You’ll know Marni, the Italian luxury fashion house known for its quirky, artsy vibe but you might not yet know Colville, the spanking new indie label set up by three of Marni’s former key players. Stylist Lucinda Chambers (she was also Vogue’s fashion director until last year), head of menswear Kristin Forss and womenswear whizz Molly Molloy decided to go it alone and start from scratch – no mean feat in fashion. But they pulled it off (and in some style), with Colville’s debut collection launching exclusively, and to great acclaim, on MatchesFashion.com last week.
The clothes are pretty out-there at times – you might get puzzled looks here in ‘Shires as you style out some of the more esoteric items around the village – but we’ve fallen hard for the sculptural earrings, fresh colourways and unusual prints (the cream and black patterned shirt has gone to the top of my wishlist).
Here, Molly – who worked at Bella Freud and Betty Jackson in London before spending the last 12 years in Milan – talks fashion with Kerry Potter…
How did Colville come about?
I’d been thinking about starting up a label but knew I didn’t want to do it on my own. When I asked Lucinda and Kristin they were both up for it. We started putting it together and then started telling people. Once you tell people, there’s no going back!
Some of your pieces are quite zany…
We never set out to make a bonkers collection, we just wanted to have fun. And with every single piece we designed, we asked, Would we wear it? If at least one of us would, we went with it. Interestingly, it’s the pieces that really shout that are selling really well. We want to create clothes that are memorable, not just landfill.
Is your personal style quite daring?
I love clothes so I’m not afraid of anything! You have to embrace a look and see where it takes you. I’m not the most outlandish dresser but I’ve had loads of comments and reactions from strangers.
I once went into a café in Milan wearing socks and big wedge sandals with a dress and two Italian women just started laughing really loudly in my face. And I remember going out for dinner with a friend in Paris once and we were wearing taffeta ball dresses with trainers. Passers-by were openly laughing – but you should’ve seen their clothes, quite frankly! I think it’s good to challenge people’s perceptions. And if they’re going to laugh, that’s their problem, not mine.
Ever got it wrong?
When I first started studying at St Martin’s in the ‘90s I thought it was really cool to wrap myself in off-white cotton muslin. It was completely transparent so people on the Tube could see my knickers through it but I didn’t care because I thought I looked amazing. It took me a couple of months to realize that I didn’t.
High street picks?
I like Arket – I just bought pair of trousers there. And I love the coloured bras from And Other Stories. Pink, yellow and green – I’ve got them all.
Best fashion advice you’ve ever received?
When I arrived at Marni my first boss told me to save up and buy an amazing pair of Prada heels because I would wear them with anything. His point was that you just need one special piece and it’ll transform every look into something incredible. He was right. I did save up and bought a red pair and wore them constantly.
Biggest celebrity moment of your career?
We dressed Winona Ryder for the Marni/H&M collaboration. You know the thing about meeting your heroes and being disappointed? Not her. She’s so bloody cool. It was just after her shoplifting debacle and I thought it was great that she’d come back, despite life being tough and in the face of all this criticism. I had a fitting with her during the day, and then at the party in the evening she came over for a chat and remembered my name.
What will you be wearing this summer?
I’m really into vintage silk nighties with my Converse. Saying that in Milan in July, you can’t wear silk because it’s too hot. Then I’ll be in Colville cotton, loose combat pants and a T shirt.
Favourite fashion film?
Blade Runner. The costumes were amazing and inspired my final collection at college.
Not Zoolander then?!
God, that film is hilarious. I think it’s good to take the piss out of the industry.
Favourite fashion book?
I liked Blow By Blow, the book about [late, legendary stylist] Isabella Blow, which was written by her husband, Detmar. It was very moving.
Colville’s named after the London street where David Hockney once lived so can you recommend some good art?
I loved Rachel Whiteread’s exhibition at Tate Britain last year. The colours and materials of the sculptures, the way she creates space, and just generally where she’s coming from.
Where do you make a beeline for when you come home to Oxon?
Always my family’s local pub, The Red Lion in Chalgrove. It’s a lovely pub and great value. I used to work there as a teenager so it’s nice to go back.
Finally, please give us some fashion advice?
It’s just always good to try something new because you never know how it’ll look and how it’ll make you feel. For years I had it in my head that I’d never wear skirts – I think it’s because you have to wear them at school. But then I started experimenting and realized I could absolutely wear them. It’s also a really good idea to ask close friends what they think you look good in so you get an outside perspective.