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Minna: Fashion From the Heart of Dorset

The Dorset countryside is full of surprises and none more so than finding it is home to the eco-luxe fashion label Minna.

Finnish fashion designer Minna Hepburn (a dead ringer for Claudia Schiffer) turns up in a cafe in Shaftesbury looking like the kind of girl you'd spot in Shoreditch. Yet within minutes of talking to her you understand why she chose the West Country to launch her vintage-inspired label which now sells all over the world.

The emphasis is on exquisite, hand-crafted fabrics, often lace which Minna has a passion for, and soft tailoring. New to the line is Scottish lace from Morton, Young and Borland, a lace weaving company in Ayrshire dating back to 1900. Its finely knitted fabric is delicate, expensive and tricky to worth with according to Minna who says: 'you really need to know how to pattern cut.'

This is all the more amazing when you learn that Minna has had no formal training as a fashion designer and is entirely self-taught.

And so to the clothes. There are lace tops in cream and black that are perfect with skinny jeans - some dyed with tea for a vintage finish, others made entirely from scraps of recycled fabric - all of them exquisitely beautiful.

Dresses are classic, wearable and always feminine but with some edge to them too. On her website Minna gives style tips alongside each piece - the delicate and ethereal Hannah dress should be 'teamed with ballet shoes for a chilled out look',  the stunning and simple Beth top is described as an 'effortlessly cool top that goes well with a pair of skinny jeans and an old man's vintage hat'. Feasibly you could log on and buy the whole lifestyle.

But even more than these beautiful and timeless clothes which now sell in the UK, the US, Ireland, Finland, Russia and Australia- it is Minna's bridal line launched last September which has taken off. These are dresses for a cool and laid-back bride and, most importantly, they work just as well for everyday life.

Minna says: "We're in a recession so people don't want six months of planning for the big blow up wedding. No one else seemed to be gearing up for the anti-bridal market and designing dresses that you can wear beyond the day.'

The bridal line is selling to everyone from students to women in their 50s who Minna says: 'have been there, done that but they still want a nice dress for the day."

You get the feeling that Minna can turn her hand to anything. Asked whether she could come up with a childrens' line within 2 weeks she did it and the kids' range was born.



Protecting the environment is a primary passion and this is evident in Minna's clothing line. Each piece is hand embellished and made from sustainable, organic, locally produced textiles. She also reuses every scrap of material cut from a pattern.

For fashion of this quality she has kept her prices reasonable - tops can cost as little as £140, dresses range from £250 to £400 and wedding dresses start at around £200.

All the pieces are made in her factory in London with a small team whom she says are 'like a family'. But most of the designing is done here in the West Country amidst the Dorset countryside which Minna describes as inspirational. A fine example of the incredible talent that lurks in these rolling green hills.



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