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Our Story

Libelula is an iconic British boutique brand known and loved for its vibrant signature prints and beautifully cut and flattering shapes. Our easy and effortless shapes are made from the finest silks and softest rayons and cottons.

Our philosophy at Libelula is to create timeless, flattering and easy pieces in beautiful colours and prints that give you joy and confidence every time you put them on, regardless of your age, shape or size, and that you will pass down from generation to generation.

Unusually founder Sophie Cranston cuts every pattern to flatter her curvy size 16 figure and then they are graded down so Libelula pieces are flattering on sizes 8-18. She draws her inspiration from vintage pieces, travel, colour and print and also her love and extensive knowledge of the history and the technical side of the fashion industry.

Over the past nearly two decades, Cranston has built a fashion brand synonymous with her joyful and optimistic outlook on life. She has garnered a loyal following of women of all ages who come to her for her innate sense of colour, cut and surprise detailing.

Proudly independent - Libelula, has never had any outside funding or investment and Sophie is still 100% in control of the brand - which she believes is key for longevity & the freedom to ensure she can stand by what she feels is right for the brand, instead of having to bow to the pressure to hit financial targets.  Libelula is run by a small team and Sophie is completely hands on with the business. All our e-commerce orders are shipped personally from our studio in Odiham and it is always one of us who will pack your order.

Ethics

Libelula is only produced in small runs, by the same small suppliers that we have worked with since the beginning and who now only work with us! They are the core of our company, and as unlike most factories, they have no minimums we are able to produce no more than 50 of any one piece. We carry on shapes that are most popular from season to season, changing the colours and prints and details of each one, so when you find a shape that suits your figure you should be able to find it again in other fabrics and print.

Sophie visits and works from the factory twice a year when working on a new collection. She has personally known the owner and all the workers since they started working together 16 years ago and is confident that working conditions and worker care are maintained in addition to our high standards of quality and production.

We have tried to make all our packaging as eco-friendly as possible and no longer use any plastic packaging and now all our boutique bags are not matt laminated and have cotton handles and not polyester ones.

We do small runs of each style and nothing is wasted or sent to landfill and every piece always finds someone that loves it somewhere! We use our offcuts to make silk pocket squares for men and now the cottons and rayons to make face masks. Any tiny offcuts of fabric are sent to be recycled.

As of SS20, we are only using the finest silks and the softest cottons and rayons for our clothes. We are now committed to only using natural fabrics and will no longer use Polyester to make any of our pieces.

We are confident that our customers buy Libelula to wear forever, and that because our styles are special and timeless and are not trend-driven or throw away seasonal items, that they are investment pieces that bring joy and colour to their lives every time they are worn.

The Lady Behind the Label

Having been awarded the Young Designer of the Year award at Graduate Fashion week in 1999, Sophie Cranston, the elusive designer behind the Libelula label went on to hone her skills in the design studios of Alexander McQueen, Belville Sassoon and LuLu Cheung and at the tailoring tables of Saville Row. She then went on to help found Temperley with Alice Temperley. But in 2002 aged about 26 she decided the time had come to follow her dreams and Sophie left the UK in an old campervan with only her bicycle and her sewing machine as company to learn Spanish and to dance Flamenco. Her journey took many more months than she had anticipated as her beloved campervan broke down numerous times enroute to the South of Spain…

When she finally arrived in Andalusia, one unexpected wonderful thing happened after another and though she had only saved enough money to be there in her van for 4 months, she realised pretty fast that if she headed home then her heart would still lie in the South of Spain. So she found herself a job and a tiny little house at the top of a mountain, and from this followed some sewing commissions, and as she began to create a dreamy life for herself in the whitewashed village of Facinas, she started to work on her life-long dream of starting her own label.

Libelula (meaning dragonfly in Spanish) was borne in her first studio in the old bank building at the top of the village and soon she was producing collections that were to be sold around the globe. She was lucky to meet some amazing people and a very special family and this led to spending 4 years living in a wooden hut up a mountain that for the first year had no electricity and no running water… it is one of the most romantic and special places that it's possible to find, and it's now possible to rent it on AirBnB.

At night they chatted and played cards by candlelight and every morning awoke to the magical views of the Atlantic Ocean and Africa…it was a life of unimaginable happiness and it was here that she met her future husband. This finally led her back to the UK where she continued to grow Libelula and had 3 sons with her husband Jack. She continued to rent a studio in Facinas (now known as Casa Sophie!) and also available to rent on Tarifa Beach House for her creative work for some years but as more small boys appeared she was unable to take them all there and get any work done so she moved her studio in London. From London Libelula eventually moved with Sophie to Hampshire and now is based from the Libelula Boutique and Studio in Odiham.

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