Flouncing around in pastel pinks ended in the spring of 1986, when I was given carte blanche to choose my own clothes. Fussy florals were relegated and hallelujah – it was finally time to bring out the black. Like most British girls born in the early 1970s, I’d spent much of my childhood dressed like an extra from Little House on the Prairie, with wholesome waist-length pigtails and frilly pinafores, so the departure over to the dark-side felt undeniably rebellious.
We’ve all been duped into thinking that wearing darker shades when the sun starts beaming is counterproductive, but actually, that’s not the case. There’s plenty of science to suggest that opting for inky tones when the temperature rises will help keep you cool. Researchers have studied the black robes worn by Bedouins in the desert and found that heat absorbed by the fabric doesn’t get transmitted to the skin, thanks to the atmospheric cooling properties of convection. For those of us who flunked physics, it basically means that although black absorbs sunlight, it also absorbs body heat, but the inevitable breezes that blow between fabric and skin ensure we don’t overheat. Clever.
Studio Nicholson have taken heed of this ancient practice and chosen an alternative route for Summer 2020. Taking inspiration from the work of mid-century abstract artist Victor Passmore, rich dark saturated hues form the basis for the collection, with optic whites taking more of an understated highlight role. Hot tomato reds, forest fern greens, burnt browns, blacks and midnight blues span the separates, signalling a sophisticated shift in our perception of dressing when the mercury hits double figures.
Passmore famously deconstructed forms using a series of lines and geometric shapes, creating distance from each element. Deploying a similar method for pattern-cutting, the sensation of shadow and freedom runs through every element of the Summer 2020 – silhouettes are elongated and distorted, reminiscent of the fading light of golden hour on long summer nights. Standout pieces include the Patmos Pant in Seersucker Cotton, worn at the natural waist with balloon shaped leg and cropped just above the ankle; available in Black, Winter White and Navy. The Zahara Dress in Double Viscose anchors from the shoulder and tumbles down to pleats that flow vertically down towards the full-length hem. When worn over the Greta Pant, the combination feels more unisex, more tailored tomboy; a modern mix of masculine and feminine. Cut to hover over the hip, the Powder Cotton Bahia Shirt is cropped for summer comfort, designed to be worn untucked. Available in Grey White, Optic White and Black, the short sleeves gather into deep, boxy cuffs that finish elegantly, just past the elbow. Seasonal hero however, is the Ortiga Mac – a bonded seam, Cotton Twill staple for unpredictable summertime showers. A functional, double breasted calf-skimming layer in Ash Green or Tan, it’s certified to stand-out as the ideal outer-shell, engineered to jigsaw harmoniously alongside every other element of the Studio Nicholson modular wardrobe.