The free-spirited attitude of party-ready womenswear brand Rixo has taken a swerve in a new direction: couture. For their autumn/winter 2020 collection, founders Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey collaborated with the French fashion house Christian Lacroix, following a “dream come true” invitation to immerse themselves in the dazzling prints that populate the couturier’s archive. The result? A Rixo collection that reimagines the bows and butterflies that were so pivotal to Lacroix’s early success.
© Daniel O’ Connell
What started as an e-mail to McCloskey – which she initially thought was spam – is now a collection of 19 looks that includes slip dresses, bejewelled minis, polka dot trousers, velvet bows and a twill skirt suit. Lacroix contacted the duo as it “wanted to see how a vibrant, young brand such as RIXO, led by talented designers, would choose prints from [their] archives and apply them to their own creative world”. Rix tells British Vogue: “It was really refreshing to see that a couture brand was willing to let us completely access the archive and pick different things that we wanted.” Prints from early Lacroix couture collections were pinned to Rixo moodboards back in the days when the brand operated out of the girls’ shared living room. As Rix puts it: “It was just a dream come true, really.”
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© Daniel O’Connell
The designers flitted between Paris and London while creating the collection, even tasking staff at the house with helping them track down prints they’d seen online, but couldn’t find in the archive. They were also allowed to borrow the pieces as they worked on their designs – although McCloskey jokes that having vintage Lacroix couture in their Paris apartment brought on “panic attacks”.
Some of the couture pieces that inspired the collection will feature in an installation at Rixo’s London Fashion Week presentation, curated by the VA’s Stephanie Wood (who also worked on the museum’s Mary Quant exhibition). The collection will be styled with original Lacroix handbags, on loan from the Paris archive. “We said that our finance director could deal with the insurance, and we’ll choose the bags!” says Rix.
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© Daniel O’Connell
The opulence of Lacroix in the ’70s and ’80s established the house not just as a major fashion presence, but also a lifestyle brand. Rixo has embraced the same approach; broadening its horizons by introducing accessories and jewellery for autumn/winter 2020. But while the designers are exploring new territory, their production run is still limited – there will be just 100 editions of some pieces. “People just overproduce for the sake of overproducing,” McCloskey says. “You want it to be a piece of vintage in the future. You want to pull it out in 20 years time and have your daughter wear it.”
The collection is available from 15 February, exclusively at Rixo, Browns Fashion, and Galeries Lafayette’s concept store on the Champs-Élysées.
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