Emilia Wickstead On Designing Dresses That Empower Real Women

4 min read
Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan

Inspired by the quintessential charm and romance of the English countryside, Emilia Wickstead’s latest capsule collection is blooming with easy-to-wear, paper-light dresses printed in florals that are primed for a warm-weather wardrobe. Exclusive to Matches Fashion and titled ‘This Woman’s Work’, the edit of blouson-sleeved silhouettes and timeless tea dresses is modelled by eight real women; inspiring female entrepreneurs who have been handpicked by Wickstead. Here, the British-born designer talks to MOJEH about finding inspiration in lockdown, celebrating female-led businesses and helping women to feel empowered.

You said: “I designed this collection to make warm-weather dressing easy,” what design differences might we find in comparison to your previous collections?
There is something in this collection for every woman. Every time I design a capsule I think of it as an extension of my world and as an opportunity for women to add something playful, fresh and at the same time timeless to their wardrobes — something that they feel excited to put on because of the confidence wearing it brings. I always consider shape, different body types and the use of print and colour – things that are so important to make women feel comfortable in their own skin. The collection covers every hem length and a variety of sleeve shapes. I want any seasonal collection to be effortless to wear but to always look impactful. This is very much the DNA of our brand and of the Emilia Wickstead woman. This particular Matches Fashion exclusive capsule is made in a lightweight yet fine cotton that is perfect for warmer climates.

Emily Caron

Kelly-Jade Nicholls

Inspired by the English countryside, tell us how you morphed your ideals of an English garden into the collection?
I love feeling nostalgic when I look at a floral print. To me this is what makes a floral print exciting, special and bold in its message. English countryside homes and interiors that match their gardens have played a big part in inspiring me this season and I loved printing onto the transparency of fine cotton which gives it a modern and romantic feel.

What has the outdoors and countryside meant to you over the past few months?
Over the past few months I’ve discovered a profound and deep appreciation for London’s parks and gardens. I don’t have my own garden but am lucky enough to live within walking distance of Hyde Park. A daily walk keeps me feeling grounded and connected to Mother Nature, but also to my usual London life; I would normally walk through the park every day with my children on the morning school run. During lockdown I tried to take a solo walk daily in the early evening — my own version/kind of meditation.

Celia Pool

Maud Faussurier

Tell us about the starting point for the ‘This Woman’s Work’ project. What was your original springboard/inspiration?
Like many of us, I spent three months of this year at home, trying to keep my business and home-life alive. When it came to thinking about the shoot, I felt it was incredibly important to capture this particular moment in time. I wanted to celebrate the youth of businesses at their best by making hardworking and resilient women the focus. Some of the women photographed are friends who I have spent time over the years brainstorming with and listening to their plans for their businesses. Some of the women are women that I have read about, heard about through other friends, or discovered online organically. We shot eight innovative entrepreneurs in their own surroundings, either in their gardens or in nearby green spaces.

We’re intrigued by your comment: “These are the women of our time and this is their remarkable work.” Can you tell us about this, what characteristics do you think define ‘women of our time’?
Women of our time have a sense of fearlessness; they are bold, entrepreneurial in so many different ways and are not afraid to break boundaries.

Tamara Rajah

Angela Wickstead

Your recent collections and their corresponding campaigns have each celebrated inspirational women. Why do you think this is important, especially in 2020?
I design clothes that (I hope) can make any woman feel empowered and like the best versions of themselves. As a woman I take endless inspiration from the women around me; from real women who have unique stories and who wear Emilia Wickstead in their own distinctive way. Over the years I’ve very organically progressed to showing my collections on women as such and it now feels as natural, sometimes more so, as showing on a model.

Find Emilia Wickstead’s This Woman’s Work capsule at Matchesfashion.com

Read Next: Now meet the inspirational muses behind the floral dresses 

  • Photographs by Edd Horder