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Dresses with attitude: The Vampire’s Wife

— by Alyson Walsh

From red-carpet awards ceremonies to rock-star-studded afterparties, dresses by The Vampire’s Wife are having their moment in the moonlight. Using her own singular style as a blueprint, model-turned-designer Susie Cave (formerly known as Susie Bick) takes glam-rock fabrics such as velvet, metallic lamé and Liberty print florals, and shapes them into high-necked Victoriana-style dresses (from £485) with attitude. “As far as I can see, women still want to maintain their sensuality,” Cave, 52, expounds. “My dresses are very much about the silhouette – that it is powerful and beautiful and magisterial.”

Susie and Nick Cave photo: Polly Borland via Vogue.com

This combination of style, strength and sensuality is clearly an effective mix; The Vampire’s Wife has rapidly accumulated an A-list following of women who prefer covered-up chic to barely-there ballgowns; think Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alexa Chung, Ruth Negga and Florence Welch. “They are not about empowerment as such as they are predicated on the idea that women are already powerful,” Cave maintains of the dresses, which encapsulate the zeitgeist for taking back control.

I’ve written about The Vampire’s Wife for the FT – and have to declare an interest in the Cave Family. The very first That’s Not My Age blog post featured a couple of my style icons, including Nick Cave. I’ve been following the musician/Rock God since I was a teenager and we have tickets for All Points East in Victoria Park this summer. So, obviously I’ve become a Girl Fan of Susie and The Vampire’s Wife. The retro-glam fashion label’s name comes from an abandoned Nick Cave book project, “Nick has a great interest in The Vampire’s Wife, loves clothes and loves the fact that our house is so full of industry,” Cave says of her husband and life in their Brighton terrace. “He gets very excited and it is hugely helpful, because his ideas crash around and stir things up. I think he is very moved by how well things are going.”

On The Vampire’s Wife whirlwind success ( the label launched in 2014 and was swiftly stocked by matchesfashion.com) and the evolution of a stellar second career, Cave admits to having little time for deliberation. “I have had hardly a moment to dwell on the company’s success. There is just too much to do to be concerned with that.” Making a nod to life after the tragic death of one of the couple’s twin sons, Arthur, in 2015, she says: “I have thrown myself deep into the work. To make the dresses themselves, the idea that I can lose myself in the creative process has become more than running a business, it is a matter of survival.”

 

Read the full FT feature HERE.

 

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