While Seraphina's Fiona Hodges career has taken her to Vogue and Anouska Hempel, her greatest passion has always been for fabric. And let's just say, it shows.
As she says, “It all started with one kaftan in the heat of Delhi when I was in my 30s. I bought some fabric in the market and found a one-man-band to make it. He took my fabric up to his roof terrace where he sat with a simple sewing machine and views of the city. He made my idea become a reality. The joy of seeing the fabric turn into the design, overseeing that process, gave me a huge thrill. I guess I’ve been hooked on the magic ever since. I can’t believe l now design collections.”
Having grown up on her father’s tea plantation in Darjeeling, Fiona has always loved India, and it was this love that drew her back to the country that shaped her childhood. Captivated by the colours, textures and beauty of the fabrics, she was inspired to create her own easy-to-wear modern clothing brand, and we are so glad she did.
Seraphina’s range provides a fresh take on resort and loungewear, using the finest fabrics in divine prints that are all designed in-house. We were delighted to speak to and visit Fiona in her home in Somerset, where we found out about her design process, her life in the country and what it’s taken to build this impressive brand.
Tell us a little about Seraphina.
Seraphina’s journey started with one kaftan in the heat of Delhi when I was in my 30’s buying some extraordinarily beautiful fabric in the marketplace and finding a one-man band to make a sample! We are now producing two resort and loungewear collections a year, with a particular emphasis on “Mummy and Me”, all of which are designed in house at our factory in Delhi. I still pinch myself at how far we have come since those early days!
We adore your wearable, relaxed pieces. How do you go about the design process?
Thank you! The design process will start with mood boards in the office and anything that I love – be it a colour of a plate to the shape of shell – is immediately pinned. We then decide on colour themes, fabrics and prints which is a challenge as there is always far too much choice! Once we have worked on the styles, our factory gets to work on the toiles which go to and from the factory to perfect the fit. Our in-house design team in the meantime work on fabric strike-offs and colour lab dips. The whole process can take up to eight months. Always at the front of my mind is that is has got to be easy to wear with a bit of fun thrown in too!
What inspires you when designing a collection?
Inspiration comes in many forms but India offers so much and it is where I feel at my most relaxed and able to take in the beauty around me. I love trawling the many markets in Delhi, visiting ancient palaces in Rajasthan, to rambling on the remote beaches of Goa. The patterns, colours, shapes and textures are breathtaking. Nature has a funny way of providing the necessary inspiration. I always return to the office buzzing with ideas.
Your children's pieces are equally gorgeous. What prompted you to create a collection for both women and children?
It is quite often our clients who come up with the best ideas! I had repeated requests for matching outfits, particularly from the States, to design matching outfits for mummy and me. They were an immediate sell-out and since then we have increased the size of the mother and daughter collection. It always brings a huge smile to my face receiving the happy holiday photos sent to us.