Palmer//Harding gives us our daily dose of drama for SS23

vor 4 Tagen

It’s flowy, minimalisticly driven, but not in the boring type of way. It brings out the drama we find in fashion, no more.

What is not to like, or adore, about Palmer//Harding SS23 collection?
We are given wearable vestal dresses, fringed nymphet’s shirts, simply ethereal coolness and yet I shall review and critique? Such goodness only call to be celebrated. Not only is the collection exquisite for the eye, but it is also a perfect example of craft. Even by looking at those looks on pictures I just know that they are well made -thoughtfully made- and feel like expensive clean bedsheets against the skin. (Follow me here, please). All the fabrics look so comfortable and crisp and overall, desirable.
The label founded by Matthew Harding and Levi Palmer is yet to disappoint, Proving every season why they were awarded by the 2017 British Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. I have to admit that SS23 is my favorite collection to date and I can see so many women around me, who would strongly agree.
Matthew and Levi accepted to answer my questions about their newest collection and share with us some insights while we’re at it.

 

Fräulein: Do you work in a particular way? Are your sharing tasks in a 50/50 type of way or do you each have your own specialities and area of work?
Levi Palmer: Matthew and I both manage different parts of the business in a 50/50 type of way. But when it comes to design we tend to play creative tag, where we both work in individual ways and toss ideas back and forth to allow the other to build on or refine the ideas one person creates so that it has dual stamp on it. For instance I work on the stand a lot draping new shapes. When I find a shape I like I hand it over to Matthew to sketch and play with promotions and details then he will hand it back to me to decide fabrications. After that Matthew sketches the line ups with the fabrics chosen and if we need to make amendments for the sake of the line up/creative narrative we will adjust the fabrications at that point based on his input.

I read your creative process is quite unique, can you guide me through it?
Matthew Harding: Many years ago we stopped looking to external references ( fashion history, art, sub culture etc) as these felt too obvious and insincere. We began looking at our emotional state at the time of creativity to lead the creative process. We identify our emotions, assign action words to them to take them out of an etherial state to a place where we can use it to drive shape, form and detail in an abstracted 3-D form. It makes the process almost a form of therapy for us and makes the clothing and collections very personal. In fact on the hang tags of every garment are quotes from the process that describe the emotional thought that went into each design.

Bringing drama to everyday-wear is somewhat of a challenge I believe, how do you find the balance?
LP: I think everyday wear is something that has been stuck in a utility mindset for too long. For us the idea of adding flare, excitement, detail and drama to functional parts of the wardrobe which easily slot into your daytime activities make dressing fun. We all live most our lives doing everyday activities around work and home, but this doesn’t mean we should neglect our sense of style while doing so. Drama and creativity in style should be for all the time not just special occasions

I want to meet the Palmer//Harding women, where can I find them in London? And around the world?
MH: We have some of the most diverse women as customers, like Olivia Colman, Kylie Minogue and Michelle Obama. Three completely different personas but all share a common thread that they are leaders in their field and total inspirations. Outside of the celebrity sphere we dress human rights lawyers, architects, art curators philanthropist, writers etc. Women leading their field and dressing in style while doing so.

Such fluid silhouettes encourage movements, how do you study that movement?
LP: Dance has always been an inspiration for us. We are regulars at Sadlers Wells dance theatre in London and watch everything from contemporary dance to classical ballet. Some of our favourite choreographers are Hofesh Schecter and William Forsythe. Apart from that I also dance ballet as a hobby. I don’t perform, however the training definitely provides inspiration in body movement and dramatics

What materials have been your favourites for the Spring/Summer collection?
MH: Its been exciting working with more fluid fabrics like silk and power mesh, it provides a whole new opportunity to develop our brand language.

I was surprised to see a peony red shirtdress in your lookbook. I know you are committed to the neutrals. Is that because you want your design to be as long lasting as possible or is it just personal taste?
MH: We like to play with colour in small amounts, but it can become a distraction if used too much. For us the exciting elements of our design focuses around form and pattern cutting and these elements are highlighted best in neutral colours. It also makes the pieces season-less and timeless.

I picture you living in a minimalist apartment painted in all shades of beige and designing in a black and white studio. Am I correct? Do you allow yourself some more maximalist elements at times?
LP: Haha, I sometimes wish for pure aesthetic reasons, but our studio is an old brick converted warehouse and creatively we flourish in chaos with loads of ideas and samples hanging on rails for us to reference and play with. At home we are tidy, but I also have a plant addiction and the entire apartment is covered in potted plants, I have over 50 unique species that I mist and tend to daily.

What did you improve/change this season?
LP: we really embraced playfulness this season, with lots of tassels and fringing. Its a new element to our brand which has previously had a more serious approach but we wanted to show this more joyful side of our personality in the clothes movement this season.
MH: we also continued to develop our foray into event dressing with a few statement pieces in power mesh and silks opening the collection.

With such a light and soft style, do you take more pleasure creating Spring/Summer collections?
MH: They both have their pro’s and cons, but in general the Spring Summer seasons provide more liberty for volume and silhouette and movement in our shirting, where as in the winter collections you have to worry about layering a bit more.

A favorite look from Spring/Summer 2023?
MH: Second to last look in navy, I just love the way movement has been captured
LP: Probably either the first look for its cleanliness and new direction for the brand, or the cotton shirt and shorts look with the deconstructed shoulder seams because it references our decade of design history.

Can you share with our readers your views on a more ethical work environment?
LP: It is about treating people with respect and kindness. If we are unable to treat people this way how do we expect for those same people to put the effort into caring about other important aspects like the environment and social change. It a small effort, and it really shouldn’t be an exception, but since the beginning of our brand we have always only worked a 10-6 weekday and never weekends, with the exception of some photoshoots. We don’t do the late night fashion cliche as we have always felt that time, perspective and rest gives you the mental space to be creative. We also give back socially, for the last 3 years we have been donating £1 per every garment to a cause close to us. This season its been Young Minds a charity focused on the mental health of young people. In general we have donated around £10k per year to a social cause, its another small way in which we can help to make the world a better place.

Words by Marien Brandon

Images Courtesy of Palmer//Harding via The Lobby London

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