Before last September, the name Emilia Wickstead was one of those slightly privileged pieces of information passed around amongst the chic set—including Samantha Cameron—in Belgravia, Chelsea and other tony London nabes. But during this past London fashion week, the 28 year-old Central Saint Martins grad went from quietly doing made-to-measure in her three floor atelier on Cadogan Place to a ready-to-wear debut in a full runway show.
“It was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done,” said Wickstead last week over a breakfast of eggs and soldiers at Café Cluny. And this is from a girl who recently not only designed her own gown for her Tuscan wedding—photographed by British Vogue for its November issue—but also custom-designed ten different dresses for her ten bridesmaids. Stress aside, with an exclusive at Matches for her Spring collection, and a late of meetings with stores in New York to lay the groundwork for next Fall, things chez Wickstead are off to a promising start.
Now that edgy London’s much more of a lady’s town (see Erdem, Saunders, Ilincic, Katrantzou), Wickstead’s unadorned brand of elegance fits right in. Still, her clean-lined pieces like sharply pleated skirts and dresses and lantern-sleeved tops and crisp tailored pants aren’t stuffy. Rather they have a delicate but cool romance that recalls Chloé. You can also detect a hint of American and Italian sportswear that’s evidence of Wickstead’s transcontinental resume which includes stints at Proenza Schouler, Narciso Rodriguez, and Giorgio Armani. Fittingly, Wickstead reports that more than half of her client base is made up of New Yorkers, among them ex-pats Elizabeth Saltzman and Lillian von Stauffenberg. For them, she’ll still be running up custom dresses made by her in-house machinists and patternmakers. The ready-to-wear, however, will impressively be made in Italy. “I use Prada’s pleaters,” says Wickstead. Consider our ears perked.