British identity is in flux at the moment. Brexit has had us all musing on what, as a country, we stand for; what’s our history, what’s our future? Those themes are on every designer’s mind right now, hence all the semi-angry, semi-pensive, semi-dystopian collections we’re seeing, especially by young designers. Well, Johnny Coca of Mulberry had taken these uncertainties and rolled them into a show theme - into an aesthetic proposition for A/W 17. He was riffing on history and heritage, taking traditional aspects of British culture and making them 'modern', whatever that means. Really this was a collection about myths and ideals - the tropes and themes that come to be associated with a culture and are then transported and sold on to others. Think tweeds, think countryside, think charming pastels, think miniatures on jewellery, think regal historical lace and embroideries. Brands like Mulberry have long dealt in Britishness. It makes sense that in this current climate Coca was harking back, selling a seventies-cum-Edwardian version of Britishness far removed from the realities of today. Britain through rose-tinted glasses. It’s a smart theme for Mulberry, who are keen to push their credentials as the masters of British craftsmanship. If you needed reminding the bag with nearly every look helped hammer the point home.
There’s a sweet irony to the fact that a brand so proud of its Britishness is getting the greatest push from a Russia-born, Paris-based stylist. Lotta Volkova’s touch helped propel Mulberry further into the spotlight last season (talented Coca’s appointment had already guaranteed a certain level of buzz). It was her deft hand that helped give these looks punch. The show notes talk of pieces becoming 'a new heirloom for tomorrow.' To me, this collection was steeped in the mood, buzz and focus of today.