Behind the scenes

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.

Hit colour refresh

What a month March is turning out to be. Not only have we been busy putting the finishing touches to our A/W17 collection, but we’ve been zipping between location recces in Bath, high summer brochure photo shoots in London and filming in Henley-upon-Thames. Added to that, Kettlewell has had the best start to a season ever, for which I must say a huge thank you for all your continued support.

Anyway, there’s nothing like the shift from winter to spring to get everyone talking about colour, and that’s what we were doing last week in Henley with our good friends at Country Wives . For those of you who may not have heard of it, Country Wives is an online magazine, set up by Annabel, Grace and Ellie, three friends from their London days, who have come together to share tips and ideas about everything from food to fashion. We’ve been lucky enough to team up with them once before , but this time we were videoing Grace having a colour refresh  with Helen Venables, MD at House of Colour.

It turns out that 25 years after she first had her colours analysed, Grace’s wow colours have shifted in her seasonal palette and she is now a vibrant autumn, which, I have to say, is a perfect match for her personality. Enthusiastic, vivacious and ever open to suggestion, Grace embraced Helen’s wonderful bright colour drapes with an open-mindedness that was refreshing to see, and loved our Acid Lime, Fiesta Orange, Saffron and Mallard tops, which I highlighted in the second of the vlogs, How to (successfully) wear bright colours .

Back at Kettlewell HQ, we’ve been busy doing some filming of our own this month, and the eagle-eyed among you may have spotted a number of short Style Guide video clips dotted around the website, as I talk through a range of styles, including the Striped Boat Neck, Silky Tee, Print Daphne blouse and Butterfly Print Tee. We’ve had some really positive feedback so far, with one customer telling us that the style clips give her a good idea of “whether I’ll like it on myself… It makes outfit ideas come alive when you can see them in real life.” Look out for more as they pop up over the next couple of months, as well as some longer ones where I’ll be sharing my favourite pieces for Spring/Summer 17, and do let us know what you think. After all, it’s because of you that we’re here!

 

Time for tees – by Melissa

There’s something about the arrival of spring, the sun shining, the birds tweeting and that hint of warmer summer days to come, that has got me excited about wearing T-shirts again, this time unencumbered by winter cardis and jackets.

As well as being one of the most useful pieces in my wardrobe, tees for me are bound up with nostalgia. They remind me of sunshine and happy holidays as a child in Cornwall and Brittany; of ice-creams and seaside and being together as a family. They also remind me of being at school in the 1980s, sporting my favourite oversized bright orange tee with the words ‘Relax’ from Frankie Goes to Hollywood emblazoned across the front, and then later, when I moved to London and started working for a fashion mail-order company, buying a 100% cotton Ralph Lauren tee for the princely sum of £45 (what seemed to me like a small fortune for a T-shirt 20 years ago), which felt fabulous.

Tees have followed me right through life and, as you probably know, are the reason John and I started Kettlewell in the first place, wanting to provide this simple basic to the very highest quality and in a range of colours that had never been done before.

The first Kettlewell catalogue from 2005

I also love the fact that few other items of clothing have such a long, cool and varied past – something my daughter, Tash, and I discovered a couple of years ago when we went along to the History of the Tee exhibition at the V&A. Did you know, for example, that the T-shirt is 106 years old, originating from underwear and only officially becoming outerwear in 1913 when it became regulation uniform for the US Navy? It grew in popularity as sport became a common activity, and was a teenage staple in the 1950s, due in no small part to the dashing screen icons of the day like James Dean and Marlon Brando, and in the 1960s the T-shirt became a pop art canvas for boutique designers. Flick through any fashion magazine today and you won’t be able to turn for images of the slogan tee, saying it loud and proud. The tee has certainly earned its place in fashion history.

From a design point of view, people tend to assume that nothing could be simpler than a tee, but as we have come to realise over the years, the basics can often be the most difficult to perfect, as there’s no hiding from the shape, fabric and stitching. The hard-working tee must accommodate the tall, short, straight, curvy, broad shouldered, narrow shouldered, busty and flat-chested among us (I’m always amazed by how many different body shapes actually fit into a size M), as well as those who like a smooth fabric, a thick cotton or one with stretch. Then there’s the question of how short or long do you like your sleeve, which colour to choose from your seasonal palette (if you’ve had your colours analysed you’ll know about wearing your best colours close to your face), and what sort of neckline flatters your shape, from v and crew to scoop and boat. Who would have thought that such a simple basic could throw up so many choices?

Style considerations aside, the T-shirt has always been a wardrobe stalwart for me – versatile, feminine, hard-working, super-comfortable… and always, at the back of my mind, evoking memories of childhood holidays and ice-cream. Roll on summer.

Melissa’s Four Favourite Tees:

1 Stripe Boat Neck (True Red Stripe)

2 Butterfly Print Tee (Apple/Soft White)

3 Love Colour Tee (Flamingo Pink)

4 Silky Tee (Blue Jewel)

 

To see our Pinterest board ‘Time for Tee’ visit Kettlewell on Pinterest