Think Coco Chanel at the beach at Deauville and then, more famously, on the Côte d'Azur. This glamorous time and place is all brought to mind by the latest book by Mary Lovell, "The Riviera Set".
In the 1920s and 30s Chanel helped to liberate women from constricting corsets by creating easy, casual comfortable clothes made of jersey.
This collection is a celebration of that kind of ease that we all love: effortless clothes that can go anywhere. Comfortable knits, fresh linens from Italy and Ireland, refined stripes, pleats - crushed and crumple, and dresses in simple shapes made from gorgeous exclusive European fabrics that travel well.
A beachy holiday feel pervades: colours are fresh navy and white, stone, silver grey, denim blue, taupe, khaki and black with a few surprise highlights colours. Wishing you all a fabulous summer...
SUMMER 23/24 INSPIRATION:
THE GELATO COLOURS OF PROCIDA
Shimmering in pink and gold, mirage-like across a glittering sea, an island appeared. I was on a ferry from Naples to Ischia. A mumbled “Mi scusi Signora”, and pointing to it, I gained the reply: “Procida”.
A tiny jewel in the sea, so easily overlooked, but not by the Mycenaeans in the 16th Century B.C.E, nor the Greeks from Cuma. The nobles from the Roman Empire used it as a holiday resort. Located in the midst of key trading routes, it has been invaded by Normans, Goths, and Saracen pirates, then more recently by the film crews of
“Il Postino” and “The Talented Mr Ripley”, and then shortly after my first sighting, by me-fully armed with my bijou watercolour box and brushes.
I was soon wandering amongst the old pastel-coloured houses, fascinated and enchanted by the architecture: a vernacular architecture of houses leaning against each other, on top of and around each other, with outside steps that become neighbours’ balconies: a mishmash born of necessity designed to confuse those invading Saracen pirates, whilst allowing escape routes for the inhabitants.
A distinguishing feature being the “vefio”, a small balcony covered by an arched vault, reminiscent of the Moorish world.
I asked a fisherman, who had finished work for the day and hung up his nets, if, for a small fee, he could take me out in his boat, a colourful liquorice all-sort of pink, yellow and white. It turned into a delightful trip with an impromptu simple lunch , bobbing about in the gentle sea, making little watercolour sketches of the charming tumble of gelato coloured houses in the bay of Corricella.
These colours on Procida ( Pro-chee-dah) have inspired my colour palette for this season, along with some smoky off- beat darks as a balance. I have fused these with other design influences: a soft-shell pink on silk satin in a vintage floral, traditional Uzbek designs that have been recreated in soft pastels, and I have created some colour combinations with watercolours on prints that hint at Japonisme. One is of lotus blossoms and matsu (pine trees), another of sakura (cherry blossoms).
A beautiful Oriental landscape scroll design is in a deep purply navy.
The fabrics include European linens and silks and Italian appliqués and travel friendly crinkle pieces and Eurojersey. In styling there is some asymmetrical, some origami and some layering, and filmy georgette overlays of splits on pants and dresses, a natural evolvement from popular existing styles. Jacket shapes include the blazer, tux, collarless and bolero. Special-occasion dresses all have sleeves, or thought-out jacket options, dresses can double as coats, and there are many casual weekend and travel pieces.
WINTER HOLIDAY IN MARRAKECH
The inspiration for this collection comes from a winter trip to Marrakech. The vivid colours, the bright, luminous light, the lively bustling souks and exotic, striking architecture have influenced all the artists who came to Morocco to paint. They all say that it changed their work forever. Delacroix. Mariano Fortuny y Marsal, Matisse…
This season’s colour palette is from the soft orangey-red walls of the city’s alleyways, the strong purple-blue of the pavilions in the Majorelle Gardens and the snow-capped smoky blue-grey of the Atlas Mountains — the mountains that Winston Churchill would paint from his balcony at the now sophisticated and sumptuously appointed La Mamounia hotel. “It is the most lovely spot in the whole world” he told Franklin D. Roosevelt when he insisted he accompany him there.
Back in the sixties, American architect and designer Bill Willis arrived in Marrakech, worked with local artisans, and breathed new life into traditional techniques of Moroccan craftsmanship. He became the leading aesthetic light of Moroccan style, which continually inspires me to revisit Marrakech. Fabulous Moroccan interior design ideas have now spread across the globe and there are an increasing number of exotically decorated hotels and riads in Marrakech.
When Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé arrived soon after Willis, they bought a house there, and had him “fix up” the next one and collaborated on several projects. Saint Laurent loved Marrakech so much that he often had to be wrenched back to Paris. He said “Marrakech taught me colour. Before Marrakech everything was black.”
Saint Laurent and Bergé later bought the Villa Oasis and saved the Majorelle Gardens next door from a real estate development, enhanced them, then added the stunning Berber jewellery museum, and then a full-scale museum to Y.S.L.
In this collection the high quality woollens are again dyed to my colour specifications in Italy. I have added Arabesque themed silk prints: Moroccan horseshoe shaped archways (the shape we created for our photoshoot lighting), an Oriental rug design, an old, frescoed wall, a floral in strong purple-blue and an abstract art design in Moroccan colours.
The styles all have Moroccan names, and which are places I have visited or hope to visit soon. There is so much to experience there that is stimulating. So many riads to try, the food — which is different and delicious — and Marrakech has a mysterious and magical quality that keeps pulling me back. If you are as interested in Morocco as I am, I can recommend the captivating historical novels of Morocco and Cornwall by Jane Johnson, the Cornwall girl who married a Moroccan and who now live together in both places.
