When Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters, the designers behind the eight-year-old, Chicago-born label Creatures of the Wind, started their resort 2017 collection, they had little idea that, come June, they would be showing it beneath the crystal chandeliers of London’s Spencer House — or in London for that matter.
That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday evening, when the online retailer Farfetch hosted an intimate runway show and dinner for the duo, runners-up of 2011’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. On a visit to London last fall, the designers met with the team at Farfetch and the idea to create an exclusive capsule collection — a first-of-its-kind partnership for the retailer — was born. The three pieces — a hand-embroidered army parka, a crêpe de chine, persimmon slip dress and a rabbit fur sole — went on sale shortly before the show.
Pre-season collections — the collections called pre-fall and resort, which land in stores several months before the fall and spring collections and stay on the shelves considerably longer — tend to be major money-makers for designers and retailers alike, and more commercially minded (i.e., conservative and wearable) than the clothes created for runway. Knowing that the collection would be shown in a runway format transformed the designers' approach this time. “We came to it in a different way,” Gabier said after the show on Wednesday. “When we’re doing a show, you’re thinking about looks, you’re thinking specifically about the way it moves, the way things line up. For most pre-collections, you’re not thinking about the same things.”
"Quirky" is the word most often used to describe Creatures of the Wind collections, and while that word could easily be applied to the looks shown on Wednesday, they were elegant and ladylike too, reflecting a more grown-up sensibility that the brand has been developing over the past several seasons. A demure baby pink crepe-de-chine tank dress was enlivened with white knit gloves and furry loafers; a botanic-print skirt suit was cut sportily and paired with furry grey ankle boots; while a closer look at a sleeveless red-and-black printed jumpsuit revealed an assemblage of roosters.
The prize pieces were the parkas, one of which Pharrell, to whom it had been gifted, returned to the designers for use in the show. Each one takes more than a month to embroider, Gabier said. That, for him, was the most interesting part of the collaboration. "I don’t care about [see-now, buy-now] particularly, but what was really interesting for us was the opportunity to design something you didn't have to produce a lot of. Every jacket was like its own set of hand embroideries. They're expensive to produce, they're really time-consuming, we normally can't fit that kind of thing in. If we can do more of that sort of thing, then I definitely want to do it."
After a majority of UK voters elected to leave the E.U. last Friday, dinner-table discussions in London have focused on little else, and Wednesday night's was no exception.
"I was feeling very depressed on Friday," said Caroline Issa, a street style favorite and founder of Tank magazine. "I think it's a really disappointing decision as a business owner. I think the next two years are incredibly unclear, I think the country is in chaos at the moment. But I think [now] we have to buckle up and figure out how to work together."
Gabiers said he, too, had been depressed by the results. "When we were thinking about how does that impact this [show], ultimately we just felt like, if you can bring to the moment some other thought, a brief moment of beauty, then maybe that would be a good thing,” he said.
Browse the full resort collection below.