Simone Rocha had decor on her mind for spring/summer 2020. That is, the fading floral wallpapers and delicate Wedgwood tea sets found in country houses in Ireland. The Dublin-born designer was inspired by the Wren Boys, who would traditionally knock on the doors of the country’s grandiose houses on December 26 and sing, asking for money. It was here that Rocha imagined the parlour rooms of those big old houses, where blue-and-white florals were splashed across the walls and onto the tables at which ladies sat taking tea. “My mother told me stories of the Wren Boys,” says Rocha. The blue plate pattern was “integrated into the collection because there is some traditional china on display inside Birr Castle in County Offaly, where my mother is from,” she says.
Rocha isn’t the only designer to find inspiration in the distinctive blue hues and florals of traditional porcelain houses. At Dior menswear for spring/summer 2020, Kim Jones showed white cotton micro shorts, button-up shirts and boiler suits covered in the chinoiserie patterns of traditional Chinese Willow print; he may have been inspired by the brand’s own range of homeware, which includes serving platters and dinner plates in a blue floral toile du Jouy print.
This season also offered delicate Delft-style designs. For autumn/winter 2019, Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller decorated blouses and dresses with a pretty blue Willow print in a collection inspired by punky, aristocratic English girls in old-fashioned interiors. Japanese label Mame Kurogouchi used it on traditional kimono gowns; Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, of London label Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, sexed up the quintessentially British tea dress covered in pretty florals; and at Chloé, Natacha Ramsay-Levi developed a blue-and-white print that also recalled a dinner-service design.
For Rocha, who embroidered Wedgwood-blue florals on to diaphanous tulle dresses and ruffled tutu skirts, and stamped prints on to cotton socks, Wedgwood suggested a “nostalgic familiarity”. Adds the designer: “It has a sense of indoors, and there is security in that, yet a fragility too, as there’s always porcelain or Delft [on the table].” Chelsea Power, senior buyer at Matchesfashion.com, says blue-and-white prints “lend themselves to both clothes and ceramics in a really modern way. It’s feminine and timeless. Intricate and patterned plates are very popular with our customer,” she says. “Many people are opting for more maximalist table tops, as you can have a lot of fun and play with different prints and patterns.”
At the accessories label Ferian, Leonie Branston transplants busts from Wedgwood’s Jasperware range to make rings and pendants with the brand’s distinctive motifs. “I’ve collected the cameos for several years, I love the character and whimsical nature of Wedgwood china and ceramics,” says Branston, a former designer for Calvin Klein, of the orb-like necklaces and signet rings that are made in the UK and sold at Matchesfashion.com. “No other stone has the same matte quality as Jasperware – the blue is such a fresh and uplifting colour, and the blue and white together is iconic. It reminds me of afternoon tea. Reframing the cameos with a modern setting gives them fresh relevance for today’s women,” she says. “I like to think that Ferian is helping to bring Wedgwood to a new audience.”