Author: kettlewellcolours

Kettlewell Colours use seasonal and tonal colour palettes to create garments that are of an exceptional high quality using only the finest yarns. Have you discovered your colour?

Autumn/Winter17 Press Day

Whoever said summer is the quietest time of year, has obviously never worked at Kettlewell! Last Tuesday, having only the week before wrapped up a fashion shoot in London, we headed back up for our autumn/winter 2017 Press Day – a sneak preview of next season’s collection in association with our friends at Red Leopard. Fashion writers, editors and stylists, working for titles from Vogue and The Times to the Evening Standard and The Pool, as well as some of our favourite style bloggers, turned up to have their colours analysed by the experts and to view the new collection in Red Leopard’s wonderfully stylish penthouse setting in Battersea.

And even the fact that the mercury outside was hitting 28C didn’t dampen the press’s enthusiasm for finding out what new styles and colours we have in store for autumn/winter, from jackets and skirts to tops and dresses. As new collections go, this one was particularly well received, with our faux-suede Alexa biker-style jacket in five colours proving the biggest hit (getting the journalists to try them on was easy – getting them to take them off was the hard part!), closely followed by merino knitwear in shades of carmine red, emerald, Indian ochre and teal, and our elegant new Paris jacket (with the star range of handbags and make-up bags also getting their fair share of oohs and aahs, too). Now all that remains to find out is what you, the customer, thinks of the new collection when it hits the website in six weeks’ time.

 The Autumn/Winter collection launches on August 30 2017

Colour conversation with the artist, Vanessa Bowman

For this week’s blog post, another ‘colour conversation’ with people who champion colour in their work and everyday life, I’ve been talking to the Dorset-based artist, Vanessa Bowman, whose work embraces colour and observes the beauty of everyday objects, from a bunch of garden flowers to a striped shell and a bowl of lemons.

 I love the simplicity of your compositions. What inspires your choice of subject matter?

It is largely dictated by the seasons, as I centre the painting around the colour and shapes of the flowers. I then work in shapes and colours through objects such as jugs, cups and found objects, which relate to each other in the composition.

In spring and summer, I often paint hedgerow flowers or flowers from my garden, and going into autumn there are the warmer colours of berries and hips, along with accents of last of the summer garden flowers. Winter is mainly about painting bulbs such as hyacinths, paper whites, or snowdrops – cooler colours and muted greys. Colour pops come from accents of a bright cup or vase, or perhaps a tangerine or lemon to lift the painting.

Can you describe the creative process?
It involves setting up a still-life on a table in my studio, where I observe in detail, say, a jug of flowers, mapping out their shapes in pencil. I usually paint on card or board or primed canvas. In pencil, I then draw in shapes of objects or fruit around that image to create an overall composition, and start applying the oil paint, which I use fairly thinly, almost like watercolour, thinned down with painting medium. I build up layers of colour until I feel that an overall balance has been achieved.

Do you have a favourite flower that you return to time and again in your paintings?  

Snowdrops, for their beautiful simplicity in shape and colour, and hellebores in spring for their delicate, subtle colour and beautiful markings. I love painting irises, centaureas and geraniums, as well as anemones and tulips – in fact, most flowers appeal for their infinite variety of colour and interesting shapes and form.

As an ‘Autumn’, how much is your seasonal palette reflected in your art?

It’s reflected in the way I am often drawn to those colours in the flowers and objects I select to paint. My favourite jug is a wonderful mustard yellow, and I went through a period of painting with a lot of teal (against ivory anemones and a jewel-like deep red radicchio).

I love the autumnal colours and markings of winter squashes and pumpkins, alongside the rich shades of dahlias and chrysanthemums.

Describe your studio…

My studio is at the bottom of my garden, and is a glorified cricket pavilion! It is being replaced this summer, but will still stand in my vegetable patch, surrounded by trees, flowers, soft fruit and the hills beyond. It’s a real sanctuary away from the house.

Can you sum up your painting style in three words?

Colourful, naive, patterned.

Which artists influence your work?

Mary Fedden, Matisse, Winifred Nicholson, Anne Redpath, Piero della Francesco, St Ives artists, Vuillard, Picasso and many more…

How does colour make you feel?

Colour plays such a key role in my paintings. I get great joy from finding the perfect foil for, say, a yellow jug against a grey background. Generally neutral colours make accents of bright or opposite colours ‘sing’ in a painting. The intensity of pigment that you can achieve with oil paint is a large part of this.

