Autumn/Winter 2017

Colour Conversation with illustrator and author, Marion Deuchars

A celebration of colour

 We’re going out with a bang this New Year with a colour conversation from the author of one of our favourite books from 2017, Colour, by the internationally acclaimed, award-winning illustrator Marion Deuchars.

 In Colour, you take a personal journey through colour, sharing what you know about the subject to inspire and encourage us to make our own colour journey. How did it come about?

I was interested in making a book about colour but it took me while to find a way to make it personal. The more I read about colour the more daunting that task became. I have always been interested in colour but remembered how hard I found studying Colour Theory at art school, and initially when I first started using colour pigments it was difficult. I thought I could make a book that made some of the stories and theories of colour more accessible and to hopefully inspire readers to play more with colour too in their lives.

A book that really helped me was reading Derek Jarman’s Chroma. It is such a beautiful book to read and so very personal. It gave me a way in to realise I could do my own personal journey of colour. In fact, it made me realise that all one can do is a personal approach to the subject as it is so huge to comprehend.

 

Tell us about your illustrative career and the kind of work you do…

I’ve been working as an illustrator for 25 years, so it’s quite varied. I tend to work across all areas of the industry, from magazines, books, newspapers advertising to design. Some highlights have been working for Jamie Oliver books and the Royal Mail (RSC anniversary stamps) to the Guardian newspaper. I like the variety of commercial work – it’s never the same and subjects help push your work in unexpected directions, as a result.

 Have you loved colour from an early age? Earliest colourful memory?

I have two strong colour memories. One is choosing my first pair of shoes. I was completely smitten with the red patent leather ones in the shop and not too happy with the sensible matt black selection my mother had in mind. I was appreciating without realising it… the ‘power of red’.

My second colour memory is my bright orange Chopper bike. I had wished and wished for that bike and finally got one for Christmas. My parents managed to buy a second-hand one so did not buy the one I had in mind (a red one). I remember being momentarily taken aback by the colour orange but grew to love it. Orange relates to adventure and risk-taking, inspiring physical confidence, competition and independence, so perhaps it was the right choice after all.

Do you have a favourite quote from the book?

The artist Josef Albers observed: “If one says ‘red’ and there are 50 people listening, it can be expected that there will be 50 reds in their minds. And one can be sure that all these reds will be very different.”

I’ve always liked this quote. It reminds me that no two people see colour – or the world around them – in the same way. Your ‘blue’ could be someone else’s ‘grey’. Colours have had and continue to have a number of meanings across cultures and time.

 Most intriguing fact or word of wisdom?

There was no word for blue in ancient Greek literature. In Homer’s The Iliad (and later, in The Odyssey) the Aegean Sea is described as ‘wine-dark’, which raises the question of whether, when we look at the sea today, we’re seeing it entirely differently to how the ancient Greeks saw it. By far the most common colour words in his reticent vocabulary were black (170 times) and white (100), followed distantly by red (13).

 What does colour mean to you on a personal level? How does it make you feel?

I think like smell, colour often has a subliminal influence on how we feel and what we remember. It’s easier to think of colours we don’t like sometimes and that makes you realise, even if we think we don’t that we have a strong emotional attachment to colour. I like being in neutral rooms, for example and don’t like one colour to dominate, no matter how nice.

I like looking at colour in nature. My favourite colours are from the British coastline. Dramatic, ever-changing and subtle. Coming from Scotland, where the landscape transforms from the ubiquitous grey to dazzling sun-lit mountains, I can appreciate the whole spectrum and especially so when we don’t have a Mediterranean sun lighting up our lives every day!

 How much has colour made its way into your wardrobe? Do you have a favourite piece?

I am not very adventurous in wearing colour. I think it may be part of the London ‘fitting in’ thing where in a big city, one does not necessarily want to attract unwanted attention. I used to travel every day on the Northern Line and hide behind a newspaper as there were so many unnerving incidents happening there. When I’ve gone to countries like Mexico and Cuba were colour is ubiquitous and run rampant, I feel like we are so deprived and sadly lacking in colour in our every day life!

 And your everyday life? Do you surround yourself in colour in your home and studio, for example?

My favourite place to see colour is on the page. I do, however, have some bright pieces of furniture around the house – quite a lot of orange chairs and lamp shades, so it does creep in. My studio is probably more colourful, but probably just more messy.

