Our Spring Summer 2013 show invitations contained miniature water colour paint sets, by British art materials brand Winsor and Newton. The Winsor and Newton brand heritage is entwined with the history and development of water colour, and they have shared the story with us as part of our celebration of colour in the run up to our London Fashion Week show.
The first use of Gum Arabic was in pre-historic times when early man was quick to recognise the possible uses of the natural materials around him. It’s unclear whether it was gums or oils which were first used in cave and body painting.
William Winsor and Henry Newton, both painters and chemists invented and introduced the first moist water colours to the world in 1832: water colour paint was balanced to be moist enough that it could be lifted by the application of a wet brush. The secret ingredient was glycerine and this invention set Winsor and Newton onto the path of international fame and reputation for their Artists’ Water Colours, which remains to this day in the eponymous brand they formed together.
The impact on painters was tangible, they were able to now paint by simply wetting the brush!
The metal tube now used for Winsor and Newton water colours had been invented in the first half of the nineteenth century by an American oil painter. Having secured the patent for manufacture, William Winsor invented the screw cap and the paint tube as we know it was born. Water colour in tubes allowed and still does, for stronger washes in larger quantities, made up in a shorter time than is possible from pans.
Thanks to the automotive and plastics industries the permanence and range of pigments available by the late 20th century surpassed the choice of the past beyond comprehension.
Thirty five new colours were introduced, seeing the greatest change to Artists’ Water Colour for 164 years. These colours are stronger, brighter and offer the degree of permanence historically only available in oil colour. Today, water colour has benefited from even further advancements in pigment technology and production methods. This has enabled the modern Winsor and Newton brand to produce even brighter, more transparent and more stable colours.
The invitation to the Mulberry Spring Summer 2013 show at London Fashion Week celebrates the craft of colour.
The invitation gives the first clue as to the inspiration for our Spring Summer 2013 season and collection, celebrating colour and the craft of painting. Arriving in a traditional craft-paper outer, the custom-made box inside contains the details of the show alongside a Mulberry branded sketchbook and miniature paint set by heritage art brand Winsor and Newton; a British art materials manufacturer established in 1832.
Discover how our newest bag icon, the Del Rey, is made. Shot on location in our British factory in rural Somerset, England, this short film shows how pieces of leather and metal are carefully crafted to create our modern classic.
Jacqueline Cullen is a British contemporary jewellery designer who creates hand-crafted pieces out of rare jet: a prehistoric black fossil previously associated with Victorian mourning jewellery. We came across her beautiful work when Brand Director Georgia Fendley became Jacqueline’s mentor as part of the Crafted programme, which supports contemporary British craft.
Jacqueline spoke to us about her work, her inspirations and the skills of working with jet, as well as sharing some of her sketches, jewellery pieces and the gorgeous, refined packaging created by London-based design agency and long-time Mulberry collaborators Construct London.
“Jet is simply fossilised tree trunk (from an ancestor to the monkey tree) from approximately 180 million years ago. It first became commonly used as Victorian mourning jewellery: Queen Victoria wore it after Prince Albert died and this started a trend. However, the jet fell out of favour with designers and around 100 years ago it stopped being mined altogether. I use Whitby jet: it’s better quality than you can find abroad, but it’s not easy to come by! A contact of mine abseils down the cliffs in Whitby to access small old mines and caves which contain it. You certainly don’t come across it accidentally.
There are designers who still work with jet but this is mostly based on Victorian replica jewellery. I work with the jet in a very contemporary way: manipulating it into shapes and edges that interest me, and I’m often inspired by dramatic acts of nature – volcanic eruptions, erosion, the beauty in the imperfections of nature. Jet is not always easy to work with: it is extremely dusty, and I have to use specially-designed tools like diamond-tipped saws and water beds to control the levels of black dust produced. It is so interesting to work with though, no two pieces I create are ever the same: the texture of the jet means one piece may be more jagged or corrupted than the other. I can do approximations of the same design, but it is never a complete match – a piece of jewellery from me is unique to you.
As a jeweller, your bench peg is your best friend. It shows all the work that went into the production of a particular piece, you can see all the wear and tear – it’s a lovely craft story in itself. I know many people who keep theirs even when it can no longer be used, as it tells the story of all your creations.”
English florists McQueens created beautiful bespoke centrepieces for our London Fashion Week dinner at the Savile Club. Ken Marten discusses how he and his team tackled the project, from brief through the design to the completed creation.
Our store at Hong Kong’s Harbour City houses a new interior design feature – The Vault, which will be an area dedicated to exclusive or limited edition products. This is the first Mulberry ‘Vault’ in the world and has been designed by award winning interior designers Universal Design Studio with a site specific art installation created exclusively for the store. The liquid metal and enamel pieces have been created by Based Upon and feature casts of Mulberry leaves from the original Mulberry tree outside our UK factory.
Based Upon kept the production process as natural and organic as possible, letting nature take control of the design. Ian told us: “We like to begin with a journey or location, so we took a trip to the factory in Somerset.”
“We became captivated by the Mulberry tree in nature. The leaves we took from the original symbolised Mulberry’s rural English roots, which then travelled across the world to Hong Kong, as a reference to Mulberry’s travels and expansion over the world.”
We now have a US flagship store, located on Spring Street, New York. The store was once a printers and book storage warehouse and is in an old industrial building, part of the SoHo architectural landscape.
Inspired by this characterful past, one of the features in store is a circular folly covered made from 8000 hard cover books and commissioned specifically for this space from the Mike Smith Studio.
Mike Smith works on art installations and ‘art fabrications’ and has worked with artists such as Rachel Whiteread, Gary Hume, Mark Wallinger and Jake and Dinos Chapman, all of whom were the ‘Young British Artists’ of their generation. It’s certainly no ordinary piece of store furniture…
For Spring Summer 2011 the Mulberry design team took the inspirations of romance and flowers and channelled them into the Flowerbed Dress.
The dress came in a shift and a longer length, and featured completely hand-sown 3-dimensional embroidery.
Each petal is a laser cut circle that has then been folded in four and stitched on by hand. The Flowerbed Shift is given an added textural quality by being produced in suede, and has also been stitched, this time by leather embroidery specialists. It takes two highly skilled embroiderers, working at the same time, 3 days just to stitch the flower detailing for one dress.
Both the suede and woven fabric were dyed specially to match our selected colour palette for SS11.
Our Jewelled Lily is the product of our British factory team’s hard work – each one was handmade, from the leather cutting and stitching to the 3000+ rivets and crystals meticulously hand-applied to every bag, making each Lily totally unique.