Designer Emma Fletcher is the creative force behind iconic brand TOCCA. Best known for her late, vintage-inspired line Lyell, Fletcher was at the helm of resurrecting TOCCA’s ready-to-wear collection for the Fall/Winter 2011 runways. With her signature whimsical-meets-sophisticated aesthetic, Fletcher’s elegant and wearable designs have no problem holding their own alongside the brand’s world-renowned fragrance.
Did your design career begin with Lyell?
I started with Holmes and Lyell. Bathing suits were the first thing I designed, then coats. Steven Alan was a big supporter. I started around 1998, but was working a full time job and then had a baby. I founded it in 2003.
Were you ready to head a new company after an emotional closing with Lyell?
That is a hard question. Lyell’s closing was the right time, personally. I had my second child at the same time, which made the transition very smooth. But yes, it was hard to decide if I could build something again and go back to intensely creative all the time! I needed some downtime which I did not have much time for before.
After closing the brand, how did the opportunity with TOCCA come about?
TOCCA was throwing around the idea of bringing the apparel back in an organic way and they had not really found their match as far as a designer. They heard I closed Lyell and contacted me through a vintage dealer we both knew – Mary Catalina at Vintage Loft.
TOCCA has been around for nearly 20 years – were you familiar with the brand before you started working with them?
A little bit. I have a memory of going into the store with my good friend Tina when it was on Mercer Street, around 1995.
Who were the designers before you came on board? Did you meet them?
The main designer that started TOCCA in 1994 was Maryanne. I had not met Maryanne or her team.
You have been credited at bringing new life to TOCCA – what attracted you to the brand?
That’s very flattering. It was good timing and I liked where Gordon, the founder, wanted to take the line, and I liked him personally.
What was your vision for the brand when you took over in 2011?
To make it more sophisticated, cleaner, grown up. Bring a little edge to it. Not so sweet.
How have you maintained the refined aesthetic season after season?
I think I have a subconscious rulebook of subtly that is in my DNA, but I am letting loose for Fall 2014. It is going to be a breakthrough for me.
Do you have a responsibility to maintain a certain aesthetic that correlates with the TOCCA perfume?
TOCCA beauty is feminine and so are my clothes, and I think that is the big link and why they thought I was a match for them. I do not let it interfere with what fits literally in a collection etc., it’s just an overall feeling.
Do you wear the scent? What does it smell like to you?
I use the laundry hand washing detergent.
Is there a TOCCA muse? Who is it?
Hot, young girls.