Have you heard of Nocturne? No? Then let us introduce you. Founded by elusive French designer Claudine Bertinotti Lenoble, the innovative label crafts statement pieces to decorate both your jewellery box and your wardrobe. Think classic European sensibilities, infused with hand-finished Asian craftsmanship and you’re there. With Creative Director Catherine Howkins at the helm and a head office at the heart of East London’s creativity, Nocturne is storming through the sea of womenswear brands and we’re right on board.
Tell us a little about your journey into fashion.
I was actually very young when I knew I wanted to work in fashion. I had an art teacher at school who specialised in fashion illustration; she was one of those rare and special teachers you’ll never forget.
How long have you been at Nocturne for?
I came to Nocturne in 2011; I met the founders and immediately understood their love of Asian artisan crafts. The French family that founded Nocturne moved from Paris to Asia in the 1970’s and have an appreciation of Asian culture, with a European eye and this is very much at the heart of the brand. I was really interested in combining this with a London sensibility, using modern materials and silhouettes.
If you had to describe Nocturne in five words, they would be…
Artisan, decorative, contemporary, wearable, fun.
What makes Nocturne special?
We embrace colour, texture and detail. Also, there is an enormous amount of hand-craftsmanship involved in creating every style — that’s quite unusual today.
Tell us about the inspiration behind Nocturne’s latest collection
We were inspired by Yunnan landscape paintings and the Tangram, an ancient Chinese puzzle made from triangles and rectangles. In terms of a muse for this season’s collection, it had to be 1950’s Brazilian artist Lygia Clark. She worked with bold geometric form in black and white and her work had a unique flow and femininity that that still remains completely modern — she was definitely a pioneer.
How would you describe the vibe in Nocturne’s head office?
We are an all-female team and really enjoy working together to create something new. It’s innovative, cultured and open-minded. Our studio lies at the heart of a young, creative hub between Shoreditch and Dalston. The area is constantly changing and every day we discover new cafés and pop ups, along with interesting people. There is a genuine creative community around us, which means we are frequently able to collaborate on inspiring projects – sometimes beyond clothing, to articulate the Nocturne brand.
If Nocturne could dress any person in the world, past or present, who would it be?
That’s a hard question! There are so many incredibly stylish muses, past and present. For AW15 we looked at the timeless elegance of women like Elisa Sednaoui and injected some edge inspired by New York girls such as Jen Brill.
What would you say is the key to honing your own personal style/wardrobe?
I really value quality in everything and religiously check compositions, fastenings, seams and handwork. As a designer, it’s hard to be any other way!
The balcony garden at Nocturne’s head office is really beautiful. Would you say the head office are a green-fingered bunch?
We try! We all rally together to keep the studio fresh and inviting, collecting pots and vases on our travels and bringing in fresh flowers or new plants. We were lucky enough to entice the lovely ladies at Grace & Thorn in Hackney to help us to create our balcony garden, which our studio opens onto, overlooking the canal. It’s been a real gem this summer.
Photographer: Arianna Lago
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