Dresses for a New Season with Jasper Conran London
Jasper Conran OBE launched his first Womenswear collection in 1978. That being said, he knows a thing or two about dresses. Fast forward to 2022, and the esteemed designer has condensed his knowledge of fashion into the ultimate collection of dresses for the modern wardrobe. Fashion Editor, Anna Ross, catches up with the man behind the brand to talk shirt dresses, styling and all things new at Jasper Conran London.
AR: Hi Jasper. The new collection looks beautiful. What was your inspiration behind the new range of S/S22 dresses?
JC: The collection’s foundation is built out of the everyday ease of a shirt or a T-shirt. It’s practical; it’s enduring. My quest is to take that principle of a simple, enduring garment and see how you can take that and extend it into a more ‘female’ garment. I like the straightforwardness of the shirt - and then I like what you can do with it - and the way you can play around with it.
“Each dress is governed by a set of rules: ease, comfort; is it flattering, is it fresh, is it modern? This is what I think about when I’m designing.”
AR: So it’s instead about the woman wearing them - and how she feels?
JC: Yes! When I’m making a dress, I consider: ‘Where would you wear it, how would you wear it, how versatile is it? Who can wear it?’ I don’t think about a particular person, a particular age, a particular hair colour, a particular height. Really what I’m contemplating is:: ‘Will this look good on a size 6 as well as a size 16? How will it translate? Will it look just as good either way?’ These are the are the imperatives in my design.
AR: You can tell; they’re all incredibly versatile and, most importantly, look and feel comfortable too...
JC: Comfort is one of my major considerations. I want women to feel comfortable! I design as a woman would design - and I consider how I would dress if I were a woman.
AR: Dresses with pockets! A revelation!
JC: My dresses have always had pockets! That immediately tells you how you can be in one of my dresses. Why wouldn’t a woman be able to have pockets?! It’s how you stand; it’s how you think. Women aren’t wallflowers who are there to be decorated. I don’t put the frills on and think about how you’re going to get into it afterwards!
“I’m looking for practicality which is followed by beauty. There’s beauty in practicality.”
AR: Talk me through this season’s beautiful prints…
JC: I look to art for inspiration a lot in the prints. I get a lot of instinct from the American abstract expressionists of the ’50’s and ’60s.
AR: And there’s simplicity yet a vivaciousness to the colours you’re using throughout. They’re bright and modern yet timeless…
JC: Yes! The clothes I’m making are about what your mindset is…
“Everybody has plain days and then you have your more flirtatious days! Same woman: different mood.”
AR: If you had to pick a hero piece within the new collection, what would you choose?
JC: I’d say the Blythe Shirtdress. It’s elasticated at the back, so it has comfort built in. I’m always considering a woman’s shape. I don’t want a dress that works against a woman’s body. Elastic is a godsend!
“That’s the dress that’s going to be in your wardrobe, and you think: ‘Oh, thank god for that!’ - It’s ageless, it’s timeless. I find that very sexy. You’ll have no reason to ever throw it away - it will be in your wardrobe forever.”
AR: That in and of itself feels like a vital part of the conversation around sustainability - longevity in itself is sustainable.
JC: Long-lasting wardrobes are the most important part of how I design. Disposable clothing will not be acceptable - or possible - in the future. I make pieces that aren’t necessarily flamboyant per se, but they have a place in everyone’s wardrobe.
“My customers have kept their clothes in their wardrobes for years. And they’ve handed them on. So whatever I’m doing works!”
AR: My favorite pieces are probably your new takes on the striped shirt dress... I really like how you can style them with our without the belt to change the shape…I could think of a hundred ways to style it, in fact…
JC: You can wear most pieces with or without a belt. It can be a summer dress, it can be a work dress, it can be an evening dress. You can style it the way you want! I like the versatility of what you can do.
“Ultimately, confidence is one of my main criteria. I hope I’m giving my woman tools to make her feel happy and confident. If she’s happy - then I’m happy!”
AR: What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
Well, we’ve got a lot of colour coming for the Spring - which I’m looking forward to. It’s cheerful and fresh - with any luck, we’ll all be feeling a bit more cheerful in 2022.
The new S/S22 collection arrives on Monday 14th February. Pre-order now to avoid disappointment.