Clapham resident Orla Kiely’s AW16 collection re-imagines the classic tweed, and takes inspiration from the woodland and wildlife of the Yorkshire Moors. It’s perfect for autumn walks across the commons and cosy pub lunches…
Words: Madeleine Howell
What inspired your ready-to-wear collection for AW16?
My new collection began from my personal interest in the photography of John Bulmer, who captured a disappearing time in Northern England, and the classic British ‘kitchen sink’ films depicting ordinary lives. The women in the films are strong, trying to find beauty in the everyday and seeking another kind of life. We imagined Anna Karina, the quintessential French 60s girl, visiting the Northern England of the 1960s. We considered how she might re-interpret classic English tweeds, and we used mohair textures mixed with velvets and organza pieces.
What else about John Bulmer’s photography appealed to you?
His photography represents another time in Northern England. The light captured in his images softens the harsh reality his subjects were living through, allowing their everyday beauty to shine through. I love the way he captures the men in their heavy overcoats and hats, the stolen moments of couples sitting together, and the shots of women doing their make-up. The women depicted in the photographs always have an extra feminine touch to their outfit – a printed silk scarf, a hat or a feature brooch.
What else inspires you from the era?
As always with the women of the 1960s, it’s that rebellious spirit. The effortless way they took classic pieces and reinvented them, unafraid of colour and whimsy… Women like Anna Karina, Charlotte Rampling and Julie Christie represented something fresh and new that is still quite modern today.
Could you talk us through the shapes and styles of the garments?
The fabric will always dictate what shapes will follow. This season we explore contrasting fabrics and textures. There is a beautiful semi-fitted dress in our silk/cotton Sycamore print with a sheer organza overlay. It’s the perfect evening dress. Our fine wool printed shirt dress with gentle gathering at the waist is a great piece for work, and the brushed check mohair jacket and gathered waist skirt suit will add glamour to a cold winter’s day.
As always with the women of the 1960s, it’s that rebellious spirit. The effortless way they took classic pieces and reinvented them, unafraid of colour and whimsy… Women like Anna Karina, Charlotte Rampling and Julie Christie
What’s special about the materials you used?
Each season we begin with a visit to Premiere Vision in Paris. There is nothing more exciting than seeing new developments in fabrics and discovering what might be possible. We work with different European mills, developing our own prints and jacquards, so we always have something unique to offer.
How did you go about using colour?
At the beginning of every collection I look to nature to inspire my colour palette. This season was no different. The deep beautiful colours of the Yorkshire Moors are represented. Trees and leaves have been re-imagined in prints and jacquards, and woodland animals appear embroidered on cardigans and intarsia birds on sweaters and scarves.
Was it a challenge to re-work the classic tweed?
We re-worked this classic with one of our winter coats by taking a hound’s tooth wool, mixing it with a black and white tweed, and adding a shearling collar and pocket flaps. There is something both nostalgic and modern about it. I also created a tweed bomber jacket with a shearling collar and mini skirt, and the oversized tweed double breasted coat will be great for layering over your favourite winter pieces.
How do you imagine the typical Orla Kiely woman?
She is charming and knowing, and pays attention to details like a shearling pocket or tortoiseshell buttons. Her look is at once timeless and kooky. She is not afraid to stand out from the crowd, her style is whimsical, eccentric, effortless… and of course, she mixes bold colours and prints.
Shop the collection at orlakiely.com/uk