September & October 2017
September Song - the leaves fall and we slide into autumn style
Beulah London launch their Autumn-Winter 2017 collection
and new Sloane Street pop-up store
As a new season got under way the Beulah London team headed by founders Lavinia Brennan and Natasha Rufus Isaacs opened their new pop-up store at 192 Sloane Street in London as a spot to showcase the new season collection. Their Ebury Street store is open as usual but the team decided to branch out and also try somewhere new. After summer adventures taking Beulah to the Eastern United States in New York and the Hamptons in collaboration with India Hicks they where back with some exciting new style ideas.
Taking inspiration from the night skies of India above Jaipur where they spent time earlier in the year shooting a project and spending more time with the projects that Beulah supports on the ground in Calcutta that enable women to develop skills and become self supporting and independent. A happy looking elephant welcomed visitors to the store and inside a spectacular treat awaits with the boutique gently decorated with murals handpainted in gold by Lavinia and more of the team, as a reflection of the gentle nature and quiet beauty of the Indian night sky. A large centrepiece couch displays cushions that carry the tile inspiration from the walls of Indian Palaces and are infused with the life and bustle that is everywhere around on the streets.
The simple power of the colour contrast between the Scarlett, Black and the Blue brings the sharpness of the design details into simple focus. To the left above tile print dresses, blouses and skirts sit alongside Red velvet jumpsuits that are flattering to both taller and smaller sized figures. I'm pleased to see velvet making a comeback and it's a smart option for a formal outfit at this time of year when you may be exposed to the air briefly in the way to events or chatting and catching up with friends in larger rooms. To the right you can see some of the more popular pieces that have lived on from the Summer 2017 collection that show how the autumn looks have moved this on into a next phase. Monet inspired prints, country dresses and tile-inspired looks all combine to make a perfect set of options, and the sun is always shinning somewhere in the world.
Twinkling stars have their own natural sense of romance and some fabric layered in close-up to the right shows the free hand motif that appears on dresses, skirts and blouses. It's also often a symbol of independence too and I'm not sure if this was intentional but it's also another way of linking back to the message of hope and freedom that Beulah aims to spread and encourage through it's work. The printed garments are also accompanied by silk tie scarfs that you can match with pretty-much anything. You'll see also that tweed is back in beautiful waist length jackets and in coats that reach to just above the knee.
You can see the softness of the fabric and richness of the colours that boldly illustrates the sense of warmth and innate vitality that the collection captures within it. One of Beulah's House specialities is the well tailored blouse, which actually isn't so easy to find always. This season the offering includes light floral prints and the Dinah chiffon wrap top in White is an easy classic multi-season piece you can literally wear with almost anything.
Pictures of inspirations for the season line the walls giving a real feel of the journey the team has taken and the sense that for Beulah they have created a space that feels like home on one of the most exclusive shopping streets in europe.
You can see the star print shimmering on the opening series of looks in the collection below. Opening with the painted lady dress a classic from the earliest of Beulah's collections it's shape and silhouette are perfect for those with longer legs and also could be adapted to be worn by different heights. To the right the Aurora star print tiered gown is a floating piece of heaven almost literally in it's heavenly design. This piece moves wonderfully on the wearer and is such a romanitc piece to wear. It's versatile as at floor length you could wear it for dinners or drinks or black or white tie receptions should you wish.
The Larissa star print silk jumper is a comfy and practical piece to relax in and can be worn in many ways. It works well with smart separates from this collection or leggings and soft jeans. A new style to the Beulah series is the handkerchief dress that is flattering to the more curvey celtic-type frame that I have falling gently over the hips. The slight bohemian feel indicated by the varying length of the skirt adds a carefree hint to a garment that could be worn on both formal or not formal occasions. To the right a highly sophisticated combination of the Rhea chiffon blouse and the Siren star tiered skirt make a perfect date-night combination that you could also enjoy for any smart social occasion. It's simple, classic and a look I could see being worn all over the world.
