February 15, 2014 London
And that story was a very calming, homespun one. Sleepy puppies and sleepier babies greeted us on arrival—so cozy that the only things missing were hot cocoa and a fireplace. The presentation, worthy of a West End London theater set, was staged as a dark, wet London street corner with a bench and lamppost, and a projector mimicking rain. The soundtrack was the rumble of the Tube, the pounding of the rain, kittens mewing, and dogs barking (so, yes, it was raining cats and dogs). It was the fashion equivalent of comfort food.
Models walked around this scenario in clothes that have earned Kiely a legion of fans over the years: trenchcoats with cats and dogs illustrated on them; a black-on-black dévoré skirt and blouse with varying sizes of Kiely's trademark stem-and-snowdrop motif; a teddy-bear collar to keep it all on trend. A bright pink wool bobbled sweater with a funnel neck teamed with a green knife-pleated skirt was popular with the crowd. Kiely's fawn version of the teddy-bear coat seemed more practical than others, neither too heavy nor too light.
Kiely told us backstage that her inspiration was Catherine Deneuve in Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, but it looked more like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Not that it mattered; either would do nicely. The show was styled by Keira Knightley and Michelle Williams' stylist, Leith Clark, whose own quirky personality was plain to see throughout the presentation. Clark's look has always fallen into line with the famously shy Kiely's: no attention-seeking. These girls love quality, but fly under the radar—sequins or statements are not required to shine.
The kicker was the shoes and accessories. Kitten- and puppy-motif purses and umbrellas will likely spawn copycats. Kiely also worked with Clarks, makers of sturdy, no-nonsense footwear. The chunky-heel T-strap shoes with flower-and-stem details and the chic mid-heel Mary Janes nearly stole the show.