re-inventing countryside chic with stella tennant and isabella cawdor

We meet the dynamic duo behind Holland & Holland’s high fashion revamp.

by Tish Weinstock
20 September 2016, 1:19pm

They say the best things come in pairs, and we couldn't be more excited about the latest pairing of best friends Stella Tennant and Isabella Cawdor. A match made in fashion heaven: the long-time friends have been enlisted by historic lifestyle brand Holland & Holland to give its clothing line a makeover. Think oversized, comfy knits, cool parkas, silk white shirts, sumptuous capes, smart kilts, and an abundance of tweed that was inspired by Stella and Isabella's Scottish roots. The collection marks a first for both women — model of the 90s and i-D cover star, Stella, is far more used to wearing clothes than making them, the same could be said for Isabella, an ex-Vogue editor, whose daughter is the dreamy Jean Campbell. Nonetheless, the result is a roaring success; currently stocked at Dover Street Market, the collection combines function with design, drawing on the brand's cultural heritage, and tempered with a modern twist. Here we meet the magic duo behind it all.

How did it come about?
Stella Tennant: I've known the people who own Holland & Holland for a long time, and so I was approached by them, and couldn't contemplate doing anything on my own. I'm not experienced in that; I know about wearing the finished product, but I have no experience in how to put it together. I've known Isabella for 20 years and I know she is absolutely experienced in that. We share so much time together anyway, especially when all the kids are on vacation. So said I would only do it if Isabella did it with me, thinking that I was actually too busy and it wouldn't happen.
Isabella Cawdor: I was just up for a day in Paris, so I said, "Ok, I'll come."
S: Isabella is very good at exploring opportunities. We didn't really realize what an extraordinary opportunity it was then; we've now been given access to an incredible team. We're working with Barrie Cashmere and the Maison Michel milliners in Scotland.
I: From a production point of view it's incredible. Normally you're at the end of the line, it's late, the order isn't' big enough, etc. But with the team there's a lot of clout.

What kind of references did you draw on?
I: Our own lives, really.
S: We raided our wardrobes for things that we've gone back to again and again.

What was your overall vision for the collection?
S: We wanted it to be timeless, good quality, and well cut.

You've got two very different styles. What was it like working together?
S: It was great. I can definitely see each of our influences within the collection. I'm a lot more masculine than Isabella, who dresses very femininely.
I: Although there are some pieces which I think are a total mixture.
S: It was so much fun making all the decisions with someone else, I couldn't have done it alone. Together with Isabella the whole thing is exciting, it's a conversation.

Did you know how involved you'd be with the process?
S: We knew at the start that we didn't want to just sign our names off on someone else's collection.
I: I think we're both old enough to know how much it takes to succeed; to do something this creative you need to be involved with every step.

Moving forwards, where would you like to see the collection going?
S: For now it's about getting people to understand what we're doing and to know that it exists. Which is why it's so important that it's stocked at Dover Street Market, we need people who know the brand to know that it's not as narrow as they might think.


Text Tish Weinstock
Images courtesy of Holland and Holland

stella tennant
holland & holland
isabella cawdor