Cult Mayfair boutique Browns is launching its own collection. Fans will know the boutique’s following stems from its founder, the legendary Mrs B (for Burstein), who had an uncanny knack for recognising the geniuses of the future, buying up the first collections of a host of then unknown designers, including, most famously, John Galliano’s degree show Les Incroyables.
It was Mrs B’s son Simon, who now runs Browns with his sister Caroline, who spotted new designer Alice Archer’s extraordinary embroidery on a bespoke shoe. He thought it so exceptional he commissioned her to come up with a capsule collection especially for the store. For this, Archer has used a unique technique that combines print and embroidery to create a three-dimensional effect. The result is some rather grand occasionwear whose elaborate floral motifs, inspired by paintings of women in the National Gallery and flowers in the Chelsea Physic Garden, imbue the collection with an almost couture-like quality.
The eight pieces include cropped kimonos (£2,000) in fuchsia silk crepe, influenced by the paintings of Henri Fantin-Latour, or full-length versions (£2,900) in deep-navy silk crepe, embroidered with white peonies, hydrangeas, alliums and verbenas. One of the prettiest pieces is a muted-pink duchesse-satin dress (£2,100), inspired by Claude Marie-Dubufe’s The Surprise, while easy-to-wear and in keeping with this season’s love affair with full skirts is a duchesse-satin tulip skirt (£2,200, pictured), embroidered with roses, hocks and love-in-the‑mist, a take on the face of Victor Müller’s Salome. This is a very grown-up and welcome collection then, one for sophisticated gatherings and elegant soirées.