The ultimate wrap-around piece above to the left comes in the Abigail tweed coat which is going to gove some very strong protection against the elements and also sits lightly enough on the wearer so as not to make you feel to warm if you're wearing it indoors at a reception or at the theatre. Paired with the seriously sassy black velvet Tatiana trousers, it's warm for cool day and evening events. The Ophelia Ruffle sleeve dress in Blue evokes the clear colours of sky and waters while the Ophelia Floral dress in the same style manages to look quite different even though the only change is the fabric. The Cressida jumpsuit with embellished detail at the shoulders slightly harkens back to the silver screen era of the 1930's and 1940's and is a stylish statement of confidence.
Velvet is a strong trend this season and the Black Tamara jacket teamed with the Tatiana trousers creates a very sophisticated evening look that would look fantastic in front of the camera for a Red Carpet event.
The Seraphina Black dress to the left is pure cocktail party glamour and the light embroidery detail at the arms and across the outer shell of the skirt shows the delightful beauty that you can find in fine craftsmanship. To the right the Cressida Burgundy jumpsuit is one of the best known looks from the collection and is so soft and easy to wear. Converting this into a Blush coloured wrap dress gives another high glamour possibility that will work well in front of the cameras for high glamour events and in private.
The transfixing geometric print features in many different garments from dresses, to blouses and skirts. Using a strong contrast of circular patterned and chevron shapes the designs catch the eye in an echo of the counter-convention styles of the 1960's and 1970's that expressed the free spirit. This could be me imagining quite far into the brand story in awe of the work that they do with the Beulah Foundation but I see a link. All of the looks are appealing and hopefully will find their way into the collections of friends of Beulah old and new. The last piece in the collection makes a powerful closing statement. The Genevieve embellished gown in Red is a high glamour formal wear dress that could be worn for Black-Tie events through the Christmas season and beyond and Red is also said to be lucky at New Year.
Jigsaw's Autumn-Winter 2017-2018 collection
Jigsaw have produced a fun and colour-packed Autumn collection and I thought the best way to show it was to take a look back at the press day earlier this year. With the last days of winter fading away we stepped into the lower ground floor of the Regent Street store to be greeted with a bright burst of colour.
Exactly what eyes needed and it was a warming sight for the heart. The collection was broad, moving through many moods with notable attention given to bright Pinks, Oranges and burnished Reds. Reliable knits and bright high visibility toned coats in a variety of fabrics provided many tempting ideas while in front of the display a seasonal trend for velvet totes and converse showed an easy option for slightly pared down glamour. To the right above you can see soft satin sling-backed shoes with low heels hinting at the flexibility of the glamour that edges into the collection at various times.
Design ideas are played with in many different ways such as expressing energy and motion across the surface of a coat, centre above, by using line and raised soft felting. It's art meets fashion and this experimentation shows that this doesn't have to be exclusive to high fashion design. To the right plant shapes streak across several looks and the thistle, a beautiful flower from northern cooler climbs sits neatly on the print of a blouse. The second major colour mood after the bright tones themed around Red was a quasi-marine Blue, White and Yellow. Jersey stripes however, barely feature and the instead the broad legged sailor trousers are adapted to leisure wear. Light and think knit sweaters in Yellows and Blues offer varied layering options and while a diverse selection of tailored and soft-lined jackets offer choice for outfit formation. Little backpacks offer streamlined stowing options as well as another way to brighten up the winter wardrobe.
Monochrome and mettalics also playes a big part in the collection with numerous pieces inclined to a slightly sports theme as well as chic ensemble of work wear and smart outfits. Trouser suits and tailored jackets form stylish and warm options against the cooler airs. Jigsaw play their strongest hand in work and leisure wear and as I spoke to the team, it was easy to identify a number pieces that I could hapily add to my wardrobe. In a final suprise after being fed with some delicious canapes we received a surprise thank you of a little purse that is amongst my favourite things this season. Double faceted in a velvet and leather look with a handy large sized zip it is easy to combine with many pieces and heralded the autumn trend for velvet softness.
Coast celebrate their collaboration with the Royal Opera House for Aututmn
Coast is one of the most reliable brands on the High Street in the UK to go to for evening and occasion wear and this season the chocolate box selection of dream dresses was topped off with a series of looks that celebrated the partnership with The Royal Opera House.
