There was a time back in the 1990s when barely a day passed without the antics of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson being splashed across the red tops. However, bar an appearance at the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, she’s virtually vanished from the glare of public scrutiny. A recluse? Anything but as it seems Palmer-Tomkinson has been busy creating her fashion label, Desiderata, in the heart of Kensington…
Words: Mark Kebble
Why did you decide to launch your own fashion label now?
I’d been working on Desiderata London for over three years before it was launched. I didn’t have any idea that launching a company could be so difficult, but after an unspeakable amount of blood, sweat and tears – and a good British sense of humour – it was finally the right time to show everyone what I’d been doing and launch with our signature product, The Kubbi.
What inspired the creation of The Kubbi?
Well, it’s no secret I used to cut up my father’s Savile Row shirts and sew them on to different items in my wardrobe (although I don’t think he was aware of it at the time!). But then I thought, what about making this work like a catsuit/body so that it can create clean lines and comfort for women to wear under their clothes? Then it occurred to me, what about making this a baby catsuit, like a cub? Then low and behold, we had our name: The Kubbi.
I used to cut up my father’s Savile Row shirts and sew them onto my own items
What’s unique about it?
I know first hand there is nothing like this out there. The Kubbi is completely unique in its ability to slim a woman’s shape and smarten up her style all at once.
In a sentence, how would you describe your new label?
The smart, slimming, sophisticated ‘Secret Shirt’, made to suit the needs of every woman.
Is it true the name comes from a great uncle who only spoke to you in Latin?
One hundred per cent true. He lived in our family’s castle in Switzerland and was the most eccentric person you could ever imagine. He didn’t just speak Latin, he used to sing in it too and that’s the honest truth of how Desiderata (the poem) became my mantra and now the name of my company.
What kind of person would your new creation suit?
All women! Especially those who want to transform their pre-existing wardrobe and breathe new life into it. There really are endless options for styling.
Is the British heritage aspect important?
British heritage is, without a shadow of a doubt, what lies at the heart of this company. I am so patriotic and immensely proud to live in England and run a company here. My family’s legacy and ancestry is incredibly important to me, and that’s why my products are 100% manufactured in England.
Have you always harboured a passion for creating your own designs?
Absolutely! Ever since I first learnt to sew at my City and Guilds Fashion diploma, or even further back than that when I was cutting up my father’s shirts and sticking them to my outfits with taupe tape.
Another fact to check… Is it correct that you designed the outfit you wore to the Royal Wedding back in 2010?
Yes that’s completely true. I worked incredibly hard for months designing and putting it together with my good friends (and world-renowned designers) Philip Treacy and Deborah Miliner. Interestingly enough, that dress actually worked in a similar way to The Kubbi where there was a lot going on underneath.
We live in a society where people Tweet their unedited views to the world. Are you prepared for people to be frankly horrible just because they can?
Oh my goodness yes. That’s something I’ve grown used to my whole life and even more so now that people can leave a comment about everything, but that’s the reality of this day and age. Things were immensely different 20 years ago, but the cameras and attention were still there.
Do the paparazzi still hound you?
Yes, of course, every day. And I would be lying if I said that was easy when you’re just popping to the shops to pick up a magazine and a chocolate bar.
How do you feel looking back at your ‘It Girl’ status?
I can’t deny it was an amazing time and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I was lucky enough to be given. Of course it comes with its negatives, but these are things I’ve had to battle and I’m happy to be able to come out the other side of it all and achieve something I’m so proud of like Desiderata London.
there might be things I’d do differently if I could go back and do it all over again. But, as I said, there’s no point dwelling on the past.
Do you have many – or any – regrets about that time?
I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t have regrets, but yes there might be things I’d do differently if I could go back and do it all over again. But, as I said, there’s no point dwelling on the past.
How different is Chelsea and Kensington today compared to back in your party days?
To be honest I wouldn’t really know – I am so busy working all the time and my party days feel well and truly behind me at this stage. I’m not sure about anything new, but I’m very loyal to the wonderful restaurants and takeaways near my house who have been there for years.
How do you see the future of Desiderata London?
I think this is something that every woman can wear and every woman should own, so I think the world is our oyster. I like to think of The Kubbi as the one item missing from every woman’s wardrobe, so it’s my mission to make sure that as many people have access to it as possible.