Mother of Pearl's AmyPowney and Maia Norman's decision to start producing resort collections was a good idea and is undoubtedly music to the ears of the cult following the brand has steadily gained. Unlike many other brands, Powney has managed to master the delicate balancing act of allowing customers to feel relaxed in the belief that the collections will always feature their signature elements, whilst also ensuring that there are enough new elements to keep our appetites satisfied.
The signature sportswear elements were there especially on a boxy grey parka with a contrasting pink leather hood, purple jogging pants and floral printed running sweaters. As expected, silhouettes were a focal point with Powney experimenting with peplums on tops and floor length dresses in a way that made a statement but without being fussy; and as always, they all came in the best quality fabrics. Peplums were everywhere for S/S12 but here they were not frilly and overly feminine. Instead they oozed an effortless, no-fuss feeling that they are quickly becoming synonymous with.
The new element came from their designer collaboration. Last season they teamed up with Fred Tomaselli on those hugely successfully bird prints but this time they worked with Gary Hume to incorporate his bold floral prints throughout.
While the economy in Europe might look better today than it did six months ago, there's no denying that we're not quite out of the storm just yet. On the contrary, things aren't all doom and gloom for it is this storm that is serving contemporary brands really well. Today accessible brands like Zadig & Volatire, Sandro, Maje and Comptoir des Cotonniers that are gaining serious traction. Sandro, for example, is expected to take in €200million this year compared to €15 million back in 2007. Not bad for a brand that has been criticised for not breaking new ground, eh? Along with Mother of Pearl, Gallery 4 is helping to fly the flag for the contemporary accessible brand on this side of the pond.
Recently I caught up with Louise Rhodes, the brand's head designer, to find out more about the line and see the full collection and was instantly I was sold. 'When I was given this opportunity I really wanted to create a high-end product with accessible prices,' she said - and she is definitely onto something. As the wealthy pull back on their spending and the former high street purchaser looks for quality and a return on their investment, it is brands like this that are really helping bridge the gap. 'All of my friends want something like this because we don't necessarily have the money to get the pieces we want.' And it's true. As a fan of all things Scandinavian I was instantly drawn to the boy-meets-girl minimalist aesthetic of Rhodes' clothes. Unlike other brands like this who are riding the minimalist wave at the moment, Gallery 4 is available at a fraction of the price without compromising on quality.
At a recent talk in Browns L'Wren Scott said that for her, it's all about helping her customers build their wardrobes rather than indoctrinating them with trends and that's a sentiment that Rhodes clearly proscribes to. With Louise it's not all about tapping into trends. Instead she plans to rework their prints whilst building on their signatures. With that said, expect wardrobe staples like simple blouses, blazers and shirt dresses to come reworked with a modern twist that will hold you in good stead season after season.
In a recent interview, Mother of Pearl head designer Amy Powney praised the quality on the British high street saying that brands like Jaeger, Whistles and Joseph are really bridging the gap between the high street and designer lines and often with the same quality - and it's true. Jospeh in particular have been producing great collection after great collection so it comes at no surprise that they have decided to follow Jaeger and show at London Fashion Week.
‘We felt we were ready for the next thing, hence the show,’ a representative from the brand told ELLEUK.com. ‘Shows make such a strong impact, and showing at London Fashion Week was a natural choice as obviously we are such a London-centric brand.’ Last week Peter Pilotto had no qualms in saying that unlike before, London Fashion Week is now the place to be and with strong accessible brands like Joseph joining the show rooster, it looks like things will stay that way.
Recently we told you that Mother of Pearl were teaming up on a pop-up shop with Harrods and now it's nearly here. The department store has dedicated a section of the designer studio on the first floor to the brand's pop-up, which will be opened from Friday 16th March - Friday 30th March and will feature their S/S12 collection in collaboration with arist Fiona Banner.
'We're thrilled to be working with Harrods - on the retail plane it's the king of kings," Maia Norman, creative director at Mother of Pearl, said. "We love their continued search for all things astonishing whilst still honouring the traditional. Working with such an iconic establishment is an exciting development for our MoP shop concept." Helen David, womenswear and general manager at Harrods, was as enthusiastic. 'The latest collection delivers beautiful pieces that fuse fashion and sportswear to create luxurious styles, that will sit perfectly alongside our diverse mix of contemporary labels."
One Monday back in January I spent the morning with Amy Powney, Head Designer at Mother of Pearl. Rather than meeting in a fancy restaurant or hotel in Central London, which is often the case, Powney invited me to the brand's studio based in the middle of East London's bustling creative scene. The team were in the middle of preparing for their A/W 2012 collection but were kind enough to devote their morning to talk me through the brand and transport me into the Mother of Pearl world; and I can safely confirm that that world is not a bad place to be. The team are uncompromisingly enthusiastic and passionate about what they do and it's infectious.
Whilst you may be unfamiliar with the brand now, give it a year or so and that will change. The company has actually been around for several years but it is only now that things have really come together. Teams have come and gone and the aesthetic has changed several times so it was only four seasons ago when Powney was appointed as head designer that things began to change. This fact isn't something they shy away from. In fact, Powney was pretty frank when asked about it. "People in the industry take fashion very seriously so if you've seen a brand through several different phases, people move on and lose interest. It has taken time to get people to come back and see it but I finally feel like it's at a good point and people can see that it's a good concept." It's the brand's present carnation that has helped win them a legion of fans and become on of the industry's best kept secrets. And while MOP, as the team call it, was established by Maia Norman who continues to serve as creative director, it is Amy who has managed to articulate her easy sports wear vision.