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Colouring Rittenhouse

Known for the quiet grace of their refined basics, Rittenhouse have broken the clean lines of their trademark casual clothing in an explosion of colour for A/W 10.

With watercolour prints and embroidered patterns embellishing the simple cuts of their dresses and skirts, Rittenhouse are taking their latest range in an exciting new direction. Here, one half of the Rittenhouse design team, Sally McDonald, talks to Dazed Digital about this brave new direction, the pains of losing much loved clothing, and transforming her daughter’s childhood artwork into fashion prints…

Dazed Digital: Who are Rittenhouse?
Rittenhouse: Rittenhouse is a family business started by husband and wife design team Sally McDonald and Micah Hamdorf.

DD: What is the Rittenhouse philosophy?
Rittenhouse: Our original philosophy was "we just make nice, refined clothes" but there is actually a little bit more to it, we make clothes for people who appreciate beautiful quality fabrics, design and manufacturing, we make clothes that you will love and wear for a long time and be very sad if you loose them in the back of a taxi.

DD: What was the inspiration behind the new capsule collection?
Rittenhouse: We were inspired by a desire to add a completely new dimension to Rittenhouse, to do something amazing and spectacular, to take our love of playing with techniques to a very different level than it's ever been on.

DD: How does the capsule range differ from what we've seen from Rittenhouse in the past?
Rittenhouse: The capsule collection is really exciting exaggeration compared to our mainline collection. Our main line is focused on quiet detailing and subtle plays on classic silhouettes and construction techniques; there is interest in the simple lines and particular attention is paid to making sure each and every garment fits beautifully. Our mainline's colour palette never strays far from my favourite colour, ink, and is always complemented with greys, blacks, neutrals with a little splash of colour. The capsule collection is not in anyway quiet, it is very, very bold and somewhat crazy; it's an escape from reality. It's intricate, beautiful, there's a million different colours all mixed together. It's as far away from the usual Rittenhouse aesthetic as it gets and thats is what has been so exciting and fun for us to work on. I often think that one of my favourite parts of my job is seeing something I designed being worn by a stranger in a completely different way to how I imagined it would be worn. Working on the capsule collection has been an incredible expedition in designing in a different completely experimental way as we had totally different goals with this than we normally do which turned out to be more fun than I expected. The quality we have achieved with this is almost couture in its making and that is something I never imagined doing....

DD: How did you develop the prints and patterns for the collection?
Rittenhouse: For our mainline we mostly developed the artwork ourselves. Micah creates most of the prints, I add my two cents whenever he'll listen, on the odd occasion I have designed my own artwork for a stripe or pattern. This season our mainline artwork was actually created by our daughter Lucia, we turned her first paintings from when she was about two into CMYK tee shirt prints which look amazing. For our capsule collection we have collaborated with our favorite Swiss artist couple Pascale Mira Tschäni and Michael Husmann Tschäni whose work is inspiring and complex and as transformed/merged with our designs to create something very special to us.

DD: What other designers do you admire?
Rittenhouse: My favourite designer is Rei Kawakubo, she is amazing and inspiring and brilliant. I love the way she explore the same themes over and over again in varying ways.

DD: What's in store for the future of Rittenhouse?
Rittenhouse: We have a few secret plans in the works right now, the capsule collection has opened up some new paths for us which we are excited to explore. We are also planning our first foray into Rittenhouse retail which is really exciting for us, it will allow us to present the collection to the public in it's entirety which will be fantastic.

DD: Where can we purchase Rittenhouse in Europe or online?
Rittenhouse: You can purchase Rittenhouse at French Trotters in Paris, Erbudak in Zurich, Flux Factory in Frankfurt, Line Gallery of Berlin, Boys Loft Brescia Italy, Hanon store online, Couverture and the Garb store in Nottinghill London, Paper Scissor Stone in Leeds, Goodhood London, Oi Polloi in Manchester and a fantastic women’s store online is