 Who or what inspires you?

Living in London inspires me every day, keeps you on your toes, culturally, politically, creatively and mentally.

Last great colourful buy?

I bought an odd-coloured dress (not the famous blue and white stripe internet craze one) but a colour in between green and yellow. I would say it was chartreuse, but it was a good conversation piece as so many people saw it differently.

And finally, we have to ask, do you have a favourite colour?

I always say my favourite colour is cobalt blue. Blue is universally the world’s most popular colour so I’m not being too original here. I don’t like ‘all’ blues, though, and cobalt is not only my favourite colour to paint with but I love it’s history. Blue is one of the oldest colours we know of. The earliest known lump of glass dates back to 2000BC in ancient Mesopotamia. The Egyptians also used ‘blue glass’ known as ‘smalt’ in their pottery. It was then ‘lost’ as a colour until the modern era.

You can buy Colour by Marion Deuchars here. To visit her website, click here.

Photograph of Marion Deuchars by Tom Dunkley.

Meet our Summer Ambassador – Annabel Simons

From the perfect party dress to the essential dinner party top, our Summer colour ambassador and lifestyle blogger Annabel Simons from CountryWives reveals the pieces on her Christmas wishlist this year…

 Annabel wears an Alpaca Shawl in French Navy with a Pink Fiesta Three Way Scarf

What are your daytime essentials for work and weekend?
In winter, it’s jeans or leggings with a pair of Chelsea boots and something like a Silky Rollneck and Cosy Merino Wrap, which I’ll have hanging over the back of my chair when I’m writing the blog from home (your thermostat starts to go haywire when you get older so this is the perfect coatigan for shrugging on when you get chilly, just adding a Gauze Stole Scarf if you need to head out). I used to wear a lot of skinny jeans in the past but nowadays I find straight-legged jeans more flattering and work better with boots.


Annabel wears the Ava Dress in Iris Bloom, she also has a Leather Star Makeup Bag in Aquagreen and Grey

My perfect Christmas party outfit?

A great va-va-voom dress like the velvet Ava Dress if I’m going to a Christmas party or smart trousers and a top, such as the lovely new silky-feel Lulu Curve in Cherry, if I’m out to friends for a dinner. The Lulu Curve is double-layered and the lining means it hangs so much better and shows fewer lumps and bumps than a normal T-shirt. I always like to dress up because I think it’s nice for the hostess if you make an effort, and I’ll always make sure I finish off the look with earrings, scarf and a decorative necklace.

Annabel is wearing a Lulu Curve top in Cherry and has a Light Grey Paris Textured Jacket over her shoulder. She has added a silver Multi Star Necklace

Favourite piece from new winter collection?
It has to be the Ava, but I also love the Velvet Scarves for a bright pop (the Peacock Blue one is fabulous). The Cosy Merino Wrap is also great. I like the fact that it works equally well over a dress and trousers – it’s the kind of item that I know will get plenty of use this season.

Here, Annabel wears the Sofia Dress in Teal and French Navy, with a Velvet Scarf in Peacock Blue and a Cosy Merino Wrap in Bright Navy.

Your favourite Summer colours?
Pastel shades from pale blue and duck egg, through to pale lilac and pink (I wear a Cashmere Gauze Stole in Peony all the time). I also love red, especially a pop of it for a scarf or necklace.

Best feature?
My hair. Only because I know that everyone in the hairdressers is always asking for my hair colour! Everyone thinks it’s dyed until they meet my sister and realise that she has exactly the same colour hair. Feature I’m not so keen on? My neck – it’s very long and a bit wrinkly, so I don’t like it at all.

I also hate the fact that as you get older you put on weight in all the wrong places (although I don’t want to get skinny as that doesn’t actually suit me, either). I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that no matter what you do, you have to just accept your body, within reason, and then dress accordingly. Oh, and always look at your back. French women never forget to check what they look like from behind!

Claire (Autumn) wearing Cypress Green, Annabel (Summer) in Iris Bloom and Melissa (Spring) in Cosmopolitan Velvet Faux Wraps!

How does wearing your colours make you feel?
Wearing colour, particularly round my face, makes me feel better and gives me an instant uplift. As you get older your skin loses a lot of its dewiness and freshness, and without painting yourself like something out of the circus, it’s far easier to put on something close to your skin in a great colour.

