By Colette Fitzpatrick
I’ll admit, right off the bat, that I’m somewhat of a NATALIEBCOLEMAN fangirl. In fact, I’m a super fan. I’ll also admit that I like her on a personal level and that I’m indebted to Natalie’s kindness as, very early in my career, she agreed to do an interview with me as a no-name, beginner blogger. To this day, I still have no name to speak of and I’m also still as passionate about the brand.
When I heard she was on the London Fashion Week schedule this season, I was delighted and made sure to secure an invite (i.e. emailed every press contact I could find and badgered them all, juuust in case) and, upon arrival to the SISTERS presentation, I was struck silent. It was stunning: every aspect perfectly executed. The set design by Celini Bassili, was Caravaggesque with dark backgrounds and dramatic spotlight illumination, a smattering of broken roses carpeting the floor, an artful stack of books to one side on which models leaned as the moved about, and – as the centrepiece – a circle of chairs for the models to sit at, doing needlework, huddling together, interacting. The casting by Rebecca Knox was one of the more rightfully diverse I saw in age range, size, and ethnicity (though it could be more-so, perhaps). The hair by Declan Sheils and makeup by Rachel Singer-Clark was delightfully pretty and naturalistic.
Then, of course, there was the collection itself. The wonderful clothes. The Carrickmacross lace, handmade by Natalie’s longtime hometown collaborators, the silk, the linen, the hand embroideries, all of the elements in the clothes hearkened to the female-centric labours indicated by the set. It all spoke to centuries of sisterhood, of sitting and working together, of leaning together and it celebrated this bond, which we need now more than ever.
The collection was also shown in collaboration with the United Nations Sexual Reproductive Health Agency, 25 years after sexual and reproductive health became a fundamental human right. Alongside the exquisite pieces of the mainline collection, the brand will also be producing a capsule collection of printed scarves, hoodies, sweaters, and t-shirts (all sustainably and ethically produced in organic cotton), with 10% of profits going directly to the UNFPA.
Natalie clearly loves women, loves dressing them, loves representing them, and loves supporting them. This is a collection that is not only utterly beautiful but has a heart and strong ethical backbone, which is something far, far more brands should be aiming to replicate.