LONDON — From Sophia Webster’s fairy wonderland to Malone Souliers’ woodland forest, London’s accessories designers delivered elaborate, escapist presentations that lived up to the city’s reputation of confidence and creativity. At the same time, maturing accessories brands are also becoming increasingly focused on reinforcing their signatures and fuelling sales.
“We are only seven seasons in, and it’s important that our customers find a reliable shape that they come to trust. It’s the foundation, bur not the entire story,” said Roy Luwolt, co-founder and managing director at Malone Souliers. He said the signature shapes are the company’s cash cow, “but at the same time you’ll see them recreated in new colors or new fabrications every season.”
Luwolt and his partner Mary Alice Malone showed off the brand’s signature Dawn mules in an array of earth tones, or variations of the popular Maureen cutout pumps, which were updated with chunkier heels or printed fabrics for spring. Newness came in the form of slides covered in three-dimensional satin roses, backless loafers made with countless layers of pastel-hued tulle or bold, open-toe boots embellished with shaded tulle.
Sophia Webster presented her own take on fairytales during a presentation at Somerset House, complete with lilac furniture, and gigantic framed boxes in which models posed with romantic floral bouquets.
“I was inspired by the Cottingley fairy phenomenon which happened in 1917. It felt that for a moment in time everybody in England believed in fairies, so I wanted to recreate this ethereal world here,” said Webster, who added leather, oversized flowers to strappy sandals, and ruched ribbons and crystals to mules. There was glitter galore on a pair of dusty pink pumps.
Webster has also been developing her handbag category: She reinforced key shapes such as her boxy cross body bags or speech-bubble clutches. She added a new style to her range in the form of a structured top-handle bag shaped like a cylinder.
Turkish footwear designer Dora Teymur, presented a highly edited collection that focused on updating key shapes that he’s becoming known for, slippers, mules and ankle boots in a muted palette of red, white, gray and black.
Among the standouts was a pair of square-toe boots featuring a delicately curved heel and slippers featuring subtle wedged heels.
Lily Atherton Hanbury and Katya Shyfrin, the designers behind footwear label Le Monde Beryl are also sticking to their classic shapes.
The label made a name for itself for its elegant jewel-toned flats inspired by Venetian slippers, and as it celebrates its first year, it has been updating its offer with an array of new colors and textures, such as a trendy red leather, denim and girly candy-colored pink or lilac satin.
The brand also launched two new styles, created in collaboration with the ethical brand Mola Sasa that featured geometric patterns that were hand-embroidered by artisans in Colombia.
Atherton Hanbury said it’s important for the brand to “reinforce its signature style and what it stands for” before exploring new categories.
The city’s handbag labels, meanwhile, have also been scaling and focusing on introducing new features such as customization and retail expansion.
Sophie Hulme, who is preparing her 10-year anniversary, is launching a personalization service later this year that will allow her clients to hot-stamp, paint, engrave or stack their initials in the form of 3-D leather stickers on the label’s vegetable-tanned line of saddlery leather bags.
For spring, the designer collaborated with illustrator Rose Blake on a limited-edition bag and has created a sustainability line, dubbed “The Project,” which is made from the brand’s archived leather pieces, leftover from previous collections.
The playfully mosaic styles, which Hulme literally put together with her eyes closed, have been applied to her signature Albion tote, Trunk and Milner bags.
Hill & Friends, launched by Emma Hill and Georgia Fendley two years ago, presented its spring collection at its new retail location on South Molton Street, an elegant Victorian townhouse that will house a store, showroom and the company’s offices. The new store, with pastel pink interiors that capture the brand’s playful spirit, will also feature a customization bar where customers can add bold gold letters on a signature cross body style.
Key shapes of the season include a smooth leather hobo bag in a muted palette of burgundy and beige and a playful cross body style with hardware strategically placed to form the brand’s signature smiley face logo.
Tara Ghazanfar debuted her label, Tara Zadeh, with a trunk show on Moda Operandi earlier this year. For spring, she stayed true to the graphic shapes and bold colors which she said she wants to establish as signatures, inspired by the vibrant colors of her native Iran.
One of the standout shapes in her range is a small, circular bag with a top handle featuring geometric gold hardware. A former graphic designer, Ghanzafar uses bold, graphic shapes throughout her collection, from a structured square tote with circular gold handles to a boxy cross-body style featuring triangular hardware.
Other newcomers to the London scene included footwear designer Alexander White, who counts the likes of Kylie Jenner, Alicia Vikander and Anna Kendrick, among his customers.
Growing up in the English countryside, Alexander White has always admired both his grandmother’s garden as well as her old-school sense of glam. Naturally, granny’s pink-and-white roses informed White’s ultra-feminine spring collection that was strong on vintage silhouettes, including stiletto mule sandals and velvet bow slippers.
Thames’ founder and creative director Blondey McCoy also presented his latest project – a collection with Stephen Webster – at the Heni Gallery in Soho on Monday.
“I’ve always worn the antique, sort of quite unique, jewelry,” said McCoy, whose past projects include creating a mural for Burberry, working with Palace and collaborating with Damien Hirst on an art exhibition.
“There was nobody making it, so upon meeting Stephen, the thing was not to play it safe. Some people say it’s un-wearable, but I think every piece from this collection is quite brave for a boy or a girl to wear.”
The 12-piece capsule consists of chains, bracelets and rings. Jones referenced his own archives and updated his oversize Color TV ring with an enlarged citrine stone diamond with the Thames logo etched on the side. This was set on gold ring with a soft finish.