The iconic drapes and folds of ballet costumes are re-imagined in this exploration of the ballet silhouette. Coasts design team where granted unique access to the costume workrooms of the Royal Ballet to understand the structure and design of the beautiful garments worn by dancers and gain inspiration.
As we could see there was clearly some strong inspiration there and the seven limited edition pieces each carry a unique character and accent the delicate beauty of ballet in a different way. Looking at the pieces you can see hints and reflections of different areas of ballet dress for the myriad different roles that are undertaken on the stage. I hope that many of these pieces also find their way into the audience this season. Lace, satin, silk and beautiful ideas combine to create a number of beautiful options to suit different figures.
A Red satin dress with panelled bodice and mid calf length skirt resembles pieces that I know I've seen on the stage in the past. A soft colume appears in the lengths of the fabric as the wearer twirls and dances. This piece could easily be worn with a jacket or wrap on cooler days and the open neckline invites the addition of a piece of jewellery. To the right a laced outer dress sits over a satin under-layer with the light whisper of fabric gently moving across the outer surface. It's a beautiful twist on the shift dress idea and again resembles the beautiful costumes of the stage.
The feathery touch of the winter fern makes a soft addition to the shoulders of a long-sleeved Jersey style top that accompanies a finely pleated lace skirt. It's a nod to the cold shoulder trend of recent seasons with a theatrical twist. There's an echo of the past here in the antique feel of the lace petticoats, like something from the 16th and 17th centuries. The feather detail at the bodice of the Black dress to the right is another reminder of the traditional 19th century ballet costume and meets with a modern twist in the fine pleats of the skirt completing a contemporary 21st century look. Again you can easily accessorise this with a jacket or wrap and with different purses styles. Coast's own range of small handheld clutches are a good match fitting the natural composition of the collection.
The exhibition of the seasons wider offering felt very complete with about 50 looks on mannequins appearing ready to shimmy and burst into life. Chic rosette folds on the blouse above to the left off sets a semi sheer satin piece that could be worn with a variety of separates from the collection. The ruffles falling down the sleeves add a hint of angelic wing-like detail. Trousers tied with a cummerbund style ribboned bow at the waist are both comfy and high glamour allowing you to pass an evening in relaxed style.
To the right the Tyler pleated maxi-dress in shimmering gold is another simple party piece that will suit a variety of figures. Hinting at the long lines of the 1930's and 40's Hollywood era this piece dazzles in it's charm but is not too overpowering to make you lose sight of the wearer. Again Coast hit the right spot ensuring that the piece will work with a variety of shoes, jackets and clutches. To the right pleats in velvet through the length of the skirt make a seasonal statement in one of the fabrics mooted to be the most popular in the collection. Two contrasting yet complimentary styles are shown here with a laced collar luxury jersey style top and a simple tunic on the model behind.
The soft blouse and bolero jacket combination above to the right is a perfect easy to style look that blends with the simple lace shift skirt underneath. This is a seriously glamourous look for drinks, dates or evening receptions and will suit women across the age spectrum. There are a plethora of easy to choose styles here and I note across the range of looks there is a common theme of being generous around the hips with the cut of the style allowing for natural curves to show.
In a broad sweep of the collection there must have been over 100 pieces in the studio that created a styling dream as a one-stop showcase of looks that could be worn.
The main collection takes a bold approach to design as heralded with the caption 'Dramatic Detail' on the boards behind the models above. There is a strong yet subtle use of geometry in the pieces and the Coast team have realised just how to hit the spot in terms of creating an angulated contrast that also flatters the female lines of the figure. It's a happy natural contrast. While they are known for their formal wear pieces the team have also established a more casual line in the last couple of seasons called Coast Friday. These are great work to leisure pieces and use lots of soft trousers, blouses and sweaters. There is a town and country feel here with pieces that you could hop off a train from the big smoke in and head out to dinner with friends and family.
In terms of creativity the Coast team find ample scope within their brief to design a multitude of joyous fabrics that have sparkle and life in them but don't look too challenging. Whether your used to dressing up and meeting dress codes on a regular basis or carefully choosing a piece for a special occasion Coast produce looks that have style and personality without being too 'out there'. It's a safe choice without being too boring. Be it a date at The Royal Opera House, a wedding or planning looks for the Party Season the Coast team have done their best to make sure you have some memorable pieces to choose to add to your wardrobe.
