Mulberry’s very hipster take on heritage
The latest house to develop a new way of showing its women’s ready-to-wear is Mulberry, which presented on a London runway, a collection much of which it first revealed in a Paris showroom four months before.
A blend of Tudor historicism, English gentility, arty heritage and It Gal sass, it made for a memorable selection of fashion; rich in colors, finish and attitude. And all somehow very in sync with the charmingly eclectic British DNA of Mulberry, a brand which has found new impetus under the savvy creative direction of Johnny Coca.
Not so much See Now Buy Now, as Present Now and Purchase Immediately; seeing as some 80% of clothes and accessories in this show are available in Mulberry boutiques already. It's a strategy which is working both in editorial pages and at cash registers.
Johnny Coca’s best ideas were the green, deep-gorge silk dresses embroidered with crystal flowers, and topped with Henry VIII hats; scallop neckline cocktails with puckered seams and cutout panels; and deckchair stripes picnic frocks. His prints managed to be contemporary yet classy and classical, taken from English China sets but made into wacky voluminous shapes.
Every model carried a bag, notably a cool Amberley Satchel with precise leather ruffles that matched the shapes of the dresses. While his footwear was a sure-fire hit, notably some resin heel shoes inspired by a bottle of porcelain.
“I wanted a mix of garden party; countryside; Meissen porcelain and crappy deck chairs on a beach. I was trying to inject poetry and eccentricity into classical modern. Sort of like a young gal dressing like her mother by wearing her oversized dresses,” smiled Coca in the backstage of Spencer House, a beautiful mansion close to Buckingham Palace.
A fine fashion moment, which climaxed with techno singer Alison Goldfrapp performing live. “Nothing like a fashion show for 10 minutes of beautiful madness,” enthused the chanteuse.
In a word, this was not your typical fashion display, and it was all the better for it. Post-show scores of London ladies and visiting editors milled around admiring the collection on stockmen with the collection on them, before dramatic 18th century oil paintings of stuff like Agrippina Landing at Brindisium with the Ashes of Germanicus. Beside which hung huge Mulberry Henry VII hats. Ideal, Coca suggested, “for the wedding of Meghan!”
Mulberry will also stage a series of talks and displays of artisanal skills at Spencer House all weekend, in the latest celebration of Coca’s universalist vision for Mulberry.
Under Coca, Mulberry is clearly gathering speed. CEO Thierry Andretta told FashionNetwork.com that Mulberry had scored a 7% increase in global turnover to £167 million sterling in 2017, despite a weak UK economy.
“It’s been a complicated year in Britain, thanks to Brexit. Sterling has fallen 15%; property prices are down about the same amount. And nobody can work but what on earth the politicians are doing about Europe!” exclaimed Andretta.
The vast majority of luxury runway brands score some 75% of their business in Britain, within London. While for Mulberry, that proportion is reversed – with three quarters of British sales outside of the capital. Making its success all the more impressive.
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