Alex and I have recently made a new bag discovery: Village England. Bags with the most impeccable credentials and high-end design (at a less than terrifying price point). Bags which, it transpires, are exactly what you need for work, weekend, hanging out with the children, high-powered meetings. There’s a (thoughtfully conceived, beautifully designed) bag in the Village England collection for you. Having fallen for the bags we had to know what makes the woman behind the brand tick, style-wise…
Julia worked for Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy for six years, including at stint at Celine. She left in 2012 and co-founded Village England, with business partner Eddie Knevett. They had spotted a gap in the market for beautifully made, thoughtfully designed British bags at achievable prices. So not high end luxe – but not what we think of as ‘high street plus’. She has a point. The affordable luxury market seems to be catered for by the big American brands (DKNY, Michael by Michael Kors – think the ubiquitous MK tote), but where is the British equivalent – the mid-market Mulberry? Village England is quintessentially British – Alex pointed out that most English of details: the stirrup (“you can’t take the horse-crazy years out of the girl”) – and utterly covetable. We particularly love the Cranleigh is the perfect size: comfortable enough to sling across your body; big enough to actually hold your essentials. The Ditchling is incredibly chic – perfect for work and weekend. And the Much Marcle is the perfect take-anywhere tote.
Do you have a favourite from the SS collection?
That’s a tough one to call… you go on such a journey with each collection before it is released that they all feel special! Everyone really loves the new colours of the Beamish, which was released last season, and I have been carrying the orange and the snake on rotation ever since I got my hands on the samples. It’s a really great everyday bag with chunky zips and lots of pockets.
Of course, like everybody I want to get my hands on what’s new, and the AW15 collection is particularly strong….
Which three styles of should everyone have in their accessories wardrobe?
A throw-it-all-in tote or hobo, something capacious and durable like our Beamish or Audlem bags. And then every girl has to have access to a clutch for special occasions: we are working on this and have a few exciting designs up our sleeve for next season. We’re doing clutches in a very Village way – detachable straps so you have options as to you wear it, depending on how you feel.
How would you describe your style?
Very casual with key investments in the extra details – shoes, jackets, jewellery.
I follow my mother’s mantra: ‘Good shoes, good haircut, good handbag.’ Get them right and you always look great. Since having the boys and starting Village England, I have become very adept at calculating what is strictly necessary to achieve what I want – anything else is a bonus reserved for when they invent an extra hour in the day.
What’s your go-to ‘uniform’?
Rolled-up jeans, t-shirt, simple jacket and boots. My clothes have to be practical as I am always on the move (and I have to be prepared for a battle with a tiger/Spiderman at a moment’s notice!)
Favourite high street destinations/designer labels?
What’s your ‘night out’ uniform?
The smile of someone in disbelief at their own luck. Nights out are something of a rarity for me nowadays!
How about shoes: are you a flats girl or a heel devotee?
Flats no question. I do have some amazing shoes from when I was at Céline as no one in the office had the right size feet for the samples. (We’re talking knee-length, snakeskin and a 110mm heel…), but frankly at 6 foot tall, if I put the heels on I can’t hear the conversation when we’re at the pub!
Favourite brand Isabel Marant. No question.
Tell us a little bit about your style world…
I love watching what’s happening in the industry, both straight of the catwalk and how the kookier of the bloggers will interpret the trend. At the end of the day, the lovely thing about getting older is not feeling obliged to do anything, wear anything or be anyone else but me. I get far more excited about a really interesting, well-crafted beautiful jacket that will last years than I will about whatever is this season’s must-have look.
Where do you shop for you children?
For my two boys – Bohdyn, 5, (who is called Boo mainly) and Atticus, 3, (who we call Tic) – I love Cos kids and Next. The boys have ripped an infinite number of trousers in their relatively short lives so I can’t get precious about their clothing. If they had their way they would wear superhero costumes all day every day…
The last 3 things you bought…
What will you be buying/investing in next?
Mmmmmmm. still wondering if I can justify the coat….
What’s your decor style?
The boys are totally into the Teenage Mutent Ninja Turtles, so I’m going to go with the Italian Renaissance!
What are your beauty and make-up must-haves?
I do love Aesop. Mascara, eye-liner and a bronzer for the darker months and I’m done. I do buy other stuff, it just never seems to make it onto my face.
Where do you shop for your home?
Ikea wineglasses and photo frames. Train station flowers for a treat if they take my fancy on the way home. We bought expensive sofas before we had children, how we’re pretty much waiting for them to leave home before we update!