Bijou Boudoir is an independent label bringing unique, innovative fashion at affordable prices.
The label was created in 2007 after Gemma Ramage, the creator, designer and founder of Bijou completed her Bachelor of Arts Honours Fashion & clothing degree at Leeds College of Art & Design.
Upon completing their degree show, many fashion graduates choose to work within the industry for a large company to gain experience. However, Gemma used her initiative and set up her own label immediately, sewing her unique designs by hand.
Independent Boutique ‘Cure’ soon learned of Gemma's collection, seeing the potential in Bijou Boudoir and became the first stockist of the brand in Gemma’s hometown of Lichfield. The stockist saw the potential of the dresses as they were unique, produced locally in small numbers and at a great price point.
Cure’s customers bought the dresses as occasion wear knowing that they were getting designer quality at high street prices.
Gemma’s concept ‘Bijou Boudoir’ went from strength to strength and within two years had over twenty stockists around the UK and even as far flung as Bahrain.
Bijou Boudoir has certainly evolved since those early days, but it still retains its own unique style. Within the collection there is a heavy emphasis on drapes and an oversized look that fits and suits a large breadth of body types and sizes. Fabrics as diverse as tartan, sequins and leather are used to create a clash of prints for the more fashion forward but the real jewels in the crown of the collection are Gemma’s occasion wear.
The dresses are hugely versatile with varying different ways of tying the garment to create different looks. Amongst other clever design features, hooks and detachable neck scarves are used so that each dress can be worn to create a myriad of different styles.
As most of the pieces that Gemma makes for the brand are oversized, she then incorporates belts to add definition back to the silhouette if needed. This means that they can be purchased and worn by most sized customers from a size six to a size sixteen. Gemma believes that it’s essential that a wide range of women can wear her clothes.
Not wanting to just supply to other retailers, Gemma took the bold step to open her own boutique in her home town of Lichfield. Stocking other brands such as French Connection, Nu Denmark, Religion, Silvia Heach and Rebecca Rhodes, has given her an even greater understanding of what her customers want and need. The boutique has become a great success, not least because of the brand at the heart of it all. Her customers flock back to pick up Gemma’s designs as soon as they hit the rails.
Bijou Boudoir has been worn by celebrities Mischa Barton and Louisa Lytton. The brand has graced the pages of both Heat and OK magazines.
In 2016 Gemma won a mentoring session with the iconic retailer ‘Selfridges’ in Birmingham. As sustainability is close to the designer’s heart, this was discussed with a panel of fashion retail experts, along with the future of her label.
Part of the ethos of Bijou Boudoir is sustainability. In a world where there is so much throw away fashion, Bijou Boudoir enables the wearer to wear each garment in several differing ways. Gemma believes that it is wrong to view clothes as expendable but realises that her customers want to achieve different looks. She gives them this option with her subtle but striking accessories that give the wearer different options with each design. A detachable neck scarf can be worn as a belt. Versatility is always key.
When cutting patterns, Gemma is keen that no fabric is wasted, and any offcuts are used to create details on garments or neckpieces. This again reinforces the sustainability of the garment and thus the label.
Gemma’s talents are many and numerous. She designs unusual, flattering and sustainable clothing as daywear and occasion wear. Her pieces suit a broad range of ages and sizes. She wants to give her customers confidence. Confidence that they will look individual and confidence that they will look great in her pieces.
Gemma’s designs will stand the test of time in a world where fashion has been seen as expendable for far too long.