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Original style: Alice Gabb, illustrator inspired by lost traditions
Original style: Alice Gabb, illustrator inspired by lost traditions

Interview by Katie Antoniou

In our newest installment of Original Style interviews, Katie Antoniou speaks with London-based illustrator Alice Gabb. She tells MIEN Magazine about her love of lost traditions, favourite style icons, and how a good dose of old-fashioned social graces still very much suit our modern era.

MIEN Magazine (MM): What and who inspires you?

Alice Gabb (AG): I suppose I am mostly inspired by lost traditions and curious British ways, both in language and etiquette. Aesthetically I’ve always been drawn to heraldry and Royal memorabilia that we have. I trawl through vintage papers and ephemera every week at various markets looking for methods of using or folding letters that we have forgotten about. My new range this year will be based on short telegrams and more little folding paper treats; people tend to think that a letter must be to announce something super important, or interesting, but I want to try to encourage the informal and spontaneous letter writer in us all…

MM: Who are your style icons?

AG: Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth between 1930 to 1940, and I am a sucker for a touch of heritage camel or red. Most of my outfits are very ‘uniform’-inspired and often fairly childish- although at the
moment a few of my ensembles are based on the Women’s Land Army from World War Two.

MM: And your favourite artists?

AG: Jessie Chorley makes the most beautiful things, and if I ever feel like I can’t make anything I just poke my nose into her shop and come out brimming with the urge to make. Emily Warren, Lucy Jane Batchelor and Apolline are also favourite makers of mine. My all time favourite artist/writer/talented lady is Miranda July, I love her honest use of language.

MM: Have you always drawn?

AG: In a word, yes. I come from a long line of medical or naval family so this is a source of continuous mystery for my parents. I blame the heavy dose of Disney films as a child….

MM: When did you start making stationery?

AG: I started making stationery when I moved to London for a year when I was 18. I lived alone in an old Victorian house with no internet and it became a secret comfort to me to write and illustrate letters to
keep in contact with all my friends, just like we did when I boarded when I was younger. Over time as I completed my degree and learnt skills such as letterpress and screen-printing, I could realise my
ideas more as they were intended to be and as soon as I left university and had time to do indulgent projects I started to get together a small range based on all the research I had collected.

MM: How often do you write a letter or card rather than send an email?

AG: Not as often as I would like, probably once a month if I’m being honest. Tut, tut. As soon as new products are finished this tends to increase to rather more extreme levels…

MM: What would be your dream project to work on?

AG: Well, apart from Kate Middleton’s wedding stationery, I would love to do an exhibition of illustrations and installations based on forgotten British etiquette.

MM: Because MIEN Magazine is dedicated to etiquette and style, we have to ask: do you have any pet peeves when it comes to manners? And how about favourite social graces?

AG: Well, as an occasional assistant Matron, I have fairly old-fashioned standards when it comes to manners! A bizarre pet peeve I have is ’sniffing’, it makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. However, I do love good use of grammar, and loathe the pesky double negatives that I find myself coming out with sometimes; a terrible habit. A favourite social grace would be the old classic, having a fine gentleman hold a door open for me or offer me their seat on public transport. Unfortunately this is not a common occurrence
amongst the smoky streets of London.

For more information and to peruse Alice Gabb’s winsome creations, take a look here:

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the penwork of Alice is just lovely.
My own Miss Manners pet peeve is that people do not seem to use handkerchiefs. Big snowy linen handkerchiefs, bleached and pressed and so very very functional for suppressing the spread of viruses which cost the nation a great deal of money in so many ways.
A gentleman carries one, a lady carries one. how hard can it be?

  • Ann O’Dyne
  • 29 Jan, 2011
  • 9:45 am

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