Fashioning a Legacy

Marion Foale.
Marion Foale. © Magnus Dennis

Marion Foale can truthfully be regarded as one of Britain’s most successful designers, who is still at the top of her game, always anticipating trends and ideas in the air. Following almost six decades of hands-on fashion and designing, the lively and amusing Marion is now carefully curating her fashion legacy, while continuing to design.

As half of the duo of young funky designers Foale and Tuffin, Marion Foale is famous for creating bold and imaginative fashion in the days of Carnaby Street and Swinging London in the 1960s, with their trendy boutique Foale and Tuffin.

Discovered early on by Vogue, the two went on to take the looks and the brio to the US for Youth Quake with Mary Quant and Betsy Johnson, with go-go girls modelling the outfits, the Skunks boy band and all the razzmatazz of the time.

Marion Foale knitwear
Marion Foale knitwear. © Magnus Dennis

The two entrepreneurs went on to design clothes for films starring Susannah York and Warren Beatty, Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. Together with names like Mary Quant, Foale and Tuffin sold in the UK and also across in the USA.

Marion’s second career, beginning after a break, has been sited equally at the cutting edge, as she established her uniquely stylish knitwear brand, Marion Foale, stocked by exclusive outlets in the UK and abroad. The collections are completely hand-made in the UK by a band of skilled workers.

The attention to craft and the nature of the natural yarns she uses, perfectly in tune with contemporary thinking and bringing her tailoring skills into the mix as she singlehandedly translates tailored fashion jackets into knitted versions, “enjoying the maths involved”, she says. Marion works in quite an unusual way, in that she pins fabric to a mannequin as a starting point for her designing and then works out the knitting pattern, a much more couture way of working.

Marion Foale knitwear
Marion Foale knitwear. © Magnus Dennis

Her skills and fashion flair transformed knitwear from a mere layer or accessory into stand-alone garments, which told their own story, young and dynamic, as well as elegant. In time she added a range of hand knitwear for Margaret Howell, which they collaborated on together to suit the contemporary styling of the retail stores and concessions.

Like many of her fellow designers who shook the 1960’s, Marion Foale is still making waves to the present day. Always a leader in the spirit of the times, she has also decided to follow her fundamental interest in art, to pursue for herself the love of painting, which led her to first study at Art School in Walthamstow, East London, before she became caught up by the artistic revolution.

Marion will continue to sell her patterns, yarn and garments and pass on her knowledge. And now we can, perhaps, also look out for one of the designer’s paintings.

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