Damask – Our Story
Damask was started in 1987 by Carolyn Dunn. With a background in fashion and textiles, she used her knowledge of handicraft skills and textiles to make an exclusive range of classic pure cotton nightwear for ladies & children.
Damask derives its name from the finely patterned fabrics produced in Damascus in the middle ages and introduced to Europe by crusaders in the 11th century.
It is woven using a jacquard loom to produce high quality fabrics in cotton, linen and silk and its qualities makes it suitable for garments, table linen, bed linen and home furnishings.
Over the years Damask have established a loyal following for its ultra feminine white nightwear. Front button openings make the styling popular for maternity, nursing mothers and hospital stays. Cotton is a soft and absorbent fabric making it ideal for wearing in bed.
*”With the right birth partner, massage with essential oils and a new Damask nightie, I too could have an earth-mothery, drug free delivery.”
*Quote from The Daily Telegraph, ‘The Mummy Diaries’ by Rachel Johnson.
Using only the best quality pure cotton lawn, Damask’s designs are enhanced by delicate embroideries where flowers often offer inspiration. Hand- made laces, details such as pin tucking and Mother of Pearl buttons all give the designs a feminine look.
One of Damask’s most popular styles for the maternity and nursing mothers featuring a front button opening is ‘Eleanor‘
Carolyn’s background in fashion included working for ‘French Connection’ and ‘Monsoon’, sourcing handicrafts, garments and textiles in the Far East. As a result of this experience, she worked as a consultant for The Indian Handloom Export Council travelling around Southern India by train visiting handloom mills. The mills were mainly run by people who had never travelled outside of India and had no idea what the western market wanted. Indian domestic taste was for bright colours, and those exporters who did travel outside of India, usually arrived to see buyers with a suitcase full of all the samples they had ever made. Carolyn’s job was to advise the Council how they could tailor their offer to appeal to the Western market.
With £2000 earned from this trip, and the knowledge she had gained of the home textile and clothing markets, she set about starting her own business sourcing products from the companies she had met in India, many of which were started by entrepreneurial independent women.
Back in 1987 the Victorian heirloom look was very popular for nightwear and this provided the inspiration for the first range inspired by a book on Victorian nightwear and pieces bought at antiques fairs.
Over the years the company has built up a loyal following for its cotton night wear including members of the royal family. Each style is given a girl’s name to suit the design. A customer purchased a “Lolita” to wear as a wedding dress on a beach in Antigua, and a photograph of “Desiree” in The Daily Telegraph brought a flood of men wanting to buy it for their wives.
When Carolyn had her children, she discovered how practical the night dresses were for maternity and added a range of children’s nightwear featuring embroideries of favourite pastimes and nursery rhymes. Grandparents and parents still like to see little girls wearing demure white nighties with delicate embroidery. Favourites include ‘Titania’ a fairy embroidered nightdress and ‘Margot’ a ballet inspired embroidery on white cotton. Boys get to choose from more robust embroidery themes, popular styles are ‘Biggles’, using old fashioned aeroplanes and ‘Stirling,’ featuring brightly coloured racing cars. Boys pyjamas are made from a crisp pale blue cotton poplin fabric.
The company opened its’ first shop in 1995 in the New Kings Road and was one of the first stores to offer a lifestyle brand. Everybody thought the location was dreadful because it was on a busy stretch of road by a set of traffic lights. However, it had a great frontage which allowed for good window displays and a captive audience caught by the traffics lights. The shop had a loyal customer base as well as a French and American clientele and many celebrities who saw it as a quintessentially English range.
In 2005, Carolyn took the decision to concentrate exclusively on an online shop. The website was recently updated to reflect the move towards online shopping and features the most popular ladies and children’s designs and a selection of quilts. A vintage clothing section has been added to reflect her continuing interest in fashion, vintage clothes and accessories.