 What colours form the basis of your wardrobe?

Largely neutral colours, which I pair with an accent of a brighter colour with a scarf or jumper or jewellery. I’m a fan of yellow, teal and warm brown shades.

Last great colourful buy?

A beaded necklace with an orange neon tassel!

And finally, do you have a favourite colour?
Mustard yellow, but I also can’t resist a gorgeous magenta in my paintings.

For further information about Vanessa’s work, visit www.vanessabowman.co.uk

Photographs by Katharine Davies www.katharinedaviesphotography.co.uk

Top tips for a colourful workwear wardrobe

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy, as the old Ella Fitzgerald song goes. But what about the dressin’? Somehow, getting that right can feel anything but, especially when you throw all those summer events into the equation. At this time of year, the question we’re repeatedly asked by our customers is what to wear to summer occasions, such as weddings , Christenings and garden parties, as well how to put together a holiday wardrobe (our customers always seem to be going on holiday, and I’m all for that – long may it continue!). Thankfully at Kettlewell, holiday wear is one thing we’re not short of – all our vibrant tops and tees and cool summer dresses means that you are only ever one click away from the perfect outfit, and of course there’s the colour combinations gallery if you’re in need of some tonal inspiration.


We’re also frequently asked for advice on what to wear to work, whether it’s returning to the work place after having a baby, embarking on a new career or simply finding out what works best when the mercury soars, as it has in the past week or so. Our customers want to know how to appear smart, put-together and crumple-free – and, yes, summery – without losing their professional edge.

So for this week’s blog post I’m stepping behind the camera to share my tips for injecting colour into your work wardrobe. Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you dress in head-to-toe yellow for that client presentation, or turn up at the office a vision in tangerine, but rather team neutrals with a colour pop or two in your seasonal palette that will help getting dressed that little bit easier in the morning and provide a talking point over the water cooler. In a good way, of course.

Saluting the sunshine hues by Melissa

Did you spot Kettlewell in The Times this week? T2 had dedicated the front page and a double-page spread to our favourite topic, colour, and specifically how to wear it this summer. Fashion Director Anna Murphy was telling us all to move beyond blacks and neutrals and embrace the season’s sunshine hues, and for those overwhelmed by all the colour choice on the high street right now, Kettlewell was the place to go to find the colours that work best for you. It’s always great to get a mention in the national press and to take part in any conversation about colour, so we were thrilled to be included.

Talking of summer colour choices, we’ve been poring over Pantone charts and mood boards in the studio this week, choosing colours and prints for our Spring/Summer 2018 collection.

With Pure Zen, Living Garden, Drawn Botanicals, Mystical Tribes and Neon Tropics among the predicted style trends for 2018, it was a case of assessing a range of potential prints to identify ones that would best work for our styles and fabrics, as well as, of course, our customers. Then it was down to the serious business of choosing new colours, with each of the four seasons, Spring (me), Summer (Sarah), Autumn (Claire) and Winter (Anna) selecting the shades for their respective palettes from literally thousands in the Pantone charts. It’s rather like a group of people in a restaurant intently viewing the world’s longest menu, imploring the next person to go first before making their own choice.

The key is to leaf through the Pantone charts, colour by colour, and hone in on the shades that you are instinctively drawn to, with an eye on the style it would suit. With 150 shades already in the range, it’s no easy task to find ‘new’ colours.  Winter is the hardest season to work with, as the colours have to be spot-on:  intense and vibrant or icy and sharp, with no shades in between, but the three others have plenty of variation either side. After hours of intense colour scrutiny, we had whittled it down to our favourites.

Heliotrope, blue jewel, shell pink, dove grey, azure and pink geranium have been our bestselling colours this summer, with the apple butterfly print and red and white Breton stripe among our most popular prints. It’ll be interesting to see which of the shades we’ve just picked out will be topping the charts this time next year.

