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Best of British Brands - Lingerie & Accessories

If there were a lingerie equivalent to that famous British mark of resilience – the stiff upper lip – Rigby & Peller would be it.

The brand, which celebrates its 70th birthday this year, has seen through one world war and three recessions to become one of the most coveted lingerie labels in the UK today. It was awarded a royal warrant in 1960 and counts everyone from the Queen to red carpet starlets as its customers.

Originally set up to provide made to measure corsetry, the business now has a growing network of six high streets stores. While moving with the times, Rigby & Peller has managed to retain its ethos of offering a complete fitting service for lingerie and swimwear and a choice of different brands under one roof. Rigby & Peller’s made to measure service is the crème de la crème of lingerie and creates unique bespoke bras completely to the customers’ brief. Its own brand is also expanding and it recently launched a swimwear collection under the Rigby & Peller name.

Compared to Rigby & Peller, Ultimo, which was launched by Scottish entrepreneur Michelle Mone in 1999, is a relative newcomer, but can now count no less than eight inventions to its name all aimed at offering women both cleavage and comfort.

Over the last decade the range has grown to include front and backless styles as well as swimwear and the fashion forward Miss Ultimo collection. Never one to rest on her laurels Mone is planning to extend the brand with a clothing and beauty range next spring. “I receive 1000 letters a month,” says Mone. “People feel they can talk to me.”

With her ruby red lips Lulu Guinness is a walking advertisement for the accessories

brand she launched 20 years ago. The iconic lips have featured on the label’s handbags,

jewellery and bed linen along with its signature lipstick and floral prints.

Guinness’ love of quirky vintage finds has inspired her collections from the start. Her signature Rose basket bag, designed to resemble a base on a vase of roses with a handle on top, hit the market in the early 90s and catapulted the brand onto the international fashion scene. Its British heritage has won over customers in the US and Japan who love Guinness’ original tongue in cheek designs such as the Lips clutches which appear season after season in different colourways.

To commemorate the brand’s 20th anniversary Lulu Guinness has launched a London-themed Autumn collection featuring bags embellished with black cabs, Union Jacks and bulldogs.

High street store Accessorize also pays homage to its British roots this season with a new version of its Union Jack clutch which first appeared in autumn 08.

Set up by Monsoon founder Peter Simon in 1984 Accessorize has been a mainstay on the British high street for a quarter of a century. Since the opening of its first store in the Covent Garden Piazza it has grown to more than 1000 stores in 53 different countries.

From the start the brand has worked with far eastern suppliers to provide the unique hand crafted detailing and embroidery that Accessorize has become famous for while still keeping up to date with current trends. As well as celebrating the brand’s 25th anniversary, this year also marks 15 years since the launch of the Monsoon Accessorize Trust which helps disadvantaged women and children 10,000 women and children in India and Afghanistan.

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