This Norfolk fashion brand is a favourite of Kate Middleton
- Credit: Alamy Stock Photo
When followers of royal fashion report on what the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing, a fabulous Norfolk-based brand keeps cropping up
The Duchess of Cambridge is a friend and a fan – and one of many women who love the clothes designed in Norfolk by sisters Rosie and Lucia.
Combining their love of country life and contemporary design, Rosie van Cutsem and Lucia Ruck Keene began creating the clothes they wanted to wear.
“We were both living in London, but escaping to the country every weekend. We found we needed two wardrobes!” said Rosie.
Fed-up with either staying warm and dry but compromising on style, or looking fabulous but feeling cold or uncomfortable they created a collection of clothes that both looked good and worked well – stylish wind and waterproof jackets, pretty but hard-wearing shirts and dresses, cosy jumpers, practical and flattering trousers and dungarees.
“It’s functional and luxurious,” said Rosie, “And the reaction was immediately really, really good.”
Neither Rosie nor Lucia had a fashion or textiles background – but they knew exactly the kind of clothes they, and their friends, needed. They named their brand Troy London, for the house where they grew up and the city where they were living.
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Then when Rosie married Norfolk man William van Cutsem, and moved to Hilborough, near Swaffham, Troy London came too.
Rosie requisitioned a brick and flint farm office and combines running the business (with Lucia who still has a separate full-time job in London) and being mum to her three sons, aged four, three and a baby.
Their city-to-country waxed jackets, jumpers, shirts and accessories soon had some very famous fans.
Rosie’s husband, William, had been friends with the Duke of Cambridge since childhood and is godfather to Prince George. He spent part of his childhood in Anmer Hall on the Sandringham estate (where William and Kate later lived) and his father was one of the Prince of Wales’ close friends.
Now Prince William’s wife, a worldwide fashion icon, chooses to wear clothes designed by William van Cutsem’s wife.
The Duchess of Cambridge has been pictured in Troy London jackets and jumpers, and giving coats a glamorous make-over with Troy London fur collar and cuffs.
“It’s always a happy surprise to see her wearing something of ours,” said Rosie.
But you don’t have to be a duchess or live on a country estate to wear Troy.
Rosie is delighted to see strangers in Troy clothes too. She sees people wearing Troy when she is out in Norfolk, from riding on the beach at Holkham to dropping her eldest son at school, as well as when she opens royal-watching newspapers and fashion magazines.
“That’s such a thrill, when you see someone and you have no idea who they are, how they discovered Troy, and there they are, striding along the street, looking great, in one of our designs,” said Rosie. “That joy never goes away. Never underestimate the happiness that causes.”
She is proud that everything is made in Britain, in top quality traditional fabrics by highly skilled staff. They employ expert suede and leather workers in London, and use carefully-sourced textile factories in the Midlands, a Scottish woollen mill and specialist tweed from Ireland.
“Our manufacturers pay properly and treat people properly,” said Rosie. “Our pieces are made in factories where people are looked after.”
Despite still being called Troy London, it is very much a Norfolk brand, from design to dispatch. Photo shoots are often done in Norfolk, with the spectacular grounds of Hilborough House itself a favourite location. The clothes themselves go much further afield, dispatched from Hilborough by Rosie and her small team to customers around the world. They are particularly popular in the United States, Canada and Australia.
She is wearing Troy as we speak, a belted Norfolk jacket of salt-and-pepper tweed and dark leather, with horn buttons and a quilted lining. Why wouldn’t she? She and Lucia design all their clothes to suit their lives, for people who want their clothes to look as good, and work as well, on a city street or a country lane.
“We have got to stay true to what we love wearing. We only make things that we would wear ourselves,” said Rosie.
Troy designs are also the antithesis of fast fashion. They are made carefully, made locally and made to last, with the collection renewed rather than replaced twice a year.
“People will invest in something that will last,” said Rosie, adding: “We work really hard in our pricing to make sure that things don’t get too expensive.”
So, a fair isle sweater the Duchess of Cambridge wore on a royal tour in December 2020 and to a farm visit in April 2021, costs £220. Wax parkas are £350 and faux fur cuffs just £35 - as worn by the Duchess on official tours and visits. Kate wore a khaki wax parka on tour of Canada, and a Gloucestershire farm visit and a navy parka on beach photo-opportunity on the Welsh island of Anglesey.
“The wax parkas are a best-seller and for a good reason,” said Rosie. “They are such a flattering shape, with a nipped in waist and a flowing shape that skims the bottom, and they are 100 per cent waterproof.”
Rosie, tall, blonde, smiley and chatty, worked as a head-hunter before launching Troy. She manages the business day-to-day. Lucia is creative director, but also has a full-time job in London. But both sisters are involved in the entire process, from first drawings to selling the finished products – and have surprised even themselves with their success.
“Our clothes are for people who want something effective, but they also feel luxurious, they make you feel a bit special. They are for people who have got busy lives, who are cracking on. We sell to people in their 20s and people in their 70s, people who know what they like.
A rainy day is simply a chance to test out new clothes for Rosie. “If there is a terrible day, it’s pouring with rain, that’s the best time to go out and make sure a new design works, is comfortable and waterproof,” said Rosie.
The dogs (a mother-and-daughter Labrador and a rescue Staffie cross still need walking) so she will test the latest jacket, which might eventually be seen on a royal, or a super-model, or in the pages of Vogue or Country Life, Tatler or the Times.
Well-known clients include models Jacquetta Wheeler, Poppy Delevingne and Jodie Kidd, horse-racing television presenter Francesca Cumani, high profile florist and author Willow Crossley, style blogger and socialite Alice Naylor-Leyland and high-society names who move in similar country- estate circles as Rosie and Lucia.
The sisters talk most days. “We are great friends as well as sisters,” said Rosie. Their other sister, Kate, also lives in Norfolk, at Stody Lodge, near Holt, where spectacular gardens brim with rhododendrons and camellias in late spring. At Hilborough the Dutch-style gardens are famous too but very different.
The magnificent mansion, styled on centuries-old stately homes but built in the 1990s, is surrounded by topiary in myriad shades of green.
It suits the country colour palette of Troy – and is a perfect backdrop for its best of British marriage of modern and traditional.
Rosie and Lucia recently launched a menswear range and one day might add children’s clothes too. “Something that can be bought for the oldest child and passed down to the youngest,” said Rosie.
Right now they are working on their women’s and men’s collection for spring and summer 2023. There will be new colours and fabrics and designs, but favourite pieces will stay. This is not fast fashion, but British-made country clothing made to look good in all weathers and last for years.
As well as selling online there are outlets at Harrod’s, Scottish golf resort Gleneagles, and Swiss ski resort Verbier. And clients can book a personal appointment at Hilborough to find their perfect Troy piece over a cup of coffee.
Rosie and Lucia call the people who wear their clothes their “Troy tribe” and are thrilled by the following for their trademark Troy combination of functional and fabulous, local and luxury.
Exclusive discount for Norfolk magazine readers
Troy London is offering a generous 15% discount to Norfolk magazine readers throughout May. Claim your discount with the code NORF15 at troylondon.com