‘Tartt’ by Kate Sylvester

“Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.” Donna Tartt, The Secret History.

I didn’t put it together before the show that ‘Tartt’ referred to Donna Tartt. An oversight on my behalf – of course Kate Sylvester would find a muse in such a literary genius. It wasn’t until I sat down in my front row seat that I finally clicked. Adorned with a brand new copy of the Popular Penguins book The Secret History and a charming tart from Little Bird Unbakery, I didn’t even have to see a single outfit to know something magical was about to happen.

And it did.


The show began with a narrator reading words from the book, an almost dreamlike introduction that set the tone for ‘Tartt’ in a world of wit, beauty and boyish charm. Sylvester found inspiration in both The Secret History and The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt’s first and third books respectively), the pages reimagined in her collection with a seamless harmony between intelligence and sex appeal.


My favourite look from the show.

The collection was delightfully Kate Sylvester, a befitting celebration of her 21 years in fashion. The tailoring was sophisticated in its masculinity (even confusing many spectators who wondered whether winter 2015 meant the relaunch of her menswear collection when she sent some very pretty boys down the runway). The menswear style pieces beautifully offset with low cuts and exposed lacy lingerie. Soft, flowing skirts and delicate dresses created that erudite air of ladylike elegance; perfect for the cultured woman. Colours of orangey reds, various shades of blues, soft ashy pinks, golden greens, and burgundy’s brought to life the base palette of, creams, greys, beiges and the hint of black.

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A blown out red lip (the shade is Dangerous by Mac), fresh skin and a soft cheek, was understated beauty at it’s cheeky best and a testament to the makeup truth less is more. The tucked in hair with its soft, subtle texture was a clean yet clever play on a wintry look with a cosy feel.


Perhaps one of the most delightful elements of ‘Tartt’ were the cut up book pages (from Donna Tartt’s novels nonetheless) which began falling from the ceiling about half way through the show, and continued to fall right until the end when the floor was covered with this snow of words. A nod to winter and salute to literature. Brilliant.


In Kate’s world, book smart is sexy; a notion I couldn’t agree with more. The ‘Tartt’ girl is the kind of girl who’s seductive without being overtly sexual. She leaves her lipstick on all day without reapplying it; she leaves her hair tucked in her jacket in a hurry; she’s a little dorky with her socks and heels, but she’s always chic in sneakers. She’s playful and a bit of a tease though too, when she wants to be. But most of all she’s clever, and that’s the greatest attraction of all.


There’s certainly something to be said about beauty with brains; that is, after all, the best kind of girl. No one seems to understand that notion better than Kate Sylvester whose collection ‘Tartt’ was yet another realisation of the wonder of womanly intelligence.

Happy 21st Kate. Here’s to another one for the books.


Note: The Secret History has been on my reading list since I first read the quote at the beginning of this post in 2011. Those words so resonant they have featured as the description on my Tumblr since I started it in January 2012. A curious thought on beauty, I’ve never come across a more memorable one on the topic since.

Last night I started reading it.


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