The Fashion Memo

How 4 designers are staying inspired while staying home

Seeking new ways to keep your spirits up when life as we know it is on hold? From meditation to movies, garden color to coloring-in, these designers and style mavericks have the right idea, as GILLIAN BRETT discovers

Von Halle has found that getting properly dressed each day helps to separate her work-time from me-time

Designer Olivia von Halle on… the joy of gardening

Under normal circumstances, Olivia von Halle spends a lot of her free time outdoors, riding her horse, Herman. So, her west London garden has become her much-needed connection to the natural world for now. “It’s a little sanctuary for which I have never been more appreciative. I leave my phone in the house and go and spend an hour or two out there whenever I can spare the time. When you really concentrate on something, you’re able to let your mind unwind and disconnect; it’s the most therapeutic thing and it feels especially grounding to turn to something natural and slow-paced at the moment.” Von Halle was inspired to transform her garden into a haven for “beautiful, wild, native species of flowers and grasses, as well as birds and insects”, after reading Wilding by Isabella Tree and following some rousing trips to Wiltshire. “We used to rent a house there that had the most beautiful wild garden – it was my favorite place to spend time, so I’ll be trying to bring that feeling of wild, English countryside to my London garden – albeit on a smaller scale.”

Von Halle’s horticultural pursuits have been inspired by a Wiltshire wild garden she used to visit regularly

As the founder of an eponymous luxury loungewear label, von Halle has her WFH look sussed, and has been turning to her silk slip dresses or skirts paired with a thick cashmere sweater most days – and lipstick, “to help me feel pulled together for those all-important video conferences”. On more relaxed days, she reaches for one of her double-faced cashmere Missy tracksuits. “I make the effort to get dressed every day, as I find it helps set a boundary between work-time and me-time.” She’s also perfected an evening routine to draw a line under the working day that involves a soak in Jo Malone bath oils with a good book while her phone is on airplane mode.

Von Halle has been buoyed by “the many ways in which people are coming together to support one another during this period of uncertainty, from random acts of kindness to renewed drives of creativity”.

Jewelry designer Anissa Kermiche on… the joy of rediscovering old favorites

Renowned for her refined and thought-provoking jewelry designs, Anissa Kermiche has been using her spare time at home to sift through her collection of old vinyl and a stack of French films that she bought 10 years ago. She’s also downloaded an app called Mubi, which offers a monthly selection of cult classics and independent films. “I’m traveling down memory lane and exploring indie films I haven’t seen before, as well as taking the time to read cinema reviews again. These past few years as an entrepreneur have been hectic, and I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of passions to make everything work. I don’t have a business partner, and running things alone, despite having a lovely team, is the enemy of culture,” she says.

Kermiche has loved having more time to read, and has also discovered a box set of African CDs that has brought rhythm and revelation in equal parts

Kermiche has always worked from her home office in London but, typically, moments at her desk were squeezed in between meetings, events and fashion shows. Now, she’s using any free time to implement positive new habits, such as meditating every morning. As for the other new discoveries that have been lifting her spirits while social distancing, the list is hearteningly long: “Having time to speak to my friends in a deeper way; reading a book about meditation that my friend wrote and sent me a while ago, which was just sat on my bedside table with 10 other books that I didn’t have time to open – it’s teaching me a lot about wellbeing and how to be more gentle with myself. And I’m exchanging recipes with my friends.”

Kermiche is using her time at home to focus on a mixture of reading, recipes, movies and meditation
Gardening and coloring-in have been the focus for Thornton, Bregazzi and their two daughters

Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, creative directors of Preen, on… the joy of coloring-in

Adult coloring books rose to popularity about five years ago, for their ability to help alleviate anxiety symptoms and induce a meditative sense of bliss. Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, the husband-and-wife design duo behind cult British brand Preen, have been embracing this practice while staying home (and you can color your own Preen print by following the link below). Beloved for their whimsical, floral-print dresses, the pair have been repurposing some of their classic prints as blank canvases on recycled paper to color-in with their young daughters, Fauve and Blythe.

Thornton and Bregazzi have been repurposing some of their classic prints to use for coloring

“We find it quite inspiring and it seems to naturally link back to our plans for a sustainable, more personal, hand-crafted collection,” explains Bregazzi. The duo have also been tending to their garden. “It has become a great way to relax and to really lift our spirits,” says Thornton. With the natural world long serving as a source of design inspiration, it now incites a positive mindset during isolation, too. “The amazing sunshine we’ve woken up to each day has been a real lift. As well as the beauty of our planet.”

Color your own Preen print