An Annie Walwyn-Jones Fashion Event at Agapanthus
Stylish, feminine without being frou-frou, versatile, and just-the-right-degree-of-dressy for country nights, fashions by Annie Walwyn-Jones return to Agapanthus on Saturday, February 14, for a one-day event.
Walwyn-Jones, who came to the States from her native London in 1972 to attend Parsons School of Design, ended up staying on after she met fellow-Brit-turned-NY-banker Murdoch Morrison at a party. They married, had two children, Kate and James, and, all the while, Annie pursued her career as a designer of apparel and accessories for such specialty stores as Takashimaya, Felissimo, Paul Smith, Henri Bendel, Ad Hoc , and the Whitney Store Next Door. In the more recent past, during that period we now think of fondly as “the boom,” she concentrated on doing bespoke versions of her look, producing one-of-a-kind custom-fitted pieces for private clients—an idea whose time, needless to say, has come and gone. “The goal now,” she says, “is to bring the cost down, so we can make the clothes available to a wider audience.” Example: a skirt that made-to-measure would sell for $295 is now $195.
Whether bespoke or off-the-rack, Walwyn-Jones clothes give good value. Though witty, they never seem to go out of style in that way “amusing” clothes almost invariably do. “Many people who loved my designs in the 1970s still wear those garments today,” she says.
Her clothes are also versatile. This reversible silk duppioni, pleated, one-size-fits-most, wrap-skirt, for example, is suitable for day or evening, summer or winter. The black details and big bow (left) suggest evening, perhaps paired with a black camisole in summer or black tights and a sweater in winter. Reverse it, tie the belt more simply (right) or wind-and-tuck it cummerbund-style, and you’ve got a leg up on a summer look that works day or night. “You don’t want a piece where’s there’s nothing you can put with it,” she says. “That’s deadly.” Silk wrap skirt, $265.
Walwyn-Jones is also a judicious proponent of color. “The no-color thing is sort of lazy,” she says of the sea of black, brown and gray one is likely to encounter in any nearby roomful of people, especially at this time of year. “I’m not saying I’m not guilty of it, but especially in this physical and fiscal climate, it’s important to look cheery, On the other hand, too much color can be overwhelming, like a too-rich meal.”
For all the years Walwyn-Jones has lived in the States, there remains something pointedly British about her style. “I think a lot of English women make an effort to be less asexual and a bit more feminine,” she says. “They also are accustomed to dressing up. I grew up in the school where, on the weekend, you did things outdoors all day—riding, shooting, tennis—then you came in and changed. When everybody dresses up a little, it makes for a more exciting evening.” The dress at the top of the page, $475.
This large (44”) silk-chiffon scarf (right) comes in many colors and can be used as a shawl in summer or wrapped several times around the throat for draught-control in winter. In the latter configuration, the three different scales of white dots on the black border play off one another to interesting affect. Scarf, $175
Pucker up: Many of Walwyn-Jones skirts rely on unpressed horitzontal pleating— she calls it “origami”, we think of it as a sort of post-modern ruffle—for interest. “The origami skirts are flattering—they neither puff nor cling—instead, they skim over the body in a very easy way,” she says. By undoing one or more rows of snaps, the wearer can lengthen the skirt; the snap rings then form a pattern Walwyn-Jones calls “architectural.” Origami wool jersey skirt, $195.
“Life is not a dress rehearsal, so we have to make the best of it,” says Walwyn-Jones, with a suitably stiff upper lip. “Even if we haven’t had our bread buttered on both sides lately.”
Annie Walwyn-Jones at Agapanthus
329 Main Street, Lakeville; 860.435.8900
Saturday, February 14; noon - 5 p.m.