News that Marc by Marc Jacobs would be no more was beyond surprising, and instantly, my mind went to the team behind the label. Had they known? What will they do next? The designing women who’d been brought in in 2013, Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley (as creative director and women’s wear design director, respectively) have gotten right back on the horse with today’s announcement that they’ll launch Hillier Bartley this fall.
“Hillier Bartley is a very personal project which Katie and I have been working on for years,” Luella told WWD, explaining why the collection, consisting of accessories, bags, and ready-to-wear, was ready to show to buyers earlier this month. “It is a culmination of everything I have learned as a designer and a woman. Its ultimate heroine lies somewhere between Ian McCulloch and Katharine Hepburn. It’s about a woman our age, indie by heart, rakish and irreverent by nature, who is maturing into refinement and naturalness.”
After it was announced the label was folding, Vogue U.K. pulled out an earlier interview with the twosome to comb through it for clues. “What worked at the beginning didn’t necessarily work some 10 years on,” Katie, who worked as a longtime accessories consultant for the label, said. “When the label launched in 2001, not as many people were privy to what was on the catwalk, but now everyone is, and so the disconnect between the two became evident; they were disjointed. Neither was bad, but they didn’t feel like one thing, and then all of a sudden the identity of a brand loses some of its strength.”
Everyone in fashion was stunned by the shuttering news, not least because there had been no real signs of trouble, and, as that Vogue article reported, the MMJ business accounted for 70 percent of the Marc Jacobs International business. It was personal for a lot of editors and writers too, since as one of the earliest diffusion lines it had nursed plenty of us through college and early working days when paychecks were tiny.