Good day, sunshine
The easy elegance of Emilia Wickstead’s resort collection fulfils all our holiday desires. By Zara Wong.
In the world of Emilia Wickstead, the women are elegant and worldly, heading to work, perhaps, in one of her wool crepe sheaths in dusty pink, saffron or cream; going out for evening cocktails in a toffee-toned, bell-sleeved silk blouse; or attending garden parties in floral-printed dresses with portrait necklines updated with ruched waists and offbeat hues. And what would these women wear on holiday? Well, now that you ask … the New Zealand-born, London-based designer has just the thing.
“I used this one line: ‘Once upon a time, a place in the sun’ as a sort of moving inscription within the collection. It’s a kind of by-the-sea approach,” says Wickstead on the phone from her London offices about her high summer collection, which showed at Australian fashion week and was made immediately available to purchase online.
“When we decided to work on our second exclusive capsule collection with Emilia Wickstead, she hadn’t designed a high summer vacation collection before and we all wanted it to reflect her distinctive feminine and vintage-inspired aesthetic and to include the beautiful, iconic floral prints that we have loved from the beginning,” says Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director at Matchesfashion.com.
The ease of the collection stems from its prints and shapes with shorts, frilled jumpsuits and short cloqué pieces to be worn over swimsuits. “We want to transport you to another time, another world. A lot of the styles are very much from a time past, but done in a very modern way,” says Wickstead, mentioning in-house-designed floral prints, which are a twist on the patterns seen in 50s upholstery and furnishings. “I am quite particular; I don’t like things to be too conventional. I like it whimsical and I’m often inspired more by interior prints as opposed to those used in clothing.”
Beyond the unmistakable colours and prints, that Emilia Wickstead quality also comes from the silhouettes. “And,” she says, “I would say, architecturally, the way we put an garment together. Fitting after fitting, we always think about how we can make this feel more fresh and fashion-forward and very easy.” It’s a mantra that is even more important with this collection. “In our designs we can feel very dressedup and formal, so with the Matchesfashion.com x Emilia Wickstead resort it was about wanting to create a feel of holidaying and relaxation.” She adds: “I wanted to create something for the holidays that wasn’t a kaftan.”
Wickstead, as she reminds us, is her own customer, because her designs are aligned to her personal style. “I try everything on!” she says cheerfully. “It was refreshing designing this collection actually, because I am a 34-year-old woman who likes to go on holiday, or tries to, at least.”
Her best-loved escapes? Having spent time in Milan, where she moved with her family at the age of 14, she nominates Italy is one of her favourite places, for its food and climate. “I love the beautiful water and rocky beaches, which are so charming … the cobblestone streets, the old buildings with shutters,” she says.
New Zealand, her birthplace, is also a regular destination. “It’s the complete opposite: it’s where you go for long walks on huge beaches and eat fish and chips outside. I thank my lucky stars I am from New Zealand and it’s such a big part of my life and who I am.”
A skip over the Tasman Sea from New Zealand to Australian shores – literally, since the collection was shown on the coast – was firmly in
Wickstead’s mind for the resort launch. “Australia, like New Zealand, has this very original ease with dressing. Being from New Zealand is very much linked with me coming to Sydney and being close to home and close to the most beautiful beaches in the world.”
By the sea, we’ll go.
“I am quite particular; I don’t like things to be too conventional. I like it whimsical and I’m often inspired more by interior prints”