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The IRIS November Collection

The IRIS November Collection

In conversation with... 

Rachel Buck - Head Designer at IRIS



We sat down with our head designer Rachel Buck to discuss the inspiration for her November collection. She explains how delving into archives of vintage images shot on the colourful and vibrant streets of London fuelled her creativity, and how she was inspired by the romantic idea of the eclectic mix of writers and artists who flocked to Hampstead in the 1970’s for this collection, which is an eclectic mix of cord, floral and retro styles.

Hi Rachel! Thanks for sitting down with us today. What was your main inspiration behind the collection this November?  

I came across a collection of photographs by Angela Gorgas taken of writers and artists who lived in Hampstead in the 1970s, and a book by Nina Stibbe called "Love, Nina" (Penguin Books, November 2013.), who worked as a nanny at that time. I was inspired by the bohemian and eccentric feeling both of these above tapped into. I imagined these characters pulling on a floral Laura Ashely dress and chucking a battered old cord jacket over it to pop to the shop in Belsized Park and this sparked the initial ideas around the collection.

 The collection features a lot of rich fabrics and patterns, what drew your eye to them to work together, and were there any trends you saw on the runway that influenced this?  

I am always drawn to the 1970s. It was such an exciting time with emerging British designers like Celia Birtwell, Bill Gibb and Laura Ashley. I am always hunting for vintage photography books or clothes from that era when I go to car boot sales or vintage shops.  

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This season can be an awkward temperature to dress for, how do you think the pieces work together functionally as well as aesthetically?  

For me Autumn is all about layering, it's my favourite season to dress for. I like to mix up the fabrics into an outfit, I love styling a feminine shirt under a chunky knit with some jeans or cords. This works practically for the changeable weather and looks great all together. A stylish raincoat is also a very good investment - failing that always remember to take a brolly with you!  

The collection features loungewear which is obviously an essential part of daily dressing now, but how important do you think it is to maintain dressing up, even if it is just for the dog walk or popping to the shops?  

Although I have stocked up on loungewear for those cosy days, I do love putting on a favorite dress or outfit just because it makes me feel good. I think as the pandemic continues it becomes even more important for my friends and family that we do celebrate any special occasions whatever way we can, so I always make an effort for those, even if just for a walk or over Zoom. And I can't wait to wear some party dresses to Waitrose nearer Christmas!  

Do you think dressing for the day has an impact on mental health in the current times? If so, how do the clothes empower you? 

I do think that the way you dress can impact your mood and wellbeing. I find that if you wear something that makes you feel good it can empower you. The piece of clothing will be individual, if something makes you feel good wearing it others will see that. I hope that there are lots of styles in the collection that will make people feel good. 

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What is your favourite piece from the collection and why?  

That's a tough choice! I don't think I can narrow it down to just one.. I know that I will be buying the Robin Cord jacket in the olive and the Reign trousers to match as I love them as a suit together with a roll neck and a chunky hat and scarf. And I love the print on the Matilda top... And the Ikrah gingham dress I can see myself wearing all the time.. can I have 4 not one? 

A lot of the collection features an update on classic styles, such as the Robin Cord Jacket, a twist on the classic denim jacket. What draws you to such quirky and fun feminine details? 

 My style is quite feminine, I like clothes that feel special and a bit quirky but are wearable. I love using natural fabrics that I know are going to feel nice when worn and adapting classic silhouettes with fun vintage detail or a pop of colour to make them unique.    

How do you know when a piece is finished? 

 Designs can change quite a lot from sketch to the finish article. We usually have at least one or two proto samples and often we will be pinning samples, adding a frill here, removing a collar etc.. Usually by the second sample we have a style looking and fitting how we want it to.  

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Shop the look

How do you think the campaign with our gorgeous model, and the stunning backdrop reflect the feel of the collection?  

I am really excited about this campaign. We felt very strongly that this had to be shot in London based on our initial inspiration being the eclectic melting pot of Hampstead in the 1970s. We found this great London townhouse as a location, and our gorgeous model and great team pulled it all together. My favourite shots are on the front steps where you get the black and white tiles on the floor.  

Part of the collection includes our bestselling Shae dress in new reimagined colours and fabrics, in both the red cord and the floral print. What is it about this dress that you think captures the imagination of our customers?  

I think this dress really taps into that 1970's trend - corduroy was huge in the 70s as were floral prints. And it's also a really wearable and flattering shape for all body types.  

What will be your first go to outfit from the collection once the world opens up again? 

 I think I might go for one of our party dresses from our Christmas collection coming in.. keep your eyes peeled.   

Thanks so much Rachel! 

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