Almost every summer seems to bring with it a cultish dress – something breezy but special and versatile enough to wear from day to night, in the city, country or by the coast. Last summer it was the vintage-Laura-Ashley-style dresses by New York brand Batsheva; the summer before, Vita Kin’s embroidered peasant dresses were the hot ticket; and this year my bet is D’Ascoli’s pretty, richly patterned dresses that are designed, woven, printed, embroidered and made in India – and are being swooped upon by fashion insiders.
American textile designer Peter D’Ascoli has surrounded himself with beautiful fabrics all his life – from working as studio director for Diane von Furstenberg to setting up the Talianna Studio in New Delhi in 2006, creating beautiful interiors textiles with a team of design, print and embroidery specialists. It was his Parisienne wife Cécile who started a spin-off clothing line, combining evocative Indian patterns with simple, chic, feminine shapes – such as the bell-sleeve Samarkand dress (£325) I recently bought in yellow and blue printed cotton voile. I love the Indian print and the subtle tasselled and beaded passementerie around the neck and cuffs. Falling to the knee with a contrasting tie belt at the waist, it feels quite Provençal, but, unlike many beach holiday dresses, it’s also substantial enough to wear in the city, paired with strappy tan leather sandals.
D’Ascoli has also created a Samarkand blouse (£220), as well as the airy, ankle-length Emir kaftan (£285), in contrasting cotton prints, and the floaty Royce dress (£510) in silk chiffon. Top of my shopping list, however, is the table linen, which has me dreaming of warmer days and elegant al fresco entertaining. The placemats (£150 for a set of four) come in beautiful prints and are finished with tassels, and there are matching linen napkins (£75 for four) – all of which can be used with a contrasting tablecloth (£395) in botanical or ikat prints.