We're not best known for our practicality but now and then needs must, especially when you have a lovely set of vintage hardware drawers begging to be filled with objects of use. Rain ponchos, measuring tapes, pocket torches, sewing kits, bicycle bells, folding rulers and cap guns; all of life's essentials.
There's a lovely story behind how Colenimo came to be this season's star newcomer to womenswear. It all began with a recommendaton by our favourite style guru, Miss Moss which led Victoria and Lucy to designer Aya Nakagawa's brilliant Hackney flat/studio/workshop. There they placed an order in hushed voices while Aya's new baby slept through the appointment. Luckily, there wasn't need for excess noise for the clothes were simply exquisite.
Aya is passionate about detail and garment construction (everything is UK made) and it clearly shows. Meanwhile the aesthetic is firmly rooted in the early 20th century, as she puts it "a fictionalised take on the wardrobe a traditional country lady" mixing traditional fabrics and vintage quirks. So off we go riding in a beautiful velvet collared shirt, taking tea in a luxurious knit and full tartan skirt, and dressing for dinner in a beautiful silk crepe dress and cape.
Continuning on theme this week, we have another unassuming basement hero - US heritage brand Red Wing. Founded by a Charles Beckmann from Red Wing, Minnesota, the company has a long standing reputation for making heavy duty work boots, excellent for mining, logging, farming and alike. They even kitted out US soldiers in both world wars, and as you might expect, have gained a major cult following in all these years. But we admire their lack of song and dance. They just continue to make seriously good boots, like the iconic 875 workboot, lightweight chukka and 8 inch 879 muleskinner we'll be going to work with this season.
John Smedley is like the grand old master of the basement labels. Older than the hills and quietly going about business from season to season, the label very much defines the production values we've come to expect from our brands. They've been turning out their excellent knitwear from the same premises in Derbyshire since 1784, employing a long lineage of local families whose years of experience and craftsmanship would be hard to match. Indeed, Rob insists there isn't a finer merino knit going. They wash and wear like all good wardobe basics should.
New this season, the Belvoir rollneck, joins old favourites the Cavendish cardi, Bower v-neck and the Hunter crewneck. And alongside the navy and charcoal, appears a great new colour called 'soot'.
There was a small space to fill on the womenswear rails, reserved for something a bit unique, slightly rock but everyday kind of wearable. Turns out that space was made for Leon & Harper. Slotting right in, the Parisian label is our favourite new go to for great jerseys and lovely, cosy oversized jumpers.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Rifle Paper’s beautifully whimsical stationery creations, and we are certainly not the first. Back in 2009, Anna Bond was working as a freelance illustrator when a close friend asked her to design her wedding invitations. Anna posted a few custom designs online and hey presto, the whirlwind success that is Rifle Paper started. The blogosphere fell in love, she was flooded with orders and landed her work in the pages of Martha Stewart's Weddings.
In just four short years the company has evolved from Anna and her husband Nathan working in their apartment to a full staff employed at Rifle headquarters - a studio and shop in the couple’s hometown of Winter Park, Florida. You might say their success is testimony to the power of the internet but we have a sneaky feeling it just speeded things up a bit. Really, Rifle’s success is the story of one talented and determined girl with great style who’s not afraid of putting in some serious hardwork.
Inspired by a “hodgepodge of things” from mid-century design and vintage children’s books to architecture and folk art, night-owl Anna spends her hours developing the company’s product lines (hand painting her beautiful designs) as well as negotiating the headaches of starting and growing a business. She freely admits there have been many sleepless nights and lessons learned along the way but ultimately she spends her days doing what she loves, with the person she loves most by her side.
Hats, people, hats! Beautifully made, beautifully priced hats courtesy of Christys'. Cute cloches, tomboyish trilbys and the ever sohisticated 'Safari', all wool felt and plenty of ribbon. And just a taste of the wonderful things to come later in the season.
You have to admire the pea coat. The enduring classic with dual purpose. Standard issue of the US Navy since about 1881, the 32oz wool, extra tall collar, broad lapels and double-breasted fastening, are ideal for fending off the bitter chill in a howling gale at sea. The fact they also happen to look extremely good, especially on a moody winter photoshoot, is a very happy coincidence we think.
To create a similar look we suggest the Fidelity version seen here. Suppliers of the pea coat to the US Navy, it’s as original as you’re going to find. Everything from the stand up collar to the anchor buttons and lining are exactly as they were back in the 1900s, and still cut stitched and pressed under one factory roof in Boston, MA to this very day.
Samantha Sung and The Jacksons are like old friends to us, but this season we suddenly realised they were meant to be together, so.....
Audrey, meet Lexi, a classic knee-high with a crepe sole. Your perfect match for smart, daytime wear.
Lexi, meet Audrey. You'll soon be devoted to her perfect tailoring and wearability, day and night.
Sabrina and Laudine meet Tatty. In no way tatty and in fact, one ever so elgegant stiletto, and most definitely your equal when it comes to party going.
Tatty, meet Sabrina and Laudine, both supremely smart like yourself, but eminently more comfortable in their beautiful print stretch cotton.
You're all going to get along famously.
Peter Jensen has us totally captivated. Each collection, while quite different from the last, always carries a distinct quirkiness inspired by his chosen muse for the season, typically some wonderfully wayward famous or infamous female who captures his imagination. In the past it's been Sissy Spacek, identity-teasing New York artist Cindy Sherman and disgraced Olympic ice-skater Tonya Harding.
This time it was Thelma Speirs, the idiosyncratic DJ and milliner who has done work for Jean Paul Gaultier, Madonna and Karl Lagerfeld, among others. The result is a steer towards sixties 'lady' dressing - structured knee-length dresses with lurex, cropped plaid jackets and print blouses. And for a more dressed down look, an oversized knit branding a fox's head. It has us thinking we can totally channel some Thelma.