The time has come when the summer invites are piling in, a welcome side-effect of the benevolent mood the sun brings. In London, there’s the upcoming Serpentine Galleries and Chanel party, the Victoria & Albert Museum summer party and the Festival of Speed at Goodwood, to name just a few.
Summer party season calls for a party dress; here are four of my favourites from some newly discovered designers - just the ticket for making that unique entrance.
Elliette Simone midi dress
Oh so pretty. That’s what you’ll think when you see this line of dresses from New York-based brand Elliette, started by Ellen Quade only two seasons ago. Elliette delivers sweet micro-floral dresses, with both flowingly long and saucily short options.
Bex mini dress, $425 (approx. £375), elliette.us
These are dresses to dress up in - best with flat sandals - all with a major feminine details whether it’s ruching, ribbon straps or a slightly sweet shade of pastel that makes your mouth pucker up but ask for more.
Isabelle Fox London Sophia midi dress
Everything Isabelle Waring makes is created in England (Queen’s Park, London in fact) and it was her grandmother’s couture skills that inspired her to create her own range. Her elegant pieces hark back to classic icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Rita Hayworth, bringing to mind those vintage images that always seem to appear on fashion designers' moodboards.
Sophia cotton midi dress, £205, isabellefox.com
With its square neckline, thick straps and tight waist that flows out into a full skirt with pockets, her Sophia dress is like something from an old-school Cinecittà wardrobe of dreams. It comes in several fabrics, my favourite being the white or black Swiss cotton with its plumetis (small bobbles on the fabric).
Made in limited quantities from end-of-roll fabrics (cloth that might otherwise be thrown away), the collection provides a sustainable narrative as well. Watch this space for a new product launching soon, also made using leftover fabrics, that will complement the Sophia dress perfectly. Wear with your best jewellery and new heels.
Kimhekim Satin Venus dress
I discovered this brand, designed by Korean Kiminte Kimhekim, via Instagram (of course). When his Brown “Venus” jacket - a wool, asymmetrical tailored jacket whose oversized pearl buttons gather and drape its shape together - sold out, demand grew even more fervent.
Satin Venus couture dress, €6,780 (approx. £5,980), kimhekim.com
An alumnus of Paris’ Studio Bercot and Nicolas Ghesquière’s Balenciaga, Kimhekim took all he learnt and in 2014 launched his own brand in Paris. Playing between worlds of lightness and solidity, his Venus collection uses oversized pearl buttons to create folds and drapes.
The Venus gown is made-to-measure, asymmetrical and perfect for that red-carpet moment when you need something unique. This brand is one to watch.
Cecilie Bahnsen Celine shirtdress
Erdem alum Cecilie Bahnsen moved back to her native Denmark in order to launch her own brand and expand her vision of femininity in oversized proportions.
Cecilie Bahnsen Celine organza oversized shirtdress, £1,113, matchesfashion.com
Her cloud-like dresses envelop with warmth and delicate beauty, and a clean colour palette of mostly black, white and pink make them perfect for a summer party.
Cottons, velvets, and shiny fil coupé mean you can find a dress for both sun-drenched situations or something for a starry night. Keep accessories simple and leave the supersized silhouette do all the talking.
Other brands I love that are sure to offer a dress for any occasion - whether garden party or black-tie event - are La Double J, Temperley London, Saloni, Maria Lucia Hohan, Alessandra Rich, Emilia Wickstead, Self-Portrait and Preen. Now you are well and truly covered, whatever the summer season has in store.