The Teatum Jones AW’16 collection shown on Saturday night was, in my eyes, their best yet. As recent winners of the International Woolmark Prize it’s clear that Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones have hit their creative stride in spectacular style, garnering the recognition that this label has long deserved. After seeing the show I can absolutely see why the Woolmark judges chose Teatum Jones as their winners. This design duo have always been very textiles innovation focussed, specifically developing most of the fabrics for each collection. With the inspiration for this collection coming from the Foxford Woollen Mill, they delivered stunning pattern and texture through their attention to textile detail which perfectly blended historical reference points with Teatum Jones’ view of modern elegance.
I caught up with Catherine Teatum after the show to gain some more insight in to the collection.
Blink: Is this AW16 collection an extension from your Woolmark prize collection, or was the prize collection an extraction from your plans already underway for AW16?
Catherine: The human story is what comes first so there wasn’t an order of creativity as such. That poignant human story then wholly influences patterns we looked at and fabric textures we want to create. So both IWP and mainline FW16 evolved at the same pace and because we have discovered new and innovative ways to use merino wool in our collections, it naturally spread across both. This is something that we will continue to do. We’ve unlocked the magic in this simple and natural fibre and we are excited to pursue those investigations.
Blink: The reference points for this collection feel very much about your Irish family background. How did Rob’s influence dovetail in to the story?
Catherine: The story was based on a woman Agnes Moirrogh Bernard whose life’s ambition was to use wool as a powerful symbol of hope for those less fortunate. She just so happened to be based in Ireland very near to my family home! Both Rob and I travel to the mills together and the process of creation is experienced together.
There a very beautiful thing between two creative people who know what the other is thinking and doesn’t question it – trust.
Blink: How did you come across the story of Agnes and the Foxford mill?
Catherine: My dad recommended that we go to visit it. Initially he took me there on a day out together last August 2015 and I was instantly captured by Agnes’s story. I went back a month later and spoke to the crafts people at the mill and then Rob and I travelled there several times throughout the development process.
Blink: The colour palette felt far richer and brighter than I might have expected from the historical woollen reference point. What was your inspiration?
Catherine: Teatum Jones creates bold, exquisite fabrics that are married with modern, relevant shapes. We feel that AW16 was probably our most competent example of that to date. The inspiration to create these fabrics was inspired by the natural and unstoppable spirit of the Irish people in the story. Coupled with the incredible diversity in landscape textures that you find in Ireland.
Blink: The colourful sand catwalk pathway was beautiful. What was your inspiration behind that?
Catherine: We felt the sand was a poignant way to tell our AW16 story. Sand never stands still, it constantly evolves and each time the models walked and created a new impression in the sand, that seemed to perfectly reflect the journey of Agnes and the Irish people of Foxford that she worked so hard to provide a future for.
Blink: How do you think winning the Woolmark prize impact on Teatum Jones?
Catherine: It’s given us the opportunity to really pursue our textile innovation and development. To really discover what’s the next level of possibilities of wool. It’s also given us the opportunity to be physically present in store for every single one of our retail partners’ launches.
Blink: The knitwear in this collection seemed to play a stronger part than previous seasons. Was that a conscious intention?
Catherine: The rural Irish women would hand knit everything and it’s a skill that was passed down through generations. We wanted however, to create a collection of knitwear that hit every single wardrobe stoppable desire that our women needs and only use the finest merino yarn to create a these knitwear pieces.
Here’s some of my highlights from the show so that you can get a closer look at some of the stunning detailing.