Immersing ourselves in the collective storytelling of the theatre, and the imaginations of those who create fantastical performances. Our Autumn Winter collection, Everyday Theatre, explores the improvisational and free-spirited nature of those who see possibilities and beauty in all they encounter. “It was a quote from American artist and photographer Saul Leiter that sparked the concept,” says our Head of Design, Laura Shippey. “He said, ‘The street is like a ballet, you never know what is about to happen.’”
This sense of spontaneity is explored through an array of characters – performers, set painters, costume makers and horse handlers. Each brings unique skills and stories, coming together to create a feeling that anything is possible in that moment. “We were inspired by the way moments of joy and awe are conjured up by performers incredibly skilfully but with outward effortlessness,” says Laura. “There is a magical mix of skill, imagination and resourcefulness.”
Painters’ smocks are accented by bright looping embroidery, reflecting a free sense of expression, while ballooning silhouettes capture an exuberant, playful nature. “We approached the designs by playing with contrasts in proportions and detailing for an improvised feeling,” says Laura. “A shrunken jacket is balanced by soft voluminous trousers, while cardigans are accented by oversized buttons.”
Warm tones of elderberry and cinnamon are balanced by cooler woodland green and ink shades. A soft folk influence feeds into naive patterns and soft, felted textures. Costumes are reworked after the performance, and a sense of romance is captured by vibrant, lustrous fabrics and fluid shapes.
Our menswear collection was designed around two muses, Saul Leiter and Jacques Tati. “They used their art to encourage their audience to see the beauty and the humour in the everyday,” says our Menswear Designer, Catie Palmer. Each brought their unique skills and stories, coming together to create a feeling that anything is possible in that moment.
American photographer Saul Leiter’s colourful images inform our richly saturated colour palette. “Dusky pink blends with tomato red and slate green with soft mint,” Catie says. “The rain-drenched windows featured in his photography are brought to life in soft ombre checks, British woven wools and mohair textured knitwear.”
The influence of French mime, filmmaker, actor and screenwriter Jacques Tati brings a lightness and sense of humour to the collection. “His personal style inspires our traditional tweeds woven in Italy from an unusual colour palette and used in soft silhouettes.” His wardrobe can be read in raglan-shouldered coats, wool overshirts and drawstring trousers.
The House&Home collection is inspired by people who create inspiring performances in unique locations. “We wanted to create a space that felt free-spirited,” says our Head of House&Home, Judith Harris. “We have a light-hearted approach to mixing pattern, alongside a playful colour palette.”
The costumier’s box brims with an array of fabrics. “Patchworks in handwoven and checked cotton have the feeling of having been reworked,” says Judith, “with harlequin motifs and stripes a nod to circus tents.” Laughter and free conversation around the dinner table is accompanied by mismatched ceramics, splatter-glazed bowls and colourful textiles.
Colours move from vibrant corals, straw and mint at the start of season to softer bronze, undyed wool, rich prune and accents of strong pomelo. Later in the season, the rugged blankets of a horse handler “bring a warmth and richness,” says Judith. “Velvet cushions, braided rugs and sheepskins combine for textural contrast and soft folk influence.”
To celebrate the launch of the collection, we have commissioned Newcastle-based artist Moira Frith to create a series of artworks for our shop windows and exclusive prints, available from Thu 6 July. Visit our shops to see the series depicting tightrope walkers, hula hoopers and acrobats painted in vivid watercolour hues.
Photographs by Jo Metson Scott and Kendal Noctor.
Illustration by Moira Frith.