"We set out to create a label that redefines everyday wardrobe staples in a luxurious way and Palmer//Harding felt like exactly the right partner for the first season," Jo Bennet - head of buying at John Lewis, who worked alongside Iain Ewing, head of design, to mastermind the collection - told us. "They share our values, loved our vision for the label and there is no better place to begin reinterpreting wardrobe staples than with the classic white shirt every woman needs in her wardrobe."
Known for their signature shirting, which has featured prominently in all of their collections, Palmer//Harding designers Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding waited until the right collaboration offer was on the table before dipping their toes into the capsule-collection pool, making this their first foray onto the British high street.
"Since launching Palmer//Harding in 2012 we never desired to do a high-street collaboration unless it was with the perfect match," Harding told us. "Having grown up with John Lewis, it always maintained an idea of quality and heritage. So when Jo and Iain from the John Lewis team first showed us the Modern Rarity project we were not surprised with how many parallels the label held with us. From looking to the same artist for inspiration to the quality in fabrics and construction, it was really a perfect match from the very start."
Unlike previous designer collaborations for the department store, the 90-piece collection features five shirts from the design duo instead of an entire range, with the rest being designed in house by Bennet and Ewing, who want to deliver a fresh perspective on wardrobe staples. Tailoring and knitwear feature heavily, as does outerwear (heads-up: there is a full-length military trench coat made entirely of cashmere for £550) in the carefully curated edit, which Bennet believes will fill a gap in her customers' wardrobes.
"We started with a mantra of 'fewer, better pieces' in the knowledge that our customers want quality pieces that have design substance," she explained. "We wanted to create a label that re-defined luxury at an affordable price point, a label that could cater for everyday modern wardrobe staples that are thoughtfully designed."
For Palmer//Harding, as for all future designer collaborators, the union gives the brand a visibility that only comes from partnering with a household name.
"Apart from the aesthetic match, we were also excited about the customer base that Palmer//Harding would be exposed to," said Palmer. "John Lewis already has such a sophisticated consumer so I'm sure they will be excited to be introduced to us."
Modern Rarity will land in store and online at Johnlewis.com on September 8. Prices range from £50 to £900.