SS16 Collection Inspiration: Call of the Waves

Discover the connection between pioneering, seafaring women and the new spring/summer 16 collection

Maidentrip, Laura Dekker, 2013
Maidentrip, Laura Dekker, 2013. First Run Features/ Everett/REX/Shutterstock

The bright glint of sun on salt, echoed in a metallic leather jacket; the hint of a wave's crest in the frothy layer of a tiered skirt; patterns suggesting sand dappled and cracked by a receding tide; icy blues and frosted whites redolent of surf; greens and khakis conjuring up the seductive treachery of marine depths - the sea is the inspiration for the latest SS16 collection, giving the wearable, utilitarian clothes an exhilarating undercurrent of beauty, ferocity and power. These are clothes for women who look beyond the horizon of the ordinary, women who are fearless in their pursuit of life's most exciting challenges.

A Belstaff woman is a bold adventurer whose power lies in her refusal to acknowledge obstacles. Defeat in pursuit of a dream is not an option. She chooses the thrilling drama of the ocean over the safe, narrow confines of the harbour, drawing inspiration from great seafaring women. Just recently, the Coxless Four, an all-female British crew, arrived in Australia after rowing across the Pacific Ocean in a 29ft boat for 257 days. They join a long and illustrious list of extraordinarily resilient and determined women: Australian-born Kay Cottee was the first woman to navigate the world single-handedly, non-stop and unassisted, in 1988. Continuously knocked overboard in the Southern Ocean, she picked herself up again and again, and celebrated rounding Cape Horn with a bottle of fine Australian wine and a lunch of crab, mayonnaise and bread she'd baked herself.

British yachtswoman and author Naomi James climbs the mast of her yacht to make sure the rigging is in order for the transatlantic race.
British yachtswoman and author Naomi James. Evening Standard/Getty Images

Before her, in 1978, Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz became the first woman to sail solo round the world, withstanding an epic voyage of 401 days. Laura Dekker, the 16-year-old Dutch sailor, had the audacity and determination to defy the courts to become the youngest person ever to sail round the world, returning victorious after two years on the waves in 2012.

British women have taken to the sea for centuries. In 1745, Hannah Snell disguised herself as a man to escape the confines of her life and joined the army and later the navy as a cook's assistant. She spent nine years at sea as a common seaman, fighting in sea battles and gaining a reputation for courage. Naomi James took up sailing in 1975 and, only three years later, was breaking records, becoming the first woman to sail solo around Cape Horn and around the world. She was awarded Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1979. Dame Ellen McArthur, renowned the world over for her exceptional powers of endurance, became the fastest solo sailor ever to navigate the globe in 2005, before leaving the sea behind to navigate the equally treacherous world of economics with her foundation committed to a circular economy - showing that to be truly extraordinary, you need the grit to adapt and start again.

The new SS16 collection will both delight and empower women who already have the imagination, daring and resilience to have embarked upon an adventurous life journey.