Woman of Substance


Geoffrey Bennison’s antiques and decorating business was expanding, his reputation was growing, and new design commissions were taking him farther afield—all while a blizzard of paperwork in his London shop stacked up like so many fabric samples.

It was 1979 and, desperate for help with his administrative mess, he hired Gillian Newberry to stem the paper tide and bring order to the chaos. A former fashion editor at British Vogue and studio manager for fashion and portrait photographer David Bailey, Gilly (“Jilly”) was gifted with organizational talents that soon turned Bennison’s office around.

Their auspicious meeting—an introduction by mutual friends—would have far-reaching effects neither could have imagined, seeding what would one day become Bennison Fabrics, an English company specializing in hand-printed goods based on 18th- and 19th-century English and French textiles.

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This story appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of MILIEU.