Fashion stylist Lucinda Chambers and designers Molly Molloy and Kristin Forss are the creative force behind the ebullient, print-focused and colourful womenswear label Colville.
Entrenched as we are in a drab world of beige, brown and navy blue – the vivacity of a hand-painted floral print might just be the tonic we need. Lucinda Chambers – one third of the Milan/London-based label Colville – is no stranger to the pep of print. ‘I love it. I love colour. I love pattern. For the last 30 years I’ve often wondered if anyone needs a new dress, but you just fall in love with a print. It’s emotional. It makes you feel something just like a painting on a wall,’ she says. ‘Print makes you come alive, I do believe that.’ She adopts an optimistic, operatic approach to dressing in agitated times. Colville is the creative encounter between three different minds and three personal points of view: fashion stylist Chambers and designers Molly Molloy and Kristin Forss. The trio met whilst working at Marni with Consuelo Castiglioni. Chambers says: ‘It’s a very odd melting pot where Colville becomes this other person that lives and breathes. It is all of us and not one of us!’ The women are intellectually curious, captivated by chairs as much as cloth, film as much as food. They make clothes they would want to wear. A dress that looks different but sits well and is comfortable. A coat that cocoons. Knitwear that can be layered and worn askew. ‘We ask quite a lot of people to interpret what we do too. There isn’t one person hanging onto this idealised version of Colville,’ Chambers says. This collaborative freedom is reflected in the label’s approach to print. For the coming season, Molloy painted an energetic ‘splish-splashy sploshy’ field of flowers used on a ruched dress and long skirt. Another pattern is a dip-dye, hallucinogenic wave that spills up the body. Both are hand-done and totally original. ‘We don’t borrow something and take a colour out or adapt it. It’s a bit like a meal. They are from scratch.’ Much has been written about the label’s sustainability credentials – its debut included a range of eighties shell suit jackets, repurposed into sell-out cropped boleros. For S/S 2020, old nylon sails have been made into coats. ‘We always set out to do better practice and for a small company, that’s tough. Nothing goes to waste. We don’t buy quantities of fabric – knitted sleeves are made using left over wool. It’s about making the changes you can and being transparent about what you can’t.’
As the former fashion director at British Vogue for 25 years, Chambers has seen it all come and go, but she’s far from jaded. ‘I think clothes are exciting now. I don’t feel that people are being safe and I like that.’ Things are either reactionary or cyclical. Fashion today, she says, feels very free. ‘Maybe that’s an antidote to what’s happening in the world, but there’s an energy out there.
Courtesy of Wallpaper Magazine