Fashion designers are increasingly turning their creative talents to interiors. Diana Clarke explores the most stylish homeware collections on the planet
Ralph Lauren himself said it best when he responded to those questioning the intent behind his venture into homeware, “It’s all an extension of something I wanted in my life – my dream life.” The appearance of fashion designers in the world of interiors is not breaking news, in fact, those very words were Lauren’s reflection on his home line after 30 years in the industry.
It’s an interesting notion that Lauren has proposed. It would be easy to shrug off the extension from fashion to homeware as profit-driven and a result of a hunger for success, but with the already entrenched and celebrated nature of Ralph Lauren, his argument that his foray away from fashion was not cash-coveting, but the fulfilment of his desire to create not just a fashion style, but an entire lifestyle that avid Ralph Lauren lovers can indulge in and live, is very convincing.
Lately, fashion designers seem to be announcing home collections all over the place. And not just those global fashion giants with cult followings either. There has been an insurgence of designers creating not just fashion labels, but entire lifestyle labels closer to home.
The Karen Walker woman is that playful, whimsical girl, most commonly seen wearing a pixie-cut. Every seasonal collection speaks to that same personality, and the extension of the brand into homeware lets us live as that daydream girl a little more convincingly. A collection of utility pieces mostly meant for use on the bed and tabletop, Karen Walker Home is print focussed, with pieces sporting the most signature of KW clothing imagery, from her famous Runaway Girl and polka dot print, to her ever popular rabbit character, emblazoned in metallic tones and dusty hues.
Walker’s brand enjoys a celebrity status in New Zealand, part in thanks, no doubt, to her annual runway booking at New York Fashion Week, and her loyal wearers go back for full looks season after season. It makes sense then, that KW should offer the brand’s groupies a way to be that girl that they channel when wearing Walker, in not only style, but in their home and everyday living.
On a smaller scale, Parnell based Designer Rugs has given its customers the chance to walk on creations designed by their favourite fashion brands. Kate Sylvester’s geometric puzzle pattern speaks to the local designer’s renowned theme of finding the intersection between femme and fierce in her clothing collections. Known for sending dusty coloured fairy dresses down the catwalk upon models bearing revving chainsaws, the rug’s sharp lines juxtaposed with pretty pastels embodies the same ladylike yet liberated style and persona of Sylvester’s fashion.
The high-end rug company also reached out to local favourite Zambesi, known for neutral tones, edgy prints and toying with texture. The result of the collaboration is a piece so Zambesi in aesthetic that it could almost be a close-up of a garment from the brand’s latest collection.
Not quite as close to home, Vivienne Westwood, contributing founder of the modern punk and new wave trend, is a brand that is personified in itself, and the persona is an extravagant one that speaks to the rebellious masses. With a penchant for leather and zippers, as well as the controversial themes of pirates, courtesans, tartans and bondage, the Vivienne Westwood wearer is a little rock n’ roll and a lot of sass. So it is only fitting that the brand’s venture into the realms of interiors is red accented and full of punk rock vibes, embracing the fashion following that the brand has beckoned, and allowing those fans to ramp up the designer’s influence in their lives by introducing smudged union jacks, and seductive mouth close-up cushions into their interiors.
For the most part, these fashion designers are not jumping the fashion ship for good, but merely migrating for a season before returning to their apparel roots. Matthew Williamson is an exception. The brand continues to produce its signature kaleidoscopic collections, featuring captivating prints often inspired by elements of nature – including dragonflies, starry nights, birds and plant life. Anna Wintour once noted of man behind the brand, “a designer who understands lifestyle as well as style,” and it’s impossible to disagree.
The name Matthew Williamson is now every bit as synonymous with interior design as it is with fashion. Wallpapers and fabrics directly taken from his wearable collections bring that sought-after psychedelic style into every home in which they appear, many now think of Matthew Williamson as a leading textiles brand.
If you love a bit of drama, the automatic style solution is Alexander McQueen. Where the home is often a place of neutrality, working as a blank canvas upon which we live our lives, this adored international brand breaks the rules by retaining every last trace of the drama that struts its catwalks. Raw and theatrical, dress your wall in an iconic blood red poppy or give your sofa a little edge with golden skulls or airborne hummingbirds for a real Alexander McQueen inspired interior.
Every fashion frontrunner foraying into interiors starts with textiles, using fabric as familiar terrain, which can work as a foundation to the brand’s home label. Some designers decide that fabrics should be the extent of their homeware extension. Some, like Kate Spade, go the whole nine yards when it comes to an interior offering. The Kate Spade collector is charming, sophisticated and a little playful, very upper east side Manhattan in both style and personality. Women who crave the crisp colours, classic graphics and tailored lines that every Kate Spade collection covers can get that upper east side style inside their homes with Kate Spade Home. The brand doesn’t stop at textiles, but offers everything from enchanting chairs and cabinetry, to fully-fledged futons and matching sofas, all embracing that classic Kate Spade charm.
Taking fashion-fuelled homeware in a different direction is Vera Wang. Known for divine bridal gowns ranging from simple to extravagant, this brand took a road less travelled on its journey into interiors, and instead of textiles delved into glassware and table tops. If the centrepiece of your wedding is a Vera Wang gown, VW Home lets you accessorise your tables with complementary champagne flutes and place settings, for the most textbook Vera Wang wedding day. What’s more, your dress will be banished to the back of your wardrobe post-celebration, but the remnants of your special day can continue to act as your daily dose of wedding day nostalgia.