Fashion / Style

Top Designer Brings the Hollywood Razzle Dazzle to London — and Houston — Rather Than New York: Embracing a Blonde Bombshell Shows Jenny Packham a New Way

BY // 10.05.18

For the past 17 years, Jenny Packham has unveiled her latest collections at New York Fashion Week. But to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her namesake label, the designer — a favorite of Hollywood stars and British royalty — returned to her native England during London Fashion Week.

Packham turned her flagship store in London’s posh Mayfair into an intimate showcase for her spring/summer ’19 collection, which was inspired by 1930s film star Jean Harlow, During a trip to Los Angeles earlier this year, Packham became fascinated with Harlow after happening upon a tribute to the silver screen icon at the Hollywood Museum.

Packham named the collection “Today is Tonight” after the title of a novel written by Harlow, who died at age 26 in 1937 . The designer even included some personal mementos — sunglasses, silk gloves, a Max Factor pressed powder case — of the star, who was known as the “Blonde Bombshell” and was the top box office draw in her time.

The collection features show-stopping gowns trimmed in Swarovski crystals, ostrich feathers, and art deco beading, with miles of tulle ruffles and intricate pleating.

Packham is bringing the collection to Houston next Thursday, October 11 for the “Razzle Dazzle Goes Royal” Luncheon, benefitting the Bobetta C. Lindig Breast Care Center at Memorial Hermann Memorial City. She will also make a personal appearance at Elizabeth Anthony, which carries the Packham line.

In this exclusive interview, with PaperCity, Packham talks about why the collection means so much to her and what she is most looking forward to during her Houston visit.

PaperCity: Why did you return to London to unveil your latest collection?

Jenny Packham: 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of Jenny Packham. In celebration, I was delighted to return to London to present my spring summer 2019 collection at London Fashion Week to international press and buyers with an exclusive exhibition at our Mayfair Townhouse. It felt right to be back in London to mark this milestone year.

PC: Why did you decide to do an intimate presentation instead of a blowout runway show?

JP: I love a catwalk show and would never rule out a return to the runway, but I think it really is so special to see the collection and craftsmanship up close during a presentation and in an intimate setting. I also love having the opportunity to catch up with press and buyers — it makes for a nice change compared to the wonderful, yet crazy atmosphere backstage!

Jenny Packham
Jenny Packham

PC: Your anniversary collection is a tribute to Jean Harlow. How did that come about and what is it about a 1930s movie star that continues to resonate today?

JP: The spring summer 2019 collection is inspired by Jean Harlow, the iconic screen star of 1930s Pre-code Hollywood. She was undoubtedly the ‘It Girl’ of the era and challenged the feminine ideals of the time. Her personal style was playful and her cinematic wardrobe legendary for its sultry satin gowns.

I hoped to capture her radiance, vibrancy and wit and create a collection of contemporary styles from the rich and scandalous archives of Jean’s short-lived life.

PC: The finale “Jean” gown is getting a lot of attention. Can you talk about how it came about and how it was made?

JP: “Jean “is one of my favorite pieces from the latest collection — an ivory silk habotai gown with Swarovski crystal floral embellished tulle bodice and a powder pink silk ribbon. The delicate pin tucking on the skirt took six days alone to create in the atelier!

This gown was inspired by a portrait that Jean’s mother had commissioned of the actress after her death. Jean is depicted in an ivory gown with a pink ribbon around her waist — it is my take on her final bow.

PC: Have you been to Houston before?

JP: I have been lucky enough to visit Houston a few times. It is always such a pleasure to meet our glamorous customers and I am very much looking forward to returning and meeting everyone at the event on Thursday, 11th October. Museum visits, delicious dinners and sketching for the next collection are also on the agenda!

Tickets to the “Razzle Dazzle Goes Royal Luncheon” start at $250 and are available here. Packham will also greet clients at Elizabeth Anthony on October 11 and 12.

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - On the Runway Spring 2019
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