The party season is here and to celebrate one of our favourite times of year, we invited some stylish friends to join us at the MATCHESFASHION townhouse in London to share their festive fashion formulas.
The thing we admire most about our designer friends is their distinct style signatures. For many women, a fabulous event is almost like fancy dress. You suspend your own style in search of that elusive party-ready look. However, we’ve noticed the most chic women at any bash have figured out how to up their look, while remaining true to the clothes that not only make them feel confident, but most like themselves.
Take Charlotte Olympia Dellal, as well known for her glamorous personal style as her party shoes; Racil, the woman who transformed the tux into elegant eveningwear for women; Hannah Weiland, who creates (and wears) some of the most beautiful accessories on our radar; and Carmen Borgonovo and Joana de Noronha, the design duo behind Borgo De Nor and the woman we turn to for a masterclass in how to elevate prints.
And then there’s our own team, Laura, Petro and Deborah, who know their way around a festive dress code. Watch close and hone your skills to make getting dressed this silly season a breeze.
Charlotte Olympia Dellal, founder of Charlotte Olympia
While many women know how to look stylish, few have a fashion signature that is quite as recognisable or authentic as British-Brazilian designer, Charlotte Dellal. She’s as well known for her alluring accessories as she is for her glamorous, film-noir look, which defines her after-dark dressing.
“I always start with great hair, red lips and a mani and pedi,” says Charlotte. “That way I’m feeling good before I even decide what to wear.” She loves dresses with a waist and feminine details. “This is my perfect party dress,” says Charlotte. “I love the bows – and red. It’s a great party colour.” As for the finishing touch? Red shoes. “Every woman should own a pair.”
Laura Fantacci, co-founder of Wardrobe ICONS
“There’s a little girl inside me who is six years old, and remembers her mother and grandmother getting ready for glamorous parties,” says Laura. “And so for me, a party dress needs to make me feel like I’m the lead character in my very own modern fairy tale.” By her own admission, Laura is also a magpie. “I’m most happy when I’m in a beautiful, sparkly dress.”
Enter Emilia Wickstead’s dreamy dress, “which has it all,” says Laura. “When I move, the skirt billows, the belt accentuates my waist, and the wide straps fulfil a pragmatic need of mine – I can wear a bra!” Before she leaves for a party, Laura heeds the wise words of Coco and takes something away: “I swapped heels for super smart slippers, although I kept the bow earrings because, magpie.”
Racil Chalhoub, founder of Racil
It’s no mean feat to transform male suiting into a stylish staple for women, but that’s exactly what Racil Chalhoub has done for fashion-forward wardrobes all over the world. And her spin on festive dressing is all about taking one of those reworked classics – the tux – and making it party-ready.
“You’re never too under- or over-dressed in a tux,” says Racil, which makes it a fail-proof party formula. “When I put on a suit that fits me perfectly, it’s like putting on armour. I can walk into any room and feel good.” She often wears a simple t-shirt under her jacket, but then ups the ante with statement earrings and architectural or brightly coloured shoes.
Carmen Borgonovo and Joana de Noronha, co-founders of Borgo De Nor
When you want to know how to wear prints to a party, look no further than the beautiful dresses created by Carmen Borgonovo and Joana de Noronha. Impeccably versatile, each one looks just at home with flat boots and a chunky knit as your fanciest winter sandals, and suits whatever dress code you throw at it with the right styling.
Joana opts for flats with her billowing maxi: “I love off-setting the drama of all that fabric with something a little more low-key, like velvet mules,” she says, while Carmen’s ankle-length gown is perfect for showcasing statement heels. “This length really lends itself to party shoes,” says Carmen. “But my favourite thing about this dress is the flattering neckline.”
Deborah Brett, editor-at-large for Wardrobe ICONS
“You’re never going to hear me complain about having to get dressed up for a party,” says Deborah, who hears bash and sees sparkle. “It doesn’t have to be head-to-toe, but the party season is all about sumptuous fabrics and then adding something shiny.” In this velvet DVF jumpsuit, Deborah found the perfect backdrop for just that.
“Jumpsuits are elegant and timeless, but this one is sexy as well,” she says. “You might not turn heads when you enter the room, but everyone will notice.” To finish the look, Deborah indulged her inner maximalist, opting for one big focus accessory (those earrings!) and clashing textures (that bag!). The overall effect: playful yet polished.
Hannah Weiland, founder of Shrimps
We’ve been quietly obsessed with Hannah Weiland’s colourful, patterned faux fur coats since they began adorning the fashion pack a few years ago. As for what to wear with a statement coat: a lace dress, of course. This beautiful number, which Hannah first designed to wear the day after her recent spring wedding, will be available for everyone to own in the New Year.
To accessorise, “I love sparkle almost as much as I love colour, and for a party I combine them all.” With that in mind, Hannah designed a sparkly collection of eye-catching barrettes in ruby, emerald and sapphire that we’ve all added to our wish list. She’s also re-imagined her Antonia bag in the same shades. “I worked with the real stones to get it just right,” she says.
Petro Stofberg, co-founder of Wardrobe ICONS
“I struggle with party dresses; perhaps because I’m tall and blonde, I sometimes feel like sparkles and traditional eveningwear can make me look too Barbie,’” says Petro, whose party-spirit animal is more Robyn Wright than red carpet. “I gravitate towards tailored pieces that I can wear to a party, but then dress down for day too.”
This metallic leather skit, with a flattering (and comfortable) paper-bag waist, is Petro’s ideal party staple. “I can feel festive, but still look modern.” The cashmere knit transforms the look into an outfit well-suited to Christmas Day at home or a casual New Year’s Eve gathering. As for the shoes, “even though I am more of a minimalist generally, I am drawn to pretty, sparkly shoes.”
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