Behind the scenes

Postcards from Cape Town – Melissa’s blog

Apologies if the weather back home is a bit on the chilly side, but today’s blog post comes to you from sunny South Africa, where for the past four days we have been busy shooting our summer 2018 brochure.

This year, we are dividing the shoots between two stunning beach houses just outside Cape Town: Britannia Bay, where we are shooting Analu, our Brazilian Winter model, who lives in New York and whose dark skin tone looks amazing with the strong winter colours, and Kommetjie, where we are shooting our South African Spring model, Michelle. (The eagle-eyed will recognise Michelle from last summer’s catalogue – she has since had baby number two, as well as a fabulous new pixie haircut!).

Our January Cape Town shoot is definitely one of the highlights of the year for me – not just because it’s great to feel the sun on my face again, but because I get to see all our amazing new colours in their very best light: drenched in sunshine and brought to life by the reflected intensity of those vast blue skies.

I also love being able to see the new styles in exactly the sort of holiday location we’d envisaged at design stage – that easy jersey shirt dress worn for a stroll along the beach; that simple V-neck tee teamed with a pair of denim shorts for a relaxed sunny lunch on the terrace. It feels like the final step on the journey before the clothes appear in the catalogue destined for your doorstep.

Excitingly, for our summer 2018 collection, we’ve gone bigger on colour than ever before, with everything from limeade and electric blue to tangelo orange and neon yellow, as well as soft lilacs and pretty pinks. We also have the most amazing eye-popping hot pink for you winters. And I don’t think I’ll be spoiling the surprise when I say that our stylist Keira has some colour-blocking treats in store that are bound to be a great source of inspiration next summer.

For a live, behind-the-scenes sneak peek of our Cape Town shoot, watch us on Instagram Stories, where we’ll be posting videos and sharing moments from our day. But be warned: it may bring on a serious case of wanderlust!

Colourful, colourful Copenhagen

As you have probably gathered by now, I’m never happier than when I’m hunting down new colours from everyday life, whether it’s the terracotta of Portuguese rooftops or gorse yellow of a Cornish headland. You never know when you might come across that next big shade that, translated in to a seasonal palette, our customers will love and want to embrace in their wardrobe.

Cities are jam-packed full of colour inspiration, and nowhere more so than Copenhagen, which John and I visited for a couple of days last month to source ideas for our AW18 collection. According to a recent fashion piece in The Times, colour is surprisingly big in the Danish capital at the moment, with the clothes as colourful as the crooked houses down on the waterfront at Nyhavn, a deliciously vibrant riot of pinks, oranges, blues and yellows.

Scandi style used to be synonymous with neutrals, minimalism and endless monochrome, but if the clothes shops I visited are anything to go by, colour has certainly come to town, with my current colour crush, orange, leading the way, from the palest peach to vibrant winter orange and burnt orange styled with gold. In fact, it was all that I could do to stop myself going into a colour shopping frenzy (Copenhagen is eye-wateringly expensive, so I was restrained and came away with just a few pieces of clothing, some watermelon nail polish, and some rolls of colourful ribbon to make a start on my Christmas wrapping).

If you’ve never been before, I’d heartily recommend Copenhagen as a city break destination. To the soundtrack of a thousand tinkling bicycle bells – bikes have outnumbered cars in Copenhagen for years now – you’ll find lots of historic back streets to explore and great places to eat (we had dinner by candlelight in a little restaurant that felt like we were dining in someone else’s home, with only two choices on the menu, and the rest of the time feasted on the most amazing open sandwiches with earthy homemade rye bread). And if, like me, you’re a fan of colour (which I’m assuming you are!), you certainly won’t be disappointed.

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…

 

Meet our Autumn Ambassador – Ilka Dunn

Ilka Dunn wearing an Alexa Zip Jacket in Taupe with a Leo Print Scarf in Truffle print

We put our Autumn Colour Ambassador, Ilka Dunn, 39, a colour consultant for Red Leopard, under the spotlight to find out how she blends Kettlewell with her own personal style and her favourite piece from the new A/W17 collection

Do you have a casual uniform?
I like pairing skinny trousers in dark brown or dark olive with an interesting top or blouse. For cooler days, I love chunky sweaters. I always wear an eye-catching necklace or a scarf, and a pair of flat ankle boots or high boots.

Favourite dressed-up look for evening?
My go-to pieces are dresses and shoes with a heel because it takes just seconds to get dressed and yet makes a dramatic change. I like to wear slightly darker colours than during the day and I tweak my make-up to make sure that it still looks good when the lights are low.

Ilka wearing a Paris Textured Jacket in True Red, with a Silk Leopard Scarf in Bright Orange Print

Favourite piece from the Kettlewell A/W collection?
It’s not really like me to wear the bright colours of the Autumn palette, but I love the Paris Textured Jacket  in Leaf and True Red. It’s great if you have limited time to get dressed in the morning: paired with jeans and a T-shirt, it will instantly make you look more put together. All you have to do is add the Leopard silk scarf to look perfectly stylish.

Your favourite seasonal colours?
Dark sage and moss – colours that are very flattering on most autumns. I also love coral as an accent colour in a pattern on a blouse or a scarf because it throws a lovely glow on to the face.

Ilka wearing an Alexa Zip Jacket in Forest Green with a Leo Print Scarf in Petrol Green print

Best feature (and parts you prefer to play down)?    
I am slightly narrower at the bust, so this is where I try to draw the attention to in order to visually balance out my proportions. I have a slim waist and try to accentuate that with belts, tops that come in at the waist, high-waisted trousers or high-waisted skirts.

Ilka wears a City Poncho in Indian Ochre over a Silky Roll Neck in Chocolate

How does wearing the right colours for you make you feel?
Life is just easier and more fun when you wear the right colours. They can make you look healthy, energetic, more capable and radiant. When you look great, you feel great. And when you feel great, everything is possible.

I also love that dressing is much easier and faster with my clothes being from the same seasonal colour palette because everything goes so well together. My wardrobe is sorted by colour – it’s like flipping through an Autumn’s colour wallet.

Ilka wears a City Poncho in Chocolate Marl with a Leo Print Scarf in Truffle Print

No outfit is complete without…
…a smile! Twenty years ago I saw a Snoopy cartoon in which he was very beautifully dressed but looked miserable. Underneath the caption read: “The best clothes don’t work if you don’t smile.” It is so true!

With thanks to the Duchess of Cornwall Inn, Poundbury, Dorset

Photographs: Katharine Davies

To book a consultation with Ilka, visit the Red Leopard website.

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

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.

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.