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Fashion's Phoenix: Johnny Coca Does Mulberry Proud

Fashion's Phoenix: Johnny Coca Does Mulberry Proud
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When the brilliant Emma Hill left as Mulberry’s Creative Director in 2013, it ushered in a nightmare period for the company: profit warnings, executive changes, backlash over pricing -- and all the while the in-house design team were trying to stay the ship. Johnny Coca, formerly of Celine, and the man behind the Trapeze “it” bag, was brought in to be Mulberry’s savior. Happily, his debut outing yesterday at London’s elegant Guildhall brought some relief to both the company and its fans.

All the weight of the world was on the diminutive Spaniard to create the next it-bag (the “Bayswater” and “Alexa” have always been Mulberry’s cash cows), and Coca’s starting point was to pour through the company archives and update the 1970’s logo. Gone is the Mulberry iconic tree logo, and instead came the revamped oval gold shape, simple and smart. That appeared on the new “Clifton” chain purse bag, a sleek and very grown up affair that came in a variety of skins and colors, and definitely a departure from the often girly bags that have been a Mulberry signature.

Coca is a pro, and the leather quality and the craftsmanship was unparalleled, while the swank design and interesting skins bought a new sophistication to the house. The bag starts at the sensible £450 range, which should silence all the price critics that have haunted Mulberry for years.

Ramping up the elegance was the new “Chester” bag – a top-handle bag with multiple compartments for all the detritus that hits a woman's purse. Yet it was brilliantly constructed without it looking too complicated.

The shoes were directional - a flat-form that finally looked desirable; ornate sling-backs; and strappy Mary Janes with a rebellious edge. They also contrasted nicely against the safe and sophisticated bags.

Press-stud details on the bags carried over to RTW, which started off with a statement coat. This is Coca’s inaugural run at RTW, so that was a concern. But Coca studied London street style to deliver something he described backstage as “honestly British.” The result was a lot of capes and felted military coats that referenced the 1980’s Kings Cross punk scene, and oversized floral prints that evoked Portobello Road.

But the clothes seemed hesitant, a supporting role to the bags and shoes. And rightly so. To be cautious and feel his way around his first womenswear collection without making any bold statements that challenge the house codes (which according to former CEO Godfrey Davis is “bonkers, youthful and fun”) is no doubt the smart way to rehabilitation. This slowly, slowly strategy for Coca may just pay off in dividends.Read more at:prom dresses london

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