By age twelve, Helen was designing her own extraordinary clothes. She loved hand-painting onto fabrics and working with leather and suede. During a spell in Rome, as a young post-graduate portrait painter, Helen was scouted, whilst wearing her own design, by the couture house of Sorelle Fontana, who dressed Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardener, Claudia Cardinale, Gina Lollobrigida and, later, Jackie Kennedy. Painting fabrics and designing embroideries for their sumptuous gowns sent her in a new direction.
From the early 1960s, Helen was a successful fashion designer, creating twice-yearly collections from her airy design and production base in Lancashire. Throughout her career, she was a genuine British innovator, pioneering a trend for intricate, imaginatively-tailored couture leather and suede pieces, as well as hand-painted wedding and evening gowns. She dressed many celebrities along the way and frequently spotted her designs in film and TV productions.
Retail aficionados of Helen’s designs included specialist boutiques and high-end department stores, among them Harrods, Henri Bendel, Neiman Marcus, Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s.