"In the summer, it’s a challenge to look pulled-together professionally and socially,” said Bessie to Departures. “It’s not like you can just throw on a mini-skirt and call it a day.”
With the perennial challenge of summer dressing in mind, the couple—who cut their teeth at Donna Karan’s private label, Urban Zen—set out to design a capsule collection to address seasonal style woes, the foremost being the lack of options that can effortlessly transition from the streets to the beach.
The collection, aptly titled Away with ARJÉ, epitomizes unbuttoned luxury with its lived-in linen trousers, oversized silk shirts, and flouncy cotton dresses. Designed for the city-dweller who jets between Mediterranean idylls like Puglia and Mykonos in the summer, the expertly cut pieces are designed to be layered and slipped on with ease, even after being stuffed inside a suitcase.
“You can book a flight at a moment’s notice,” said Bessie. “We make clothes that have the same kind of flexibility.”
When designing the collection, the couple drew on their diverse backgrounds (Oliver is Spanish, Bessie is British-Turkish) and globe-trotting travels, including their honeymoon sailing around the Mediterranean. They also turned to classic films shot in Italy, like The Talented Mr. Ripley, I Am Love, and Call me By Your Name.
“Ollie and I were really inspired by this idea of the summer of love,” said Bessie, “when everybody’s falling for each another, but nothing really counts because it’s summer.”
Fittingly, the collection exudes a kind of retro-romance, with its tailored silhouettes and throwback details; the red used throughout the collection, for example, is the same hue as the crest on a pack of Marlboro cigarettes.