“As a 6ft 2.5 tall designer, I know the challenges that every tall woman is faced with once they walk into a clothing store.
I have spent many years searching for the perfect outfit, the perfect white shirt or the perfect dress or the perfect shoes as I love to wear high heels and eclectic clothes. I believe that the right fabric plus the right fit makes an outfit stand out and as such the search for the perfect tall collection started and the birth of Belle Grande.”
– Ekene Pruce, Founder.
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
It was during the Economic Recession in 2008 that I started thinking and making small steps towards creating my own designs. By 2012, after I had my son, I started attending fashions shows in Milan, Florence, Rome, Paris and London as well as managing small fashion projects on behalf of clients and exploring the European, Asian and Chinese fashion worlds.
Belle Grande is on her first Pilot phase and this is the last year of the Pilot stage. The opportunity to create timeless pieces, to create a brand of haute couture tall clothing, that are made with the best fabrics and craftsmanship resulted in the birth of Belle Grande. Our mission is to create the perfect collection for the tall woman, it is about quality, precision and great craftsmanship.
Whats your background?
I am Property and Land Lawyer and a full-time mother to 2 children aged 13 and 3. I have a Masters degree in Property and Land Law It’s a brilliant area of law that is very old but delves into the history of this great country. And at this moment, I am doing the technical side of it which is even more interesting.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
There are only 3 members in the Belle Grande Production Team, myself, my pattern cutter and my manufacturer. And the most important member is Silvia my pattern cutter. If she gets the design wrong, the pattern is wrong and the sample is wrong and every stage of this process is expensive. In other words, she will have to make sure that the picture I have in my head is the same picture she has in hers and the same goes for the manufacturer. It is a very lengthy, time consuming and expensive process.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Yes, I could have promoted the brand first for at least a year, before launching my first collection.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Having my designs produced in Italy is very challenging because it costs a lot more to have quality clothes made.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I do Judo.
2017 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
Since the Belle Grande Pilot Programme ends this spring, Belle Grande will be going through a company restructure.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
The highlights since launching the brand would be having my designs featured in 3 monthly issues of Vogue and a portrait of me done by the famous painter Andrew Tift soon to be displayed at Walsall Portrait Gallery in the UK as well as the famous Roberto Polo Gallery in Brussels.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Lip balm, hand cream and face powder.
Style means …..
Emotional expression at any given time.
Best thing about London to you?
The huge diversity, both in fashion and the people that live there.
Statement shoe or statement bag?
Statement shoe- I love wearing 6 inch heels handmade by my talented shoemaker in Venice Italy.
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
The Belle Grande Tweed jacket.
Favourite love song?
You’re all I need to get by- Aretha Franklin
Best place for a coffee?
Somewhere in Reggio Emilia – Italy
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
‘Ekene, always be yourself’
Snack a Jacks – Salt and Vinegar
If you could spend 24 hours anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The small town of Takayama in Tokyo, Japan.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
I am working on the new brand – Ekene Pruce which is an Igbo-African and British fusion. I have just finished my designs and mood board and we are currently on the sampling/ prototype stage.
My aim is to make Belle Grande affordable and available to buy in fashion department stores across Europe, Africa and USA. I believe I can achieve this as I have a few plans in motion and still speaking to the relevant people irrespective of Brexit.
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