When a fabric pulls you up sharp with its originality and sheer beauty, it is pointless to resist. This is what happened to me last autumn while wandering though Fenwick looking for Christmas presents. What caught my eye was a jewel-shaded jacquard, its subtly metallic yarns creating a riot of floral blooms on a background graduating from a textured gold through occasional sheer segments. I bought the long, lean skirt on the spot and wore it throughout winter: with a plain black silk T-shirt for evening and a loose mohair sweater for daytime.
My skirt is the work of Danish-born, London-based designer Malene Oddershede Bach, who studied textiles before doing a BA in fashion – and it shows. The richly layered and immensely refined fabrics, often based on antique-looking florals in complex colour schemes, determine her predominantly simple shapes. Such as the superb spring Alkaloid dress (£990) I recently fell unwillingly in love with. It is easy-cut, comfortingly covering the upper arm, with a bouncily fluted skirt created by the delightful rose-adorned, shimmery rose-gold fabric with its background of soft water-like waves. The result is a dress that is timeless, adventurous and versatile; it can grace grand occasions but also works with sandals and a big sweater – as I wore it recently at an evening event aboard a boat on Lake Geneva.
The one drawback for purists is that the yarns are not pure silk (prohibitive for a young designer) but a silk/wool mix, made for her by a small family factory in northern Italy that evolves new ways with age-old techniques to fulfil her briefs, including using what is conventionally the wrong side of a weave and cutting through the fine loops of yarn to create fringing. Each piece is then stitched in the small London factory that Oddershede Bach has worked with for more than a decade. For autumn her offering is yet more ambitious, introducing both red-carpet-worthy velvet designs and more accessible prints with plain coordinates. In between are several rich jacquards – all of which are sorely tempting.