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In 1985 the concept of ‘safari chic’ entered our lexicon because of Meryl Streep, who immortalised the no-fuss style of a woman living in the bush. Her uniform in Out of Africa – white shirt, camo-coloured chinos and stiff-brimmed hat – inspired one of the biggest fashion trends of the era.
Thirty years later, safari outfitters Hickman & Bousfield are proving that this style, one that evokes a sense of old-world adventure and relaxed elegance, is still as current as ever in the fashion world.
Founded in 2013, the label has established itself as the go-to destination to find everything you need to dress yourself for a safari sojourn. By no means are they reinventing safari style, but they are a specialist brand that does it very, very well.
Womenswear includes loose fitting shirts, kaftans, culottes and field jackets made from fine linen, poplin and cotton. The natural fabrics are available in earthy, muted tones that are perfect for blending in with the wild grasslands.
Their unisex accessories collection is just as covetable for a wildlife holiday as it is for adding a rural twist to city outfits. Felt fedoras and trilbies are essential for keeping the sun off your brow, while cosy beanie hats will keep you warm once the sun goes down; Hickman & Bousfield have got all eventualities covered. Their check-print cashmere scarves execute the perfect finish to refined ruggedness.
There could be no one better to understand this functional style than Caroline Hickman and Ralph Bousfield, the couple behind the clothing. Caroline, a former costume designer and milliner, moved from London to Botswana four years ago where Ralph runs several camps and takes VIP clientele out on safari. Previous visitors who have benefitted from Ralph’s extensive knowledge of the surroundings and enthusiasm for life on the wild side include George W. Bush, Joel Coen and Frances McDormand.
Caroline noticed how many guests were turning up to the camp without appropriate clothing and set out to design a collection for them. Her hands-on experience is noticeable in the thought-out details; a collar on jackets to tuck your binocular strap behind, utility pockets big enough to keep a camera in and vents on the back of tops for comfort and movement. Her fashion expertise is noticeable in the soft feel of the fabrics and select glamorous pieces like the zebra print kaftan.
The label is currently sold through their online shop along with Penny Winter jewellery, whose pieces are made in Kenya by local craftspeople from local materials, and equestrian-inspired footwear brand Penelope Chilvers to help you complete the look.
Hickman & Bousfield revives ideas of the days when experience-seekers spent up to six months at a time on safari, meeting a clothier on the first day to tailor-make their outfits for the trip before they headed out on camp. Now, with the convenience of ready-to-wear fashion and ordering online, the brand is a one-stop shop to outfit yourself for your next African escapade with looks that you’ll want to wear all summer long, no matter where you are.
Words by Olivia Pinnock
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