Since I was first introduced to Kettlewell, there has been so much more colour in my life. If you’d  looked in my wardrobe three or four years ago, you’d have found white, navy, grey, brown and black. Now it looks like a Summer wardrobe and is so much better for it, particularly as I tend to live in a uniform of jeans, jeans and more jeans. Even just having a sweater in my right colours can make all the difference.

Annabel wearing a Merino Tunic in Bright Navy with her favourite peony Cashmere Gauze Stole

No outfit is complete without…
A scarf. As you get older, you get colder, so putting something round your neck is immensely useful. I wear scarves all year round; even in summer when I go off on holiday I’ll pack a couple of scarves to drape round my shoulders in the evening. Nowadays I find that you don’t need a really thick scarf, even in winter: my Peony Cashmere Gauze Stole and Dusky Rose Florence Infinity Scarf are all the cosiness I need.

You can follow Annabel (and her friends Grace and Ellie) over on the CountryWives website.

Your essentials for the party season

Eveline wears the Ava dress in Peacock Blue

I read the other day that most women have their festive season party outfits planned by early November. And wouldn’t you know it, we’re in early November right now. So to help you on your way I’ve put together the party outfits you need to add to your arsenal this December, whether it’s for the work Christmas lunch or the glamorous cocktail party of the year.

This is The Dress. If you only buy one party season essential, this is it. Wear with ballet pumps and an alpaca wrap for everyday luxury, but go with heels and as much sparkle as you can cram into the accessories for a full on party look.

Ava Dress in peacock blue, Metallic Leather Clutch in mars, Stud Wrap Bracelet in light grey – all from Kettlewell.

Rose gold glitter court shoes from Office

The gorgeous velvet faux wrap adds a touch of luxury and glamour to your favourite jeans for an evening out outfit to wow. The skinny velvet scarf adds a modern-retro touch.

Velvet Faux Wrap in cosmopolitan, Velvet Scarf in cosmopolitan, Stud Wrap Bracelet in chestnut gold, Loafers in red sparkle – all from Kettlewell

 

 

Love separates? Elevate them with flounce and print. The alpaca shawl keeps you cosy for the late night journey home (and in case of hosts with a different idea about central heating requirements!) without sacrificing elegance while the silky roll neck lends an air of sophistication to the ensemble.

Flounce Skirt in teal/french navy, Silky Roll Neck in soft white, Alpaca Shawl in french navy, Suede Tassel Clutch in everglade – all from Kettlewell.

Teal court shoes from New Look


Work Christmas lunch beckoning? The super-useful ponte dress will up the ante during party season then behave beautifully as your go to work dress in January. Add a splash of bright with your scarf and a hint of luxury with the new improved merino wrap.

Classic Ponte Dress in purple, Cosy Merino Wrap in marine blue, Cashmere Gauze Stole in red coral, Velvet Ballerinas in petrol, Suede Star Shoulder Bag in mango & teal – all from Kettlewell

This week’s post uses colours from the Autumn palette. Each week we will be choosing a different seasonal palette to illustrate our blog posts – watch out for yours!

A/W colour combinations for every palette

Autumn and winter are renowned for being vibrantly colourful times of year. Fashion has long drawn inspirations first from the reds, golds and browns of trees in full autumn leaf and the the blood red holly, deep green pine and crisp icy shades associated with the colder weather of winter.

This range of colour is bold, beautiful and inspiring, has a huge impact on what’s available in the shops and inspires us to dress in a way that reflects the season, but what are you supposed to do if you don’t fall into the appropriate palette? Luckily Kettlewell has every colour you can imagine available year-round, so finding the colours you need isn’t a problem, but how are you supposed to reflect this period of the year without compromising your best colours?

If you’ve had a personal colour analysis, just click on the link below to go to the appropriate post for your palette. If you haven’t had a colour analysis, don’t panic. You can either make a start on your journey into colour by visiting the Kettlewell colour quiz or simply read on for some great layering looks that will add autumnal shades to your outfit, whatever your skin tone.
 

 

 

 

Alpaca shawl in dark sage, Cara V Neck in lemongrass, Long Camisole in soft white

Dark sage/lemongrass/soft white – this is such a classic combination. We start to feel the beginning of the effects of autumn as deep leaf green blends beautifully with brighter golden yellow, softened off with a hint of soft white. Try layering these shades for a tonal look, and include a mixture of textures for added luxe.