Zoe Jordan showcases her Autumn-Winter 2017 collection
at Burlington Arcade in Mayfair.
She's carving out a role in the market in casual luxe and also finding time to travel with the work of her brand and raise three small people also. Like many women today, Zoe's become a master juggler and has her sights set firmly on the future. It was lovely to drop by her store on opening day and see a dynamic vibrant brand taking it's place alongside the more traditional jewellery and countryware stores. Burlington Arcade draws curious shoppers of all ages and many international clients to it's guilded halls. It's wonderful to see a brand that will offer something different in international contemporary luxury to visitors.
Zoe's muse is a confident character that embraces both a utilitarian sense of practicality as well as a sense of style that has it's own unique finger print. It's expressive and dynamic and fuses a feel of sports with stylised luxury comfort. The colour dial can move up or down depending on where your mood sits and this is a full comfy kit for both outdoors and indoors. Dressed like a cosy dressing room the boutique is manned by Zoe's core team lead by the able Chloe Siddle who has been with the brand and shared Zoe's journey for many years. A soft chair, plants and a rug give the relaxed feel of warmth to the space.
This season she unveiled the latest creations to arise from the Zoe Jordan knit-lab and the Zoe Jordan woman was joined by a gentleman and smaller children's sized garments, so something for all of the family potentially. Colour wise soft and warm pinks are joined by Grey, Black and Baby Blues and light Lime Greens. Sweetly romantic knitted bows peer out from palm sized eyelets at the elbow and sleeve of a sweater in Zoe's pioneering open shoulder and elbow style. The idea of placing a sports edge into soft knitted wool and cashmere pieces is something unique to Zoe and I remember speaking with her when this look was in it's infancy. Several collections later it forms part of the genesis of her look. These separates can be combined with jogging pant or your own jeans, jeggins or leather look trousers. It also strikes me that these pieces would make really nice gifts for friends potentially who like to challenge the norm of shape in art and design.
Jackets and coats following the sports/leisure theme including the Kari above and the popular Bear Run jacket also fit easily ino the wardrobe working with other key pieces you may have. There's a hint of 'borrowed from the boyfried' here but it's a smart and practical style that looks every inch what a confident woman would want to wear to see her through the colder days of winter. Sheerling Mongolian wool at the collar is designed to proof you against the coldest weather and discreetly tucked inside adjustable inner shoulder straps illustrate Zoe's commitment to making practical technological adjustments to styles based on what will work best for the woman and what she needs to be comfortable and get the most out of her day. To the right above the series of pieces inspired by mettalics also emphasises practicality whilst bringing an urban feel to the offering.
The Maxwell knit sweater above to the left, again cut with an open shoulder style shows more of Zoe's flare for experimentation with knitwear. She sees it as a dynamic element of the wardrobe and one that can be played with and experimented with in a number of ways. The styling of these pieces is flattering and also approaches the genderless without looking truly uni-sex this is something that Zoe also manages to achieve well.
There's a gentle balance being struck here with Zoe quietly branching out into different way to serve her audience. The bomber jackets above for him and her can be customised to order by the clients creating a truly personal fit and also a wonderful gift for a friend. The bespoke servie offered by Zoe Jordan covers both men's and women's tracksuits that this season feature the classic 'American College' block lettering and collar and cuff piping detail. Alongside the bomber jacket it's a retro look that has an enduring appeal.
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The colour palette of the Autumn-Winter 2017 collection opens with neutral tones of Sand and Ochre with a gentle dusting of Grey provided by the shoes before the collection move to a metallic mood. Sheepskin with hardy Mongolian origins blends with garments at the upper part of the figure offering warmth across the arms and upper part of the figure. Knitted beanie hats are also on hand as an alternative if you're looking for natural sustainable fibres.
