How Buckingham Palace guards Inspired the Vampire's Wife's stylish new bag

Chloe Foussianes
·2-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images/Courtesy The Vampire's Wife
Photo credit: Getty Images/Courtesy The Vampire's Wife

From Harper's BAZAAR

Susie Cave designs what she wants to wear in the world. "I simply make things that I think I would like to have or those around me may want," she told Town & Country. "Everything seems to radiate from there."

Cave started her cult label, the Vampire's Wife, after the dresses she'd begun crafting for herself—strong-shouldered, frill-laden, long-hemmed frocks—hit a nerve; they've since become a go-to for a startlingly wide range of celebrities, from the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Beatrice to icons like Kate Moss and Courtney Love to cool girls including St. Vincent and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

And her newest creation, a custom embroidered bag, started out as a birthday gift for her husband, musician Nick Cave. "Black velvet with his initials on it and a spray of sequins," the designer says of her creation. "He loved it and barely put it down."

That gift would become the "Book Bag," and it wasn't long before it gained a cult following of its own.

"Other people started to ask for them—and then it got completely crazy with everyone from Bad Pitt and Harry Styles wearing them," Cave says.

Photo credit: Georges De Keerle - Getty Images
Photo credit: Georges De Keerle - Getty Images

Indeed, the witchy accessory has been appearing on celebrities' Instagram feeds for months, before officially launching on the brand's website in late October. And as of today, a customisable version is available for pre-order, offering Vampire's Wife devotees the chance to have one initial embroidered by Hand and Lock, the royal family's longtime go-to embroiderers.

"As a child, I was always fascinated by the metallic brocade embroidery on the uniforms of the guards outside Buckingham Palace," Cave says. "When I began making the book bags I did a little research and discovered the great British embroiderers, Hand and Lock and literally fell into the world of ceremonial embroidery."

Learning about Hand and Lock does feel a bit like falling down a hand-stitched rabbit hole. Quietly, this one, 250-year-old embroidery house has sewn its way through all of Britain's major cultural exports, linking them all with its gilded thread: in addition to the royals, it's left its mark on Burberry and Vivienne Westwood collections, the Downton Abbey costumes, and much more.

Hand and Lock's deceptively wide footprint isn't unlike the improbable cadre of disparate fans Cave's designs have amassed—and together, their influence will only grow.

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