Sara V Neck in bordeaux, Camisole in ochre, Florence Infinity Scarf in biscuit

Bordeaux/ochre/biscuit – a splash of bordeaux mixed with golden ochre evokes the memory of crisp autumn walks and the colours of late autumn. Make sure you add a scarf!

Merino Crossover in carmine red, Jersey Trousers in black, Lace Camisole in ice blue

Ice blue/carmine/black – move into the beginnings of winter with these deeper, more high contrast shades. Icy blue skies contrast with deep reds and black as the soft shades of autumn evolve into the more stark winter hues.

Milan Knit Crew in true blue marl, Silky Roll Neck in black, Florence Infinity Scarf in charcoal

Black/true blue marl/charcoal – layer up the bolder brighter shades of true winter. The deep blue of sloe berries contrasts with deepest blacks and greys as the warm autumn colour is leeched from the landscape, leaving only the strongest cool tones behind. Add a jet black silky roll neck for added cosy, but keep the bright with a true blue marl merino sweater.

Up your workwear game

Feeling a bit flat in your workwear recently? Bored with the same old dark skirt, light top, nondescript shoes uniform?

It’s time to re-inject the fun into workwear dressing. Don’t under-estimate the power of feeling confident and stylish in a work environment – just imagine how much more you might achieve by feeling fabulous instead of flat five days a week!

Keep the same level of formality but up the confidence by a factor of ten simply by adding your best colours. Stick with traditional shapes but go for something unexpected like canary yellow or bright green to maximise the wow factor.

Items shown: Milan Knit Cardigan, Grace Pencil Skirt, Darcey Square, Silk Leopard Scarf

After a decade in the fashion wilderness, the suit is back in fashion with a vengeance this season. Play with the traditional idea of a suit by going for one in comfortable but smart fabric like the amazing herringbone effect Grace suit. Add a bold basic top underneath and luxe flats for maximum impact.

Items shown: Grace Jacquard Blazer and Trousers, Sleeveless Mock Turtle, Leo Print Scarf, Velvet Ballerinas

You can’t beat a classic dress for easy work dressing, right? Actually, you can. Go for a classic dress in an unexpected but still formal shade like royal purple, then layer up with a bright jacket for immediate impact.

Items shown: Paris Textured Jacket, Classic Ponte Dress, Tiny Star Necklace

This week’s post uses colours from the Spring palette. Each week we will be choosing a different seasonal palette to illustrate our blog posts – watch out for yours!

Meet our Winter ambassador – Helen Noel

Our Winter Colour Ambassador, Helen Noel, 48, who runs her own creative agency Brand+Soul, shares her wardrobe secrets – from the top she can’t live without to the best confidence-boosting colours for meetings

 Helen wearing a Merino Tunic in emerald with a Studded Scarf in sapphire

Do you have a casual uniform?
Striped Breton, long cardigan, scarf, skinny jeans and boots. You can’t go wrong.

Helen wears a Cosy Cotton Stripe Top in Navy/Fuchsia under a Grace Jacquard Blazer in Navy

Favourite dressed-up look for evening?
Something simple, like a maxi wrap dress with a slightly 1970s vibe – no necklace but statement earrings. And always heels! I love deep colours, such as black and cassis (I’m actually hankering after a deep green or emerald evening dress).

Favourite piece from the Kettlewell A/W collection?

So many favourites, how to choose? The entire Merino collection – the wool is beautifully soft and the colours are just amazing. The Alpaca Shawl will be a constant friend in the office (no central heating!). And because you can never have too many stripes in my book, I would go for the Cotton Stripe Boat Neck for work and the Cosy Cotton Stripe for weekends.

Helen wearing a Greek Blue Alpaca Shawl over a Stripe Boat Neck in Indigo Stripe

Your favourite seasonal colour?

Royal Blue. It just works, always.

Here she is wearing a Grace Jacquard Blazer in Grey over a Silky Crew Neck tee in White and a Cashmere Gauze Stole in Winter Lobelia

Best feature (and parts you prefer to play down)?  
Not sure about best feature – can I say dimples? I definitely like to play down my tum ­ and I’m not overly fond of upper arms, either!

