Leonie Branston was decades into a successful career in fashion – spanning early Alexander McQueen (she worked on the renowned AW95 ‘Highland Rape’ show) and J.Crew under Jenna Lyons – when she decided to start her own label.
The designer, based in north London, had something quieter in mind: understated style with wearability at its heart. ‘It was time to test my own vision,’ she says from the home she also works from.
Since that moment in 2017, her test has paid off. Ferian (which takes its name from the Old English for ‘to carry’) creates bags and jewellery that are ‘modern and timeless’.
Wedgwood ceramic horse head & gold signet ring
Wedgwood ceramic lion and gold signet ring
She left a full-time role as design director of womenswear at Margaret Howell to start her company, but she still consults for the British stalwart – and you can see what they have in common, with Branston’s emphasis on quality and craft.
With Ferian, there’s a chic sensibility, with flashes of rich colour in Wedgwood cameo signet rings, and classic box bags.
Sustainability and ethical production are of paramount importance. Pieces are made using vegetable-tanned leather and recycled gold in the West Midlands, using handworked saddlery methods. ‘I personally know everyone who makes everything,’ she says. ‘It’s key to feel proud of what you make.’
Proud she is. Always wearing her own work, Branston’s designs are testament to how easily they slot into everyday life: bags open easily with one hand (‘You might be holding on to your child’), and jewellery that survives ‘real’ life. Styles go with any outfit, too, with a hint of luxury in the leather finish and elegant gold clasp, and a restrained palette with flashes of ochre, cobalt or lime.
‘Leonie does modern minimalism beautifully,’ says Cassie Smart, head of womenswear buying at Matchesfashion.com, where Ferian is stocked, along with ferian.co.uk and Liberty London. ‘Pieces feel like heirlooms that you can cherish.’
Timelessness was always the goal, Branston says. And, so far, it seems like she’s succeeded.
This article appears in the December 2020 edition of ELLE UK.
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