Sylvia Ayton MBE is the Chairman of the Costume Society (founded in 1964 to promote the study and preservation of examples of historic and contemporary dress). With a career of over 50 years, she describes herself as a fashion entrepreneur, designer, and lecturer.
She started her own company in the early 60s before teaming up with Zandra Rhodes to produce young trendy clothes that moved fashion away from the exclusivity of couture.
Sylvia joined Wallis Fashion Group as outerwear designer in 1969 and retired in 2002. During her long tenure as designer at Wallis she rediscovered a passion for the fabrics and workmanship involved with couture, as her team regularly visited the Paris couture shows to inspire the Wallis Pick of Paris garment range.
In an article written in 1995 to mark the 80th anniversary of Wallis, Sylvia was lauded "...Ask anyone over 40 to name a British fashion designer, and they will probably say the late Miss Muir, Mary Quant, or perhaps Zandra Rhodes. But Sylvia Ayton has probably dressed more British women than all her UK contemporaries put together; almost half a million women will wrap up this winter in a brand new Sylvia Ayton coat. But the label inside those coats will read Wallis. She is one of the British fashion industry's best kept secrets."