Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large
I have a soft spot for Teatum Jones. Designers Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones create cool, elegant, easy clothes which you really want to wear, immediately. Of course, there are plenty of designers and labels which do that but each collection which Teatum Jones create comes with an intricately woven back story which appeals to the English graduate in me, as well as the fashion writer/ lover.
For Autumn/ Winter '13, Rob and Catherine immersed themselves in the world of Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov and his love of butterflies. They read Véra: Mrs Nabokov, Stacy Schiff's biography of Nabokov's devoted wife, incessantly read and listened to his poetry and finally decamped to The Natural History museum. There Rob and Catherine were given access Nabokov's own huge archives of butterfly specimens- "it was like a graveyard of butterflies" they told me. As a lepidopterist (a new word I learnt), Nabokov seems to have made almost as much of an impression as he did as a writer. A group of butterflies, Nabokovia, are named after him and he formulated a hypothesis about the Polyomattus Blue species which has more recently been found to be correct. It is these kinds of intricate, almost academic levels of research which Catherine and Rob undertake before they start on the clothes themselves.
Back in the studio and prints were created from photographs the duo had taken of the butterfly collections, some pieces were printed with lines of poetry and the entire presentation, a gorgeous affair at The Dorchester, was based on the bringing to life of the research Rob and Catherine had done. Of course, it's not just about making clothes out of poetry and butterflies. "We wanted women to be able to relax into everything we made" Robs says, a promise which plays out in the draped, silky dresses and shirts, trains of chiffon and super-wide trousers. There are clues in the styling too with lots of flat preppy brogues and loose, long hair.
recently photographed for American Vogue. They are also part of the Centre for Fashion Enterprise's Venture scheme which they describe as "brilliant... There are consultants on the end of the phone. It's helping us to become really business-minded". A state of mind designers cannot be without today. Savvily, Rob and Catherine tell me that they quizzed Liberty's shop assistants about what customers were telling them about the collection. "We loved hearing the feedback and have responded. This season, we've dropped some of the necklines a bit to make them easier to wear" Catherine tells me. The new Nabokov inspired collection has just arrived in Liberty. I have my eye on the navy pony biker and one of the A-line skirts- they let me borrow one of these to wear for fashion week and it was one of the loveliest things I've ever worn. It might seem mad that Autumn collections are in the shops now, but do we really care about the season when the clothes are this great?
Teatum Jones Autumn/Winter is in Liberty now. Prices start at £295.