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.

New season top picks


Above: Sofia Dress in Teal & French Navy

Yippee, it’s that time again! I love new season time at Kettlewell. So many new colours, new styles, and new opportunities for incredibly easy shopping.

Every season, my problem is what to leave out for my five top picks, rather than what to choose, and this season was even harder than usual, with the ever increasing range of products and fabrics that Kettlewell offer, from necklaces to shoes and jersey to boucle and faux suede.

However, I have forced myself to pick only my very favourites, the ones that I predict will be hanging around for approximately 23.8 seconds after they are launched in early September.

Alexa jacket

Now this is right up my street. Buttery soft with a hint of edgy styling, this jacket will take you everywhere this autumn/winter and beyond. Add a biker edge to a pretty dress, or smarten up a basic tee and jeans.

Look 1: Alexa Jacket in PralineKeira Dress in Poppy & Biscuit
Look 2: Alexa Jacket in TaupeLove Colour Tee in Wisteria


Grace blazer, trousers and pencil skirt

OK, so this is technically three things, but it’s the fabric I’m excited about here as much as the style. I don’t know a single person who has touched this fabric who hasn’t gone ‘oooooooh’ at its magical properties. All the style and smartness of a herringbone tweed, but with the comfort, hold-you-in effect and ease of wearing of stretch jersey. Needs to be tried to be believed.


Look 3: Grace Jacquard Blazer in Marine TealGrace Pencil Skirt in Marine TealSleeveless Mock Turtle in Shaded SpruceStar & Bead Necklace in Gold Bronze
Look 4: Merino Crossover in Marine BlueGrace Jacquard Trousers in Praline


Cosy merino sweater

If, like me, one of your summer heroes was the effortlessly stylish cotton/cashmere mix crew neck sweater, than breathe a huge sigh of relief, because the winter weight version is here. Created from sumptuous pure merino in a slightly chunkier knit than the summer weight sweater, this neat crew neck will resolve a multitude of outfit conundrums.

Look 5: Cosy Merino Sweater in GlacierTiny Star Necklace in Silver


Maddie tunic

Is it an animal print? Is it a heart print? Whatever you decide it is, this easy to wear tunic will up your casual outfit game no end. Layer up with the Alexa biker above for cool chic, or add a jersey wrap and pretty necklace for a prettier look.

Look 6: Maddie Tunic in Hyacinth & Sultry NavyMerino Sleeveless Wrap in Bright NavyTassel Necklace in Pink Mulberry SparkleSuede Satr Shoulder Bag in Tin & Soft Berry


Sofia dress

This is the dress you’ll turn to this winter when you need an instant confidence hit. The swirling print, long sleeves, faux wrap front and clever ruching on this dress all work together to highlight your best features and conceal any bits you’re not so keen on. Add some edge with an Alexa biker or make it work-ready with a Grace blazer. It’s another one of those things that Kettlewell does so well – a dress-up-dress-down wardrobe essential.

Look 7: Sofia Dress in Periwinkle Blue & Bright NavyAlexa Jacket in Royal BlueTiny Star Necklace in Gold

As well as my favourite styles, here’s a look behind the scenes, of Melissa’s recent trip to the factory to check on the progress of the new season styles as they go into production. Lots of obsessive trying on, measuring and fine tuning takes place until each and every new piece is absolutely perfect and ready to go into a full production run for the coming season.

Three autumn trends you’ll actually want to wear

peta_and_roll_neckFinding wearable looks in among new season trends can be a total nightmare – runway pictures seem to feature such extreme looks that finding something that you might actually be able to put on in the morning and not be laughed at can seem an impossible task.

However, there are a few themes in those extraordinary runway shows which translate into clothes in shops that you might be able to contemplate buying, and I’ve rounded up my favourite four from the coming season.



Velvet is EVERYWHERE this autumn/winter. The trick to making it work is keeping the whole look luxurious but laid back. Rich tones, subtle jewellery and gorgeous textures contribute to an outfit that is elegant and up to the minute.


