Cast a Spell with Twenty-seven Names

Friday, April 24, 2015

School of Night coat and Atlantic Check dress from Twenty-seven Names 'Spellbound' collection.

As the days cool and winter slowly makes its way into the southern hemisphere, now feels like the best time to be talking about winter collections and this season is certainly going to be an enchanting one thanks to Twenty-seven Names.  The Wellington-based duo of Anjali Stewart and Rachel Easting design one of my go-to local labels and I was fortunate enough to have a quick chat with them about their favourite garments for winter, their fascinating new collection (I'm adoring those beautiful velvet pieces) and the big changes that have happened for their brand in the past year and a bit since we last talked fashion.

Evelyn: Where did the inspiration for Spellbound come from and how have you translated it into the collection?

Twenty-seven Names: We were reading some amusing novels about a witch and a vampire and developed some of the ideas and fabrics and textures with this in mind. The collection title 'spellbound' refers to the lead character Diana's mystery powers, and the use of midnight blue velvet, hooded coats, and navy wools were used to reference the novels also.

Evelyn: Where did the ideas for the prints come from this season and was it a conscious choice to use less cute motifs? Although I noticed you used a heart cut-out in the velvet, I didn't see any cats etc this time.

TSN: Each season we create our own prints and fabrics and the heart is definitely a reoccurring theme! Developing the fabrics is one of the key elements of the design process, often the fabric comes first. The large scale wool check is a key fabric this season and we were lucky to find some beautiful silks and plain wools that worked perfectly with it.

Evelyn: I love that you're using velvet again for this collection, what influenced your fabric choices this season and what are your favourite fabrics to work with and wear for winter?

TSN: Velvet is beautiful fabric for winter so it was great addition to the collection. We love to use linens, wool, silk and viscose. We have included a custom jacquard in the past couple of seasons that our customers seem to really respond to. It is nice contrast to the more delicate silks in the range and creates a really interesting silhouette. We are also using linen more and more - it’s great that people are recognising it as beautiful fabric to wear and care for.

Evelyn: What are your own must-have pieces from the collection that you want to wear every day?

TSN: It is always so hard to choose but the Bodleian turtleneck, Pembroke coat and Polo pants will definitely be a go to outfit over the coming winter months. At the moment we are loving the First Edition check tee, and the Elizabeth velvet top.

Evelyn: The Bishop Turtleneck dress looks like the warmest, comfiest new style for this season. Do you have any favourite new styles that you have been wanting to do for a while and finally got to do this season?

TSN: The knitwear collection evolves each season - it is awesome to see what we are able to produce here in New Zealand. Our merino knits are often firm favourites in each collection and developing them is always an exciting process. We love how the Bishop turtleneck is something a bit different to what we have done in the past and it has us looking forward to colder days!  We have had elements of denim in past collections but for Spellbound we have included a whole denim story. It’s been a new process for us, in terms of production here in New Zealand but we love what it brings to the range. We are looking forward to developing it further.

Evelyn: Great choice using Holly-Rose Emery as your model this season, she's had such an incredible couple of years and it's wonderful to see her back doing some modelling in NZ again. What made you choose her for Spellbound?

TSN: Holly-Rose felt like a great fit for the Spellbound range so we were very lucky that she was available for the shoot in New Zealand. She did a beautiful job and we love how the campaign turned out!

Evelyn: It's been just over a year since you opened your Auckland store now, how do you feel it's gone and have you noticed a difference in customers between your two store locations at all?

TSN: We can’t quite believe it has been a year since we opened the Ponsonby store! It’s been a incredible year. We feel very lucky to have such a varied customer base across both our Auckland and Wellington stores.

Evelyn: How did you find the experience of not showing at NZFW last year?  I imagine it took some of the pressure off when you were just doing selling appointments instead but did you miss doing a show?

TSN: 2014 was a big year for us, and although we always love showing at NZFW it is also nice to sit back and enjoy the week from the other side!

Evelyn: In the nine years your label has been in business, what have the changes been in your customer base and do you keep different things in mind when you're designing now then in your earlier collections?

TSN: Opening our own retails stores has been really valuable to the design process. We meet and talk to our customers and learn directly from them what they love and what they need. We definitely keep these customers in mind as we develop a new range. We hope that each collection grows from the last so it’s a natural progression over the years.

Evelyn: You've had a couple of pretty big years with new stores and shows as well as producing two full collections a year.  Do you have anything else exciting you can share that's coming up for you this year?

TSN: We have had a very exciting couple of years, we are lucky to have and grow our wonderful team here, and we are looking forward to what's in store for us this year. We have just shot our look book for Summer 2015 and we are really excited to be planning ahead and thinking about the next few months. We have a few things up our sleeve for the coming year, you'll have to watch this space!

Twenty-seven Names latest collection 'Spellbound' is available at their boutiques, stockists and online now.

Images from: Twenty-seven Names

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