Pret-a-Reporter

How Mulberry Designer Johnny Coca Is Bringing The British Bag Brand Into The Future

Courtesy of Mulberry
A model on the Mulberry spring 2017 runway.

The designer isn't sweating the task at hand, sharing backstage at his show, "You never have to stress — everything you do you do because you're doing it with love."

All eyes are on Mulberry, to see if the house's new designer Johnny Coca can work the same magic on the British heritage house as he did on Celine, where he was the accessories director, and created the famed Trapeze bag. 

For his second collection presented at London Fashion Week, the Seville-born designer kept the theme close to home, his new home, that is. Coca looked at British uniforms in public schools, high society and the military for inspiration.

Stripes, as worn by British students in grade school and college, were a main ingredient in the collection, in oxblood, navy and hunter green, while khaki separates in masculine silhouettes referenced the "Land Girls" of the '40s (women who worked in agriculture, replacing men headed to the military). Mitford Girl-inspired dresses were decorated with ruffles and baby florals in pastel hues. Velvet, the must-have fabric for fall — and spring, too — also had its moment on the runway, designed to have a "wet-look, to evoke debutantes caught in a decidedly English summer shower," and paired with patent-leather raincoats.

"The concept was in line with uniform, in military and school," Coca told Pret-a-Reporter post-show at Printworks, a former printing factory. "The colors were important for me to play with [...] the other thing that was important to play out was proportion, in terms of movement — how to make something feminine feel masculine and in the meantime quite sophisticated."

MULBERRY MUSES: Models on the Mulberry spring 2017 runway. (Photos: Courtesy)

For example, the slip-on square-toed pumps decorated with ruffles or bold stripes. Coca also punched up the timeless Piccadilly bag (a larger version of the Bayswater that first launched in 2003) with colored stripes.

Given the rave reviews Coca received for his first Mulberry collection, we wondered if he felt pressure for his second offering.

"You never have to stress — everything you do you do because you're doing it with love," he explained. "I'm so happy to be doing this. It's just important to do what feels right."

Perhaps for Coca, a Spanish designer who moved to Paris as a student before joining Celine, it was the right time to pay homage to Britishness, especially post-Brexit when all eyes are on the nation's new independence. 

When asked about his thoughts on Brexit, Coca said, "We'll have to see how it goes in six months after there has been more action. I would say, 'Let's see,' because sometimes people would say, 'that's a disaster,' but let's take time to see what happens and then we can figure it out."

Land of hope and glory, indeed.

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