The inspiration behind the Rae Feather Collection

Welcome to Rae’s Journal, my regular blog of all the things that inspire me and I adore. I hope you enjoy.

I was asked recently to do a Q&A about the inspiration and thinking behind my brand, Rae Feather…

What inspired you to launch your own brand?
I felt there was a void in the market for staple, stylish pieces, in flattering well-considered shapes, great quality natural fabrics and yarns - at affordable prices. In other words, pieces that have staying power.

Are you creating a fashion or lifestyle brand?
Rae Feather is certainly not a fashion brand. We are heavily style-driven. Pieces in shapes and fabrics that are timeless designs that we love to wear again and again. We call them the keepers.

What is your design philosophy?
With simplicity comes longevity in other words the beautiful timeless pieces that are the ones that are the keepers. Rae Feather offers a considered capsule collection that addresses this profile consumer’s need for fit, quality, colour and comfort, plus value for money. We want to create a wardrobe based on versatile neutrals and timeless shapes that are both classic and new. Complimented with energetic colour and considered design, the result is uncomplicated, uncontrived and a collection full of absolute essentials. Versatile pieces, such as our jersey pants and long-line T-shirts, are timeless designs that will be constants in our collections across seasons.

Do you design your collection with yourself in mind?
Very much so. I am nearing 50 and I realised I was coming back to the same shapes all the time. Pieces that flattered my body shape and delivered comfort and elegance at the same time. I might have gained a few pounds, but my favourite clothes are always happy to lie for me…

Was it a difficult decision to use your own name for the brand?
Understandably I thought long and hard about using my name for many reasons. I had meetings with brand agencies, focus groups and long discussion with friends. The resounding view was to go for Rae Feather. For me the name reflects the collection – it says soft, natural, light hearted and true…

Do you have a muse?
Renee Russo in the Thomas Crown Affair personifies beauty, style and elegance. Rachel Weisz and Mariella Frostrup are timeless beauties and I also love Diane Keaton - she has aged beauifully, maintaining great elegance.

Who is the Rae Feather woman?
I see my customer as someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Someone who is not brand conscious, who appreciates aesthetic simplicity and good quality fabrics/knits.

What is your definition of luxury?
Cashmere is a great luxury. There is nothing like putting on a cashmere sweater or scarf when it’s chilly and instantly feeling cosy and warm…..

Which are your favourite fabrics?
They have to be natural. I love cashmere, wool, wool crepe, silks and great quality cottons. My mother and sister are both interior designers and, for as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by beautiful fabric books. My idea of heaven is to spend a whole day at Chelsea Harbour looking at sumptuous fabrics.

What inspires you when you create collections?
I am inspired by so much. I love interiors, high fashion and jewellery, but most of all, I love to see women looking confident and comfortable in what they are wearing.

Is the fabric and print the starting point with your designs?
I think its bit of both, plus the shape. The silhouette of a design is very important and it’s essential that the shape is flattering and makes the wearer feel confident and comfortable.

Which are the key timeless pieces in the A/W13 Rae Feather collection?
For me, it’s the knitwear. The pieces are all very considered and come in great neutrals. The knits can also be accessorised with our beautiful cashmere scarves, which are also great essentials.

Do you have a style mantra?
Comfort and simplicity all the way. With simplicity comes longevity.

Are celebrities important to your brand?
The power of celebrity is not to be frowned upon – I guess it depends on whom the celebrity is. I’m not sure Katie Price will like the Rae Feather brand, but I’d love to see women like Mariella Frostrup, Kristin Scott Thomas or Kirsty Young wearing our clothes.

Do you carry a notebook with you at all times or do you keep everything in your head?
I have about 10 notebooks on the go, however I still tend to keep a lot in my head. Weirdly I dream about designs. I often dream about a great piece of clothing or a fabulous bag design and wake-up scrambling for a notebook. I really must get into the habit of making more notes!

Is travel important to you in terms of inspiring your designs?
I worked in Formula 1 for years and was so fortunate to see so many places. I then marketed an beautiful luxury hotel in the Caribbean for the best part of 10 years and made it my business to find out where the most beautiful places on earth were located. I used to go to travel trade fairs and come back with loads of brochures from far-flung places, which became my bedtime reading for weeks. I will happily pack my bag at the drop of a hat and explore a city for a few days. In the last few months I have been to Istanbul and Delhi – both inspiring beyond words.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given you in the fashion business?
At a recent seminar Nick Wheeler of Charles Tyrwhitt gave a great piece of advise, ‘Keep it simple.’

What is your definition of style?
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!

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