Polo necks under dresses


This is such an easy trend to access – simply layer up your favourite shift/pinafore/tea dress with a bold coloured polo neck underneath for a retro chic look that will keep you right up to date. Plus – added bonus – it keeps you warm in winter!


Trouser suits


Allegedly inspired by the queen of the trouser suit, Hilary Clinton, the runways were full of statement trouser suits in velvet, satin and bold colours, but the high street is making this trend available to those of us who don’t live in fashion land with relaxed trouser suits in neutral colours, perhaps with a hint of print or piping to add interest. Pair yours with a minimalist top in an accent colour to flatter your features and keep the look casual. Swap the top for a silky camisole and the androgynous loafers for fabulous heels to make a modern evening outfit.

hilary_trouser_suitstrouser_suitFor info on all products featured, visit our Polyvore page.

Shoes in header image:

Style it for summer: the breton stripe


The striped top truly is a perennial classic. Timeless, elegant, and possible to style in an almost infinite number of ways, the breton comes back year after year for good reason.

I’m a big fan of both the new season stripe tops from Kettlewell. They tick all the boxes for a truly wearable summer classic – not too short, not too clingy, available in two flattering necklines and a colour to suit everyone.

Just in case you need more reasons to install one (or two. Or three) in your wardrobe, here’s my favourite styling solutions:


Add a pop of red to your version of the classic blue and white for instant Parisian chic, with a Florence Infinity Scarf. Neat white sneakers make this look stylish but totally wearable.



Pair your 3/4 sleeve breton with a flippy Audrey skirt for classy but comfortable sightseeing attire.



Add a splash of colour to a comfy travel outfit with a cotton cashmere cardigan layered on top of a short sleeved stripe t-shirt and a pair of jersey trousers. And if you’re going for capsule wardrobe packing, you can use the same sneakers as your classic Parisian look!



Relaxed short sleeve t-shirt turns simple denim shorts and a sunhat into a summer holiday outfit fit for every destination, from Cornwall to Corsica. Simple metallic flip flops in your best shade will complete the laid back look. Styled here with a tassel necklace and a willow scarf.


How to wear white


Knowing your best white – whether it’s a soft white, cream, oyster or optic bright white – is a powerful weapon to have in your style arsenal. Whether you want to rock a sleek monochrome look or simply add a little light and bright to an outfit, knowing which white to go for will keep your look chic, current and, most importantly, right for you.

A personal colour analysis from a qualified stylist will give you all the information you need to choose your white (and red, and blue, and grey, and yellow, and and and….), which will make you look and feel your best even in this minimalist shade.

If you haven’t yet had a colour analysis, the best option to go for is usually a slightly soft off white rather than a true bright white – the softer version looks better than true white for Summers, Autumns and Springs, and even on Winters isn’t too terrible, so it’s a good safe hedge-your-bets option if you don’t know what to go for.

However, if you’ve had a personal colour analysis and know your season, then getting your white right is simple:

Spring – go for a warm buttery cream. Think of the shades of warm golden white you get in single, double and clotted cream. Pair with a splash of colour during the day or go for chic gold accessories in the evening.spring

Summer – a soft off white, your white can be tricky to find as it has no warmth or creaminess to it, but is very definitely not bright true white. Often called ‘soft white’ or, confusingly, ‘winter white’ in stores.summer

Autumn – again, you need a warm yellow based creamy shade, but it doesn’t need the brightness of the spring palette – you may be able to pull of a soft white as well as the ideal more golden creamy options.autumn

Winter – optic white is the way forward for you. Bright, stark and as high contrast as it gets when paired with brights or black. For a sophisticated look try combining it with silver grey or a pop of fuchsia pink.winter

Visit our Kettlewell Colours Polyvore page for details of all items.


13 into 31: Your spring wardrobe, sorted

We do love a good capsule wardrobe at Kettlewell, and since the season is a-changing, I thought it was about time for another one. I challenged myself to come up with a full month’s worth of outfits from a mere 13 items (and none of this February nonsense, a full 31 days. And not just because it’s a pleasing reversal of the 13 items).