Colour conversations with Fiona Douglas from Bluebell Gray

At Kettlewell, we are always excited to discover people who share our passion for colour. In the first of a new series of Colour Conversations with colour champions we admire, Fiona Douglas, founder of the Scottish design studio Bluebell Gray, famous for its exquisite watercolour florals, tells Melissa about her adventures in colour – and why the future has never been brighter…

Your watercolour florals are beautiful. How did you start designing them for the home? 
I’ve always loved home things. As a teenager I begged my mum and dad to let me paint my room bright lime green and orange, and I covered the walls in all sorts of things and pictures I had made – flowers featured everywhere. Our home growing up was colourful and full of interesting things, so I think interiors have always been something that has been around me. My prints are usually quite large scale so they lend themselves well to interiors. When I was starting out, cushions seemed like the best, and simplest, way for me to transfer my designs on to textiles.

Where did the name Bluebellgray come from?
Bluebells are my favourite flowers. I love seeing them carpet a beautiful wood in springtime, and they always make my heart happy. The word ‘gray’ refers to the fact that I print on to a lot of linen cloth that has a grey tone to it.

How does colour make you feel? 
It really uplifts me, and it definitely affects my mood. I love using it in a positive way. Wearing something colourful reflects me and what I do; it’s an important part of who I am. So much of my identity is wrapped up in colour – it’s a big part of my life.

Where do you find your design inspiration?  
I find inspiration everywhere. I love just soaking up experiences and the world around me. It could be something as simple as looking at the leaves in the light on trees that line my street, the colour of the ocean when I’m on holiday, or the colours that are left over on my palette when I paint that feeds my creative mind. I do plan specific inspiration trips as well, though. I usually go somewhere twice a year with my creative team to spark some new ideas and feel inspired.

Describe your design studio.
It’s in a beautiful old townhouse in the West End of Glasgow, with huge ceilings, lots of period detailing and big double-aspect windows that let in lots of light. The space I work in is really important to me and how I work. I need light and space and walls to hang images. I love having inspirational things around me; it all feeds in creatively. The floors are whitewashed wood and the walls are painted in various colours that change quite frequently depending on what I’m working on. We often do our photo shoots in the studio as it’s such a beautiful space, so we always need to freshen the colours. Right now I have a deep dusty rose-pink wall and an amazing deep, almost cobalt blue, on the walls.

Do you have a favourite Bluebellgray product? 
The ‘Abstract’ design always has a special place in my heart. It was so new at the time when I launched it; there was nothing else like it around and it’s become the design people really associate with the brand, which is lovely. The punchy colours and fun nature of the design really sum up my design style.

Abstract design

How much has colour made its way into your wardrobe?
My wardrobe is absolutely filled with colour! I adore clothes. I wear colourful things every day. I actually had my colours done a few years ago and I’m a Summer, which fits me so well as I love pinks, blues and turquoises. I wear a lot of blue jeans and then colourful tops and jackets. I usually add a colourful bag and earrings too – that’s my go-to look. I have a jumper I got given as a gift recently which is an amazing aqua blue – it looks hand-knitted and has big belled-shaped sleeves. It’s a really special piece that a love wearing.

Colour is everywhere right now, from homeware to fashion. Do you feel beige has had its day? 
I think the amazing thing about this point in time is that there are so many options for people! When I was in my late teens/early twenties it was right in the middle of the trend for minimalism and everything being black. I really struggled finding my clothing identity as I just couldn’t find what I wanted to wear; it just didn’t exist. The thing I love so much about now and the trend for colour is that it’s given people options and choices, there is no one overriding trend, so people can choose from an amazing variety of colours and designs that are on the market.

I’m just so happy that there is so much colour out there to choose from in homeware and fashion. It really lets people choose things that make them happy. I don’t think people will ever want to go back to times of less choice and colour. I think it’s here to stay.

 

Last great colourful buy?
I bought a beautiful Anya Hindmarch tote bag. It was an investment but I use it almost every day and the colour works with everything in my wardrobe.

And finally, do you have a favourite colour? 
I find it so hard to choose just one! I love pink, blue and turquoise all equally and in all their shades.

Colours for Life – by Melissa

One of the joys of doing what I do at Kettlewell is being able to see the impact on other people, whether it’s a teenage goddaughter having her clothing personality analysed for the first time or a lifestyle blogger having her colours refreshed  after 25 years.

It takes me back to the first time I had my colours done in my late twenties (John had his analysed first and, assuming I was a Summer too, would buy me beautiful cashmere jumpers in his palette of baby blues, pinks and lilacs, before I decided to try it for myself and discovered I was a Spring). Without putting too fine a point on it, it changed my life. Out went the black and grey, and in came yellow, turquoise and coral, like a burst of fresh Spring air. I’d never had so many compliments.

