Twice a year, I chuck a bunch of silk scarves in my leather briefcase and head to Paris to meet buyers and press from around the world. Paris Fashion Week, or PFW as I sometimes shorten it to when I’m imagining I’m Anna Wintour and too busy to say full words, is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times of the year for any designer. As much as I love to eat my body weight in brie and baguette whilst ogling achingly chic Parisian style, PFW is also the perfect opportunity to scope out new brands as designers from all corners on the globe descend on the city to pop up in temporary venues and showrooms. This season was no exception – between appointments and glasses of vin rouge, I did a bit of scouting of my own and managed to uncover some gems that you may or may not already know about!
Ok, I didn’t really need to trot across the glob to discover Rosie Sugden’s luxurious cashmere accessories as the brand is also based in Edinburgh, but Rosie’s signature playful prints and pantones were definitely amongst my favourite Parisian finds and top of my Autumn/Winter wish list! After working for the likes of Christopher Kane, Rosie established her own label in 2012. The brand has quickly gained a global fan base and international stockists including Net-a-Porter, Harrods, Liberty and Fortnum & Mason.
The Hong-Kong based label Matter Matters specialises in bags and small leather goods in Memphis-inspired prints. Any brand which cites Hockney, Andy Warhol and Art Deco as influences gets a thumbs-up from me, but the confident and unusual combinations of materials are something else. Flora Leung, the brand’s creative director, has an incredible eye for detail – evident in all facets of the brand from the stripy printed wallet-linings which are reminiscent of paper sweetshop bags, to the posters for her trade shows and events, to the interior design of the label’s Hong Kong flagship store.
A bit Shelley Duvall in Three Women, a bit Twin Peaks, a bit children’s birthday party; Samatha Pleet’s eponymous cult New York label presented at the same Paris showroom as us so I was lucky enough to pass by her pastel rails of dresses and co-ords every time I went downstairs to the magical fridge which dispensed complimentary coconut water. (How very fashion week) Samatha Pleet is the thinking girl’s atelier, propagated by the likes of Tavi Gevison and Lena Dunham. The clothes are to die for, but it’s Samatha’s eery lookbooks which really caught my attention, more reminiscent of Wes Anderson film stills than fashion editorial. Samantha’s instagram is worth a gander; a riot of colour and personality.
I’m a total sucker for anything narrative or with an animal motif so I pretty much died and went to heaven when I stumbled across Nach jewellery. Despite each piece being entirely hand-made from the finest porcelain in the brand’s Toulouse HQ, the collection remains affordable with prices starting from a modest 30€. The label was founded by Nancy and Nadia Koch, who inherited their expertise from their father Christian, a world leader in porcelain miniatures. The Koch sisters set out with the aim to bring fun and novelty to the world of jewellery, and have done exactly so with their adorable range of wearable characters.
PB0110 was founded in Germany by the designer Philipp Bree, who believes in the importance of the objects we use on an everyday basis. Bree is fascinated by things which develop an individuality through their relationship with the owner, and refers to his elegant yet hard-wearing leather bags as ‘essential companions’. This personification seems strange at first, but the more I explored the collection, the more it began to make sense; each bag in the range has a unique character. The Rucksack in vegetable-dyed leather is a fun, outgoing pal you know will say yes to any adventure whether it’s a music festival or climbing a hill or a stranger’s house party. The more grown-up Classic Bucket Bag is the older pal you look up to; she will help you nail a job interview and take you round the best museums in Florence. The Small Shoulder Bag in Rose (with built-in card case and extra compartment) is the friend you’ve known for years who you can totally be yourself around… I think I might have got a bit carried away with the metaphor, but you get the drift. I’ll take one of each.
Sarah Lai is another Hong Kong-based label which caught my attention in Paris. I loved the graphic colour palette of the collection and the theatricality of the structural neoprene dresses. Who wouldn’t want to wear a skirt which not only looks like a Circus Big Top, but also requires zero ironing?