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Knits working around a metallic theme are a tried and tested combination for this label and have been successfully worked into numerous collection looks across several seasons. Cut away knits with and without fringing form composite layering of a look and however challenging or conventional in the direction that they reach in, the key theme that runs across is comfort. Retro shapes find further scope for the imagination to explore with playsuits and striped tracksuit trousers finding a new lease of life with either bomber jackets and military neat jacketed lines. A dungaree apron sits over wide leg trousers and a tie die effect sweater. These are easy looks to relax in and also have a naturally cosmopolitan feel. You could be anywhere in the world in Europe, the United States and beyond and wear them casually and comfortably as part of the palette of you life. With Spring peeping around the corner as the snow melts is always lovely to see the bright pops of colour come back into our lives and Zoe cleverly signals this as the collection draws to a close.
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Christies auction of the estate of Audrey Hepburn
She was many things, an actress, a campaigner, a mother and also notably a survivor of a war time occupation. Audrey Hepburn is very deserving of the sometimes over used monica of 'Icon' in the ranks of twentieth century women noted in the realms of fashion and the cinemetic screen.
In a landmark sale many of her effects that tied to some of her most well known film roles were offered by her two sons and granddaughter. Hepburn lived much of her later life in Italy and her sons travelled over from there to introduce the sale pre-view to a private audience before the public view. The portrait above that introduced the assembled collection is one of the most well known that exists of Hepburn evolving the 'Roman Holiday' and breakfast at Tiffany's era. Looking out at the audience she exhibits the calm self assurance that gave her the strength to move forward and pursue so many challenges in her life with a steely determination.
The wardrobe on display runs the full span of day wear ready for the camera to cocktail and evening pieces. Many of the most prominent 20th century luxury fashion Houses feature including Chanel, Balmain and Dior but notably the House of Givenchy. Hepburn had an especially close relationship with the House of Hubert d'Givenchy and even today her memory is intertwined with his. Today the retired aristocrat who became one of the most celebrated Paris Couturiers is no doubt aware of the sale and for many buyers in the burgeoning field of fashion and Haute Couture collection who respect the legends of both artists, the sale presents a unique opportunity. Throughout the display the uniform theme is one of neatness. That subtle note that shows an outfit to have the right composition for the eye to recognise it as sophisticated. Many are looks that could easily be worn today and show how the formal wear of the late 20th century moved slowly and gently away from a notion of rapidly changing formal wear styles decade by decade as the pace of life sped up.
Public life in front of the lens calls for a series of confident wardrobe statements, appearance by appearance. The camera often has a way of enhancing a look so that what may not look too much in person can look over the top on camera. Hepburn understood the eye of camera in the same way that her contemporary Grace Kelly did and honed her style as she gradually won bigger parts and raised her profile in the industry. It's inevitable that some of these outfits will be worn and enjoyed in their new homes and I can't help but think that the lady herself would have been very pleased for the new owners having a chance to share the pieces that she enjoyed. Many will also be destined for museums and private collections around the world and may also find there way perhaps to the homes of some designers working in the industry today. If I had to make a choice of just one garment I would choose the Midnight Blue mini-dress coat with Black trim. For me the playful twist that this makes on a traditional men's jacket with European hints is beautifully softened into a gamine silhouette. The slim line that helped her become famous owed itself, in Hepburn's own words, to the limited diet that she was exposed to during her adolescent years in an occupied wartime Netherlands. Widespread rationing meant that as an adult she was always sample size and sylph like.
Smaller personal effects such as earrings from Hepburn's jewellery collection are even more readily adaptable to many wardrobes and again the sympathetic styles of semi precious stones and pearls are classic and elegant. Symbols that echo scenes from her most well-known films such as the umbrella and cat from Breakfast at Tiffany's in baby-soft colours show a gentle almost child-like fondness for the memory of the characters who built her career. 'Interdit' the strong feminine scent that Givenchy created to capture the essence of Hepburn, his ultimate muse, is also shown and offered for sale in it's vintage box. Again alongside fashion and accessories such as bags there is also a sector of the vintage buying market that takes a strong interest in brand history and the packaging and production of beauty products through the history of a fashion house.
