LONDON — She grew up at the edge of the pits, breathing in Formula One fumes and thinking of the late Ayrton Senna as an uncle, so it’s no surprise Petra Ecclestone draws much of her design inspiration from speed racers.
This story first appeared in the January 7, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 21-year-old Ecclestone, who’s showing her men’s collection, Form, for the first time at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy, later this month, said she’s more interested in luxurious staple pieces and classics than in fashion’s cutting edge.
“These are clothes that every man can pull off — regardless of his age or physique. And they can be worn season after season. I’m never going to be super-radically fashionable,” said the petite blonde, the youngest daughter of the billionaire Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and his Croatian ex-wife Slavica Ecclestone, a former model.
The 40-piece collection, in its fifth season, sells at stores including Harrods and Matches in London, and The Corner in Berlin. It is peppered with racer-inspired elements, including thick ribbing on trouser bottoms that mimics the Formula One uniforms, and cashmere overcoats with elbow and shoulder patches and horizontal band collars.
Prices for the line, manufactured in Italy, range from 175 pounds, or $280, for a T-shirt to 1,300 pounds, or $2,080, for a tailored jacket, to 3,400 pounds, or $5,440, for a cashmere coat.
Bestsellers include double-breasted cashmere overcoats, leather jackets with rabbit collars and knits, some with a herringbone weave and others with leather elbow patches. Celebrity fans include Kanye West, Jonny Lee Miller and former English sprint athlete Darren Campbell.
Formula One driver Jenson Button wore Form’s gabardine trench with a snap collar on his way to collect the world championship trophy at the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) gala last month in Monaco.
Ecclestone studied art, photography, and media at Mander Portman Woodward, a London college, and worked with Edward Sexton, the legendary men’s and women’s tailor, on her first collection.
Her next moves are in women’s wear — and retail. During New York Fashion Week in February, she will unveil her first women’s collection, Petra, which includes staple pieces such as jersey dresses, leather jackets, and T-shirts featuring exclusive prints by the photographer Terry O’Neill. That collection will have “much lower price points” than the men’s wear, she said.
In April, Ecclestone will cut the ribbon on Stark, a 2,160-square-foot multibrand store for men and women, on London’s Sloane Street. “I’m stocking men’s and women’s brands you can’t really get in the U.K.,” said Ecclestone, who plans to feature names including Whitley Kros, Charlotte Ronson, 291 and Love Rocks NY.
The store’s name, she said, is an inside joke. “My boyfriend told me I’d be ‘stark raving mad’ to open a store on top of all of my other work,” she said with a smile. “But I know how hard it is for new or small labels to be taken on by stores. And I enjoy the buying.”