As Johnny Coca puts the finishing touches to Mulberry's SS17 collection for London Fashion Week, we chat to the creative director about his remaking of a Mulberry classic, his favourite eateries and what we can expect from the show (including the buzz-worthy revelation that Vetements stylist Lotta Volkova will be styling it).
Growing up in Spain, what first spurred your love of fashion?
Spain is a country where people love to dress and express themselves through clothes. There is a genuine love of colour, style and aesthetics that is part of our culture and heritage.
I grew up in a family of women, with my mother and my sisters. On weekends and holidays, I had to join them in their hobbies, which were shopping and reading fashion magazines. To this day, I still love fashion magazines; I have a huge stash of them at home.
My love of fashion started at home in Seville but it grew into a deeper passion in Paris, with the extraordinary, larger-than-life and colourful people I met there while studying at l' École des Beaux-Arts.
What were the inspirations behind Mulberry's current AW16 accessories collection?
At the moment, I am fascinated by Britishness - it's my principle source of inspiration. I love the traditional sense of heritage, British fabrics and tailoring, and the subversive energy of punk fashion and its colours. I have had a field day with chains and press studs; I like the contrasting edge that they add to a classic British purse.
Looking ahead, what can we expect from the upcoming SS17 collection?
All will be revealed at the show on Sunday 18 September at 4pm. The direction will be surprisingly different as I am working with a new stylist, Lotta Volkova. Nevertheless, I am still playing with the theme of Britishness that's so typical of Mulberry.
You've recently revamped the iconic Bayswater bag, can you tell us about the process and what inspired you?
The Bayswater is a Mulberry icon and is much loved by all our customers. It's the perfect bag due to its timeless elegance, but I felt it needed to progress with the times. I just added a few touches to reflect today's modern lifestyles and wardrobes while keeping The Bayswater's spirit. I redesigned it in a slightly sleeker shape, dropping the belt and simultaneously lightening the bag. I also introduced a smaller size, which is better for customers who prefer a more compact bag that can be worn cross-body and hands-free.
The new Bayswater bag is more balanced now and requires less effort to carry laptops and tablets. I also repositioned the internal pocket, putting it at the front, which makes it easier to access your phone or your keys. I also worked on a new leather finish and an updated range of colours, using cutting-edge leather technologies to build in more design value. The new Bayswater in clay with a deep burgundy suede lining is one of my personal favourites.
Who do you think embodies the ultimate London woman?
London is full of beautiful and stylish women of all ages. The thing I see with my outsider's eyes is that they're highly original. They're smart, hardworking, with strong characters; they're lovers of their freedom, often make me laugh, and despite running the world, they have still kept their inner softness and vulnerability. Stray but fragile; it's a beautiful contradiction.
Where's your favourite brunch spot in London?
The Café Royal. Brunch is best.
When you have friends visiting London, where do you take them for drinks and dinner?
I admire Heston Blumenthal. He is a visionary and a true craftsman of food, so Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental is a top choice. Lima is also great for sushi and Clarke's on Kensington Church Street does the best roast chicken.
What's next for Mulberry?
Mulberry is building a new era, which is both exciting and a huge amount of work. We have launched new categories, taken ready-to-wear to a new level and introduced shoes and jewelry.