HTSI editor’s letter: remembrance of fashions past
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In a session at the FTWeekend Festival recently, the New York designer Cate Holstein and style critic Rob Armstrong shared some of their first fashion memories with the room. Holstein, who has an uncanny recollection of her childhood wardrobe, remembered wearing her brother’s braces with a pair of corduroy trousers as a toddler and recalled how exhilarated she felt. The delicious comfort was so transporting for the designer that, she maintains, she has been chasing the same sartorial satisfaction ever since.
While I cannot reach back as far as Holstein in my memory, I do remember the first time I wore a pair of Laura Ashley trousers and how infatuated with them I was. A Christmas present when I was eight, the trousers were brushed cotton and covered with a gentle mulberry print. They had a tie waist and looked like pyjama bottoms – I wore them until the cotton went tissue-thin around the knees.
At that time Laura Ashley was still a massive presence on the high street – a sanctuary of vintage-looking prairie dresses and cutesy florals at a time when the country/folk aesthetic of the ’70s still held its own against the new retail behemoths such as Benetton. Laura Ashley was nostalgic, romantic and a little bit eccentric; as someone who liked to imagine myself an extra in a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel, the brand made me feel winsome and pretty, but practical – the kind of person who could fix a wagon or milk a cow.
Seeing the Ashley sisters featured in this week’s issue brought fond memories of the label flooding back again. The granddaughters of the legendary designer, Lily, 30, a performance artist and writer, and Edie, 25, a fashion designer and artist, have both inherited Ashley’s romantic imagination, fearless expression and appreciation of the natural world. Kate Finnigan met them to talk about their art, fashion and the family’s creative legacy, while Laura Bailey and Cathy Kasterine travelled to Wales to photograph the sisters at their childhood home. Captured in the spirit of a certain British disposition, the sisters bring a playful, arcadian energy to the shoot.
In another ’80s comeback, our cover star this issue is the Australian actress, singer and Neighbours alumna Kylie Minogue. Now based in Melbourne, where she has relocated to be closer to family, Kylie is establishing a successful side hustle as the founder of Kylie Minogue Wines. These have already been awarded prestigious prizes within the industry and, by some reckoning, someone drinks a glass of Kylie Minogue Wines every 1.5 seconds somewhere in the world. She talks to fellow antipodean transplant Jessica Beresford about her transformation from pop prodigy to vintner, and the different factors that have made her drinks such a hit.
This issue also finds us looking at a diverse range of interiors. At Sophie Ashby’s new hub in St James’s, the queen of the millennial interior has established a highly desirable domestic curation of her wares. Aimee Farrell takes an exclusive look at the new design space and finds out the next steps in the designer’s ambitious plans for it. In Madrid, Benedetta Tagliabue, the widow and business partner of the late postmodern architect Enric Miralles, illuminates his lesser-known forays into furniture design. And in New York, for this week’s Double Act, we visit Bode designer Emily Adams Bode and her husband Aaron Aujla, of Green River Project, a furniture and interior design studio that he founded with Ben Bloomstein in 2017. The couple’s entwined aesthetic informs every facet of their respective businesses, their side projects and their home. “For us there’s no distinction between work and our hobbies,” he says. “Our relationship has always involved the things that we love doing, and our love for craft.”
Such an intense collaborative partnership might be too much for some – but the couple’s folk-chic brand identity has proven an extraordinary success. Imagine a kind of Laura Ashley, by way of India and California, for the country-folk bohemians of today.
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