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How interiors reached the height of fashion

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Billie Bhatia
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How interiors reached the height of fashion.

We’re replacing It bags with designer vases, cushions and even dinner plates. Stylist explores how interiors have become the new fashion statement.

For many years, fashion and interiors lived like friendly neighbours. They regularly peeked into each other’s homes and occasionally dropped by for tea, but for the most part they stayed in their respective houses.

However, their friendship over the past few years has blossomed to such an extent that they have decided to knock down their separating wall and live in harmonious union – each bringing something to the other’s world.

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From Alessandro Michele’s bold vision at Gucci, where sequin-encrusted dresses sit alongside serpent-embroidered cushions and maximalist printed wallpaper, to Preen by Thornton Bregazzi’s ditsy floral bedspread, the world of fashion has had a welcome invasion from style-led interiors. Earlier this month, we saw colour connoisseur Jonathan Saunders join the fray, pivoting from fashion to interior design with his newly launched arty furniture line.

Since Matchesfashion.com launched its Home category in 2018, the platform has been an unstoppable force in the industry. Housing exclusive designer collaborations and a curated edit of products, this season sees the e-commerce platform add another 25 new designers to its roster, bringing its total amount of home products to 2,125. To put that into context, its Dresses category – the biggest on its site – currently has 2,968 styles. That’s how in-demand these products are. 

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“Homeware has become an extension of people’s fashion identity,” says Chelsea Power, senior buyer at Matchesfashion.com. “More people are entertaining at home and want their houses to look as elevated as the clothes they wear – and to reflect their personal style. So expanding our product offering to homeware was a really natural development for us as a fashion retailer.”

Fashion’s new status symbol

This cross-pollination of fashion and interiors has meant that It status is no longer resigned to bags, shoes or dresses. Now vases, lampshades, crockery, candles and even napkins have the potential to reach such a rank.

Recently, Stylist ran an entire article on Anissa Kermiche’s insta-famous Love Handles vase (pictured below), a piece that has proven so popular that it’s graduated from cult buy to full-blown icon. Its curvaceous lines, and even curvier derrière, have seemingly made their way into the homes of every fashion insider, and subsequently all over your Instagram feed. So even if you didn’t know the vase by name, you knew it by sight: an indication of true It-worthy status.

Female form interior design trend: Matches Fashion vase

Similarly, Matilda Goad’s scalloped-edged lampshade has become as covetable as a new-season designer bag, while Loewe’s raw-but-refined blankets are elevating sofas across the world. Designers aren’t the only ones taking a cut of the action either, as the trend hits the high street. Constantly diversifying their offering to feed our interiors appetite, we find ourselves dropping into Zara Home and H&M Home as regularly as we do their clothing counterparts.

But why now? Why have fashionable interiors exploded in such a way that we are replacing our lust for the latest Bottega Veneta bag with an unbridled desire for Peter Pilotto dinner plates and a candlestick shaped like a woman’s bust? (Another Kermiche special, FYI.) The answer is as multifaceted as the Petersham Nurseries glassware that’s currently, or at least about to be, in your shopping basket.

First, there’s the question of consumption. In fashion, the conversation around sustainability is only getting louder as we see an obvious shift in consumer attitudes towards buying pieces that will truly last. But with interiors, trends evolve more slowly, making them relevant for much longer than their fast-fashion cousins. 

Designer and creative consultant Matilda Goad explains: “Investing in something for your home is so much more wholesome than fashion because it has longevity. If you buy a lamp for your home, it’s there for the long haul. It’s not like buying a dress that you’ll wear once, before it slips to the back of your wardrobe for the next three months.” This longevity brings with it a weighted consideration, unlike those panic-bought shoes for a party or even a back-up swimsuit for a holiday, despite the often similar price tag.

In the same vein as sustainability, the conversation around inclusivity roars even louder in fashion. Unlike clothing, homeware doesn’t discriminate against size, sex, race or ability. Instead, it’s free from fashion’s notorious exclusivity, allowing customers to buy into brands at often far more accessible price points than ready-to-wear pieces and – bonus – it doesn’t matter what you look like.

