Our designers looked to the picturesque countryside and fields of wild flowers of 19th century England, as well as the romance of Thomas Hardy novels, ahead of designing our newest summer arrivals

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”

So wrote a certain Will Shakespeare, centuries ago, and the Brits’ love affair with our green and pleasant land hasn’t dwindled one bit. Weddings take place in far-flung villages, surrounded by fields and fauna; on a Bank Holiday Friday, droves of us abandon urban life for a weekend away in the country; and outdoorsy events like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Glastonbury sell out every year. And if we can’t escape the city, we fill every patch of grass with picnic blankets and pitchers of Pimm’s.

The natural beauty of our native land captured the attention of our designers, when considering our May collection drop; they immersed themselves in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the romantic, evocative worlds of Thomas Hardy, William Wordsworth and Jane Austen. Hardy and Victoriana struck a particularly strong note and thus the aesthetic and silhouettes of our High Summer collection nod to summer meadows, vividly pretty wild flowers, warm days and cool evenings.

Colours play perhaps a surprisingly big part of it; the costume team working on a recent Hardy film adaption found that many original items from the time are “surprisingly vivid…. In our subconscious we think of these dull, grey charcoal colours for the 19th century but there were actually lots of strong colours”. For ladies, we have used a feminine, ditsy meadow print with a pink base across tops, dresses and accessories, and a white-based pressed flower print, while for men, colour is injected into the range thanks to cornflower blue and a sunny yellow-gold.

At this time of year, dresses are a wardrobe essential for ladies and our designers have included a selection of smart-casual shapes to suit every kind of occasion, from garden party to wedding, tennis to polo. The Jasmin, Bussoe and Mazza are all flattering, sleeveless fit & flare dresses, while the lightweight Tremayne has lace detailing, short sleeves and a collar. The loose-fitting Goldwyne tunic shows off ruffles and a dropped waist, and pointelle stitching used on the Hillyfield gives a contemporary feel to a simple silhouette.

When it comes to pretty tops, designed to be teamed with skinny jeans or high-waisted shorts, a light, summery colour palette includes sage, pale blue, rose and vintage white and details range from ruffles, ‘cold shoulder’ designs and scoop necklines to lace inserts and bow sleeves.