I Heart Tatty Devine, or How the DIY Queens Fought the Big Guys and Won

My husband even proposed with a Tatty Devine cameo ring -- the astuteness of his choice (pink! plastic!) made it clear that I should frogmarch this chap down the aisle sharpish.

May 10, 2012 at 4:00pm | Leave a comment

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Tatty Devine jewellery has punctuated most of the significant episodes in my adult life.

The cult Brit brand was founded in 1999 by art students Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden, and their witty, hand-cut acrylic pieces have been worn by everyone from Madonna to Chicks on Speed and Peaches (who co-designed a range with them). And quite frankly, who could resist their eyelash sunglasses, or a Siamese kitten on a necklace? NOT ME!

Tatty Devine’s signature piece is the name necklace: in a variety of fonts and all colours of the rainbow, you can have your name, nickname, pet’s name or whatever hanging round your neck. My best friend and I got them to celebrate starting our zine, Pamflet, mine in pastel pink and hers in fuchsia. Our Token Boy was rewarded for his commitment to the zine-making cause with his very own "Manflet" necklace in lime green. Lucky chap.

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Anna-Marie's Pamflet name necklace

Token Boy reciprocated by proposing with a Tatty Devine cameo ring -- the astuteness of his choice (pink! plastic! he knows me so well!) made it clear that I should frogmarch this chap down the aisle sharpish.

Tatty’s 3D glasses earrings have also served as ice-breakers in countless job interviews, so they’re now a lucky charm. I love that their jewellery can be cute without every feeling too twee -- black humour subverts the cartoony colours and playful plastic.

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Me and my Tatty Devine engagement ring

This year, Tatty Devine faced a David and Goliath-style battle with Claire’s Accessories, who were accused of copying their designs and selling the mass-produced imitations for a fraction of the price of the originals. A blog post they wrote pointing out the glaring similarities went viral and after a campaign on Twitter and Facebook, Claire’s agreed a settlement and withdrew the offending products.

Harriet and Rosie said they’d been overwhelmed by the response online. There was genuine outrage that a small business that had been built from scratch by two talented individuals was being destabilised by a big, faceless corporation.

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"Hello! Can we have our ideas back please?" Matilda brooch

Tatty's stuff isn’t cheap in any sense of the word, but their customers understand that they’re paying for an original idea and the execution of that idea in the best quality materials, to the highest of standards. They save up their hard-earned cash to buy something really special, and were unimpressed that a big company was harming a business that has stayed true to its DIY roots (their lady-led East London studio is a veritable Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, with beads and baubles peeping temptingly out of boxes everywhere).

During tough economic times, supporting an independent brand and owning something that’s been made with care feels really good, and that was why Tatty Devine experienced such support and loyalty -- and won.

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All my Tatty Devine treasures, including the lucky 3D glasses earrings and my engagement ring

Every year, their imaginations shoot off on a different tangent and for Spring/Summer 2012 they’ve gone all folksy and a little bit rave -- a winning combination in my opinion. Mexico was the inspiration behind the collection which bursts with juicy colours and shiny bright Perspex.

Day of the Dead-style skeletons and skulls sport sparkly sequinned eyes and neon grins, Frida Kahlo’s hairdo on a brooch is embellished by beads and delicate traditional embroidery is reimagined in white perspex on necklaces.

Folk-with-a-twist popped up in several collections this season and I really like it -- the saccharine sweetness of embroidery, frills and flounces (we will never go back to the dark days of boho, shudder...) is toughened up by the use of unexpected colours like day-glo coral and lime green.

So in conclusion, all hail the punk queens of fantastic plastic, long may they reign.

Find me tweeting about fashion, books and all sorts of random London-related jazz at @PhoebeFrangoul and @xoJaneUK