As I write this: it's raining again. This set me dreaming about summer holiday resorts around the world. The warm azure sea, the clink of glasses, the white plates and deep red tomatoes, the sound of laughter and cicadas... Holidays past and hopefully, future.
After lunch, I'm off with my sketch-pad and watercolours to capture what I can't with the camera: the feeling of a place...
Our new colour this season, French Lavender, was inspired by the rows and rows of it at Senanque Abbey in Gordes, Provence. Fields of sunflowers all around the south of France became our yellow.
Summer sun takes me to a Venetian balcony, behind are the warm sumptuous interiors of Venetian reds and indigo and in front, the rhythmic yawing sound of striped wooden poles and gondolas in the lapping glistening water.
I am always inspired by art. This time I have designed two prints on silk myself. Velazquez's 1656 court paining "Las Meninas" of the Infanta Marguerita inspired both Picasso (58 versions!) and the wonderful sculptor and painter, Manolo Valdes.
My line-drawing print from this is navy on lavender or lime.
My calligraphic print in black and turquoise was inspired by the Arabic calligraphy paintings of Iraqi artist, Hassan al Said (1925-2004).
Yves St Laurent paid tribute to Piet Mondrian with his series of colour-blocked dresses (1965). I have done some colour-blocking of my own...
There is also lost of black and white, and graphic prints.
This collection is all about timeless, casual, comfortable, and relaxed clothing that is easy to wear, easy to travel with, and easy to throw on with sneakers for a walk and a coffee or with heels for drinks and dinner: instant and effortless elegance...
Greek Island Dream Holiday
Grecian Winter 2020
On the back cover you can see where some of my inspiration came from...
Frescoes in the clifftop monasteries of Meteora led to the creation of beautiful prints on silk: one of Byzantine discs and one more like church windows. Another visit to the wonderful St Chapelle in Paris cemented this idea.
Ancient rock drawings of animals, letters on stone tablets, and black and white geometric designs on Mastic village houses on Chios inspired other prints. I just love the markings on the mysterious Phaestos disc: Its meaning is still unknown... Over 3000 years old and discovered on Crete, it inspired the new metal button for the collection which was made for me in Paris. Another styling idea from Paris came via the Dior Designer of Dreams show at the V&A in London. I saw the Dior origami bow dress from 1955 and have created a version of this bow on the back of a jacket, on a shirt sleeve and a pant.
Colours feature a brilliant orange, which is blue-based so it suits most skin tones, and elegant lavender-tinged whitewash, a flattering place blue-grey called moonstone, a deep Hellenic blue and ultraviolet. Neutrals of khaki, Prussian blue, charcoal and black are there to ground them. Natural fibres prevail: Angora/wool in coats and jackets, stretch wools and crepes, knits and silks, all mainly from Italy. This is a wearable collection of contemporary, travel-friendly clothes. Luxe elegance with alluring details.
This Summer collection is inspired by island locations in the sunny Caribbean. The colour palette features tropical colours: Bahamas green, red-orange, Galliano yellow, spring green and turquoise in tumble washed Irish linen. There are fabulous silks that tie in with these colours and exclusive prints from Como in Italy. Alongside these are neutrals and fresh white linens, stripes and ice cream pastels... Jane
ORIENTAL GATEWAY TO THE SILK ROAD
On the edge of the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia lie the Mogao Caves.
As the Eastern gateway to the fabled Silk Road, this area once teemed with grand caravans of camels, sometimes 10,000 strong, laden with silks, spices and exotic treasures.
The hundreds of caves were hewn from the sandstone cliff and painted with frescoes by Buddhist monks from as early as the fourth century. I was immersed in colour as I was guided through this UNESCO treasure by the resident university professor.
Seeing at first hand these vibrant floor to ceiling frescoes, sometimes called the Louvre of the East, along with the astonishing Rainbow mountains at Zhangye, provided me with great colour inspiration.
The naturally occurring chrysanthemum stone led to one silk print and scroll paintings of oriental trees, another.
Calligraphic shapes and old silk banknotes - beautiful artworks in themselves - plus old floral embroideries, gave me inspiration as did local costumes with their unusual curved seams and metal closures.
Most of all, the antique patchwork assembly robes of Buddhist monks I saw in Xi’an were so unusual and fresh to me, that I wanted to interpret them into design concepts for this collection.
I had a great treasure trove to draw from.
SS18/19 - Italian Holiday
Inspiration for this collection came from my dream summer holiday on the islands of Capri and Procida. I followed in the footsteps of Axel Munthe; and the writers Norman Douglas, Graham Greene and the fabulous Shirley Hazzard, and the glitterati: the film star set and the wealthy aristocracy of Europe, who joined the literati here in the 1950s.
As much as possible, I like to use natural fibres. Soft tumble-washed linen is in dresses, jackets and loose pants. Sheer georgette dresses can be underpinned by our plain go-to slip in slinky Italian knit. Every item is great for travel and easy to look after. Some pieces are specifically created as part of our special capsule travel wardrobe.
Many dresses have sleeves and there are plenty of ‘throw-on’ jacket options.
Colours are always flattering. Brights of fregola (strawberry), turquoise, lagoon green and chartreuse with navy. Neutrals are stone, charcoal, denim blue and quartz, plus fresh white and black in prints as well as plains.
I am proud to say that these high quality fabrics are made into garments here in New Zealand, and I am surrounded by a fabulous team who help make this all possible.
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