Wallis Coat Archive
A collection of coats designed by Sylvia Ayton MBE for the high street store ‘Wallis’ from the 1980s and 1990s. Also donated with the coats are some original sketches by Sylvia.
Wallis is a British high street retailer best known for its coats and dresses. It was founded by Raphael Nathaniel Wallis (1890-1948) in Islington, 1923.
Wallis was owned by the Arcadia Group who went into administration in 2020. The brand was purchased by Boohoo, along with Dorothy Perkins and Burton in February 2021. Wallis now only exists online.
Sylvia was born in Ilford, Essex, England, on the 27th November 1937. She attended Walthamstow School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. After leaving college she worked as a freelance designer before forming a partnership with textile designer Zandra Rhodes in 1964. Together they opened the ‘Fulham Road Clothes Shop’ in London. Although the designs were well received the business was not commercially successful and the shop closed in 1969.
Sylvia then went to work for the Wallis Fashion Group, Ltd. as an outerwear designer. She produced fashion ranges in good quality fabrics at reasonable prices. Over the years, her coats and suits gained a rightful place in the forefront of High Street fashion.
Working exclusively for a company label meant Ayton's name was not used to sell her designs. Her work, however, did not go unnoticed. She has received many awards and in 1990 was awarded an MBE for her services to fashion.
The coats and sketches in our collection were donated by Wallis via Sylvia in 2000.
Sylvia retired from Wallis in 2002.
To learn more about Sylvia and her pattern cutting career click on the link below: