Now that the four great roles of state are fully encumbered by men, thoughts naturally turn to the obvious question: will Samantha Cameron’s fashion label get a budget boost from Lord Cameron’s new pay packet?
Cefinn, which she launched in 2016 and takes its name from her children's initials, has — like most independent fashion brands — struggled post pandemic to turn a profit, with losses of over £2 million, albeit with sales up 45 per cent in the year to the end of October 2022. But, as one industry insider said, “find me a fashion brand that isn’t in debt.”
Its investors include Lord Brownlow of Shurlock Row — a helpful Tory donor, who also footed the bill for Boris and Carrie Johnson’s Downing Street décor, as well as Wendy Yu, a Chinese heiress and fashion investor who also sponsors Met Gala curator Andrew Bolton’s position at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (fun fact, his full job title is Wendy Yu Curator in Charge).
The brand was launched in the headlights of her husband’s government exit, a passion project which drew on her experience as a creative director (she helmed luxury stationery brand Smythson for over 15 years) and her unique experience of high status, high profile dressing. Her time in Downing Street saw her bring an easy, relatable glamour to the role, wearing Roksanda dresses and cashmere cardigans for meeting heads of states, steered by her image consultant Isabel Spearman. She became a regular on the style pages and on best dressed lists in sync with her American centrist counterpart Michelle Obama; also hosting celeb-packed London Fashion Week parties at Number 10, and serving as an ambassador for the British Fashion Council.
Cameron’s solid, personal fashion industry contacts (her sister Emily Sheffield was at that time deputy editor of British Vogue) meant that the label launched to somewhat riveted fanfare in 2017, with its noble aim to fit a workwear sweet spot that was at an accessible price point. Cameron has latterly hosted fashion journalists at home, serving Cefinn-dressed guests salmon and posh salads in her open plan kitchen-diner (Dave not present).
Debt accumulation aside, the brand has carved out a useful identity as a go-to for corporate women and those after pretty but machine washable wardrobe workhorse pieces. Stocked on both Matches and Net-a-Porter (who are pretty quick to ditch underperformers these days) Cameron has carefully carved out a serviceable niche catering to smart with a fashion touch office attire, as well as grown up party wear — this season’s gold leather skirts and velvet suits are particularly good.
Its selection of dresses have a clear knowledge of its customer, and are a somewhat sensible beacon in a sea of cut-out slashed to the thigh alternatives. Cameron favours a demure cut of dress, midi in length and high of neck, in prints with a whiff of interest but nothing too statement making. It’s of the moment, but not on trend. Cameron regularly appears on the brand's Instagram page, showing her 62,000 followers how to style her lurex knits and winter event dresses.
Cefinn has notably picked up a slew of high profile fans, including the Princess of Wales, Queen Camilla, Erin O’Connor and Holly Willoughby. And, in a heavenly meeting of life and art, Sienna Miller wore a Cefinn dress in the promotional campaign for Anatomy of a Scandal, the Netflix thriller based around an MP’s alleged infidelity.