Emilia Wickstead Pre-Fall 2021 Collection

For her pre-fall 2020 collection, released in January of last year, Emilia Wickstead opted for a novel method of presenting her opulent draped gowns and razor-sharp tailoring. Inspired by the iconic portraits of motherhood captured in Helmut Newton and his wife, Alice Springs, in their seminal 1999 book Us and Them, Wickstead worked with photographer Edd Horder to shoot black-and-white portraits of mothers and children in her looks. It felt like both an ode to the strong sense of community she’s cultivated around the brand, as well as a savvy reflection of her customer base, which includes a sizable contingent of creative working women. 

When it came time to reveal her new pre-fall offering, Wickstead decided to check back in with these women after a tumultuous year. To do so, she moved beyond the blank studio walls of the previous portraits, entering her clients’ homes and gardens to show how they’ve led their lives—and of course, how they got dressed—over the many months of lockdown. “I think there’s a real fascination with how other people have been living over the past year, and going into people’s homes and people’s worlds was an opportunity to do that,” says Wickstead. “It was a wonderful way to continue the story.”

Where Wickstead was once synonymous with the sleek lines and dramatic silhouettes of the red carpet, she’s now placing a new emphasis on wearability. Here, this came in the form of skirts cut from an airy cotton-denim, and a particularly lovely pinstripe jumpsuit inspired by the clothes her designer mother would cut for the fashionable women of Auckland back in the ’90s. “I’ve been throwing in a few more ’90s references the past few seasons, actually,” says Wickstead. “But I very much had my mother in mind with this one. I thought it was a nice nod to the theme of the lookbook too.”

That’s not to say her taste for flouncy femininity has been done away with altogether; just dialed back to welcome a greater sense of ease. There are a number of separates on offer in Wickstead’s delightfully chintzy florals, while a series of bell skirts with matching crop tops come in ravishing jewel tones, cut from a double-faced cloqué that can be sat on and scrunched without creasing or losing its shape. On the subject of practicality, in something of an experiment for Wickstead, the collection will be available to purchase immediately from her website and a select number of stockists.

Beyond the various ways Wickstead is steering her brand into its post-pandemic future, what charms most is the soulful backstory that underpins the images and the thoughtful way in which Wickstead reinterpreted that into clothes. “Nothing is overly precious, and I think that’s exactly what we’re all looking for right now,” she says. It’s likely her following—those included in her lookbook, and those far beyond—will agree.

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