The Prince of Wales’s charity The Prince’s Foundation has launched a luxury capsule menswear and womenswear collection with global online fashion retailer Yoox Net-A-Porter.
Heir to the throne Charles, who has won plaudits for his own sartorial style, said he was “enormously impressed” by the 18-piece ready-to-wear sustainable range and that it was “fascinating to see the end result”.
The Yoox Net-A-Porter for The Prince’s Foundation label is the culmination of The Modern Artisan project, which gave students from the UK and Italy the chance to design and make the sustainable line of outfits as part of a new textiles skills training initiative.
The sleek, stylish clothes – 10 pieces of womenswear and eight of menswear – were inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, from his knots to his studies of drapery, engineering and anatomy.
Prices range from £395 to £1,295, with each item crafted to last a lifetime – in keeping with the heir to the throne’s belief that there needs to be a different approach to throwaway clothes.
Among the womenswear pieces is a rust-coloured pussy-bow silk blouse priced at £635; a navy pleated silk midi dress costing £795; checked cashmere wide-leg trousers (£895); a navy double-breasted herringbone cashmere jumpsuit (£895); a belted double-breasted Merino wool camel coat (£1,295), and a cable-knit turtleneck sweater for £395.
The menswear includes a grey padded cashmere bomber jacket (£1,250), a cream cable-knit rollneck sweater (£510) and grey Merino wool blend casual drawstring trousers (£695).
Six Italian students from the Politecnico di Milano designed the clothes, while the Foundation worked with six graduates from the UK, who took part in a specially designed training course in luxury small batch artisanal production skills and traditional craftsmanship at Dumfries House in Ayrshire, Scotland.
All profits will go to The Prince’s Foundation to support its training programmes to help preserve traditional skills.
The prince said of the collection that he was “enormously impressed by the effort that’s gone into it and by the ideas, the visions that these students have had”.
He added “The key it seems to me is to rediscover the importance that nature plays in all this and where the natural materials come from.
“It seems utter madness to have this approach which takes, makes and throws away.”
The range is made from all natural fibres including cashmere and wool from Scottish textiles firm Johnstons of Elgin, organic eco-silk sourced from Italy, and mother of pearl button fastenings.
Left-over scraps of fabric and offcuts were used for school and sensory projects to ensure there was no waste.
Charles added: “Having met the students from both Italy and Scotland and then to have talked to them about the plans, and looking at the designs and how it was linked to Leonardo da Vinci and his designs and thoughts all those years ago, it’s been fascinating to see the end result.”
Described as “a sophisticated collection that marries formal lines and simple construction”, the collection – which was designed in the 500th anniversary year of da Vinci’s death – features the Renaissance artist’s knots throughout, with his studies of drapery inspiring the womenswear through folds, pleats, smocking, ties and bows.
The menswear references da Vinci’s technical studies of engineering and anatomy, and his fascination with architectural details.
While those making the clothes were trained in traditional artisanal skills, the student designers learned how to use tech to create timeless pieces, drawing on Yoox Net-A-Porter’s vast data of customers’ preferences for pussy bows, wide legs, cinched-in waists and the drawstring waist detail of the casual trousers.
They also used AI visual recognition to inform the styles and silhouettes of the outfits.
One of the British modern artisans Graeme Bone, from the village of Auchinleck close to Dumfries House, said he hoped the project would kickstart his future career.
The 34-year-old spent years working in construction before deciding to follow his dream of working in the fashion industry.
“It’s quite surreal coming from this local area, I would probably not have had that kind of opportunity,” he said.
Stressing the benefits of learning new textile skills, he added: “I believe this is going to act like a springboard to help me launch myself.”
The prince added: “I think many of the students have perfected the techniques they were finding quite difficult at the beginning.
“Hopefully they’ll take away that understanding of sustainability in design and fashion but apply it to their own little businesses they want to start.”
The collection is available from Thursday November 12 across all four Yoox Net-A-Porter online stores – Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter, Yoox and The Outnet.
Charles was previously voted one of GQ’s Best Dressed Men, as well as claiming the title in Esquire magazine.
Known for his double breasted suits, he appears in the December issue of fashion bible British Vogue, and joked about his timeless dress sense, saying he was like a stopped clock – “right twice every 24 hours”.
In 2019, the Duchess of Sussex unveiled her Smart Set capsule clothing range, created by Jigsaw, John Lewis & Partners, Marks & Spencer and her designer friend Misha Nonoo, in aid of the Smart Works charity.