Since then I’ve convinced almost all my friends and family to get theirs colours done, including my three children, who were eight, six and two at the time (Tasha is a Winter Sprinter, Trixie is Vibrant Autumn and Tom is a Summer). Tom must be one of the youngest people ever to have had his colours done, although in all truthfulness it was more for fun than anything else and we only managed a few drapes before he wriggled away.

 

Recently, for her 18th birthday present, I took my goddaughter Mimi to Battersea in London to have both her colours updated and her style analysed by Rachel at the award-winning style consultancy Red Leopard , to help her avoid expensive shopping mistakes early on and set her up for life with a wardrobe of clothes in colours that genuinely suit and flatter her. Mimi had already been analysed as an Autumn when she was a child, and the minute the warm, earthy Autumn colours were draped around her, her eyes lit up and her skin glowed, and it was plain to see what palette she belonged to.

Just as important as identifying the colours that make you glow is finding styles that highlight your best bits and draw attention away from problem areas, and the fun part of any style journey is finding out your clothing personality. Having analysed everything from body architecture to face shape, Rachel identified Mimi as a ‘Bohemian’ (feminine, sexy, glamorous, yet earthy: think Julianne Moore, Sienna Miller and Sophie Dahl). She also advised her what to wear to a couple of important events in the diary, including bridesmaid at her sister’s summer wedding and an upcoming university interview (if she wanted to wear a jacket for authority, for example, it would be better curved with some texture or pattern, rather than the classic suit look).

Armed with this new-found knowledge, we headed off for an afternoon of shopping at nearby King’s Road and the home of boho chic, Anthropologie. To say that Mimi looked great in everything she tried on is an understatement. From the butter-soft chestnut suede jacket to the sage green ruffle-fronted linen top, one piece after another looked like it had been designed especially for her. The Red Leopard magic had worked.

But the final word goes to Mimi herself, who messaged me later to say how much she had enjoyed her day out. “Thank you for such a unique and thoughtful present – I had so much fun but also learnt so much. I know everything I found out today I will use for many years to come.” I think that says it all.

 

Inside the Studio – by Melissa

While the rest of the world has been focused on what to wear on holiday this summer, here at Kettlewell we’ve been busy concentrating on what they will be wearing next Autumn. Over the past weeks, we’ve been putting the finishing touches to our A/W17 collection ready for the upcoming photo shoot in early summer, as well as making headway with S/S18.

That’s the nature of fashion – always a couple of seasons ahead. The endless pursuit of fresh new looks is what I love about this industry, and I must admit that tracking them down has become something of an obsession of mine over the years. Nowadays, when I’m out shopping, it’s less about me and what I want to wear, and much more about sourcing potential styles and fabrics that I think our customers might like. I’ll feel all the fabrics, inspect all the labels and try as many clothes on as I have the energy for.

I’ve also been known to subtly take a snapshot of a print someone is wearing in front of me in a queue, and wherever I go – whether it’s a party, out on the street, on the Tube – I’ll go up to strangers and talk to them about their clothes and have a good look at the label. You can imagine how much my children love that!

As anyone who works in fashion retail will tell you, building a new collection is a long and complex journey, from inception to delivery. For us, the creative process starts with research on a shopping expedition – a shop report, where we check what’s currently in the stores and look at fabrics, shapes, necklines, prints and styles. There’s also a trend report, where our designer, Sarah, will create mood boards based on trends relevant to Kettlewell. After we’ve considered which designs will work in our available fabric groups, the sketching begins in earnest, before specs (measurement and detail specifications) are then sent to our factories to produce samples.

Naturally, being Kettlewell, colour is a huge consideration for us, and each season we’ll select 80 new colours, 20 each for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. As we already have so many colours (150 at the last count), we will literally spend hours poring over the Pantone books and consultant swatches, searching for fabulous new colours that we haven’t done before (Winters are the hardest to achieve as they have to be spot-on: intense and vibrant or icy and sharp, with no shades in between). We’ll also look at best-selling colours and good neutrals, and consider customer requests and online comments.

And then, of course, I’m also continually photographing colours on my travels, taking inspiration from everything around me, from a pebble or a strand of seaweed on the beach to blossom on a branch or the rooftops of Rome. Colour inspiration, as I have come to learn over the years, can come from the unlikeliest of places – you just have to go out looking for it.