With Clare Waight Keller
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS COLLECTION?
The collection is about bringing casual chic to an everyday, essential wardrobe. For me, that captures a modern, effortless sense of style— something I’ve done for years and wanted to bring into this collection, to express what I believe is true to us.
WHAT DOES “C” STAND FOR?
C stands for multiple layers of things. Sometimes it’s connected to a collection I’m working on. Sometimes it’s just a spirit. It stands for casual and chic, city, clarity, connection, capsule, connectivity, creativity. And also, it stands for me.
WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF THIS COLLECTION?
All the things I think are so essential in a woman’s wardrobe; from the key coat shapes, the femininity and the versatility, to the idea of things that go from city to country. There’s a sense of ease and movement, as well as a complete everyday wardrobe that’s timeless and effortless.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC DETAILS THAT ARE SPECIAL TO UNIQLO : C?
There have been some interesting challenges along the way in creating the collection, and some of that is because I wanted to incorporate a few interesting techniques I’ve used in my past. The idea of pleating–I’m using very textured fabrics for pleating and fine gathering. This tiny little spaghetti string coulisse, similar to a drawstring that runs through the dresses, which makes everything adjustable and easy. You can create different silhouettes using the drawstring in various ways. There’s also a beautiful satin pleated skirt with a graphic band across the bottom. That was logistically quite difficult to manage—the pleating and the graphic element—to get everything to work so perfectly, but we achieved everything in the best way.
Satin pleated skirt with a graphic band across the bottom.
100% cashmere cable knit.
Sheer chiffon dress with a beautiful paisley pattern.
WHAT WERE YOU MOST PARTICULAR ABOUT WHEN DESIGNING THE COLLECTION?
The fabric, for sure. When you’re working at a different price point, the way the fabric translates is very important to achieve the right silhouette, and so this was a critical part of the work I did at the beginning. Really looking at what were going to be the most special fabrics and ones that would create the most successful and beautiful result for the price. And I have to say, I’ve been very impressed. Things like the cottons, and the nylons, are of an exceptional level. They really are. So that was a nice surprise when designing the collection.
Before working on the colours and patterns, Clare first focused on the fabrics; drawing inspiration from fabrics of the 1940s.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE COLOUR PALETTE?
The way I typically work on a collection is to look at a classic palette, which captures all the beautiful neutral tones you’ll have in your wardrobe forever. Beyond that, I work on the seasonal palette. In the area of Hackney Wick, there’s an amazing, newly-built metro station that uses fantastic corten steel, which has a beautiful rusty, caramel colour. So that, contrasted with the whites and the concretes, and then some of the lovely colours that you get around that neighbourhood—there’s a lot of old buildings and a lot of the city that is undergoing regeneration. You get these fantastic blues, very bright sky blues, but you also get these pops of yellow coming from modern shops with graphic exterior paint. These informed the palette in terms of the highlight colours for the season. There’s this beautiful lemon colour that is the strong highlight of the collection, mixing against these beautiful caramel and warm tones that capture that autumn feeling.
Clare checking the lemon colour of a finished sample in natural light, an extremely important final step in the design process.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE PIECES?
Definitely the trench. And the pleated skirt, because it’s so special and timeless and the colours are really beautiful. It’s got such a lovely fluidity. Really great colours there. The coat is also such a beautiful, luxurious piece for this price point. It’s a really beautiful cut and the colours are fantastic. The other essential item is the cap. The little felt cap. It finishes the look, just giving you that great attitude. And then the corduroy trouser shape is really good. It’s super flattering and an essential for an autumn/winter wardrobe.
HOW WOULD YOU SUGGEST STYLING THE COLLECTION?
It’s about layering, for sure. The fact that you have these different weights of product. Even the very lightweight dresses, you can layer with a turtleneck underneath or with a shirt. And then you put on the blouson or the nylon coat. It’s all about these different layering pieces for various times of the year, which is an important part of the story, that these pieces look great layered together.
HOW DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE WILL FEEL WEARING THIS COLLECTION?
A sense of effortlessness, the femininity, the vibrance of colour, the complete coordination of everything. You can enjoy so many combinations, because everything styles across all the categories. It’s conveying that sense of a great boyfriend-style look, casual chic. A lot of combinations can create that spirit and attitude while being timeless.