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For our autumn winter 22 melodrama story we embrace the aesthetic of a 19th century theatrical style which left a lasting legacy that persists today in television, theatre, film, fiction and fashion.

Defined as a “sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events”, a melodrama was intended to appeal to the emotions of the audience and take them on a journey of suspense and excitement.

This style of theatre reached the height of its popularity during the Victorian era and influenced all the arts of the time. 19th century melodrama was an immersive experience - just being inside a Victorian theatre reinforced the action on stage.

The decor was often of rich blue carpets and red velvet wall hangings with the vestibule being decorated in red and gold. The seats were armchairs covered in red velvet, the stage curtain was also in red velvet with wide bands of heavy gold embroidery, and the drop curtain was usually a reproduction of rich tapestry.

The AW22 Melodrama story is also one of intense colour: rich red, serious cerise and moody blues combined with dramatic black-and-white.

We also have made great use of velvet, damask, satin and brocade. These are used for bold colour blocking as well as sensuous, sinuous geo-floral patterns inspired by the Art Nouveau movement of the period.

Just as melodrama continues to influence performance and storytelling, the art nouveau movement has proved a source of inspiration to generations of artists and designers.

The American designer Milton Glaser explicitly copied Art Nouveau posters of the 1900’s in the 60’s and 70’s and some of the prints used in our melodrama story are inspired by this later interpretation.
An illustration by Antonio Lopez gave us the idea for the graphic floral “Japanese flowers” print and Glaser’s 1966 poster for “Greatest hits” is the inspiration for the “Pop flowers” pattern a swirling vortex of flowers and curlicue motifs in dark red, orange and pink on black.

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