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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Laura Elston

King’s Highgrove gardens inspire luxury womenswear collection

The King’s treasured gardens at Highgrove have become the inspiration for a fashion collection for the first time, with the creation of a new luxury womenswear capsule wardrobe.

A glamorous pink silk evening dress reflecting the deep fuchsia of the monarch’s Highgrove rose and shaped in honour of the curves of the topiary along the Thyme Walk is among the outfits in the exclusive range.

The 13-piece sustainable collection is the second edition of the Modern Artisan project – a training collaboration for design and textiles graduates between the King’s charity The Prince’s Foundation and global online fashion retailer Yoox Net-A-Porter.

Other garments include a vibrant green shirt-dress with oversized collar inspired by the huge gunnera leaves in the grounds and a yellow cashmere knit jumper replicating the colour of the eye-catching bright benches dotted around Highgrove.

The shade of yellow was personally chosen by the King for his garden furniture to contrast against the dark green foliage.

A palette of deep greens and lighter natural stones, browns and greys has been used to mirror the surroundings, with outlines in the ready-to-wear range taking into account the meandering pathways, and silhouettes contrasting the “wild natural elements” and the “structured, manmade features” of the gardens.

Elements of Charles’s garden design permeate throughout, with a check coat inspired by the irregular textures of one of the garden walls known as the Wall Of Gifts.

The eclectic wall stands in the Stumpery and includes pieces of architectural stone collected by the King and gifted to him from around the world.

Charles is a keen gardener and has spent more than 40 years transforming the grounds around Highgrove House – his private Gloucestershire retreat.

The modern artisans – four British fashion and textiles graduates and four Italian graduates from leading design school Politecnico di Milano – were invited into the gardens to sketch, paint and explore the environment.

The grounds also served as the backdrop for a fashion shoot for the first time, with models photographed among the foliage wearing the hand-crafted items.

Charles, then the Prince of Wales, was shown the collection and met the eight graduates earlier this year at The Prince’s Foundation’s headquarters at Dumfries House, in East Ayrshire.

He looked delighted as he saw the designs, held the fabrics and examined the drawings.

Modern artisan Isabelle Pennington-Edmead, 24, from Cheshire, said of meeting Charles: “It’s really good to know that he’s proud of everything we’re doing.”

Available exclusively on Net-A-Porter and Yoox, 50% of the recommended retail price from sales will be donated to The Prince’s Foundation charity to support its training programmes.

The 10-month paid Modern Artisan initiative gives the students the chance to design and make the sustainable line of outfits using heritage textile skills.

The mid-length organic silk fuchsia evening gown, inspired by the Highgrove Rose, costs £600.

It features multi-way faux tie straps, with seam detail and its A-line shape is taken from the garden’s topiary and the elegant contours of the rose.

Emily Dey, another of the modern artisans, said: “The evening dress is a very special piece for us as it’s inspired by the Highgrove rose.

“I am so happy we were able to produce this garment as it elevates the elegant, feminine mood we wanted within the collection.”

Ms Dey, 24, from Middlesbrough and a graduate of Teesside University, added: “We spent a lot of time perfecting the beautiful pink colour of the dress to ensure it suits multiple skin tones and embodies the Highgrove rose.”

The colour of the climbing rose also inspired a cashmere knit dress, costing £420, and its delicate curved shape inspired a green silk wrap top with pinafore ties at the shoulder, priced at £395.

A dark green waistcoat, at £495, fastened with biodegradable beetroot buttons and featuring large pockets was designed to emulate groundskeepers’ workwear.

The check Shetland wool blanket coat, inspired by the Wall Of Gifts, was made using a zero-waste cutting pattern and costs £690.

A grey stone-coloured cashmere coat – oversized to pay tribute to the garden’s large topiary structures – is priced at £795.

The yellow bench-inspired cashmere knit top is £350, while the long, green shirt-dress is £550.

A chunky cropped hand-knitted green vest, costing £390, brings in the “wild texture” of the gardens and can be worn multiple ways – layered, tied or loose, forwards or backwards.

Italian modern artisan Francesca Garrone, 23, from Turin, said the vest was one of her favourite pieces, adding: “We decided to use a chunkier knit to represent the wild texture of the gardens – it also gives it a wonderful tactile feeling.”

A muted cashmere cardigan, for £650, takes in the colour of the wall.

The other pieces are dark-green wide-leg trousers for £495, a green silk wrap skirt for £395, and a classic white cotton shirt, with oversized collar and cuffs to pick up on the exaggerated garden shapes, for £350.

It is the first collection to align completely with Yoox Net-A-Porter’s sustainability and circularity design guidelines, and its first carbon-neutral collection.

The look book for the autumn/winter 22 collection described how the “silhouettes of the collection highlight the juxtaposition between the gardens’ wild natural elements and the structured, manmade features, such as the great topiary that line the Thyme Walk, and the Wall Of Gifts”.

It adds: “The textures play on this contrast too, in clashing checks and chunky knits paired with soft silks. It is also reflected in the feminine take on classic men’s tailoring pieces, inspired by traditional heritage workwear for gardening.”

The inaugural Modern Artisans menswear and womenswear collection was launched in 2020.

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