This was a Red Letter Week for me – a London Fashion Week like no other. As well as some lovely receptions and shows, I attended a very special party at Buckingham Palace by kind invitation of the Duchess of Cambridge and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, to celebrate a new initiative, the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange. The initiative places the fashion industry in the role of supporter of sustainable designers, artisans and craftspeople all over the world, encouraging them to share resources and ultimately to reduce poverty in communities which rely on the industry for employment and economic support.
The Duchess of Cambridge and Sophie, Countess of Wessex
It was thrilling to be at the Palace. British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, American Vogue Anna Wintour, Naomi Campbell, Erin O’Connor and Livia Firth, whose Eco-Age company is running the initiative. The exhibition looked wonderful in those grand rooms and there was a huge feeling of goodwill and energy. One of the highlights was spending time with Hamish Bowles, editor-at-large for American Vogue. Hamish curated the stunning installation and is such an authority on vintage clothing, being one of the largest private collectors. He has had a lifelong love affair with Ireland and we caught up on lots of Irish interests!
The Exhibition At Buckingham Palace
It was also fabulous to catch up with my friend, royal milliner Jane Taylor, who we had the pleasure of hosting in Dublin to meet our Irish clients last year. Jane and I were among the lucky guests to have time with Sophie, Countess of Wessex ,who we have have also had the pleasure of dressing.
Of course, the following day Queen Elizabeth attended the Richard Quinn show – her first time in the FROW, as we call it. She looked wonderful – and utterly relaxed. It’s interesting to see these three royals working together to raise the profile of the valuable – and influential – fashion industry. It was her first time in the FROW at LFW but during the state visit to Dublin in 2011, I had the honour of presenting our collection to Her Majesty and Prince Philip who sat front row on that occasion.
Fera At Claridges
No less exciting – and fun – was a dinner at Fera, the restaurant at Claridges, with wonderful Irish ambassador to London, HE Adrian O’Neill and his delightful wife. Dinner was hosted by designer Guy Oliver who designed Fera (which means “wild” in Latin and refers to the provenance of the exceptional food there, overseen by Australian chef Matt Starling). Guy has been working on a restoration and refurbishment of The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, including guest rooms and the wonderful Residents Bar and terrace, which he showed me just before it opened. It literally raises the bar – sure to be a summertime must-visit.
While in Claridges I also had the good fortune to catch up with David Downton, one of my absolute favourite people in fashion. David was just off his flight from New York Fashion Week where David had been commissioned by Michael Kors to design an illustration which Michael printed on silk, one of the most talked-about collaborations during NYFW. He is also launching a very exciting new book and of course, having launched his last book in Dublin in our very own Downton room (we are the proud owners of 24 specially commissioned Louise Kennedy Downton sketches) we are eagerly awaiting the next one.
As you know, I have an exciting association with Turnbull & Asser, having designed a collection of women’s shirts, including the Louise. I had breakfast with CEO Jonathan Baker and we are plotting some exciting new projects, of which more news later. I also spent time at the gorgeous Rubelli fabric showroom in Chelsea Harbour Glamorous, elelgant, timeless, Rubelli (and its creator Angela Donghia) epitomise sophisticated Italian design and quality. We are co-hosting an event with Rubelli MD – the equally glamorous and gorgeous Vivienne Griffin – in March and seeing the space really crystallised our plans for how the Louise Kennedy collection could be displayed. We love to collaborate with companies with the same ethos and attention to detail as we do. If we speak the same language, the planning process is seamless.
It was an amazing week. This week will be no less exciting and busy. We are off to New York to prepare for our SS18 Trunk Show at The Carlyle. We can’t wait to show the collection to our US clients. I will tell you more soon …