Beyond The Biker Jacket Belstaff's New Creative Director Revs Up The Brand

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by: Chloe Mac Donnell
12 Jun 2017

‘Menswear is definitely a challenge but it comes quite naturally to me,’ says Delphine Ninous, the new Creative Director of Belstaff as she walks me around the presentation of her first full collection for the brand. ‘Although having previously designed Belstaff’s womenswear, I was already always looking at the menswear too so I feel very comfortable doing both. They’re all pieces I’d want to wear myself.’ Appointed Creative Director just under 12 months ago, Delphine was set with the task of reviving the brand which is mainly known for its waxed and leather men’s biker jackets. And her debut today in the Lancaster Rooms at London’s Somerset House certainly put to rest any ideas that the brand was out-of-touch. Taking inspiration from the Paris Dakar rally of the late 70s and early 80s, Delphine has revved up the brand’s identity. Think sporty vibes with bold primary colours and clever cuts. But it’s not all just va-va voom, there is also a practical element to every piece, from waterproof fabrics to reflective strips. Here the Parisan born and London based designer talks us through it…

‘My inspiration for this spring summer 18 collection was the journey of the riders of the Paris Dakar rally. I grew up watching it in Paris in the early 80s. In France it was a huge event even if you weren’t keen on motorsports as it was still an adventure and there were always lots of celebrities. So the car rally for me was a good way to push Belstaff for summer. People often think we’re a heavy outerwear brand so it was a way for me to introduce colour, fun and something sporty. The primary colours with the logo sponsorship were always fun at the rally. So it’s bringing a more sportswear vibe to the house which is also a younger way to revisit the more classic pieces like the Belstaff coats. I wanted to bring vitality to our heritage.’

‘I’ve mixed that with more African vibes from looking at the landscape and using those more earthy and spicy tones. I love in Africa that at the rally they were always wearing a tracksuit top with other pieces. And then there is that idea that between Paris and Dakar in Senegal the climates are completely different. So I was imagining the journey and trying to make clothes that were protective but light for summer. A lot of clothes are practical too. Everything is functional so we’ve introduced performance fabrics, UV protective elements plus they are breathable, waterproof with stretch and there are reflective details too. It’s all still done in a stylish way and with the Belstaff code of style.’

‘This look is super fashion but it’s also water repellent. On the back there is a vinyl hood that you can remove so it’s like a raincoat. Everything we’ve done has a purpose but in a stylish way. We’ve been lighter in the types of fabrics and colours we used as well to be more relevant for summer. I’m trying to find the balance in keeping true to our DNA and staying true to the brand but also modernising it so we don’t become dusty.’

‘Footwear again is practical. Even when I do sandals I use a big ankle strap so you can walk in them. A lot of pieces are things you can wear all day long. You don’t want to carry a different wardrobe around with you. It’s got to be fashionable but also practical, I don’t want to compromise on either.’

‘Motor biking is important to Belstaff but it wasn’t a brand originally created for bikers. The bikers adopted it because it was cool whilst at the same time being functional. I think what is more important is the spirit that bikers have which is adventurous and free. This kind of escapism is the spirit for men and women. For me it’s a strong independent woman. Before she was the sexy girlfriend on the back of the motorbike, now she’s driving the bike.’


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