The story: Lotty B and The Pink House Mustique
Nestled amongst the palm trees on the Caribbean island of Mustique sits Lotty’s iconic gingerbread-style boutique – The Pink House – that, along with Basil’s Bar, must be the most photographed building on the island. The boutique is a treasure trove of Mustique must-haves: carefully chosen designer items and their very own, much sought-after Pink House Mustique and Lotty B labels. Started with only handprinted silk sarongs, the brand now offers silk and linen resortwear for women, printed shirts and shorts for men and childrenswear as well as beautiful products from talented designers. Here is their story…
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
In a sense, Lotty started this small business 30 years ago when she arrived on Mustique with a six week old baby, some silk and silk paints to keep her occupied for a one year adventure – her husband took a temporary assignment to be the island’s doctor. Little did either of them think that 30 years later they would still be residents!
Lotty studied at Chelsea Art School as a stained-glass artist but once settled on Mustique, she started painting silk sarongs, hand hemming and selling them to friends and visitors to the island. This progressed to making kaftans out of the hand painted silks which were sold under the label “Lotty B – Mustique” .
The kindness and encouragement shown by some “big hitters” in the fashion world helped to build Lotty’s confidence and in 2008 the little gingerbread shop came up for rent, so she took the plunge and called it “The Pink House” obviously! It is a beautiful and iconic island treasure and, along with Basil’s Bar, must be the most photographed building on Mustique.
An established collection of silk and linen resort wear for women was expanded to include linen shirts and swim shorts for men and children under the label “Pink House Mustique”. This independent brand has grown from strength to strength and collections are now sold direct via the website, and also through exclusive hotels, resorts and boutiques worldwide.
INSPIRATION BEHIND THE COLLECTIONS
Lotty says: “Mustique is my muse and because I live here almost all year round, nearly everything I design is inspired by this little island. I walk most days, usually off the beaten track along the coastal pathways and I am continually fascinated and enthused by the stunning colours or combinations of colours, the shape of a leaf or an insect.
I often bring a plant home that has captured my interest and I sketch it, then paint it and sometimes I take it to the next stage, which is to simplify it and make a repeat pattern. I am constantly building up the design and then simplifying it depending on what it is for.”
As both brand owner and designer, Lotty is not hemmed in by designing for any particular garment or specifically for fabrics or china, for example. We say that her clothes both flatter and provide stand out, due to the prints that she originates. Our customers say that they love us because the clothing is multipurpose – one garment can be worn in several different ways, for example the sarong: beach cover up; dress; skirt; top; belt or bandana – or even as a sling!
Each different area of our business is asked to set sustainability targets and to continually assess where we could do better. We manufacture in very small quantities, which you might call limited collections, and we insist on the highest production values as our garments last for many years.
All Lotty B silks are “resort wear” and most are equally suitable for “occasion wear”. We do not create disposable fashion garments in any of our collections and all are beautifully constructed for maximum comfort and durability.
From Resort 2022, our swim shorts are made from a Repreve® blend fabric, using recycled plastic bottles in the process.Our factories and all our linens and inks are OEKO-TEX certified and our packaging is recycled and recyclable.
Lotty has always preferred to use linen for our shirts as it has so many natural properties and is biodegradable. Linen is made from the fibres of the flax plant, as you may well know and, unlike cotton, flax is very resilient, grows in unpromising soil and needs significantly less water for a successful harvest. All our linen garments are pre-washed so that they will not shrink and with a bit of care they will last for many years to come.
Our new warehouse, offices and showroom, which we are moving to in August 2022, are housed in a repurposed industrial unit in Wiltshire. Lotty has been here in the UK overseeing the transformation, using an “eco consultant” to advise on insulation, air source heat pumps and solar panels.
Showroom furniture has been recycled or purchased from auction houses – breathing new life into each item. It was important to support local businesses and as much as was possible was sourced nearby, including the wonderful team of people who realised Lotty’s grand design – apart from the ceiling panels and atrium floor, which she painted herself.
None of the UK HQ staff live further than 7 miles from the new site, so bicycles are being polished up and tyres blown up by those living nearest – others are resolved to carshare, particularly in winter!
THE LATEST COLLECTION
Our collections revolve around the introduction of new print designs several times a year. Our recent Protea launch saw the release of several new Lotty B silk garments: The “Dena” dress; the “Kelly” blouse; the “Samantha” kaftan dress; the “Lyla” flared trousers and the “Lyla” cropped, tied top. Whilst the garments are named after her friends and family – those who inspired each piece – the Protea print itself also comes with history.
Pink House Mustique has enjoyed a long collaboration with Tresco in the isles of Scilly. Lotty was asked to design a print based on the King Protea flower that, although perhaps most famous for being the national flower of South Africa, grows freely in the Abbey Gardens on Tresco and has become synonymous with the island.
So, whilst this is not a print inspired by her home on Mustique, Lotty believes this is a true island original. She enjoyed the project and it is a great example of a print that works particularly well across swim, linen and silks.
At the moment, we are mid wedding and festival season – with customers responding very well to our mix and match style combinations. For example, the “Kim” blouse and “Gabija” palazzo pants for a wedding … or put them together with the ruffle bandeau top for festivals and parties.
Soon we will be previewing the new Resort 2023 collection, which is very exciting. This year we did a photoshoot in the Dominican Republic – we love the natural feel to this shoot and can’t wait to share the results later this year.
Also, there is Limited Edition shirt is being launched in August.Handmade from fabric retrieved from our archives after 18 years and fashioned into contemporary silk “bowling” shirts by a team of talented seamstresses in St Vincent, these are a limited edition of just 30.
Every Sea Life print scarf shirt is individually numbered 1/30 to 30/30 with a hand-embroidered Lotty B label, making them truly unique, collectible items. Lotty says “I was delighted to find this fabric and I love how it looks now – revitalised into this contemporary style using fabric that I originally hand painted years ago.”
For more information please visit pinkhousemustique.com
READ ANOTHER INSPIRATIONAL STORY HERE.