How does wearing the right colours for you make you feel?
It sounds a bit dramatic but having my colours analysed really transformed my understanding of what works for me. Knowing the colours that suit me best makes shopping easier (particularly when spending out on an investment piece), gives me more confidence in client meetings and presentations, and makes choosing clothes and getting dressed a pleasure rather than a minefield. Even after a bad night’s sleep, popping on the right colour can perk up your complexion and hide a multitude of sins.

No outfit is complete without…

…a scarf – preferably in Fuchsia cashmere!

 

Photographs: Katharine Davies

You can contact Helen at Brand+Soul creative agency.

Special thanks to Hardy the dog…

 

Colour meets denim: everything you need to know


Sophie is wearing a Cosy Cotton Top in jellybean with boyfriend jeans

Whatever your personal style, the chances are you have a pair or ten of jeans in your wardrobe. We’ve talked about denim here before, but something that the good folk at Kettlewell and I get asked an awful lot is which Kettlewell tops go best with which jeans shapes. When faced with the challenge of seemingly limitless denim and t-shirt shapes, it can feel a little overwhelming to begin to work with colour as well, but I’m here to show you that putting the whole lot together can be a breeze.

Straight leg jeans are such a classic cut that it makes sense to pair them with similarly timeless top halves. For an easy smart-casual look, try pairing with a merino crew neck in winter or a simple cosy cotton stripe top. For an evening out, opt for the gorgeously drapey Daphne blouse and the Alexa biker.

Outfit 1 – Cosy Cotton Stripe Top in cornflower/light navy, Florence Infinity Scarf in dusky rose

Outfit 2 – Alexa Zip Jacket in cranberry, Daphne Blouse in pastel rose

Outfit 3 – Shawl Collar Wrap in navy, Darcey Square in blue moon

Outfit 4 – Cosy Merino Sweater in marine blue, Cashmere Gauze Stole in ocean blue

Skinny jeans are so ubiquitous now that it’s hard to think of them as an ‘extreme’ style, but they do require a little more balancing out than classic straight or boot leg styles. Longer tops are your friend here. Layer a long vest under a standard tee, or add the beautiful merino tunic for sleek longline style. Go for the Diane swing top for a change of silhouette.

Outfit 1 – Merino Tunic in deep claret, Tassel Necklace in pink mulberry sparkle

Outfit 2 – Tasha Top in charcoal, Long Vest Top in raspberry

Outfit 3 – Davina Tee in fig, Florence Infinity Scarf in grey plum

Outfit 4 – Davina Tee in dutch blue, Alpaca Shawl in mallard

The bootcut has been out of favour for a while, but increasingly it’s returning to the denim front line. So easy to wear and to balance with a variety of tops, it’s easy to see why many of us refused to abandon this wardrobe stalwart during the skinny jeans years. Pair with classic tees, or add a camisole under a shirt or wrap top if you are larger busted.

Outfit 1 – Sara V Neck  in grey plum, Cashmere Gauze Stole in dolphin grey

Outfit 2 – Cotton Jersey Shirt in navy, Lace Camisole in silver

Outfit 3 – Merino Crossover in glacier, Camisole in steel blue

Outfit 4 – Paris Textured Jacket in true red, Darcey Scoop in ice blue

 

The more extreme wide leg of flared jeans demands a more fitted top half to avoid accidentally landing in clown territory. Embrace the retro feel by pairing with a silky roll neck or a poncho layered over a fitted tee, or go for a simple fitted merino crew neck.

Outfit 1 – Silky Tee in true red, Multi Star Necklace in silver

Outfit 2 – City Poncho in deep claret, Silky Roll Neck in dolphin grey

Outfit 3 – Sleeveless Merino Wrap in bright navy, Silky Crew Neck in light aqua

Outfit 4 – Cosy Merino Sweater in marine blue, Tassel Necklace in charcoal sparkle

Boyfriend jeans can be worn with a relaxed top for a super casual look (go for something slouchy like the Tasha or Davina tees) but look their best contrasted with a more fitted option. Keep it simple with a short sleeve crew neck or a long sleeved silky v neck.

Outfit 1 – Tasha Top in meadow violet, Tassel Necklace in lilac sparkle

Outfit 2 – Alexa Zip Jacket in ink, Sleeveless Mock Turtle in raspberry

Outfit 3 – Silky Crew Neck in pink ice, Studded Scarf in grey

Outfit 4 – Cosy Merino Sweater in bright navy, Florence Infinity Scarf in pastel blue