“I dreamed of creating bespoke clothes to celebrate each person’s individual style”

BY DENISE KAPLAN, ORHAN LONDON TAILORING

It’s a Wednesday afternoon and Charlotte is being fitted for her fourth bespoke jacket in as many months. 

“You really need to speak to DIVA’s publisher, Denise,” she tells me.

“Linda Riley is all about transforming the landscape for lesbian women and you should meet her.”  

TRANSFORMING THE LANDSCAPE

Charlotte isn’t the first person to suggest contacting Linda. Theresa, another cherished client, worked with LGBT organisation Stonewall and is passionate about addressing the challenges lesbian and bisexual women face when it comes to shopping.

“I’m outraged by the stories I hear from many of our lesbian customers about their shopping experiences,” Theresa explained.

“Especially the lack of choice when it comes to styles on offer – for work and for special occasions.”

After a career as a celebrity PR supporting artists in finding their identities, I co-founded Orhan London Tailoring 12 years ago, where my attention turned to creating bespoke clothes to celebrate each person’s individual style.

We are proud to have built a team with a vision to empower our clients and celebrate the diversity of each one. 

Over a glass of wine, Theresa and I discuss how we can contribute to revolutionising society through our businesses – and Linda’s name pops up, so I send her a tweet.  

FEELING YOUR BEST

One week later, Linda and I are having breakfast in a trendy Marylebone café.

We’ve been looking after LGBTQI clients for 12 years, but as a leading voice within the community, I want to know if Linda has any advice for us to support a transformation in bespoke lesbian and bisexual tailoring.

I share with her my goal, “We want to be the number one tailor you think of when you need something fabulous to wear.

“We’re bespoke tailors specialising in women’s body shapes driven by the desire to empower each person to feel their absolute best in the clothes they wear.

“We want to provide a service that sets the bar so high that others are inspired to follow.”   

Linda shares her experiences and (many) frustrations and I offer to make her a suit and she offers to give our team at Orhan London Tailoring her feedback. Fantastic.

BLUE VELVET

A few days later, Linda rocks up at our Shoreditch studios to begin her tailoring journey with us – she selects an energetic blue velvet for her three-piece suit; a wonderfully bold choice.

Apparently she has always dreamed of owning a blue velvet suit, usually opting for staple-blacks. I wonder why she’s never shared this before but I’m thrilled to divulge her.

Her beautiful suit is made ready for a fitting and even before we have tailored it to perfection she says, “Nothing has ever fit me so well.”

Linda Riley and Sinitta at the European Diversity Awards 2018

FEELING FANTASTIC

It is not long before her outfit is making it’s grand debut.

Linda is hosting the European Diversity Awards, a prestigious event that she herself established and we’ve kindly been invited.

Bumping into her with one of my former celebrity clients, Sinitta, she proclaims, “Everyone is saying that they’ve never seen me look so good.”  

I’m delighted to see her feeling so fantastic, when she delivers her powerful address.

Denise Kaplan, co-founder of Orhan London Tailoring, specialists in women’s bespoke tailoring. For more, visit Orhan London Tailoring

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