I experienced rain in Los Angeles for the first time. Like actual heavy-ish rain. Looking out at the drizzly skies felt weirdly appropriate though as we were standing in the ballroom of the Four Seasons, quaffing tea, chomping on cucumber sandwiches at the annual BAFTA tea party on Saturday. It was an odd place to find myself but I came on invitation by Mulberry who are a primary sponsor of the event for the second year running (along with Jaguar). I’ve missed out on all the LC:M action back in London this past weekend but curiosity got the better of me as to what exactly the deal was with the hype that surrounds awards season in Hollywood. In fact, just Hollywood in general – as in the industry of the film world, the celeb culture – was something that I’ve never really experienced before in LA. Plus selfishly, I thought it would be nice to get a few days of sun lounging around at legendary residence Chateau Marmont. Bar the sun, the weekend was definitely a fine taster of Hollywood at its busiest and buzziest.
Back to the tea party. We might have been made to feel at “home” with all the accoutrements of afternoon tea and British accents everywhere but the surroundings couldn’t have felt more alien to me. The room was thronging with BAFTA nominees and at every turn you’d be brushing past people that I’ve only ever seen on celluloid or in Getty photographs. Starstruck isn’t quite the right word. Starshocked? As in paralysed with fear because you’re feeling very little and insignificant in this razzle dazzle scheme of things? Oh look, Keira Knightley looking radiant (of course she’s radiant – she’s pregnant) in yellow. Marion Cotillard – eeeeeeek – literally awed by her beauty! Wes Anderson – would it be entirely improper to go up to him and tell him how deeply I’ve analysed his cinematography? Acclaimed set designer and Mulberry collaborator Michael Howells, kind gentleman that he is, was present to help guide me through this surreal setting. This sort of thing obviously doesn’t faze him. He tells me it’s all about nominees meeting ’n’ greeting the board of BAFTA voters – saying five second hello’s and how are you’s to hopefully garner their vote. No time to chit chat to randoms then. However Howells was gallant enough to manoeuvre our way to Eddie Redmayne, so that I could say how much he made me cry in The Theory of Everything. A ten second chat ensued before his agent swiftly ushered him off to the next important person. One line of dialogue with one nominee was more than I could handle. Note on images, the room was declared a “No Selfie” zone and my DSLR was duly barred.
Thankfully Mulberry were present to provide some light relief in the foyer. Cue a surreal sight of the likes of Ethan Hawke hammering away at their initials on leather bracelets at the Mulberry crafting stations. Cara Delevigne and Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith from Downton) also had a go. It’s definitely a lot easier hammering letters into leather than hanging out with Hollywood folk.
The night before at the Chateau Marmont, Mulberry had also hosted an informal dinner and cocktail party as well as a sneak screening of an upcoming short film. “Out of Towners” their now signature golden balloons spelled out over the pool, which pretty much summed up my state of being. Again, I floated around like a lost-ling as guests like Rosamund Pike and Dominic West milled about, until I was rescued by Emma Wyman, fashion editor of Dazed, who happens to be a native LA person. She went to school with Camille Belle, who was also at the party. Naturally. I’m going to go all teenage on you and *sigh* – will I ever get a clue and not be ridden with social awks? Didn’t help of course that I was also doing a social media takeover for Mulberry on their accounts for the weekend. I can but only ever be perpetually perplexed by this Hollywood hub-hub. At the end of the day, it’s not my world but I thank Mulberry wholeheartedly for the otherworldly experience.
From the perspective of Mulberry, their presence in Los Angeles and their ties with Hollywood is strategic of course to assert themselves in what is an important market to them. In Britain, Mulberry has been clouded with negative headlines regarding their profit fall and their inability to claw back the mid-range customer that appreciated their reasonably priced, British-made leather goods, That was recently quelled by the announcement that former Céline accessories maestro Johnny Coca will be taking over the creative director reins. Coca brings with him a track record of creating bona fide bag hits, which puts Mulberry in good stead when he begins in July this year.
In the meantime though, looking at their S/S 15 collection, it’s clear their in-house design team are doing a solid job of holding the fort. The clothes whilst always a sideline at an accessorised-focused brand like Mulberry, has highlights like a beautiful geometric floral jacquard, pretty broderie anglaise dresses in white and periwinkle blue and a lovely grey suit with flecks of embroidered parsley flowers. It’s all pretty English garden fare that is appropriate for this “holding” period as Mulberry prepares for Coca’s arrival.
On the bag front, the Cara 2-in-1 rucksack and tote combo marches on. The Lily turns mini. But the big Mulberry bag story of the season is definitely the Delphie. It’s cleverly constructed so that the front envelope flips around to the back to snap into place to create a different colourway/texture for the bag. The shoulder strap can also be shortened. It’s hard to describe in words or convey in pics but hopefully you get the idea with this Instagram vid and pics shot around the lovingly restored features of my Chateau Marmont room.