Monday 19 March 2018

Putting on the Rix

Rixo London was undoubtedly the big 'breakout' fashion hit of last year, enjoying success on both sides of the Atlantic. Our fashion editor spoke to Irish co-founder Orlagh McCloskey to find out what the label has up its sleeve for 2018 - and the big hint is… it's woolly!

Rixo London co-founders Orlagh McCloskey and Henrietta Rix creating new prints
Rixo London co-founders Orlagh McCloskey and Henrietta Rix creating new prints
Orlagh (left) and Henrietta outside their London HQ

Barbara Power

Orlagh McCloskey finally has her bedroom back! The girl from Dungiven, near Derry, made the sacrifice when space got tight in the Rixo office/studio/house in West London as the vintage-inspired brand mushroomed. They finished 2017 with success beyond the wildest expectations of Orlagh and co-founder Henrietta Rix.

It's been a stellar 12 months which saw the pair expand their premises and create 100 unique hand-painted prints for their range ­- now in 180 stockists worldwide - and they are no longer on their own.

Yes, they have been cleverly judicious and have kept a 100pc control on their burgeoning brand. However, now they have company on their creative journey. At their Christmas party last month, Orlagh and Henrietta - both London College of Fashion alumni and former buyers at ASOS - were joined by eight staff, compared to just one the previous year.

It's a sign of their impact that when women like something from Rixo London, they tend to buy into it across the brand, Orlagh explains. Their signature 'Camellia' dress with its billowing sleeves, V-neckline and playful side-slits has been hailed as 'Queen of the brunch party' and fans have been known to buy it across the multiple retro prints that mark Rixo out.

Likewise, if fans like a winning shape, they buy into it big time and there have been quite a few, from the 'Moss' top to the 'Georgia' skirt, which echoes the slits of the 'Camellia' dress. Collectors build up a mix-and-match arsenal which allows them to put their own point of difference on it.

New to the family of prints recently has been the 'space age floral' print (pictured above right) featuring a whimsical mix of sharp-edge flowers, star-clad trees and graphic spaceships.

Orlagh loves the whole process of creating new artwork. The 'Laura' (left) is quintessentially a tea dress, with a green print that has a psychedelic twist in dots. Coming on the heel of Rixo's successive 'Cindy' kimonos, the combination of short sleeves, a high hemline and a button-up-front was, Orlagh explains, inspired by a 1970s' piece found while rummaging through a vintage store.

To date, their success has been helped by the fact that their pieces are transseasonal. Orlagh herself dresses most days in a 'Georgia' skirt. "It suits my lifestyle so well. In summer, I wear it with sandals, today is a jumper, tights and boots."

A lot of celebrities have picked up on the brand this year and there has been major interest from people in the fashion industry itself, which explains the constant curiosity about what's next.

Last year saw Orlagh and Henrietta introduce swimwear and the pair finished the year surprising a lot of people by doing a full sequinned dress which was very different from their print work to date. Clearly they are all about mixing it up and in an ode to the '80s, their 'Elizabeth' and 'Beth' midi and mini plain black fitted dresses featured a double whammy of hand-painted planets embroidered with sequin detail for a futuristic twist.

I'm hungry for news of what next and Orlagh puts me out of my pain. In an exciting retail development, they hope to show for the first time at London Fashion Week next September with a SS19 runway show.

The second snippet of news is that they are expanding into knitwear and as we chat, Orlagh is checking out samples. The knitwear plans are in the very early stages and Orlagh explains how they want to make sure that they are "doing it the right way and growing in the right direction" with it because knitwear is all so technical.

If that wasn't enough, they are also working with an accessories designer, which gives them time to concentrate on doing six clothing collections a year. "We absolutely love shoes and bags, we have a passion for them," says Orlagh.

She also confirms that there are a "couple of collaborations" in the pipeline. Nothing is confirmed but one might be with a shoe designer, which sounds exciting if it comes to fruition. Yes indeed, 2018 looks like it is going to be another sweet year for the Irish woman and the enterprising Rixo London team.

You could say, Rixo success is written - correction, painted - in their stars!

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