Why Two is Better Than One

4 min read

As Marc by Marc Jacobs folds head designers Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley announce a new eponymous collection.

By Christopher Prince

Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier, Marc by Marc Jacobs Autumn/Winter 2014

Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier, Marc by Marc Jacobs Autumn/Winter 2014

Have you ever wondered how difficult it is to be a designer today? Last week’s news reported that Marc by Marc Jacobs – the sister line to the Marc Jacobs line – would be closing shop in the wake of poor sales reports. Creative director and womenswear design director, Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley, were left at the waistline. Until now. In recent events the design duo have announced they are pairing up again to form an eponymous label titled ‘Hillier Bartley.’ Perhaps it’ll be third time lucky for Bartley, whose own label ‘Luella’ felt the weight of financial strain that lead her to dissolve the brand in 2009. Prior to her downfall, Bartley seemed to be riding a wave of success following a commercial Target collaboration in 2006. In 2008 she launched her own handbag line and was awarded with the Designer of the Year award by the British Fashion Council.

Katie Hillier meanwhile enjoyed success at the top with her coveted accessories and jewellery line, Hillier London. Hillier Bartley will comprise of both designer’s aesthetics with a ready-to-wear line along with bags and accessories. Despite the news the pair already created their autumn/winter 2015 collection for the label which they showed to buyers during fashion month this March alongside the Marc by Marc Jacobs line.

“Hillier Bartley is a very personal project which Katie and I have been working on for years,” Bartley noted in a release for the newfound label. “It is a culmination of everything I have learnt as a designer and a woman and is purely and defiantly about the clothes and fabrics. We have also looked at the women we admire, what we would want to wear, and the inspirations that have been close to us for ages. Its ultimate heroine lies somewhere between Ian McCulloch and Katharine Hepburn. It’s about a woman our age, indie by heart, rakish and irreverent by nature, who is maturing into refinement and naturalness.”

Free from the confines of the Marc by Marc Jacobs line, the pair hope to impart their British sensibility for Hillier Bartley which will focus on fabrics sourced from traditional mills like silk and merino wool, along with manufacturing that will take place on home soil with luxury bags produced in Italy. 

It isn’t just Hillier and Bartley challenging the style status quo. The Middle East is rich in female design duos, from Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh’s label, KAGE (2009) that specialises in girlish and playful garments, Emirate founded DAS Collection (2008) via sisters Reem and Hind Beljafla that offers modern abayas, to Dubai’s leading designer brand Dinz (2007) headed by sisters Rima and Dina Zahran providing both womenswear, menswear and childrenswear clothing in the region.

New York claims a quiet confidence in sister-lead fashion brands. Take Kate and Laura Mulleavy of the acclaimed Rodarte label. Or tv stars turned cult designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of The Row. Across the Atlantic Daniela and Annette Felder of Felder Felder are heading into their tenth collection next spring. Whilst Cali based Elkin, upstarted from Los Angeles cool kids Kara and Brit Smith are gaining prominence in the women’s ready-to-wear market.