Thursday 22 March 2018

Interiors: Dedicated followers of fashion

Interior designers looking to fashion trends on the catwalk for inspiration

Wendy H Gilmour based her interiors look on shows from London Fashion Week
Wendy H Gilmour based her interiors look on shows from London Fashion Week
Manuel Can
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Thibaut-Medallion Paisley wallpaper from Kevin Kelly Interiors.
Soft furnishings from Oliver Bonas.
Julianne Kelly of Kevin Kelly Interiors.
Hazara fabric by Manuel Canovas.

Eleanor Flegg

'Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening," - thus proclaimed the inimitable Coco Chanel.

The great designer who died in 1971 intuitively foretold the eventual melding of catwalk fashion and interior design.

The link between how people dress and the way they decorate their homes is well established, but at one time it would take several years for colours, textures and patterns to migrate from the catwalk to the home. Now, although fashion still leads the way, the transfer from fashion design to interiors is almost instantaneous.

London Fashion Week takes place in February and September every year and as soon as the first high heels click down the catwalk, the smartphones start clicking too. Within hours, the internet is swamped with images of the latest patterns, textures and colours.

Interior designers follow these changes on social media apps and fashion blogs but there's no such thing as an industry secret. Their customers are checking out the same trends. The next morning they'll be on the phone to their designer, all fired up about the new tropical look and wondering if it would work in their hallway.

"My clients have got so much more demanding!" says Julianne Kelly (below) of Kevin Kelly Interiors. "People see their home as another way of expressing their style and their personality, they are constantly updating and becoming much braver in their choices. I think this stems from the fashion industry."

Julianne Kelly of Kevin Kelly Interiors.

Most of the big fashion houses - Hermes, Armani, Missoni, Ralph Lauren and Christian Lacroix - now create interiors fabrics, wallpaper or collaborate with furniture companies to create signature ranges. The whopping price tag is part of the thrill. The big designers also have very distinctive styles.

If you've paid around €600 (each) for a pair of Hermes cushions, you will most certainly want everyone to know. "A couple of Hermes cushions from one of their signature ranges will be instantly recognisable," Kelly explains.

Other designers have created high-street interiors ranges, still carrying their distinctive branding. Butterfly Home by Matthew Williamson, for example, has the same tropical flavour as his fashion (cushions cost between €35 and €55 from Debenhams). Carolyn Donnelly and Paul Costello both design homeware and clothing for Dunnes Stores, their ranges identifiably reflecting the designers' styles (cushions from €20 to €50).

At every price point, accessories for the person and accessories for the home are appearing on the shelves simultaneously.

Kelly, who worked as a fashion buyer before she joined the family business, can spot the fashion trends as they emerge in interiors. "The crumpled, pre-creased look was big on the catwalks of Alexander McQueen and Nina Ricci. You can see the same trend in our fabric suppliers Zoffany and Casadeco."

The 1970s style floral prints of Bottega Veneta, Armani, Erdem and Red Valentino are likewise echoed in interiors fabrics by Designers' Guild, Manuel Canovas, and Zoffany (all from Kevin Kelly Interiors).

This month, the sofa manufacturer DFS teamed up with the Glasgow-based fashion blogger Wendy H Gilmour to create an interiors look based on some of the shows at London Fashion Week's Spring/Summer 2016, which took place last September. Inspired by the catwalks of Roksanda Ilincic, Peter Pilotto, Paul Smith and Temperley London, she took the combination of cornflower and cobalt blues with mustard yellow as her starting point.

"In some ways fashion is easier than interiors because you can try it on," says Gilmour. "With interiors, you don't really know how something is going to look until you get it home. But the advantage with interiors is that you don't have to be wary about it suiting your skin.

"Not everyone can wear mustard yellow, but anyone can put it on a sofa."

That said, Gilmour is a big fan of mustard yellow clothing. She has a mustard yellow scarf - a dirty pared-back yellow - that she wears almost daily to dress up monotone outfits in the same way she's used mustard cushions on the royal blue Bailey sofa (€2,175 from DFS). Gilmour's cushions come from H&M and Dwell, but you'll find similar in Heaton's and Next.

She's also happy to wear mustard and cobalt in combination, making sure one colour is dominant so that they don't compete.

"It's best just to use one big colour on the main piece and a little touch on the other. I've got a cropped suede jacket in cobalt blue but, instead of the big scarf, I wear with it a small mustard yellow bag." With the big blue sofa, and the Prussian rug from Bluebell Gray (from €1,164), blues dominate her room-set, but she's brought in a further dash of mustard with a side table from Dwell.

Beside the velvet sofa, Gilmour put the DFS Oskar club chair in brown leather (€1,449). "Too much velvet would have been overkill and the Victorian-style chair is like the leather jacket you'll wear for decades. Juxtaposing trends is a big thing for me. I'm always wearing pretty lacy tops with ripped jeans. It's something that people do in fashion all the time, but with interiors they tend to stick to one look."

In interiors, as in fashion, you'll create a more individual look if you mix it up. Gilmour has just bought an oversized industrial-style pendant light for her own home.

"I love the whole industrial trend, but I'm wary of going the whole hog. The pendant is a plain hemisphere, a metre in diametre, and it works because I live in a tenement flat with high ceilings. I love volume too, but you don't want to go volume absolutely everywhere."

It's like wearing a big voluminous jumper. You want to create a bit of shape somewhere else.

See,, for more details.

Kevin Kelly Interiors will feature at the House Interiors Event, book your tickets here for a 20% online discount.

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