THE RUNAWAYS COLLECTION
A COLLECTION INSPIRED BY THE LUXURY & ROMANCE OF THE FRENCH RIVIERA
This season we bring you a collection that reveres a sense of being young and free. It is a collection about getting up before the sun. It is about freedom, and bright winter mornings. It is about romance and longing and the enjoyment of the ride.
The prints are inspired by tales of Monaco in the 1950’s. The darlings and golden boys living carefree amid the blue waters and idyllic landscape of the mediterranean sea. Tangled in love triangles and glamour, it’s a collection that says Do Not Disturb…
I had woken up to the heat of the sun streaming through the shutters which, in my drunken stupor, I had forgotten to close the night before.
My mouth was dry and my body glistened with sweat, causing the white bed sheets to stick to my naked torso.
On the table outside were the dregs of a bottle of gin and half a pack of playing cards, and rolling onto my side to pull my boxers on, I became increasingly aware that I was still drunk.
Granted, most mornings over that long summer had started this way but this particular hangover was imbued with the sense that something quite extraordinary had happened the night before.
I felt a strange mixture of guilt and relief but for the life of me, I couldn't remember why. I kicked my legs over the side of the bed and watched as the playing cards flew slowly away over the edge of the balcony.
From the kitchen, I could hear the sound of Sofia singing along to Juliette Greco as she cooked breakfast - a sound, I must admit, I never tired of hearing.
It was one of Sofia's shortcomings that she simply couldn't stay in tune and I revelled in this little fault of hers because, over the course of that summer, I had come to realise that it was just about the only one she possessed.
‘Bonjour', she said as I stumbled into the kitchen.
I smiled as she turned to me, remembering now why I had woken up feeling guilty.
Neither Marc or Sofia grew up wanting for anything, looks or money. They were blessed in every sense of the word and yet they were restless.
Marc had moved to Monaco a few months prior in an effort to escape the clutches of the world he had grown up in and Sofia had quickly followed suit.
Ennui. Our boredom was an indulgence here but back there it had been suffocating. The moment we had arrived at Monaco station we had been aware of a feeling that anything was possible; a feeling that this place existed outside of the norms of our previous reality. We had the whole summer ahead of us and we were in love - what could be more perfect?
We were in love with each other, with this place, with the people that this place allowed us to be.I often wonder whether we knew that these were the days that we would spend the rest of our lives remembering. I think now that we did.
We had finished breakfast out by the pool and I had just lit up a cigarette when Marc finally appeared.
He kissed Sofia on the neck and mumbled something about how we were already awake, considering the time that we went to bed.
Sofia assured him that we hadn't finished up much later than him and quickly stood up to clear away the breakfast.
I had known Marc for years now.
We had met at a function I wasn't supposed to be at - otherwise, I'm not sure our paths ever would have crossed. Marc had a fondness for all things beautiful in life and the speed at which he fell in love with them never ceased to amaze me.
He had told me once that it was our responsibility in life to seek beauty; our ‘divine purpose', he had called it.
I can recall wondering at the time why he had taken such a liking to me; I wasn't beautiful, nor was I in the least bit remarkable but yet I knew, strangely enough, that he did love me.
The rest of that day was spent recovering from the night before. I claimed one of the sun loungers by the pool and sat sweating out Margaritas and listening to Marc and Sofia up on their balcony.
Drifting off I was aware that I was beginning to feel quite at home in this world that didn't belong to me.
When I awoke Sofia and Marc had reappeared and she was in the middle of telling us that it was time we went into town.
‘We leave in two weeks,' she said, ‘and you are still yet to take to me to every café in town like you promised.'
Marc hated the town but Sofia was always her happiest when we made the trip in and, besides, he needed to pick up his car.
By the time Sofia had conceded and finally left the dance floor the night before, it had been late and Marc was far too drunk to drive.
We had made the journey on foot and, naturally, Sofia had stumbled across ten new recruits to bring back to the villa who she assured us we would adore. Safe to say I remember none of their names.
Watching her in the town, I could see why Sofia loved it so much - she had grown up speaking French and felt at home here.
The difference between Marc and her was that Sofia's parents, like mine, had not been born into money and as a result, she had a way of communicating with people that was alien to him.
A sense of understanding of the everyday struggles that they had endured. I loved her for it and I was distinctly aware that it was something Marc could never understand.
Marc and I hung back talking like we used to, discussing jazz and the war and what we supposed Eisenhower was going to do about it, pretending all the while that things were as they used to be and that we weren't both desperately in love with the same girl.
I longed for Sofia to give me something - some sign that she remembered the sentiments we had expressed the night before. Nothing came.
‘This is the one,' she said, pointing to a tiny café on the corner.
By the time we went to collect the car, the sun had begun to set and the day was almost behind us.
The heat of the night began to set in as we drove, listening to music and laughing; entertaining each other with stories of the night before.
I rested into the seat, leaning my head back and feeling the warm wind whip past me.
The setting sun showered the hills and I suddenly felt an ache of sadness in my stomach, a distinct feeling that it would be hard to be this happy ever again.
I felt nostalgic; wistfully yearning for the very moment that we were enjoying.
Was I in love with Sofia? Or was I in love with the way Monaco transformed her - the way in which she unlearnt her inhibitions on its shores?
"Je vois la vie en rose" - I see the world through rose-tinted glasses. We all did in Monaco.
The rest of that night was spent how we spent most of our nights. I would be leaving Monaco in the coming weeks and there was a distinct feeling that all of this was coming to an end.
Marc and Sofia would not return home, they had told me this earlier on that day.
They would either remain in Monaco or else they would be off to the next sunspot, to soak up the pleasures it had to offer.
I had spent the summer in a playground, it seemed, but we all knew it was time for me to return. ‘We'll miss you,' Marc said at some point as he dealt the next hand of blackjack. Sofia said nothing.
I gave up on the dream that she would acknowledge the events of the night before. Perhaps I had made the whole thing up. Or perhaps, for the first time, everything was as it should be. Perhaps they really were meant for each other.
A year after that summer, Marc and Sofia were married. Our young lives drifted on in different directions, as they do, and my friends had vanished from my life within a few years. I never dreamt our paths would cross again.
Then yesterday, quite inexplicably, I heard a familiar voice across the road and looked up to see her.
Sofia. She is older now, as are we all, but something about her smile seems unchanged by time. That a chance encounter so many years later could set my mind racing seems absurd but yet, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.
I have sat in this very spot by the fire for over two hours and done nothing but warm myself with memories of our younger selves; memories of a summer so long past, I almost thought I had forgotten it.
I can see the snow dancing through the light of the street lamps outside and, although I have never particularly liked snow, my insides are glowing with enough whiskey that this evening I can admit it does look rather beautiful.
I am no longer young, but I am still in love - with that summer and with those people. We exchanged pleasantries as you do - Sofia and I.
I introduced her to Elaine and asked about Marc, she told me about the children and we spent the next minutes lamely attempting to fill each other in on decades of living.
After a while the cold had gotten too much to ignore, and pulling her scarf tighter, Sofia said that she had to get inside.
As we went to say goodbye she gave me a kiss on the cheek and lingered slightly for a second.
‘It makes you miss Monaco', she whispered, gesturing to the snow and with that, she was gone.