Photography also plays an important role in the sale with a series of legendary portraits by Norman Parkinson of the actress from films including My Fair Lady that she did have the genuine quality to trans form and also emphasise how much work goes into acting especially when playing costumed roles that require complex hair, make-up and costume. There are a lot of different elements and supporting teams that help an actress become a new person. By anyone's estimation this is certainly one of the most tasteful celebrity wardrobe collections to go under the hammer and at neighbouring House Sotheby's the same weekend Vivienne Leigh's effects were also offered for sale. No doubt not an easy decision entirely for the families of both actresses but both understood that garments had a place and a purpose in their lives. Above to the left the famous Breakfast at Tiffany's cocktail party dress stands squarely proud in the centre of the display, the mannequins stance echoing that of a star. An intricately embellished matador costume is pure theatre and also evokes the playful nature that we remember in the actress. To the right a range of outfits in their formal wear style sit alongside the rain coat of Holly Golightly and show how deeply influential the mid 20th century style of Givenchy and his mentor Christian Dior was on the style of women for decades to come.
For us Hepburn is a distant figure, a successful Hollywood actress who became a high profile charity campaigner travelling the world to help try and better the lives of others. She was an artist with a keen sense of social justice and privately also a mother and close friend with her own identity beyond the roles that she played. Her legacy to us and her family is multi-faceted and shows in ever aspect her sense of tirelessness and determination. It takes courage to become a star in the industry that she did and to mold that celebrity into something iconic crossing into fashion perhaps began by accident but in doing so, she gave us all a legacy of something to enjoy and a series of memorable quotes and inspirational cues to show where determination can lead. Thank you Audrey.
Chanel on a bright afternoon in Paris
It wasn't the main focus of my trip but while passing through Paris in Ready to Wear Spring-Summer 2018 season it was a perfect place to pause and reflect of the best of the current season fashion that had just arrived on the rails. On the Rue Faubourg Saint Honore a large sign indicated that the ever youthful visage of Mlle Chanel was undergoing another transformation. Chanel are planning a new store launch from the look of things for 2018 and this reminded me that while I had some time I should pass it in the Rue Cambon, where the House first put down roots in Paris.
The sun was beaming down on Paris and notably Louis Vuitton had instaled their giant golden artwork covering the side of their new salon at the Place Vendome to represent Louis XIV himself but thoughts were moving towards adding layers for the coming autumn. If you are looking to find a superb winter coat Chanel is pretty hard to beat. Covering a range of style options from the traditional to the more experimental they have one of the most sweetly beautiful choices to be found. Still true to the heavily British-influenced roots of Chanel woolen tweed features strongly in the offering with styles touhing on Princess cut, clear menswear inspired lines and contemporary design visions. They are a true multi-generational brand as the traditional Couture Houses of Paris always were. My quest was coat focussed but I also fell in love with the trio of boots to the right that playfuly adapt the toe contour colour of classic Chanel ballet flats to a darker shade for winter off-setting seasonal colour notes. You could blend these boots with a variety of outfits during the day or evening.
Mulberry show Spring & Summer 2018 in Paris
During Paris Fashion Week Mulberry made a home in the central Paris residence once used to show John Galliano's collections and currently owned by the Schlumberger family.
It certainly provided a setting that matched the grandeur of the collections theme, the carefree summer days of the British Aristocracy. The era of Vita Sackville West and her Bloomsbury group is also evoked through the moods and styles of the collection. Layers and ruffles, light delicacy and then a challenge to convention in the adaptation of the masculine suit lines to the feminine form. Hat's that quintessentially British accessory also feature in the collection in a moment when the late Edwardian meets the 21st century. The grandeur of the public rooms in the house give a sense that these 'Brits on Tour' have been transposed to an environment that feels just like home to them.
After ascending the grand central staircase guests were treated to seeing the home movies re-imagined of Johnny Coca's new bright young things projected on one of the vast walls in the cavernous interior of one of the salons. Soft focus and sometimes a little blurred it carried the dreamlike quality of Halcyon Days that he wanted to evoke. Colour is one of the most notable features of the collection itself and it greets the eyes boldly in much of the Spring-Summer 2018 offering. Coca has sough to take a new direction this season though with a collection blending hints of flapper style and late Edwardian with the free reign creativity that designer in the early 21st century can have. Would the Bloomsbury set and interwar children of the aristocracy dive into this dressing up box? Quite possibly yes, as there is a confidence in the vibrancy of the clothing that is quite charming. This collection screams fun and play-fullness in the language of fashion and when you see beyond the initial impression of the bright colours new details appear to emerge.
