From the Hitchcock-inspired, femme fatale glamour of her fall collection to the romantic black-and-white portraits of mothers and children she featured in the pre-fall lookbook she released last month, Emilia Wickstead has spent the past year dialing back some of her more flamboyant instincts to craft more practical pieces that feel responsive to the times. With her new resort collection, however, it seems she’s once again opening a new chapter: one marked by an explosion of kaleidoscopic color featuring bright yellows and greens, rich jewel tones, and silvers. It’s a collection shot through with the vibrancy and joie de vivre that has made Wickstead a go-to for all manner of parties, celebrations, and red carpets.
It makes sense, then, that Wickstead’s primary sources of inspiration this time around were the ’90s supermodels. “I was feeling a bit nostalgic,” said Wickstead. “I was thinking about growing up as a young girl in New Zealand in the ’90s, and my mother was a fashion designer and used to have Vogue magazines air freighted over. There was so much energy in the campaigns and shoots then.” It’s an energy Wickstead captured in the lookbook for her collection, which features just a single model—new face Anna Ross—with the kind of striking looks and palpable sense of personality that radiated from the women who dominated that decade. (Good timing, too, considering Apple TV+ has a documentary series on the supers—co-produced by Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington themselves—that is expected to arrive later this year.)
Alongside the more playful, revealing pieces, like a décolletage-baring minidress with sleeves covered in a green-and-white floral print on taffeta faille—a winking nod to the concurrent ’90s grunge movement—or a series of powder pink gowns featuring a red ornamental motif, there were some more grown-up moments too, albeit delivered with the same pizzazz. A skirt suit in a yellow-and-black check channeled the cinched waistlines and demure chic of her fall collection, with more than a touch of Kim Novak in Vertigo, while a column dress with a pleated front and a dramatic train was cut from cloqué fabric in a ravishing shade of purple. Ease and practicality may have become new buzzwords for Wickstead, but high drama is still in her vocabulary too.
Equally charming were the cropped fisherman cable knits and short-sleeve cardigans in every color of the rainbow that Wickstead said were loosely inspired by a different corner of ’90s fashion culture: the colorful, accessible wardrobe staples pioneered by retailers like Benetton and Esprit. “It was getting back to those simple, really dedicated beautiful architectural lines, thinking about the cut for the outfit as a whole,” Wickstead added. “Nothing overly fussy.”
All the same, for Wickstead, the heart of the collection lies in the women it celebrates. Though the aesthetic may be different, it’s not dissimilar to the spirit of her past two pre-fall collections, which spotlighted working mothers within both her community and her clientele—an ode to the strength of the women who surround her today. “There was this kind of shift with the supers in the fashion world where you really felt they were creating their own destinies and their careers,” said Wickstead. “They were the ones that were making the photographers and the makeup artists and the hairdressers famous. I think Peter Lindbergh put it best when he said: ‘They were more than a group of models, they were carrying a message and represented a lot of things at the same time. It was extraordinary.’” In short, they wore the clothes; the clothes never wore them. Thankfully, Wickstead’s dresses for resort hew to that same ideal.