“Our school run is on bicycles with a basket loaded with hockey sticks and sports kits,” explains vivacious knitwear designer Alex Gore Browne. “The full circuit takes about half an hour and then I’m out for a brisk walk around the park with our whippet, Labrador and two Cockapoos. I’m then straight to the coffee machine and upstairs to my desk. Racing through the day before school pick-up”...
Her light-filled studio is at her magnificent home, Tidmington House, in Wiltshire – a busy hub of children and animals. She has two children, Tilly, 10 and son Teddy, eight – not to mention the two donkeys, Pluto and Pepsi, two Shetland ponies, Fudge and Oreo and four dogs, Tigger, Moon, Disco and Piglet.
Her husband, Jo Bamford, son of Lord Bamford and heir to the JCB-digger business, whom she met through a mutual friend in Ibiza, was the one who first spotted the Grade II listed manor house, parts of which date back to the 1600s, and they instantly fell in love with it. And as luck would have it the family’s Daylesford estate – the organic farm founded by Jo’s mother Lady Bamford – is close by.
The house with its pops of colour, wonky architecture and oodles of character is perfect for children (albeit exceptionally stylish ones). Who wouldn’t love a play date at the house with the outdoor climbing trail, the circus-inspired playroom and their very own playhouse made from an old shepherd’s hut complete with bunk beds.
And the playful touches extend to every corner, from the Union Flag and postbox in the hallway, the bunting-adorned kitchen and even the library-style loo.
Alex’s knitwear brand is similarly shifting the goal posts on how you perceive tradition.
Her new ‘Dress Your Jumper’ range means her elegant, painstakingly hand-crafted cocktail jumpers can be eternally reinvented with a wardrobe of extras: ruffle collars, rosettes, cuffs. Her silk knit bows are fast becoming a must-have addition.
“I always stumble when asked what I do,” says Alex, who is also adding tracksuit bottoms, knitted dresses and other accessories very soon. “I start by saying I’m a knitwear designer followed by ‘but not woolly jumpers sort of knitwear’. 20 years on I need to work on a better response.”
“I try and push the boundaries as much as I can creatively. I am always looking for new techniques but still making knitwear that’s wearable.”
Alex launched her label in 2000 after completing a BA in Textile Design at Central Saint Martins alongside the likes of Jonathan Saunders and Roksanda Ilincic.
Her designs, produced in Italy and Scotland, have caught the eye of many key luminaries including Donna Karan, Louis Vuitton and the late Alexander McQueen, whom she designed and consulted for.
If she had to pick a career highlight it would have to be Kate Moss walking into her Notting Hill boutique and buying the whole collection: “That was a good day”.
We didn’t know where to start first – amazing home – amazing knitwear – we wanted to find out about it all. And we especially love her life motto.