Mulberry's Creative Director Johnny Coca has been reinvigorating the British heritage brand since he joined back in 2015. His international perspective – he was born in Seville and previously held tenures at Celine and Louis Vuitton in Paris – has brought a fresh and contemporary appreciation for the hallmarks of British style (think checks, trench coats and suiting) without ever veering into caricature territory.
Looking back to the Swinging Sixties for SS19, all scalloped hemlines and go-go boots, this season Coca sought to reimagine British wardrobe staples with statement flair. "I think of it as the building blocks of a woman's wardrobe," he told Refinery29 at the brand's showroom in Paris. "I tried to take all of these iconic British pieces that I love – the trench, the kilt, the biker jacket – and reintroduce them in a modern way."
Raiding men's wardrobes, Coca blew up abstract geometric prints he found on work ties to create dreamy patterned midi dresses, and gave their oversized houndstooth jackets a 2019 spin by embellishing them with sequins. Checked coats were upgraded with ballooned sleeves, nine-to-five trousers with kick flares, and biker jackets with cropped hemlines and shearling collars.
As ever, colour is key to Coca's Mulberry vision. Where pop brights elevated the spring collection, for AW19 he explored classic autumnal shades and offset them with mood-boosting hues. "I love to play with colour by breaking down the classics and giving them a happier vibe," he says. That means duck egg blue on tights, lace necklines and feather-patterned dresses, and mustard yellows on studded bags and silk scarves.
The punked-up details are a highlight of every collection Coca delivers. He's professed his love for the rebellious underbelly of British style, and this season we see it in detachable chunky chains on the new hero handbag, heavy duty hoop earrings, and attitude-laden eyelets on heeled loafers. "That's why I've styled the hole-punched belts with the puffers and kilts, to break up the classic silhouettes with this punky feel," he explains.
What's so brilliant about Coca's iteration of Mulberry is that the pieces are really wearable, which as an accolade may not sound so glamorous, but is key to hooking a consumer and selling a brand. While bright colours, interesting fabrications and statement elements make Mulberry's aesthetic feel like a treat each season, it's the real woman's wardrobe on which each collection is built that keeps the whole thing pitch perfect.
Coca has the ability to make us think Oh, I could totally wear that, while simultaneously giving us a fresh view of what makes the Great British Wardrobe so, well, great.