Chris Brooke with Gina Gallo of Turning Leaf and granddaughter of the Gallo brothers who founded the company
When Grazia Daily was invited to join British designer Chris Brooke of Basso & Brooke on a tour of California’s renowned Wine Country we said 'yes!' before you could spell Pinot Noir!
The occasion? Their recent appointment as Turning Leaf’s Designers in Residence and their subsequent collaboration with the leading wine producers in California. Our mission? To observe Chris while he’s looking for inspiration in Sonoma Valley’s vineyards and Healdsburg’s (the picturesque town where we’re staying) antique and local artisan shops. Oh, and a little bit of wine tasting in between!
With Bruno Basso back at their London studio working on the print designs for their next collection we joined Chris over a glass of wine on a sun-filled terrace overlooking Turning Leaf’s vineyards to talk about their recent AW10 collection, their position at the helm of the London-born digital print revolution and their plans for a Basso & Brooke empire of print!
KG: Your autumn-winter 10 collection received such amazing reviews, and rightly so! That must have been very rewarding!
CB: Yes! Sometimes it’s love and hate but this season I think across the board, everyone was really positive. You can’t please everyone but we consciously wanted to make the prints more accessible. There is a lot of digital print around at the moment so I think it was nice to make something that a regular woman, who wouldn’t necessarily buy our things, would think that she could. So, it was like sitting at the back seat for a bit and take a step back.
KG: You travelled to Uzbekistan and its Silk Routes in preparation for the AW10 collection and it’s fantastic to see the collection as an amalgam of all those different influences of the region; the ikat prints, the Russian characteristics. It seemed like it had a real story to it.
CB: Yeah and it wasn’t an easy season to do. I think to have that conscious decision of not doing our regular thing was key. It was still very ‘us’ but to play with texture was interesting. We had a burgundy and aqua coat that looked like knitwear so that was quite new for people.
KG: Obviously the first thing we see and talk about is the prints but the cuts and lines of the collection were incredible too.
CB: And that’s good for me too because that’s my side of the label! When the cut is ‘too much’ and the print is ‘too much’ it just gets…’too much’! So, when the cut is complicated the print will work specifically to it so it’s more harmonious.
KG: So, the digital print revolution that’s taken over London must be a great confirmation for you that what you started doing five years ago is now everywhere!
CB: Yes, I hope people realise that we’ve been doing this for five years and not that we’re following another trend. I’m happy, it’s something that we’ve really run with from the start and now you’re seeing it a lot. What we’ve also got is the experience to really explore it to the maximum.
KG: How did the collaboration with Turning Leaf happen?
CB: They approached us a while back and I think it was really interesting for us to do it because it’s a wine company and that really hasn’t been done with designers before. There’s a tagline for their brand, which is “Discover the taste of colour” and our brand is naturally all about colour. So, it was a good fit! Also, there’s a complexity to their process of creating the wine and achieving the right blend and balance of flavours and that’s something we do when we work on our prints.
KG: It must also be a great opportunity for you to showcase what you can apply your designs too. Is expanding your business something you’re considering right now or working on?
CB: Yes, we have the wallpaper range and we can do pretty much anything with print. If it has a surface we can print it! For us not too explore all possibilities within reason is crazy.
KG: So, should we expect to see a Ralph Lauren-esque empire of Basso & Brooke in the near future?
CB: Definitely! We’ve always wanted to have a proper lifestyle brand, maybe in the old style of Versace, very luxe! Plates, linen, upholstered furniture so doing this will help us put that portfolio together.
KG: Well, we can’t wait!
To find out more info on the collaboration visit www.turningleafwines.co.uk
by Kiki Georgiou