Maybe it’s the new Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the V&A, or the unusually hot weather that London’s had, on-and-off, since June, but Emilia Wickstead is feeling the heat, and stripping off the clothing.
Her spring collection, inspired by the freewheeling socialites who summered in the South of France in the 1930s and early 1940s, was a big departure from the tailored, ladylike looks upon which she built her business.
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“These women were free thinkers and free dressers, stealing clothes from their lovers’ closets. They didn’t have to wear restrictive undergarments and they could finally move around in their clothing,” Wickstead said.
Wickstead’s clothes were coquettish and comfortable with a masculine edge. Linen evening dresses had low backs and little matching wraps knotted at the front — no bras required — while a short, sweet platinum dress held together with just a few ties at the side.
Knitwear played a big role, too. Lightweight sweaters in brown or orange were paired with knee-grazing culottes, while a twinset the color of marigolds came as little shorts and a strappy top.
There were styles fit for the tennis court, too — see the white carwash skirt — while linen shorts and boxy tops were made for cycling around town. Wickstead even worked denim into the collection in the form of easy pleated skirts and workwear style jackets.
Going soft, and sporty, was a radical move, and Wickstead — and her clients — may never look back. The designer didn’t mention Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel specifically, but the late designer was the godmother of this once-radical, sunkissed look, forever changing the way women dressed.
Launch Gallery: Emilia Wickstead RTW Spring 2024
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