The recession has always been kind to New Zealand-born fashion designer Emilia Wickstead, who started her brand during the Great Recession of 2008 and is still thriving.
In July, Wickstead moved into her new store on London’s Sloane Street, which she calls her dream store. The marble-filled unit has two floors with a special bridal room; mini bar and a homeware section. It’s situated near to Cartier, Tiffany & Co. and Jo Malone.
“This was the old Chloe shop and I used to walk past it all the time,” she said at the press preview of her spring 2023 collection, with a mood board filled with images of Lee Miller and Man Ray nearby.
While Wickstead may deal in tasteful cuts and shapes, she has surprisingly dark and twisted references that feed her designs.
Miller’s style in ’30s Paris is what set the mood for Wickstead when she began sketching out ideas.
“It was sort of when Chanel and Patou were having their moment with a relaxed way of dressing, that was very sporty and leisurely with a lot of sheath dresses,” she said.
In her research she found a description by Miller’s son, Antony Penrose, that read, “It was almost like they [Chanel and Patou] were designing for her because that’s how she dressed.”
Wickstead has cleverly pivoted away from her razor sharp cuts and bold color palette into sporty elegance that borders on the sexy, where her dresses have open backs and curved necklines, as well as fabrics gently peeling off the shoulders and breast pockets.
Dusty yellows and powder blue lilacs dominated the collection with earthy hues peeking through on the organza fabrics.
“It’s discrete and it’s an element that you don’t expect especially with the transparent fabrics because at the end of the day you can see through, but you can’t really see through,” she said.
If celebrities and royals were a metric to calculate success, it could be said that Wickstead is at the top of the leaderboard.
On one hand, Catherine, Princess of Wales wore her dresses to more than one occasion, including the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, The Royal Charity Polo Cup and her tour of the Caribbean — and on the other, Hollywood’s elite: Laura Dern, Lady Gaga, Elle Fanning and Florence Pugh.
“I always want to make sure that I’m designing for every woman, that’s really important to the brand,” Wickstead said.