Not many people know this but Mary Quant, the British fashion icon and designer behind the fabled '60s fashion piece, the miniskirt, actually named her design, not due to its short hemline, but after that other piece of iconic '60s design: the Mini Cooper.
So fashion has never been too far away from MINI. The brand's fourth collaborative collection under its brand initiative, MINI FASHION, this season partnered with The Woolmark Company for its new collection titled "Field Notes". Designed for the urban traveler and exploring themes of transformation, each designer—three of which are Woolmark Prize alumni—was tasked with translating their travel experiences into garments using wool.
London's Liam Hodges and Shanghai's Staffonly worked menswear while NYC's PH5 focused on womenswear, while acclaimed Berlin-based milliner Rike Feurstein brought accessories and headwear.
Taking inspiration from the novel, The Goldfinch, which is set in Las Vegas but which begins in New York, Hodges was inspired principally by the east coast city and the journey to the desert. Worked in a gray palette, tops include a digital print Merino sweatshirt, gray merino denim for the trousers with an overcoat and bucket hat.
"It is quite exciting to play around with new technologies that are actually intended for graphics," explained Hodge of the sweatshirt, which depicts events from the novel. "I actually wore these clothes in New York—I journeyed with them once we were there."
"In terms of the idea of the urban traveler, for us, it was about function and being prepared," he explains. "So, we wanted it to be comfortable and so you could, ideally, get on the airplane without having to check a bag. So we included lots of extra pockets in the design and a sort of little travel pouch as well so you can be ready. Oh, and the idea for the drawcord for the jeans is so you don't have to take your belt off for security."
The London-Shanghai brand from two creative minds and lifelong friends, Shimo Zhou and Une Yea, created pieces that underline their trademark approach of looking at the hidden logic of clothes, uniting function and practicality with a playful flair that's very on trend. The brand's Field Notes piece was a master play in that: bold green colors interplayed with azure blues and whites.
The best part? The whole thing packs up and folds away into its own travel bag, inspired by their time studying in London and picnics in Greenwich Park. "We all face difficulties when we choose which outfit to bring when we pack our luggage, so we wanted to make it easy," explains Yea.
Emerging New York label PH5 created an ensemble inspired by the art deco architecture and color palette of Miami. Challenging themselves to turn what is traditionally a winter fabric into garments for the warmer months, the two-person design team created a sheer merino wool top that the pair dried and made translucent alongside a dried woolen jumpsuit. The drying out of wool shrinks the fabric, reducing the weight of the finished yarn to make woolen clothes that are incredibly light and breathable.
Yellows, grays and blacks, teal and light pink interplayed across the jumpsuit: "It's a happy, party jumpsuit," explain Mijia Zhang and Wei Lin. "Because it's so light, and with its colors and where its taken from, it's something that people can wear to go out."
The Berlin-based accessories designer and milliner Rike Feurstein created three hats inspired by her trip to St Petersburg and the Amber Room inside the Catherine Palace. All hats are seamless and crafted using a single piece of merino wool felt.
"I was inspired by both this very aristocratic past with its splendor and then the more minimalist architecture of the revolutionary period," explains Feurstein. "So the first [hat] is basically a traditional aristocratic bowler hat style that has undergone some revolutionary transformation because it's slowly turning red. So it's not the classic black anymore, but it's in between phases. The second is a linen inspired flat cap, while the third is a modern baseball cap design that's more architectural and structural."
"The whole project," she adds, "is meant to be a confusing fusion of pre- and post-revolutionary style elements."
For more info on MINI FASHION and the "Field Notes" capsule collection, see here.