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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Re-burnishing the Heritage

Mulberry and Pringle of Scotland hit the refresh button

25 Февраля 2016

Mulberry, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Mulberry, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Mulberry: In Love with Shakespeare 

With precise tailoring and a fine attention to detail, Mulberry pushed the reset button — attempting to bring the British brand back to its once vibrant position in the fashion world. Creative Director Johnny Coca, who has worked with power companies, including Céline, has been brought in to make Mulberry relevant again to 21st-century fashion — or more particularly upgrade the handbags that were its core product. Coca, of Spanish origin, thought big in his view that “heritage always needs roots in the past”. He looked right back to William Shakespeare, who might have been pictured more often in doublet and hose than an elegant multi-buttoned cloak. But the reign of the Tudors was as good a place as any to think of regal wine, navy and royal blue colours and big, flat, digital roses. All this was shown in London's ancient Guildhall for a further infusion of historic grace.

Mulberry, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Mulberry, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

The clothes — especially the cloaks with metallic decoration — had some vigour, and were not just a compliment to the handbags; those money-spinning accessories were made with a gloss and polish. By nightfall, there were all sorts of sexy, lacy, revealing outfits that you would not — then or now — have worn to court. I appreciate the quality that Coca has brought with his new role, but I am not convinced by his premise. Was Mulberry ever a heritage house with a royal connection that would justify beringed fingers and fancy robes? Was there ever one ounce of hot, Mediterranean glamour to inspire the sexy little dresses? I align Mulberry with the British countryside, wet puppies, down at heel, stately homes and young girls with an ironic attitude.

Mulberry, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Mulberry, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Perhaps Anya Hindmarch has already taken over the jokey slot — although that was only her starting point for more serious things. But Mulberry needs something more modern than Will Shakespeare. To be - or not to be — associated with history? That is the question.

Pringle of Scotland: A Woman's Touch 

Pringle of Scotland, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Pringle of Scotland, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

There is something about any Scottish brand that suggests a Highland fling by a burly, bearded man in a kilt, but Pringle of Scotland took the Lowlands route, appointing a female Design Director in Fran Stringer — and she made a great job of refreshment and renewal. Creating shapely dresses, or sweaters and skirts, both in knits, the designer offered styles that were feminine but tough — a mirror image of the modern woman. Colours were key: olive green, deep red, even yellow — just the shades you might find in a Scottish kilt.

Pringle of Scotland, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Pringle of Scotland, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Lengths were also well-chosen: mid-calf for dresses and skirts, and always with a shapely silhouette. There was one bold sweater with an abstract pattern that curved around the shoulders. It was worn with a mid-calf dress and seemed to capture a Nordic spirit. “I wanted to find a way of celebrating the brand's history and embracing its heritage that was relevant to the way women want to dress today,” said the designer, whose intriguing textures and subtle curves created femininity for this millennium. It is a rare compliment to make, but Fran Stringer got everything just right for Pringle.

Pringle of Scotland, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Pringle of Scotland, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

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