Chloe Savage’s gorgeous embroidery work was essential to the royal wedding dresses of both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, her business has dried up, leaving her to struggle to feed her family and make ends meet.
In an interview with People, Savage opened up about the ways she and her family have been struggling during the global health crisis.
“My 14-year-old daughter is skipping meals to save on the food budget. The stress is getting to her and she is self-harming too,” Savage said. “So, she’s now going to Child Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to get support.”
Savage was responsible for helping to create Kate and Meghan’s gowns at the Royal School of Needlework in Hampton Court Palace. Specifically, she “appliquéd all the lace” to the gown and shoes of Kate’s Alexander McQueen dress, and also worked on her “elasticated blue silk and white lace garter.” For Meghan’s dress, Savage hand-stitched California poppies, ears of corn, Commonwealth flowers, and garden flowers onto the bride-to-be’s veil.
In addition to her work on the royal wedding gowns, Chloe has worked for theater, television, and couture houses, including Balenciaga. She’s also created a number of individual pieces for film companies—including a 007 embroidered jacket for Daniel Craig. Savage also used to work as a conservator for The National Trust charity, where she was responsible for 40,000 historic textile items at Tyntesfield house in North Somerset.
“In January and February, we started seeing a lot of our international contracts getting put on hold,” says Chloe. “Work just disappeared. People like the National Trust very quickly said they would have to postpone our projects because they knew they were going to have a massive hole in their budget.”
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Earlier in the pandemic, Savage was forced to shut down her embroidery studio and lay off her apprentices in an attempt to save money. She was able to get a $30,000 small business loan from the U.K. government, but most of that went to business-related expenses.
“Well, what else do you do?” she says. “You spend half the time phoning up agencies trying to grovel your way into reducing your bill or putting it on a monthly payment or spreading it over, just so you don’t get hit by the whole thing.”