“What’s exciting for me is to make sure that people do still dress up,” the London-based, New Zealand-born designer Emilia Wickstead told GRAZIA in 2018. “How do we do that in this fast-paced modern world, when we’re all on the move and all so busy? Ultimately I think there’s nothing more inspiring than looking back at how people would dress up and make an effort to travel or to go to an event. It’s important to make sure that I carry that through and stand for that as a designer.”
It’s an ethos that takes on a new resonance in 2021—following a year where travelling, events, and generally getting dressed-up were put on hold. Wickstead’s optimism that those things will soon change was on full display at her brand’s Fall 2021 show, which debuted in London this afternoon.
There was nary a piece of elevated loungewear in sight—instead, we were treated to 48 hyper-sophisticated looks, tailored magnificently and featuring Wickstead’s signature delicate prints.
Highlights included two-piece sets featuring micro crop tops and ankle-skimming poodle skirts, artfully draped jumpsuits, and a Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy-esque sleeveless black gown, worn with matching opera gloves. Prince of Wales check suits and coats made an appearance, as did a The Row style shirt-and-skivvy combination, brought to life with bold plum trousers.
Oversized rose motifs—a long-time signature of Wickstead’s—were a nod to Grace Kelly’s character in the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window. In show notes accompanying the collection, Wickstead wrote “Hitchcock’s brief to [costume designer] Edith Head was that Grace Kelly ‘was to look like a piece of Dresden china, nearly untouchable.’ Yet she is equally at ease and arresting in a taffeta gown, or a button-down and jeans.”
If Grace Kelly were around today, she’d no doubt be a fan of Wickstead’s—the designer’s devoted roster of celebrity clients includes its fair share of royalty and Hollywood stars. Kate Middleton, Zendaya, Amal Clooney, and Emma Watson are among those drawn to her uncanny mixture of polished sophistication and hyper-modernity. Fall will be an inevitable hit among them all—here’s hoping there’ll be a red carpet for us to see them in the flesh.