Mulberry Fall 2011 Review

Mulberry Fall 2011 ready to wear collection

Photos: Imaxtree

Looks from the Mulberry Fall 2011 collection

SHOW: Mulberry (See the full runway collection)

THEME: The English countryside

HAIR: Sam McKnight

MAKEUP: Mathias Van Hooff for M.A.C.

NAILS: Anatole Rainey

STYLIST: Edward Enninful

ACCESSORIES: Wooden wedge-heeled boots and booties paired with the ever-present thigh-high tights; chunky cable-knit scarves; handbag favorites updated with fox-face rivets and poacher-style straps

FRONT ROW: Gemma Arterton, Kirsten Dunst, Rebecca Hall, Olivia Palermo, Clémence Poésy

OVERALL TAKEAWAY: Makes us feel like a natural woman

The opulent grandeur of London's Claridges Hotel was transformed into a magical garden party for Mulberry's Fall 2011 show, which was "inspired by our hunting, shooting and fishing heritage, Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox, and ethereal Turner landscapes," according to the show notes.

Wonka-esque red-and-white polka-dot toadstools and a stuffed fox added decorative touches, birds chirped, and red-jacket-clad bartenders gamely played the role of "the fox and the hound" hunters as they served up grape juice and cupcakes.

Inside, a runway embellished with beautiful flora and fauna was framed by black walls with twinkling lights to mimic a starry night.

The collection was equally enchanting. Nature-inspired prints added a dash of whimsy by paying tribute to birds, flowers, and even squirrels, though luxe fabrics and a rich autumnal color palette had a sobering effect so as to reduce any hint of kitsch. And though pops of lavender, berry hues, and jade—most notably a lovely tiered jacquard shirtdress—added a splash of color, black, charcoal gray, and "fox brown" dominated the woodsy offerings.

Rugged and sporty elements abounded but always felt feminine and dressy. Wooden-heeled wedge knee-high boots seemed to have the waxy patina of wellies, while jodhpur-style bottoms and fisherman trousers made an appearance.

Cargo pockets and an abundance of hardware (grommets, prominent zipper pulls, large gold buttons, the glint of metal belt clasp) helped transform traditional macs and hooded fisherman coats, while quilted jackets in black napa leather looked sleek, not dowdy. Even the dogs who hit the runway—explaining the presence of several canines in the front row—were glammed up, thanks to the quilted and riveted outerwear they were modeling.

Those hunting for formal (human) looks should easily succumb to the power of a pleated, floor-length liquid bronze gown that nipped in at the waist, a short-sleeve, belted dress embellished with bronze flowers (with metallic wedge booties and a chain-strap croc bag to match, of course), and the show's final look, a dark heather gray gown in floral-printed tulle with a sheer back.

Of course, for many, Mulberry is all about the bags. Fresh off her win for Best Accessories at the Elle Style Awards, creative director Emma Hill added poacher-style, cross-body straps to the Heritage Bayswater Satchels; provided a touch of irony with new fox-face rivets ("fox locks"); and introduced quilted leather Tillies and hardware-enhanced Alexa Buckle Bags. Let the drooling begin.

All in all, Mulberry accomplished what it set out to do: evoke the natural beauty of the English countryside with a nod to sporting life. It was quintessentially British, downright beautiful, and a deft combination of form meets function.