Founded in 2010, Earl of Bedlam is a Vauxhall based fashion house that takes its name – and a certain unconventional spirit – from the Bethlehem Hospital that was once in the nearby Imperial War Museum.
The label is Goldsmith College trained Mark Wesley and his partner Caroline Butler. We asked Caroline to tell us what makes Vauxhall so special to her and her creative partner. “I have lived in and around Kennington since the 1980s so Vauxhall is the unlikely juxtaposition of people and places, hugely different, rubbing shoulders side by side, whether that’s the alpacas of the City Farm staring down the spies in MI5; or the grand old lady that is a Brunswick House peering over her lorgnettes at the RVT; or the Interplanetary Society watching the commuters”.
It’s a summary of our neighbourhood that we couldn’t have described much better ourselves, and with such a warmth of knowledge on the area, having seen it evolve over the years, it’s understandable that just one favourite spot would always be hard to choose. “As someone who loves to garden, Bonnington Square has a hold on my heart, not just the way it’s planted up but the rickety-looking (apologies you the residents if it’s structurally sound!) Dickensian house on the north side.
Brunswick House, home to our friends at LASSCO and the restaurant that is the continuation of the Boxer family culinary dynasty, is one of my favourite places not just in Vauxhall but the world.
And Vauxhall City Farm is somewhere guaranteed to soothe the soul. When Jocks & Nerds magazine ran a feature on Earl of Bedlam a few years ago they commissioned the legendary Rock and roll photographer, Jill Furmanovsky to take a group picture of our clients, family, friends. Vauxhall City Farm brought down two horses for whom we made tweed blankets as ‘thank yous’”.
Like everyone though, lockdown has been an unusual time for a small business owner, suddenly unable to meet with clients and start new projects. “It was a time of extreme contrast for us. There was the enchanted calm of the quiet roads and skies, the spring chorus of the birds and the delight of watching a litter of fox cubs emerge from their set under the shed to roll in the sun. But, you can’t get mucky up someone’s inside leg from 2m away. What saved us was the kindness of people both locally and around the world buying tote bags, t-shirts, caps and the sets of badges we had made for our postponed local gallery installation, now about to happen at last through September at the Ken Art Space. The installation celebrates our ten years in business, a Decadence of Rebelegance.
Things are reopening though, and that includes their now open Gallery spot at Ken Art Space, from now until September 30th. “So, we’ve made it to ten years. The future looks a lot more “Sports Luxe” and a lot less tailored right now. Our new sweatshirt and tee celebrating the famous world record-holding hot air balloon of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is a part of that for us, about adapting not dying, celebrating the “Balloonatic” in all of us.”
Support local and make sure you drop in to see the exhibition!