With the public rooms of the town-house almost transformed into a giant dressing room the full wardrobe gets due consideration. A beautifully ruched Damask-Rose dress comprises the neat skirt fold that several pieces in the collection do creating a chic and simple look for a cocktail outfit. This could easily be worn with a cocktail dress or alone. Switching to relaxed mode the mustard coloured easy-fit trouser suit to the right is pure lounge-wear that you could easily get away with in front of the camera. Whether during holiday on the French or Italian coast or in front of the cameras for slightly more relaxed Red-Carpets, this look takes formal wear to it's most low key.
Pink and Green off-set each-other again in the next piece with a sheer blouse resting on top of a ruched skirt with the collection signature up-take pleat hemline. Adding a hint of showgirl perhaps in a nod to the heritage of the past the Edwardian and late Victorian petticoats have a new lease of life in this collection. To the right a mid-calf coat dress sewn with crystals again gives a sparkle to the traditional silhouette of a century past. While the style of the garment is a new contemporary play the hat itself, with it's rosette shape is classic piece of design that could be worn with any formal dress or suit today.
As we would expect from Mulberry, first known for their impressive array of accessories a new expression of purse style also enters the collection for next season. One of the most charmingly simple styles I saw was the sack shaped purse, the most traditional (if not ancient) shape for a ladies accessory gently gathered at the neck and tied with simple Gold chains. A timeless gift or fun outfit accessory. To the left a series of purses and totes show Mulberry expressing another series of design possibilities in classical styles. Colours are slightly more muted than in much of the clothing offering to give the accessories a more discreet feel but the bolder colour elements of the collection are contained in stripes across the designs. As with Mulberry's coterie of purses, these are designs that could be transposed into many smart and casual outfits across next season and act as an interchangeable part of the wardrobe.
Stripes are a key focus and feature for many looks in the collection and the looks above to the left show the diversity of influences that Coca draws in to the designs. Does it have to be definable in any way? They stand as a bold colour statement and moment of expression. The Blues and Orange-Reds evoke hot days and clear skies of the next season. The structure of the garments isn't too traditional and loose styles dominate. A jewelled Blue flower decorates the buckle of a belt curling round the body of the belt. To the right a puffball style skirt and blouse tied at the waist offers a casual stylish take on luxury. At the centre a summer dress with fluted pipping can be worn alone on warmer days or with a cardigan or jacket.
Shoes are an area where Coca has excelled in creating something plucked from the imagination this season. Debuting in the collection this season, he has used ceramic heels inspired by traditional fine English China. I chuckled when I saw them and exclaimed what a fun idea to Vanessa Lunt who leads the London Mulberry team. Satin slippers seem to be one of the ideas that the collection has worked it's themes around, extrapolating the theme with central knots, applique crystals and creating an array of footware for their audience.
The delicate patterns of china in Blue and White and Red and White appear in a series of looks through the collection light dresses and blouses, hats and the mood setting of the collection. Away in a private gallery a huge array of china from the 17th to 20th centuries was displayed and I learned that this used to be also part of the Mulberry home-ware collections. Above to the left the willow pattern Blue translates into the Blue of suit and pressed mini skirt. The light fabric of the millinery is matched in the material of the blouse and dress. Whether it's the crisp lines or the floating femininity that take your fancy, or perhaps both, there's a gentle harmony to the overall look. Shimmering expressions in dresses and a metallic hint to the collection and a light to brighten up the nights of early spring. It's a charming and timeless idea to adapt into a collection.
With a feast laid for us guests and inspiration in how to set a table with seemly impromtu ease I muched on a couple of sweet berries and thought about the next step that Mulberry has taken in re-visitng the legacy of Britain's high style heritage. Chosing the best of the past and making something new from it is often a recipe for success for many designers and somehow in this quiet sedate area of central Paris it seemed to be the right thing to show the best of British style to a Parisian and international audience who have an eternal fascination for British culture and customs. A lovely bit of fashion diplomacy from the Mulberry team.