Blue island Collection was inspired by lovely Greek Island holidays I had with my family and sister. My sister lives in Australia we usually meet up in the summer and have a twin holiday together, usually we visit a Greek island, last year it was Santorini. My family usually go to the north-east coast of Corfu every summer so I am lucky to have two breaks in the gorgeous Greek Islands.
I was slightly horrified at how touristy Santorini Island was, my sister and I had back packed in the mid 80s where there was very little tourism. We travelled around the Cyclades staying on various islands. It was really our first time abroad and we remember being horrified coming across a nudist beach on Anti Paros! we slept on the beaches and got very badly sunburnt not realising how hot Greece could be at that time of year. Coming back 30 years later was a real shock and the stories of people with a selfie stick crammed onto any horizontal high up surface to watch the sun go down were true! The cruise ships constantly streamed into the bay and the tourist trail just kept on coming up and down the hill and flooding into the main town which was now dedicated to the tourists needs, the word tourist trap was an understatement.
We did manage to find some culture and visions of the old Santorini. I found some interesting museums which showed photographs of when the volcano last erupted. There was a delightful museum which was created around an old Island House, this had a sweet little chapel attached and there was so much inspiration to soak in. Without the tourists this island was very unique and beautiful in it’s own way, the contrast of the hard black rock against the white buildings is a strong image, mixed with the blue domes of the churches and the bright sunshine you couldn’t not feel impressed with the scenery.
These islands have given me so much inspiration for my new collection. my designing started by looking at the antique greek embroidery and I became obsessed looking at the different kinds of needlework associated with the different islands. I didn’t want replicate this style because this has been done before and too closely to the real thing. I just wanted to use this embroidery as a doorway to my creative journey. Everything I create has to be drawn or painted by myself and then brought into the design, this starting point gets me into the zone and I hope I have created a summery feeling of the Greek islands with my designs.
Some of the happiest family holidays including with my sister have been on the island of Corfu and Paxos, these are part of the Ionian islands. We always used to rent a villa near St Stephanos on the north-east coast, just south of Kassioppi. My sons always used to bring a friend and they spent most of the time up all night clubbing and waking up at lunchtime. Tom my husband and I would enjoy a leisurely morning chatting and bobbing/swimming in the pool. The holiday was always centred around food and restaurants so we went out for lunch most days and quite a few of the evenings too. The Greek food is delicious and my husband’s eyes were on stalks looking at the menus with all his favourite things to eat, for 51 weeks of this year he was always confronted with sandwiches for lunch so he always pushed the boat out more than once when on Corfu and everyday he had a slap up lunch with all the Greek trimmings!
I designed a collection for late summer 2020 and I was stuck not being able to show it until then because I needed to create lifestyle photos and show it in use in a summery situation. This was too difficult to create in January and February so I decided with my PR to launch it in London at Decorex. When bringing this collection together it is always difficult to know what not to include, the designs of the Blue Island Collection were designs I left out. I had them printed as tests and had hidden them under my table not thinking they were going to see the light of day. I have quite a few visits to my studio from customers wanting to look for fabric for projects. In two cases they found these tests under the table and declared that was the fabric they wanted to buy. This got me thinking that perhaps I should give them another chance. I FaceTimed my twin sister in Australia who is my most frightening critic and asked her what she thought! She loved them and said go for it! so we started thinking of names for the fabrics. We had so much fun thinking of the names and remembering the places we visited and the people we met in those gorgeous, hot and blue islands.
This is gorgeous and one of my favourite restaurants which was one of the houses The Durrells lived in when they lived on Corfu Island before the Second World War. You arrive at this restaurant on your little put put boat, tie up along side the little jetty and walk straight into the restaurant.
Named after the pretty little bay just south of Kassiopi on the North East coast of Corfu, we always used to rent a villa here for all the family, such happy memories
Paxos is small and unspoilt and the whole island is a delight and does not have mass tourism, The Roxi Bar was where we hired our ‘put put’ boat from when we stayed on the island. The bar is built on the jetty and you walk through one door, see the bar and carry on walking through to the other side and you come out looking over the whole bay, it is such a unique place. The Greek people on the island are so welcoming and friendly, this place is probably what Corfu was like about 20 years ago, I can’t wait to go again!
This was named after a beach on Santorini which we drove to and decided to turn back because there were so many tourists.
George was the name of the Greek waiter who always served us in the Agni Bay taverna. It was always the highlight of the holiday to get the water taxi to this restaurant one evening each holiday. For three years we went to Agni taverna and for three years George always served us, we always took a photo of him and it turned into a bit of a tradition!
Obviously named after one of my favourite islands
Corfu and Paxos are part of these islands found on the north-west coast of Greece opposite Albania
If you would like to see more of the Blue Island collection please visit the product page here
If you visit my instagram account @charlottegaisford and click onto my IGTV link you will see a video I created showing all the new fabrics.
Please contact me if you would like any samples of these new fabrics firstname.lastname@example.org