Catherine Walker (fashion designer)
Catherine Walker (27 June 1945 – 23 September 2010) was a French-born fashion designer based in London. Born Catherine Marguerite Marie-Therese Baheux in Calais, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, she was noted for having supplied over 1,000 outfits for Diana, Princess of Wales, who was buried in a black dress designed by Walker.
Life and career
Walker studied Aesthetics and Philosophy at the universities of Lille and Aix-en-Provence and achieved a master's degree. While studying for a PhD she moved to London and lived in Earl's Court. She became a permanent resident after marrying solicitor John Walker in 1970. The couple had two daughters. In 1975 John Walker died while on holiday in France. Her second husband was Said Cyrus from Iran, a lecturer at the Chelsea School of Art who also became her business partner.
She began her life in fashion selling children’s clothes. She later moved into designing for women, specialising in high-end evening dresses, occasionwear and wedding gowns. In 1976 she set up her own company The Chelsea Design Company in Sydney Street, Chelsea. In 1991, Walker was awarded Designer of the Year for Glamour and in 1990 Designer of the Year for Couture at the British Fashion Awards. Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995. She became a founding sponsor of Breast Cancer Haven.
Catherine Walker opened her business in 1977 in Sydney Street, London. She was a successful couturiere for over 30 years. Walker designed two seasonal collections per year, as well as wedding gowns and created a range of skincare products. Following her death, her husband Said Cyrus took over the business as head designer. He continues to run it with the same philosophy, focusing on bespoke garments for clients and eschewing runway shows, large marketing campaigns, and the wholesale trade.
Diana, Princess of Wales
Catherine Walker became one of The Princess of Wales' favourite designers. Her professional relationship with Diana began three months after Diana's marriage to Prince Charles in 1981, and lasted until Diana's death sixteen years later, during which time Walker provided the Princess with many of her most iconic garments, including the so-called 'Elvis' gown.
Lady Helen Taylor
The Duke of Kent's daughter, Lady Helen Taylor (née Windsor), wore a Catherine Walker design for her 1992 wedding to Tim Taylor. The design was inspired by the architecture of the wedding venue, St George's Chapel, Windsor.
Walker's designs were also chosen by Diana's daughter-in-law Kate Middleton for her tour of North America. Kate's mother Carole Middleton wore a Catherine Walker outfit to her daughter's wedding to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May 2018.
Walker died on September 23, 2010 in a hospital after being found unconscious by a neighbour at her home Sussex, England. She had suffered breast cancer and was a founding Sponsor of the charity called "Breast Cancer Haven". Catherine Walker is survived by her second husband Said Ismael Cyrus and her two daughters, Naomi and Marianne, from her first marriage.
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- Order of Splendor: Lady Helen Taylor's gown http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/wedding-wednesday-lady-helen-taylors.html
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- Platell, Amanda (30 April 2011). "That showed them! 'Doors to manual' has the last laugh in glorious style". Daily Mail. London.
- https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/sep/26/catherine-walker-fashion-designer-dies%7CThe Guardian 26 Sept 2010