In conversation with Catherine Quin

1. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE A ‘DISTILLED WARDROBE’

Effortless, streamlined, purposeful, considered, borderless, tonal.

A ‘distilled wardrobe’ is all the hardworking, investment pieces that give you easy, throw on polish. It’s effortless, pared back and ultimately very liberating.

It means you always have something to wear, pieces that are relevant to the life you actually live. It gives you piece of mind and confidence when you’re traveling and want to feel like your suitcase has as many options as your wardrobe at home. Even though our London Suitcase only features 11 pieces, the last time we counted we created over 30 different outfits. Ultimately these pieces streamline your life and your suitcase, saving you time and money.

 

2. DO YOU FEEL LIKE CATHERINE QUIN REFLECTS YOUR OWN STYLE & VALUES?

 Yes, I guess the brand is very autobiographical. I started it to build the kind of wardrobe I wanted to wear and what I think a modern woman needs in her life to get her through the different challenges that present themselves throughout her day, her week, her travels etc.

 The designs themselves are really connected to my own personal style. I look at my wardrobe and think about what’s still relevant – which pieces I’ve had the longest and which ones work the hardest. I’m still wearing styles from my very first collection which really demonstrates how timeless yet modern the pieces are. That’s how they become our signature classics and evergreen styles. When I can wear them year after year and they still feel fresh, I know they need to stick with us for the long haul.

3. DO YOU HAVE A SIGNATURE STYLE?

One thing people might not know about me and my own personal style is that I only wear black. So my wardrobe is even more restrained than the average minimalist! This means that all our CQ designs are made up in black for me and this is something we offer to our customers as well. Black is always a CQ signature so even when there’s nothing included in a release, it’s possible to have any style made to order in black.

4. WHY DID YOU INTRODUCE THE NEW  ‘SUITCASE’ CONCEPT?

We’ve always set out to create garments that build a modern wardrobe; timeless pieces and tonal layers that live on season after season, simplifying the modern woman’s life and daily routine. We’re now just taking this concept another step further by developing a unique proposition that addresses the challenges faced by the independent woman on her travels.

We want to do more than just design clothes, we want to provide a solution.  I’ve always been concerned with how our lifestyles are evolving. Travel has become such an essential part of many women’s lives. No one wants endless luggage weighing them down, yet we all want to look put together. I wanted to provide an antidote to decision fatigue and feel free on my travels, unencumbered by the weight of decision or the weight of my bag.

“We spent a lot of time actually packing the ‘suitcase’ ourselves and changing fabrications just because they were simply not ideal for traveling – they might have been creasing too easily or just a little too bulky to fit neatly into the suitcase.”

5. WHAT WAS YOUR DESIGN PROCESS BEHIND THIS FIRST RELEASE?

Well as we’re introducing a new concept as well as new designs, there was a lot of consideration given to our own travel habits and needs when we’re on the road. I asked a lot of friends how they pack and what’s the most stressful thing they find about traveling.

Our design process was informed by all those small details that can make a big difference to travel. We spent a lot of time actually packing the ‘suitcase’ ourselves and changing fabrications just because they were simply not ideal for traveling – they might have been creasing too easily or just a little too bulky to fit neatly into the suitcase. 

When designing we made sure to try different weights of fabric to see which travelled best. With our new Bozzetti top for instance, we wanted to make sure the silk was lightweight enough to be rolled up into virtually nothing in your suitcase, but still had enough weight to maintain the right fluidity and make sure it wasn’t too transparent. It’s all very purposeful and considered.

We’re also really attuned to the time of year of each release. We know that September is such a transitional month when the weather starts getting cooler, so for this release we wanted to make sure you could layer everything for when it was colder but still have pieces lightweight enough for those freakish hot days.

6. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO OFFER THE WHOLE WARDROBE AS A SET? 

The major motivation for creating our new ‘suitcase’ concept was to take the stress out of packing. We decided that we should offer three different shopping options for our clients- you can shop per item; or a segment of the suitcase (where you can pick your favourite 4 styles); or by purchasing the whole suitcase.

There are a number of benefits of buying the entire suitcase – there’s a greater saving for the consumer as we offer a preferential price for the suitcase, compared to buying a single item. So it’s great value for money. But importantly you’re also buying into a stress free packing experience. The concept reduces production and consumerist excess, while offering an easy, reliable solution for your next trip.

7. CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR PERSONAL PACKING LIST

1. Tailored blazer

I always pack a tailored blazer because it’s the piece that will always make you look put together. We’ve created my very favourite, the ‘St Germain blazer,’ for this release. It’s long, and double-breasted and hides a multitude of sins. You can wear it with leggings and a t-shirt on the plane to smarten up (and it will cover your bum and stomach thankfully!) You can then pair it with tailored trousers giving you a slick, sophisticated suit.

2. T-shirt

We’ve never released a cotton basic before but I wanted to make sure that this suitcase really reflected the life I live when I’m traveling. So we created the tailored ‘Francis t-shirt’ that is the perfect length to tuck into trousers and has a neat fit to wear under a blazer without being too bulky. 

3. Cropped trousers

September is such a transitional time of year I wanted to make sure that the ‘Napione trousers’ were cropped so you can wear them with some flat sandals without the hems dragging on the floor. It’s also nice to see a flash of ankle and hopefully as the seasons begin to change it’s not too cold yet to give you a chill!

4. Cashmere piece

No matter what time of year you always want something cosy and comforting to wrap yourself in, whether that’s on the plane or for layering in the evening. Our cashmere boucle ‘Porcelain dress’ is just so soft it’s hard to take off.  It’s also sleeveless to make sure you don’t get too hot and making it easier to layer over other pieces such as our shirtdress.

5. Shirt dress

Shirtdresses are the original double duty item because they’re just so versatile. The buttons give you so much flexibility about how you wear it – you can undo them for a really relaxed look or close them right up to the collar and immediately look sharp and sophisticated. Our ‘Wissant shirtdress’ comes with a handy belt so you can make it more form fitting or relaxed depending on your needs. It also looks equally good with sandals, sneakers or boots.

6. Relaxed jumpsuit

I love pieces that are totally effortless, that are a one-stop shop – a single piece that you can just throw on and you’re done. We wanted something a little lighter for September so we created the ‘Biron jumpsuit’ which has short sleeves and is slightly cropped. I can wear it with sneakers or sandals during the day and then just change into heels and I’m set for a party.

7. Slip dress

The slip dress is a great all rounder – it can be a foundation piece for layering, or worn alone to show a bit more skin if you’re going out. Over trousers with a blazer is my preferred style. Our new Rodin slip dress is made out of a really gorgeous linen/silk blend and it’s so comfortable that I’ve actually been wearing it as a nightdress the last month. 

8. Shoes

I always pack a pair of smart flats, sneakers and one pair of heels. And then, whether its summer or winter, I always pack a pair of flip flops! Even in the winter I always find it useful to have something you can slip on at a moments notice and dash down to the hotel lobby or across the street.

 

8. WHERE CAN WE SEE, TRY AND BUY CATHERINE QUIN

Well obviously we have a brand new store on our website where you can buy everything CQ. But we also have a beautiful studio and showroom in Kensington where we invite clients and press to visit us, letting them touch and feel the designs. It’s appointment only but we love having clients over to show them what new styles we have to offer, different ways of wearing and styling them all. We really value the opinions of our clients so I love having that opportunity for feedback.

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