a radical fairy tale at marc by marc jacobs fall/winter 15

Luella Bartley and Katie Hillier chat about their Grrrl power meets 19th century Arts and Crafts collection for Marc by Marc.

by Rory Satran
18 February 2015, 4:40am

Photography Kate Owen

To the pounding beat of Public Enemy's Fight the Power, the supremely cool activist girls of Marc by Marc marched purposefully across an astroturf runway. These were girls with somewhere to go, something to do, and a lot more on their mind than how they looked. For their third collection for the brand, Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley continued mining DIY and youth cultures for inspiration, as well as fairy tale heroines and the 19th century Arts and Crafts designer and activist William Morris. The common threads: anarchy and independence. Quite good messages for a line destined for the youngest fashion fans.

Backstage after the show, Luella spoke of the brand's mission: "It's about this character that we're trying to do, this very young, vibrant, vital girl. It's a very youth-oriented brand, so the one thing that has to permeate through everything is that positivity of youth and feeling like you can change the world." Slogans on the clothes like "Solidarity" and "Our Future" underlined the idea.

The starting point was Victorian counterculture icon William Morris, whose rhythmic wallpaper-ish prints ended up across much of the collection. Aside from the visual appeal of subverting the style of Morris's work, Katie and Luella were intrigued by his politics, which were highly radical for his time (and ours). "Having these traditional prints in this anarchic show feels contrary and it feels good and it all links up," explained Luella.

In the busy cast of characters concocted by the designers, Morris joined a group of inspiring women, including the suffragettes (represented by long skirts printed with "Suffragette"), the DIY punks (with their badges and berets), and the fairy tale heroines (in stiff armored dresses). All powerful figures who do their own thing. Said Luella, "The girl is the heroine and she's the one fighting the battle. It's not about being rescued any more. It's about going out and doing something."

Katie and Luella's mission goes beyond what is shown on the runway. They're using their platform to get girls to think, and create. As Katie says, "Buy a beret. Make some badges. Get some old jeans and put the patches on them. You can buy the clothes and there are ideas on how to create your own as well."

Catch up with the rest of our fall/winter 15 coverage here.


Text Rory Satran
Photography Kate Owen

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