You don’t have to fit into an aesthetic, suit a particular shape, cut or colour; you don’t need to turn away when you realise they don’t stock your size. “The way I dress is quite confined to my body shape, whereas in your home you can be so much freer,” says Goad. It’s true: interiors are welcoming everyone (pay day balance dependent) to join in the conversation by letting you buy into a fashionable lifestyle with their non-discriminatory products.

When private becomes public

Like lots of things to do with our lives now, this rise of fashion and interiors can be pinned on social media. Humans are nosy by nature, that’s why we look into houses as we walk past, why we peek through fences and holes into gardens, and why MTV’s Cribs was one of the network’s most-watched shows. What has previously been considered a very private space is now becoming increasingly public.

“Previously, only a handful of people would see our homes, but now that’s not the case thanks to FaceTime, TikTok, Instagram and reality TV,” says consumer psychologist Patrick Fagan. “We share everything online and things that were once private are now monitored. We are social animals and we tend to follow the crowds; we also tend to mimic what we see on TV, since it makes behavioural schemata accessible.”

So when we see our favourite fashion industry insider showcasing their latest designer wares while perched on a reclining rattan chair next to a large conch shell bowl filled with Sicilian lemons, we’re influenced by it all. Which is why when we take ourselves to Homesense at the weekend and spy a large conch shell bowl for a not-too-pricey £14.99, we can see exactly what we want to do with it: we recreate the looks we’ve pinned and saved online and feel like we, too, are still part of the fashionable crowd.

But feelings of style-led satisfaction aside, creatively curating our surrounds can fall into the wider pursuit of wellbeing, and it’s a way of expressing our identity. “Just like how we saw a rise in activewear a few years ago, there is now this extension of taking care of the home as much as your body,” says Ida Petersson, womenswear and menswear buying director at Browns Fashion. “It’s about ensuring you have a space that feels like your own, and in return is a reflection and an expression of who you are as a person.”

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The trend is arguably a sign of the times. A few years ago, our generation would rarely consider spending our hard-earned salaries on something designer-esque for the home – there were far more important things than that: hyped trainers, designer handbags, going out for drinks and dinners. We certainly weren’t factoring linen napkins into our pay-day wish list. 

Today, it’s a different story. Market insights agency Mintel found that UK homeware sales hit £13.3 billion in 2018, a 2.5% year-on-year rise, largely driven by millennials. Because it doesn’t matter whether it’s cushions, candles or an abstract trinket that brings you joy, the point is that we’re spending more and more of our disposable income on anything that can help us put an individual stamp on our generic rental properties now that so few of us can afford to own homes.

It’s why creating a safe and welcoming space to come back to has become a key priority – and that’s also largely down to how much more time we are spending at home, too. In this age of box sets, food delivery apps and Scandi trends revolving around moderation and getting cosy at home (think hygge, lagom et al), staying in is also a desirable lifestyle choice.

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Morning coffee conversations in the Stylist office are regularly centred around the latest must-watch TV episode that aired the night before, or the obscure yoga class someone attended before heading home with a take-away stick of palo santo. Rarely is the topic of discussion about the scandalous night out in a Soho club or a dinner with friends that got way out of control.

“We have limited time, energy and brainpower, and we are evolutionarily hardwired to conserve it as much as possible,” explains Fagan. “Thanks to tech advances, we don’t really need to leave our houses any more. Why go to the cinema when we have Netflix? Why go out to a restaurant when we have Deliveroo? Why go to the pub when we have Facebook? We can stay in to do these things, saving our energy and avoiding potential risks.”

So, as we spend more time at home, are designers simply doing the same? Now they’re expanding their worlds to move with the changing landscape, and that isn’t solely about the turning tides of trends on the catwalk (which coincidentally have slowed down dramatically), but refocusing on home as a fashionable platform. After all, as Justin Thornton of Preen by Thornton Bregazzi says, “We all want to make our homes as wonderful as our wardrobes.”

The new It interiors

Main image: courtesy of Gucci by Simon 171

Product images: courtesy of brands

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Billie Bhatia

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