Mulberry’s SS19 collection may have been presented in Paris, but this season creative director Johnny Coca took us back to London’s Swinging Sixties. "I was looking at a defining moment in British culture," Coca told Refinery29 at the brand’s showroom yesterday. "The collection is very playful. I wanted to protect Mulberry’s history and show where the brand came from." Mulberry so often reimagines codes from its British heritage, whether through the flair of aristocracy or the rebellion of punk, and this season, the key elements of the decade of liberation have been employed to create a collection that is at once nostalgic and contemporary.
Think matching scallop-hemmed jackets and skirts, 3D geometric earrings and vinyl raincoats in pop-bright hues; all the '60s signifiers are there. Sure, the decade is oft-referenced, to the point that a mini skirt and block heel can feel like fancy dress, but what sets this apart is Coca’s ability to make cuts and colours which are intrinsic to British fashion’s DNA feel totally fresh.
How? It’s all in the coats, prints and accessories. Checked coats are all-pervasive this season, but Mulberry’s oversized cocoon shape and orange and navy palette makes for an instant classic. The leather coat, made up of scalloped circles in autumnal tones, will also be a hit, nodding to the '60s while seamlessly sliding into our wardrobes alongside black rollnecks and flared denim.
The showstopper may just be the marble print, which Coca explained was manipulated by hand and computer. "We worked with new fabric because we couldn’t use the same fabric from the '60s. The marble wasn’t a print we found. Instead, we found flowers in colours pervasive during the decade and twisted them on a computer to create the effect. It feels really impactful." With tights, cut-out flared dresses and boxy jackets in the print, we intend to wear it head-to-toe.
The devil was in the details for this collection, too, as a closer look revealed shift dresses with vintage mismatched buttons, go-go boots with geometric plates, and metallic Mary Janes with perspex block heels – an homage to the space age, Barbarella-esque fabrics of the time. Of course, Mulberry’s bestselling items are its bags, and this season didn’t disappoint. From oxblood woven check holdalls to big leather totes with chain detailing, via paintbox-bright iterations of the brand’s Amberley and marble-effect top-handled pieces, the bag selection was a masterclass in creating 'It' items and an accessories collection as strong as your ready-to-wear.
With other luxury houses still fawning over the streetwear and athleisure trend, it feels good to come back to a more fanciful and playful approach to dressing up. And while us Brits may find it hard to escape the long shadow of the Swinging Sixties, Coca thinks the decade feels more relevant than ever.
"As I trawled through London's archives, I was inspired by the women in the photographs," he explained. "The power of women really started in the '60s. Women stopped being traditional and started having fun, being cool, and fighting for freedom. It really was the beginning of female power."