Exclusive look at Zoë Jordan's high street collaboration with River Island
Our fashion expert accepted an exclusive invitation to go behind the scenes of Zoë Jordan's collaboration with River Island
Zoë Jordan is looking impossibly cool when we arrive at the film set, and it isn't even 8.30am. But then, that's her thing.
This young mum-of-two has carved a swathe for herself in the style world for her signature look which she describes as "nonchalant, thrown-on glamour", to which you add her unmissable tomboyish vibe.
Her outfit at the shoot at Island Studios in west London isn't over-calibrated for the cameras and Zoë wears a marl grey James Perse tee with her own slouchy black leather trousers and a pair of insanely gorgeous Prada kitten heel slingbacks in sassy patent yellow.
"I saw them on my mum and had to buy some," explains Zoë, who moves quickly to offer us some breakfast after we arrive in from a red-eye flight from Dublin.
All I crave is strong coffee and the opportunity to see the 11-piece collection she has created for the 'River Island Design Forum X Zoë Jordan' which goes on sale on September 21.
However, the first public glimpse of the pieces will come via a short film being screened on September 18 at the British Fashion Councils' Fash/On Film initiative which aims to develop relationships between fashion designers and filmmakers.
Zoë draws from a childhood immersed in the world of motor racing with adventures across the globe and a life lived in New York, Dublin, Andalucia, Hong Kong and her present hometown in London.
The latest invitee to work on the River Island Design Forum project, the collaboration marks another exciting step into retail for the Dublin-born daughter of famous Formula One mogul Eddie. Zoë has brought a broad skill set to it after studying architecture and working as a bond trader before moving to the fashion industry which, she says is "the perfect place to merge business, structure, design and creativity."
Sinking into a director's chair at Island Studios, Zoë talks me through the back story of the collaboration.
"It's a brand new audience for us and I wanted to give them an authentic feel for the line, to give them something that I was really proud to produce and have out there at a more accessible price point. We are quite passionate about prints that are non-print, more abstract prints I guess. I feel that when a print is more abstract, they are less datable than others. We had a tight colour palette on this River Island collection and I thought it would be nice to bring out a little bit of teal. I wanted to keep the print black and white and quite tonal, keep them quite wearable."
The teal Zoë refers to is an ombré print made up in a blazer (€120) and matching cigarette trousers (€87).
"I think that's definitely our kind of party look for the girl who doesn't necessarily want to wear the big occasion-wear dresses; she maybe has a slightly more relaxed vibe and I think our co-ordinating suits are the way I see that girl doing the party look," says Zoë, who admits to finding it "exciting to be in touch with a new audience."
"I think River Island was a really obvious choice for us. It is a brand that I like. Their quality on the high street is really strong and it is still a family-owned business that are really nice to work with and this was an opportunity for us to try out new things," says Zoë.
Trying out new things is what drives Miss Jordan, who has been married to Steve Aspinall for the last five years (who she met at college in Newcastle). They have two young daughters and live in Notting Hill.
She quit the London Fashion Week schedule two seasons ago to try out the New York fashion week landscape and it has paid off handsomely. Half of her mainline production goes to the US where customers have picked up on her "London girl" look, regularly worn by Sienna Miller and Cara and Poppy Delevingne, who are her good pals. However, Zoë returns to London Fashion Week prominence this month as River Island launch her collection via a short film directed by Crowns & Owls.
The film plot centres on two female archers who step onto the film set with a large bow in their hands and drum case of arrows on their backs. They are captured hunting, launching arrows at one another. The film captures a dramatic glimmer of textures and the black leather cut tee (€215), is an absolute star on the day, its luxe-feel, tufted surface resonating brilliantly in front of the grey-textured walls. A small box filled with water and broken mirrors is agitated and sends shimmers dancing across the set. The cameraman on the dolly rolls close to the action. The effect is mesmerising and every woman on the set wants one of those leather tees.
The graphic print long dress with slit sides (€107), is also captured on film and it has that ZJ cachet of boyish elegance styled with brogues and fishnet socks. But Zoë points to its trans-seasonal appeal and says it would work equally well in winter, with boots and a jacket too.
All of Zoë's collections have "a piece," something that everyone zones in on and in the River Island collection, it is surely the tufted leather tee. I was delighted to see Zoë reprise her penchant for cable knit jumpers with apertures. Her more expensive KnitLab mainline collection features wool and cashmere pieces with heavy ribbed tunic-length sweaters with cut-out details at the shoulders and arms, and for the more affordable high street collaboration, she included a cream jumper with criss cross plait detail, which will cost €87.
"It's a wool blend and it differs slightly from the mainline but it still has that quite slouchy look and a sliver of skin sex appeal and the size of the chunky cable gives it a boyish appeal," says Zoë. Non print pieces in the collection include a short, black leather dress and a black patent parka with hood and faux fur trim. Equally thrilling is a plush, deep pile, cropped, faux fur bolero worn with androgynous cargo pants, a look that epitomises her deft hand at the boyish glamour vein she astutely identified early on in her career.
Zoë grew up with a dad who loves rock and roll music - he played drums in bands called The V10s and, more recently, Eddie & The Robbers - and the swirling smoke print for the River Island collaboration was not inspired by a BBQ gone wrong, but from listening to Deep Purple's lyrics: "smoke on the water, fire in the sky."
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"We were playing Deep Purple and the mood board kind of grew from there," says Zoë, who has a style icon in Marie, her inspiring mum, who once played basketball for Ireland, married the motor mogul Eddie in her early 20s and had four kids.
"I remember she picked me up from school one day wearing Versace tight jeans and a shirt with the matching aquarium fish print. She had a shaved head and all the other mums had flowery dresses."
Marie Jordan certainly instilled blue sky thinking in her eldest daughter and Zoë's approach to tailoring has undoubtedly been driven by her past experiences."I definitely dressed in a way when I was a trader in the City that I wasn't that comfortable with, and that has definitely inspired me on my journey."
Zoë has a deft touch with tailoring, evidenced here in her River Island collection and in her AW15 'Serac' mainline collection with its luxury wool and silk crepes worked with voluminous fur and shearling. She is a big fan of the jacket, and on parting says: "If you pull on a really good jacket in the morning, you're ready for anything."
Life with Zoë
"In the mornings, I like a green juice with celery and cucumber, it's really alkaline.
When it comes to guilty pleasures, I'm a bit of a sucker for the odd box set and I do love an interiors magazine full of nice things, like Vogue Living Australia.
We love to travel with the kids and in July, we rented a brownstone in New York. We were dancing at brunch in Harlem and we went off to Montauk which was an incredible few days.
Shopping-wise, I love James Perse and I do have a bit of a soft spot for kids' trainers. If I had a free hour, I would go to Portobello in London and do the vintage shops.
I hop on the Boris bikes to get around town and I go to the gym and do weights. We've started doing yoga at our studio once a week an we invite friends of the brand in.
Steve, my husband and I, like to go to The Electric in Notting Hill. We go to the Chiltern Fire House which is a fun night and we go to Hertford Street, a members club.
I like to cruise around the stores and just see what's out there and new, and also see the next spot and where we could potentially open.
I've just started walking, I guess that comes from our time in New York, and I'm listening to the Power of Now which is my form of meditation."
The River Island Design Forum X Zoë Jordan is available exclusively from September 21 at their stores at Grafton Street, Dublin and Dundrum Town Centre, and online at riverisland.com.