Whatever colour palette you favour and whatever your personal style, there might come a time when you need to put together a capsule wardrobe, whether you are travelling for business, needing to live out of a bag for a couple of weeks during a house move or have rapidly lost or gained weight and need a handful of clothes to see you through until your weight ‘settles’. Knowing how to put together a wardrobe in colours and styles that suit you will make the entire process easier – you can see that even with the very bright Spring palette, I’ve still stuck to just a handful of colours, and included two fairly neutral colours – cream and navy – to keep outfit combinations straightforward.

Capsule wardrobes; not just for boring people.31-outfits

Visit our Kettlewell Colours Polyvore page for details of all clothes and accessories

Going grey: Absolutely everything you need to know

If you happen to be human and in possession of hair, chances are that at some stage you’ll have to deal with the conundrum of it going grey. Dye it or embrace it? Change your make up or stick to the same tried and true products? Alter your wardrobe to match or resolutely stick to the same colours and styles? Going grey is one of the most visible signs of getting older and, for many people, a very depressing one. But fear not! This week we’re going to deal with all the grey hair issues that are weighing on your grey matter.


To dye or not to dye?

Only you can decide whether you are ready to embrace your natural grey hair. Here at Kettlewell we are huge fans of the natural look (just check out out some of our favourite images from our inspiration Pinterest board, below), but we understand that it isn’t that straightforward for everyone. If you’re ready to go for it, feel confident in the knowledge that grey hair can be an incredible powerful and attractive statement to make – with modern cuts and haircare products, there is absolutely no need for going grey to mean the beginning of the end of a sense of style


If, however, you have decided to defy nature for a few more years, then make sure you choose the most flattering hair colour for you. If you have cool toned skin (i.e. you are a Summer or a Winter in colour analysis terms), then stick with ashy colours, from deepest brown to lightest blonde, and avoid any hint of golden yellow or henna’d red. For warmer tones (Springs and Autumns), go for golden or rust red tones, and keep your darker browns warm and chestnutty.


And what about that awkward in between phase? There is nothing more alarming than ditching the dye and being faced with that awful badger stripe of grey, which, of course, sends you dashing back to the dye faster than you can say root touch up.

If you do want to make the change (picture us waving our pom poms), then talk to your hairdresser about doing so gradually – adding in a few highlights in lighter shades that more closely match your own natural (as in, the greying one, not the natural you had at age 20!) hair colour and breaking up the colour rather than dyeing the whole lot to help ease the transition.

What about clothing and make up colours?

If you’ve had your colours analysed, you’ll know that going grey will never change your original colour palette; whatever season you came in as is the one you’re going out as, trust us. However, you may find as you age that your ‘wow’ colours will shift. Sometimes this shift means that brighter colours within your palette will be the ones that lift your skintone and perfectly set off a lighter hair colour (if you dye your hair, there’s a good chance you’ll find the colour of your youth a little too strong and artificial looking once you’ve begun to go grey too – it’s rare for our very darkest shades to continue to look amazing), or it might be the softer tones, or even a shift from the warmest end of your palette to the less warm end (while still remaining within your season), or vice versa. If your consultant rated all the colours of your palette when you first went for a colour analysis, it might be time to revisit your consultant for an update so you feel confident in your colour choices.

If you haven’t had your colours analysed, now is an ideal time to think about getting it done to give you the confidence to either go grey naturally or cover up with the right colours for you. It will also show you the colours that will make you look your freshest and most stylish as you enter a whole new phase of life. If you are confident in the clothing and make up choices you are making, keep checking out your reflection to ensure that the colours you have been automatically donning for years aren’t getting too severe or intense for you – even if you dye your hair, the contrast level in our skin and eyes diminishes as we age, and painting on or wearing colours that are too overpowering just makes the fakery more obvious and, counter to the intended effect, actually has an ageing effect.

Do I need to start dressing my age?

In a word…. NO. If your style was quirky, or preppy, or classic, or flamboyant or city slicker or any one of a thousand other unique looks, you can still continue to wear that style. Going grey no longer means giving up on a sense of colour and style in the way it did in our granny’s day, and you can continue to age while rocking your coolest (or hottest!) looks yet.