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Designer Pippa Holt Reveals Her Secrets To Chic Summer Dressing

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From celebrity stylist to fashion designer Pippa Holt grew up in Australia, styled for Vogue, and now designs a collection of kaftans. Who better to ask about the secrets of chic summer dressing? Former Vogue contributing editor Pippa Holt grew up in Melbourne before moving to London at the age of 23. The now Dublin-based mother-of-three styled celebrities including Cara Delevingne, Sienna Miller and Keira Knightley during her time at Vogue. The 41-year-old recently launched her first collection of kaftans.

I ALWAYS TRY TO ADD A TOUCH OF THE UNEXPECTED TO MAKE AN OUTFIT FEEL MY OWN. Items that catch my eye tend to have a point of difference. American Glamour’s fashion director Jillian Davison, who is a good friend, told me that she likes how I do “high-low dressing”. I’d never heard that term before! But I guess it’s true. I like to wear a €5 shell necklace with a Birkin bag.

MY WISH LIST FOR THIS SEASON INCLUDES a green tie-dye dress by Altuzarra (I can wear it to the beach, to a meeting or smart up for dinner – versatility is important). I haven’t taken off my black leather fur-trimmed Gucci loafers since November, so I’ve bought another pair, but in pale blue floral brocade. I’ll wear Isabel Marant’s crazy ethnic skirt covered in Moroccan studs with a white shirt or classic grey sweater, and with black Manolo Blahnik gladiator sandals. Chloé’s multi-coloured striped sandals and an ARossGirl Adriana Santiago hat (made in Guatemala) are also in my sights, as well as the Wynona black fringed wetsuit from Abysse. I’d also love Isabel Marant’s silver jumpsuit and a pair of Sanayi 313 flat mules with pom-poms.

I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DESIGN A HOLIDAY LINE I have a BA in fashion design. When I lived in Texas for a year I met a group of weavers in Mexico and fell in love with their work. Four years later, after having had my third child, I decided it was the right time to launch Pippa Holt Kaftans. Each piece is handmade in a remote village in Mexico and takes one month to finish. The kaftans are made with naturally dyed cotton and woven on a traditional backstrap loom, so each one is a completely unique piece. They are the easiest and most comfortable things to throw on, too. Australians don’t make a big deal about dressing for the beach, and I think my collection offers that same sense of freedom. When I’m in Dublin, I wear a kaftan with a white shirt layered underneath.

Pippa Holt Kaftan

Pippa Holt Kaftan

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED ABOUT STYLE AT VOGUE was to be an individual and stick to your own style. Trends come and go, but it’s always a good idea to stick to shapes and cuts that suit you.

TOPSHOP IS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE HIGH STREET STORES. I love their Hayden jeans. I always go there before a holiday to inject a bit of fun and freshness into my holiday wardrobe.

I GREW UP SURROUNDED BY FASHIONABLE WOMEN, so my half-sister and I were bound to wind up working in the industry. My grandmother, Dame Zara Holt, was a fashion designer. She founded a label called Magg in Melbourne in the 1950s, and a Magg dress hangs today in the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia. She had a wonderful style that resonated with me for life. My mother always wore the most incredible clothes when she collected me from school. As a child, I was incredibly embarrassed by her “out there” Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons clothes. Of course, now I appreciate them! She managed the Melbourne Hermès boutique for 20 years and bought the collections twice yearly in Paris up until last year. My sister was creative director of Australian lifestyle and fashion brand Country Road for 20 years.

SINCE HAVING CHILDREN, I NEED CLOTHES THAT I CAN MOVE and feel comfortable in so that I can deal with car seats, strollers and all the action involved in being a mother of three under the age of five! J.Crew and Frame Denim are great for this as are For Restless Sleepers silk pyjamas (they’re not actually meant to be slept in!). A great coat is an easy way to look smart on the school run, even when you feel exhausted. I have a gorgeous furry statement coat from Joseph, a slick Céline tweed coat and a Chloé coat trimmed with leather fringing, which I cinch at the waist with an Hermès Collier de Chien belt.

MY GRANDMOTHER WAS FLAMBOYANT, ORIGINAL AND WONDERFUL both in how she dressed and how she looked at life. She’s the most stylish woman I’ve ever known. Married to Australia’s Prime Minister, Harold Holt, she did crazy things like paint the PM’s residence in Canberra hot pink! She taught me how to draw ball gowns from the moment I could hold a crayon. She had holiday homes by the sea in far North Queensland and next to the Great Barrier Reef, and it was the memory of her on the lawn with electric blue butterflies whizzing past, and her style of tropical dressing that inspired my collection of kaftans.

MY MOST TREASURED ITEMS are a set of pearls left to me by my grandmother, a Balenciaga blazer with fur collar from a past collection, and an Hermès Birkin given to me by my parents for my 30th birthday.

You can read this piece in the July issue of Image Magazine which is now available nationwide.

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