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Emilia Wickstead: ‘I want women to feel excited about their wardrobes again’

The Central St Martins alumni delivered another polished, poised collection on the London Fashion Week schedule

22 Feb 2021

London-based designer Emilia Wickstead is always a glamorous highlight of the London Fashion Week schedule, and this morning the New Zealand-born designer debuted her latest collection via an audience-free runway filmed in a fuchsia pink space.

Inspired by classic British and Italian movie heroines, Wickstead, who spent her teenage years living in Milan, delivered a collection infused with the classic polish and neatness of the Italian fashion capital’s famously well-dressed inhabitants.

Soft neutral tailoring and sculpted-waist wool jackets worn with tapered stirrup leggings in luxe jersey and scarves draped blanket-like across the shoulders offered a relaxed yet elegant desk-to-dinner wardrobe ready for a return to normality in autumn.

Elsewhere a gold brocade shift dress with matching capelet and a strapless black duchess satin dress paired with long black gloves made for perfect opera-going attire.

People. Fashion. Power. Delivered weekly.

Taking inspiration from Hitchcock’s brief to the Rear Window costume designer that Grace Kelly “was to look like a piece of Dresden china, nearly untouchable,” a lemon and lapis blue exaggerated rose print echoed a chintzy 1950’s tablecloth, but was given subtle eroticism via cut-out details and split hem skirts.

It was a collection that exuded polish and yet, thanks to clever construction, offered the comfort factor we have all come to crave.

We caught up with Emilia to hear a little more about the collection:

How does creating a film compare to organising a real-life runway show? Do you miss it?

Creating a film has given me the exact same lead up to a show and I have felt the exact same nerves, excitement and anticipation. I have loved the creative process it’s given me for the past two seasons, learning about direction, 3D, framing and cinematography and an education on how best to provide for your customer and press on screen. Not having human contact as we normally would has been our biggest struggle but knowing that we will have it again is a great reality to look forward to.

This collection feels more corporate in places than previous ones. Were you designing with a return to the office and formal functions in mind?

This season the collection uses traditional suiting fabrics applied to evening wear in unexpected ways. To me this felt very modern and references the 90’s. Everything is designed to be extremely easy to wear. The suiting itself is made in 100% wool, which is incredibly soft and designed to be comfortable. We combined this with soft wool jersey pieces that feel like elevated loungewear.

During lockdown we’ve come to appreciate how clothing can make you feel — it has reminded us about the power of dressing. My aim with this collection — and with every collection — is to make women feel excited about their wardrobe and for women to start planning and visualising how and where they will wear certain items, even at home.

I have a feeling stirrup leggings and trousers are about to have a moment, would you agree?

Yes! The stirrup trousers were used to create an early 90’s silhouette and the stirrup is in fact detachable on both sides, which means that the beauty of these trousers is that you can wear with or without. With creates a more relaxed attire and without the trousers become a cigarette leg for every occasion.

Tell me about the flowing capes and scarves and trains — is this about clothing in which to make an entrance when we emerge from lockdown?

The wide scarves are a modern take on a conventional throw, to be wrapped or draped around the shoulders. They are very clean cut, without embellishment. To me they feel very pure and essential — a meeting of old and new. They have an air of comfort and ease. Ultimately this is again how and where we see the collection use traditional suiting fabrics in a new modern interpretation of evening wear, in an accessory.