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Designer Dossier: Mulberry

Mulberry Designer, Emma Hill

Mulberry Designer, Emma Hill

Today, the name Mulberry immediately brings to mind the ubiquitous Alexa bag, a major Target Collaboration, and a ton of celebrities going about dangling these lust-worthy It bags. But back in the 70s when the brand was born, Mulberry was zero glitz, one hundred percent functional and relatively unknown, particularly stateside. It wasn't until 2003, the year of the Bayswater, a logo-less top-handled shoulder tote, that a hero was born. And once Kate Moss, arguably the number one fashion icon of this generation, was snapped carrying this heritage bag, it was only a matter of time before the brand became a fashion household name. 

Flash-forward to 2008 when the brand's current creative designer, Emma Hill, took the reins, ushering in a new mood and vision for the Mulberry label. In the few years since Hill joined Mulberry, she has not only resided over the company's biggest hits like the Alexa (named after Alexa Chung), the upgraded Bayswater, and the more recent Del Rey (inspired by singer-siren Lana del Rey), she is also responsible for evolving the brand from an accessories line to a global fashion powerhouse. Before Hill came on board, Mulberry was best known for its functional briefcases and wallets, and now its got a huge cult following with a very lucrative celebrity tie-in. While it's the accessories, namely the bags, that remain the brand's strongest sellers, it's the label's RTW collection that has shown the most signs of progression. From whimsical lineups inspired by film including a collection taken right out of Where the Wild Things Are — think goat-hair outerwear — to its most recent Alice in Wonderland-themed Fall 2013 show, there is a real sense of British luxury, prominently evident with a sense of quirk. A quality that Hill is not only responsible for, but also very proud of. 

Mulberry Bags

Left to right: Alexa, Del Rey, Bayswater

Born in London but made in New York, Hill has spent the majority of her career working in the Big Apple, designing bags for the likes of Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein. However, unlike most fashion designers who exude glam 24-7, it's her warm non-fashiony, slightly kooky demeanor that makes her so unique and likeable. In an interview with the UK's Guardian, the reporter confides to the reader, "It's impossible to imagine any American designer being interviewed backstage in such low key clothes, and you can't help but warm to her instantly for it." Which comes as no surprise that Mulberry, very much like Hill, is quintessentially a British brand. With heritage qualities on the forefront, but a bit undone, there is nothing remotely precious about this Brit label. And that's exactly why we love it so much.