A Canvas of Expression

“Our thinking this season was around environments that provide optimum conditions for imagination and connectedness to flourish,” says Head of Design Laura Shippey of our Autumn Winter collection, A Canvas of Expression. The season is inspired by the spirited Bloomsbury Group – a circle of early 20th-century creatives including Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant – and the liberation of open air. We bring creativity and spontaneity to everyday moments, and consider the home as a canvas for expressive thinking.

Interiors come alive with hand-painted decorative elements and colourful rooms are inviting hubs for social activity. Outdoors, a soft, open landscape awaits beyond the garden walls; meadows of tall grass ripple in the wind and desire paths lead the eye towards the sea. “The base for the collection responds to this end-of-summer landscape, with putty tones and a nod to a 20th century menswear wardrobe of tweeds and small country checks, which are translated into soft flecky wools and light cottons,” Laura says.

A Canvas of Expression

A Canvas of Expression

As the season continues, an informality is articulated by classic duffle coats made in London, Fair Isle sweaters knitted in Scotland and Irish cable knits made by Bonner in the Donegal mountains. Seeking innovative ways to extend the lifespan of garments, we have collaborated with knitwear designer Amy Goacher to reimagine sweaters found in our archive with remnant yarn hand-embroidery.

Balancing practicality and play, our Canvas of Expression collection offers fluid silhouettes with barrel-leg and kick-flare trousers, pyjama shirts and loose neck-tie shirts offering a modern nonchalance. A feeling of experimentation is explored with painterly prints in saturated colours, hand-stitched smocking, and scalloped broderie anglaise collars. Soft asymmetrically draped dresses are a modern interpretation of 1930s bias-cut styles, translated into light cotton check and collage prints.

A Canvas of Expression

Our collection is reflected by the paintings and drawings of artist Rosie McGuinness, who conveys a sense of ease with decisive lines. Living and working in south-east London, the artist, illustrator, and textile print designer has a particular focus on organic patterns, natural forms and domestic scenes. She creates expressive pieces by making use of the fluid qualities of ink and gouache, and one of her artworks will be displayed in our windows to celebrate the new season.

Our Menswear styles are “inspired by the scruffy playfulness of the Bloomsbury Group,” Catie Palmer, Menswear Designer says. “We looked to the coming together of creatives, and a sense of British eccentricity to create the Menswear collection. We’ve worked with many British manufacturers to create classic pieces with everyday 1940s-inspired details, from Fair Isle sweaters and checked shirts to workwear jackets.”

As we approach colder weather there are hardwearing coats made from wool tweed – the fibres are dyed, spun and woven in the same Italian mill by Lanificio Luigi Zanieri, which was founded in 1952 – alongside a duffle coat made by London Tradition, containing recycled fibres. We continue to work with family-run company Bonner of Ireland, which employs local people to create traditional knitwear in the heart of the Donegal mountains. For denim, indigo-dyed carpenter jeans are made in Blackhorse Lane’s 1920s factory building in east London, reflecting our commitment to thoughtful collaborations and craftsmanship.

A Canvas of Expression

A Canvas of Expression

The concept continues through our homeware collection. “The home is both a sanctuary and a canvas for expression and creative thinking. A calm yet invigorating space,” says Head of House & Home Judith Harris. The exuberance of an artist’s environment, mixing unexpected elements together shapes the collection, which features earthenware vessels and mismatched glazed pots alongside natural willow basketry and textiles. “Echoing our Womenswear collection, we’ve explored the tactile and dynamic nature of the outdoors and indoors, celebrating traditional techniques used to create everyday objects from materials close to hand.”

Hand techniques show the beauty of expression and imperfection, be it the hand-stitches of a patchwork quilt or the mark-making of Welsh potter Jack Welbourne’s jugs. Painterly brushstrokes in bold hues are mixed with block-printed geometric motif quilts, and soft velvet cushions are layered with blankets in colours inspired by natural tones of undyed wools, reeds and willow. “It’s this feeling of creating the everyday still life and the importance of art and craft in the home,” adds Judith. “I think it’s this mix of utility and the decorative and a coming together of family and friends that encourages shared artistic ideas, with the home as an evolving canvas.”

Pieces from the collection are intended to be worn with your existing wardrobe, and be covered for years to come. If any of your existing TOAST garments are in need of mending, our free repair service, TOAST Renewal, can refresh them for the new season. You can read more about our progress and next steps to make a positive difference to people and the planet in our annual Social Conscience Report.

Womenswear photographs by Jo Metson Scott. Homeware photographs by Kendal Noctor.

Photograph of Duncan Grant, 1916, from the archive at Charleston, courtesy of the Charleston Trust.

Illustration by Rosie McGuinness.

Shop our new Womenswear, Menswear and House&Home.

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1 comment

I was completely drawn to this canvas of expression, as an artist and art therapist. Really beautiful writing, and echoing my own ethos on creativity. I love the Toast pared back style and the little moments of awakening in small things, which we otherwise take for granted. I find this at home in Cromarty and away in Zambia, where I volunteer. I would like to partner with you somehow – in writing/painting/designing….just had an open studios event in Cromarty, and would love to do something with painting Zambian textiles to raise money for the charity(ZTA)on a bigger scale. Interested? We fly to Lusaka at the end of this month and will be visiting schools in Livingstone, Lusaka and Chipata….hope to even squeeze in an elephant or two, but we’ll see:)

Liz 2 months ago