.