Pictured above is the fashion stylist Emma Freemantle, who lives on a beautiful boat on Regent’s Park canal and creates hand made decoratives and accessories from vintage finds instead of watching TV or getting stressed about how little time there is to do stuff.
Aeons ago I worked with Emma when she was Caroline Baker’s fashion assistant on You Magazine and she was the first person I ever saw wear a dress over trousers, way before it became fashionable and back when the only people to do this were clergymen or tribal women who lived in Mongolia. She was and still is a girl with innate creativity and can be found styling the fashion pages of magazines such as Country Living when she’s not sewing wall hangings and feather head dresses in her photogenic barge.
Emma makes items for her Worn With Love website from found pieces she buys from vintage fairs and markets, which she revamps. ‘I like the old fashioned way of doing things” she says as she stoked up her wood burning stove which keeps the whole barge cozy,”really I’d like to go back to where everything is made by hand and where we talk to actual people rather than read tweets from strangers…’ She describes living on the boat -which she\s done for five years -as ‘magical’.
Emma’s barge is permanently moored, with a teeny garden and a wishing tree from which she hangs baubles, feathers and other quirky pieces she picks up around the place. The day I hung out with her, she was wearing mens woollen uniform britches kept up with baby-blue braces, a vintage navy Guernsey sweater and one of her feather cashmere head-dresses, plus a fist full of turquoise rings (she has a major collection). The barge is cosy inside, but she’s always in and out of the tiny hatch door -currently to weave willow from a local tree into wreaths for a shoot- so needs to dress practically, hence the wellies.
We talk clothes over coffee and cake, as I am keen to hear how Emma creates her own style. She’s a textile obsessive and is drawn to labels that use really good fabrics, such as Margaret Howell, Comme des Garcons, Celine, Churches, Old Town and Toast. She studiously pulls a look together in her head to make sure it’ll work before buying.
With so much product in the world being created for the luxury market, we both agree that the BEST way to buy clothes is posh second hand shops and we swap notes on our fav stores The Dresser and The Red Cross charity store as well as cross checking the very best TK Maxx to visit for super-bargains (Finchley Road, if you’re interested)
I’d love to say I was the first person to appreciate Emma’s charm, but she’s already pretty famous, her wee barge was the front cover of November 2011’s World Of Interiors, The Sunday Telegraph featured her last year and our favourite craft magazine Selvedge did a big spread on her this August. She has a fan base that even includes visual communication students from the University of Delaware, who recently booked an ‘inspiration’ visit, ‘They came onto the barge two by two, it was like Noah’s Ark’ she said.
Above are fabric number birthday cards, which have a bespoke hand written note attached and I love her found necklaces with odd ball stringing of tiny gems. She also makes lovely vintage jewelled Christmas wreaths, above and below, which can still be ordered for delivery this season if you are quick,
Emma’s garden, above, on the day I visit the sun is shining and her tiny patch of London seems to have slowed to its own gentle pace, making me think maybe I should live on a barge and make things…..Visit Emma’s website Worn With Love to see more of her hand made treasures, she also works as a personal stylist if you need help, or just dream of waterside living by enjoying the images. Anyone else fancy living on a boat?