In 1994 a converted dairy on a quiet Belgravia Street became egg.
After many years in the fashion business Maureen Doherty created her vision of a shop that sold the most beautiful everyday things.
Close to the shopping landmarks of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street, but a million miles away philosophically and spiritually, egg was, and remains, the antithesis of them all.
egg makes and sells timeless, simple clothes, accessories and objects. Drawing on traditional skills from around the world it is not about fashion, but about the pure enjoyment of shapes, colour, materials and making.
In two collections a year, inspiration may come from a found photograph, a child's crayon or a poem. Disparate thoughts begin a process of research and design: ultimately a journey to find the perfect makers of yarn, fabric, dye and garments.
Visitors to Kinnerton Street find a shop at once calming and stimulating. egg is welcoming in a way that shops used to be. Clothes, pots, books, boots, scarves, bags, jewels, pencils and the odd jar of flowers are organised, or piled, throughout the rooms of the shop. Clothes on hooks, rails and stacks invite investigation and touch. egg is as tactile as it is visual. When coffee is made upstairs, taste and smell are added to the mix.
egg has always been a haven. Not only an essential stop-off while in the centre of London, but a place for young makers and designers to experiment. It is the juxtaposition of craft and colour, youth and experience, giggling and learning that makes egg so appealing.
Since the beginning, egg has mixed clothing, often inspired by work wear from around the world, with craft. Supporting makers is integral to the life of the shop. egg was the first place that potter and author Edmund de Waal had a one-man show, where Keiko Hasegawa made one thousand pots in a year to set in rows on the floor and where the masterly silversmith Bill Phipps hand-forged silver spoons big enough for giants to stir their tea.
The clothes made by egg and its small group of collaborators are simple and playful. Volume and shape, weight and colour are all important. Often based on workwear from around the world - the white uniform of a Rajasthani milkman or a roomy and much loved French gardener's jacket are examples - the clothing evolves through the seasons. In winter cloth becomes thicker and warmth is added with layers and knit. In summer cotton and linen becomes super-fine and breezy. Zips are anathema at egg. Instead, clothes are tied, buttoned and wrapped. It allows the wearer to find their own way to dress.
These are clothes that get better the more they are worn. They are much loved and distinctive - often passed down through the generations. There is something truly egalitarian about egg clothes - they are for men and women, young and old, large or small. You simply bring your personality and make them yours.
Maureen is an instinctive shopkeeper. Since her late teens she has worked in fashion, bringing Fiorrucci, Valentino and Issey Miyake to prominence in the UK.
It is perhaps Issey Miyake with whom she had the most affinity. While living in Paris, Doherty worked on special projects for Issey, organising everything from ballet costumes to new store openings and significantly the scent L'Eau D'Issey. Maureen also introduced Miyake to potter Lucie Rie, beginning a life-long friendship and an interest in ceramics which has influenced many of the subsequent exhibitions at egg.
After a period of learning to make pots, perhaps the antidote to years in the fashion business, Maureen came back to England. Living in London, with daughter Jessie attending the Lycee, Maureen found the perfect building for egg. With her business partner, Asha Sarabhai, who had made for Miyake and Hermes in India, they stripped back the shop in Kinnerton Street to reveal the beautiful blue tiles of an old dairy.
The simple love of shop keeping and of dressing customers remains with Maureen still. Her senses are highly attuned to creating the perfect atmosphere in the shop or to what simply makes a garment work.
Her art is not about what is fashionable, although she certainly knows the answer, but is about what feels 'right' and what makes you happy.