Dressed To Perfection
When it comes to beautifully dressed windows, a combination of design flair, expertise, knowledge and experience proves hard to beat, writes Kate Ford. Photography: Paul Melling
In these days of quick-fix convenience, the sheer pleasure of creating something bespoke and beautiful is often overlooked. The off-the-shelf solution may be quicker and easier, but does that compensate for the lack of originality and style that a little thought, effort and flair can deliver so effectively?
Jessica Soper, of long-established Soper’s Bespoke in St Annes, doesn’t think so. Specialists in made-to-measure curtains and window decor, Jessica and her family have been dressing windows and homes across the Fylde Coast and beyond for many years, with a level of expertise and attention to detail rarely seen nowadays.
I catch up with Jessica and her mum, Marilyn, at their shop on Wood Street. “Textiles are in our blood and something we feel really passionate about,” says Jessica, a textile design graduate. “Our whole ethos is based on providing customers with a service and products of exceptionally high quality. Put simply, we make windows look beautiful.”
They certainly have a proven track record. Soper’s Bespoke goes all the way back to 1922, when it was known as The Sheet Company. The Soper family’s association with the business began in 1940 when Jessica’s grandfather Ron began work there as manager, soon becoming the owner and renaming it Soper’s. After his death in 1972, his son Chris took over, developing the business further until, in 1980, they began producing their own fabrics under the name Avon Fabrics, later renamed Sandown & Bourne.
Despite the sad loss of Chris in 2015, Soper’s is still very much a family concern with both of Marilyn’s sons also working in the business, alongside Jessica.
With its own textile printing business and design team, Soper’s continue to design and manufacture its own original ranges of printed fabrics for curtains and bedding. Its own brands include the hugely popular Sandown & Bourne, Busby, Vantona Bedding and Dandylion Designs, a top-of-the-range collection of fresh, exciting fabrics designed by Jessica herself.
As well as its own recognised brands, Soper’s sell fabrics from other leading textile companies in the UK and Europe, including Prestigious, JAB, Wemyss, Titley and Marr, Alhambra and the ultra-luxurious Pierre Frey.
“We only work with the most highly regarded companies, most of them family businesses like ours,” says Jessica. “We need complete trust in their product and service before we will sell their fabrics.”
For the lucky customers of Soper’s Bespoke, this means there’s an unrivalled choice of fabrics on offer, from the super-competitively priced to the very top of the range. Whether a customer wants to dress a single window or a whole house, expert advice will be on hand to guide them through the process.
“Lindsay, our shop manager knows everything there is to know about textiles,” says Marilyn. “She studied fashion design, has a very keen eye for interior décor and is absolutely brilliant at advising customers.”
“We’re happy to visit your home to advise on the options and designs that would work best, combining curtains with blinds, cushions and other soft furnishings.”
Made to measure blinds include roller, Roman, vertical and Venetians. Roman and roller blinds can be made from most of the fabrics on display; with rollers, a specialist laminate is applied to the fabric to create the blind. Soper’s also supply the innovative Duo or Vision blinds which give ultimate flexibility in terms of light, shading and privacy and are a brilliant, softer alternative to shutters.
Soper’s also supply all curtain hardware, such as poles and tracks, and offer a free measuring service and expert fitting from their skilled fitter, Carl, who has been with them for 15 years.
“It’s a complete window-dressing service, and more besides,” says Jessica. “We love what we do, from designing new ranges right through to meeting customers and helping them enhance their homes. We like to think we go the extra mile for our customers.”
Marilyn reiterates this: “The window in any room, but especially in larger rooms, is one of the main features of the room and it deserves to be dressed properly,” she says. “A beautifully dressed window will transform a room, so it’s well worth taking the time to get it just right.”
And that’s exactly what Soper’s Bespoke will do.
1 Wood Street, Lytham St Annes FY8 1QS