Change was fast and furious during the 1960s, marking a revolution in everything from politics
Cate Allan, the daughter of the iconic fashion name, revived her father’s brand in 2014; the company had been sold in 1989, a move that caused many of his innovative designs to be lost or destroyed.
Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Allan revealed some of the inspirations behind her father’s designs and the impact they had on women’s liberation.
“My father’s incredible success was due in part to the fact he combined the classic vehicle of a headscarf (as it was worn then) with bold design and dramatic colouration,” Allan says.
“Not only did this liberate the way in which women could dress up a garment with a scarf, it also realised art into fashion.”
The company director added that her father found inspiration in whatever caught his eye, from the seemingly mundane, to his hero William Morris and the patterns of Piccadilly’s neon displays.
“He saw line and design at the forefront of his vision. He would enthuse about the lines of a sports car, the architecture of a building, or the detail of a painting,” Allan explains.
“He was enthralled by the avant garde and contemporary as well as the historic.”
It is these attributes that H&M has homed in on for its upcoming collection, which delivers a wide range of stylish dresses, blouses, skirts, shirts, trousers and, of course, scarves, through Allan’s lens.
Designed by an H&M in-house team, the silhouettes are long and eyecatching, with details such as high necklines, wide cuffs and soft pleats, while the colour palette and prints are a reawakening of swinging Sixties London.
Allan hopes that the new collaboration with H&M will be a fitting tribute to her father’s legacy and help deliver his enduring designs to an entirely new audience.
“I think my father would have hugely enjoyed working with H&M on this collaboration. I have really appreciated not only the enthusiasm and respect for my father’s work, but H&M’s keen vision towards building the collaboration,” Allan says.
“Not only does it allow for the creative re-imagining of Richard Allan print designs and colours to be taken off a square and adapted to clothing forms, allowing the designs to be used in new and fresh ways, but it takes Richard Allan to a totally new audience.”
Allan also commends the high street fashion brand for keeping her father’s original colourations in the upcoming collection, saying: “While these colours fit the current fashion palettes they also resonate from the 1960’s enhancing the sense of the period whilst re-inventing the patterns to create a totally new and fresh collection.
“This use of past designs and colours to create contemporary collections is truly inspired and absolutely keeps my father’s vision.”
Maria Östblom, head of womenswear design at H&M, adds that the wonderful prints and exuberant spirit of swinging London still feel very now.
“We’re absolutely elated to be collaborating with one of the most statement-making print designers from this time,” Östblom says.
“By taking these classic vintage prints from scarves and reimagining them in a new context, the pieces from the H&M x Richard Allan collection feel both strong and feminine, yet with a sophisticated touch.”
The new H&M x Richard Allan collection is launching in selected stores worldwide, as well as online, from 22 August.