‘This time we wanted to look at female activists across art, music and fashion. It felt really timely with everything that’s happening right now too,’ says Orla Kiely of the inspiration behind her latest L’Orla collection. The capsule collection that she designs in collaboration with stylist Leith Clark is now in its third season and continues to go from strength to strength.
With a moodboard featuring Yoko Ono, Marianne Faithfull, Gloria Steinem and Frida Kahlo, the collection has a distinct 60s and 70s vibe fusing retro prints, feminine silhouettes with a strong modern spirit and aesthetic. Think tulle dresses with sheer sleeves, embroidered with delicate floral motifs that are perfect for wedding guest dressing. A flattering mid length tea dress with a ruffled trim and puff sleeves that would work just as well in the office as it would paired with boots and oversized knit at the weekend. Plus, a totally Instagrammable corduroy suit in millennial pink that give serious bang for your buck as they work brilliantly as individual pieces too.
For the duo, who have known each other for nearly a decade with Clark styling all of Kiely’s mainline collections, there is a serious focus on creating flattering silhouettes. Kiely explains she really wants women to feel comfortable in her designs; ‘there is nothing worse than that feeling of constantly having to adjust what you’re wearing. I hate when you have to tug a top down or sleeves that keep riding up your arm.’
Naturally, nearly all the pieces feature Kiely’s signature and much loved embroidered and graphic floral prints and motifs that come with a heavy hint of nostalgia. However, they also have a timeless appeal which is reflected in Kiely’s huge range of celebrity fans. Her collections have been snapped on everyone from Alexa Chung to Kate Middleton, Karen Elson, Tavi Gevinson and Sandra Bernhard to name a few.
Nostalgia is a hot topic for Kiely at the moment as she gears up for the first exhibition dedicated to her at London’s Fashion & Textile Museum next May. The retrospective, entitled Orla Kiely: A Life In Pattern will feature over 150 of her patterns and products including her universally appealing ‘Stem’ graphic, alongside her collaborations with photographers and architects, examining how she works and how her designs have resonated around the world. Between delving into her archive collection, Kiely says she is also spending a lot of time scouring the Internet for pieces from her earliest collections. ‘When I first started I didn’t keep everything as I never thought what I did would become so successful. So I’m trying to track down some of my missing pieces. Yesterday I found an original carpet bag on eBay. I’m on a mission.’