One year on from its London debut, we look at the new season offerings and styles from German fashion label, Schumacher in Notting Hill
A year on from any store opening can be a testing time for a label, as many are still finding their feet long after the fanfare has subsided. But fast forward twelve months from Dorothee Schumacher’s London launch – which saw the likes of Vogue and Tatler clamour to Ledbury Road – and the capital is not only brimming with those who have quickly fallen for the clothes of the German designer, but are wearing them too. It seems the feeling is mutual.
‘Whenever I come to London, I always find it tremendously charming – the cluster of neighbourhoods, cafés and boutiques, each with its own distinct and unique character,’ says label founder Dorothee. ‘However, I think it was the beautiful Georgian and Victorian homes and architecture that convinced me that Notting Hill was the perfect location for my first UK store,’ she adds.
Since the label’s conception back in 1989, Schumacher has steadily risen through the fashion ranks and today is a global business with more than 600 retailers worldwide in over 43 countries. With its first boutique opening in Berlin in 2010, the brand now has over 28 stores. This autumn sees the A/W14 collection hit those stores, as it celebrates 25 years in fashion.
‘My inspiration is always women,’ says Dorothee, who as a busy mother of four with a fashion empire at her helm, knows as well as anyone the challenges that can be faced by a working woman’s wardrobe, something that is demonstrated time and again in the wearability and functionality of her collections. ‘I try not to define our women as such. I would rather empower them and provide them with tools to design a collection that allows women to be as authentic and true to themselves as possible,’ she says. ‘Nowadays, women face multiple challenges on a daily basis: business, home and so on; that broad dimension inspires me.’
With this season’s look marrying androgyny with playful sexiness, all bases are covered from boardroom meeting to after-dinner cocktails. Teaming knee-length floaty skirts, pullovers, blouses and open hand-knits with delicate mohair, there’s an abundance of layers to be combined.
The collection has dresses that can be taken from day-to-night and boots that can be worn on crisp morning walks – perfect options for busy women who are on the move.
But take note, femininity is not to be confused with girly. The Schumacher look isn’t for those in search of pastels and florals: although some may be found hidden in the collection, you’ll have to dig a little deeper. The look here is clean and assertive.
‘Femininity is often mistaken for sweetness, with a liking for frills and romance,’ says Dorothee.
‘A woman needs a certain degree of straightforwardness to express her femininity – this applies to her clothes and thoughts too. I wanted a collection that would appeal to all, not to those of a particular age or level of beauty. I want women to feel feminine and empowered by my clothes.’
And as anyone who has been to Berlin in the depths of winter knows, looking good is only part of the story; with temperatures that can plummet to minus 15 and below, long-lasting fabrics, which keep the elements out, are key for combating seasonal chills on both sides of the channel. ‘The real staples of any Autumn/Winter wardrobe are those go-to items, which can be worn again and again throughout the colder months,’ she says. ‘Knitwear is therefore a big feature in the collection.’
Appealing to women from all corners of the globe, there’s inspiration to be taken from everywhere, not least of all this corner of London, which has readily welcomed the label.
‘Women in London have the unique ability to showcase a groomed eccentricity combined with feminine, fashion-forward thinking – traits I certainly find inspiring, reflecting in part my philosophy of the Schumacher woman,’ says Dorothee. ‘German women tend to focus a bit more on quality and comfort while trying to look feminine at the same time.’
So who is the Schumacher woman, if indeed there is one? ‘Women who are not afraid to break from convention, who are fearless in pursuing their dreams without losing sight of the person next to them,’ she says with a smile. ‘A woman wearing Schumacher to master a challenging situation is the biggest compliment for me.’ And one year on, it looks as though those compliments will continue to come.
Dorothee Schumacher, 66-68 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill W11 2AJ; 020 7229 0911; dorothee-schumacher.com