Today was the third or fourth time I’ve been to The Shop At Bluebird (www.theshopatbluebird.com) in King’s Road. This is a shop that seems to be forever under the radar, possibly something to do with its location, at the Worlds End end of King’s Road. It has a great mix of lesser known labels (Alexander Wang, Danielle Scutt, Charles Anastase) mixed in with well-loved labels like APC yet it’s always quiet and I kind of feel it should have more recognition. When I go to Dover Street Market, I’m impressed at the layout and the merchandise but somehow I never feel like buying anything (which is just as well, it ain’t cheap). Here, I just want everything in sight. There is also beautiful jewellery of the thin-chain-with-delicate-charm variety that I can’t resist, as well as a fabulous book section. I don’t know why I’m complaining, Bluebird is like a secret shop to me but at the same time I want it to do well. If you’ve never been I’d recommend it.
Interesting news that Hedi Slimane has left Dior Homme. The genius designer has been making too many demands on LVMH and so they’ve passed the baton to Kris van Assche from Belgium. Like the demise of Helmut Lang and Jil Sander, this marks the end of an era. Even if Slimane decides to launch his own label I doubt it will be remembered in the same way as Hedi Slimane For Dior Homme. During his time at Dior, Slimane poineered a whole new lean and youthful silhoutte for men, much like Giorgio Armani did with his unstructured menswear in the eighties. Collectors, best start snapping up those remaining bits of Dior Homme, they will be like gold dust from now on.
I’m always intrigued at what point an I’m never wearing that’ trend becomes mainstream. There seems to be four stages. The first is the catwalk stage when someone super-influential such as Miuccia Prada (the ‘off’ colour combinations and icky long grey socks), Calvin Klein (the frumpy knee-length skirts with flats in the mid nineties) or Marc Jacobs (those sick patchwork LV bags that cost about ten grand) rocks a look that on first sight seems so wrong you are just convinced it will never see the light of day. The next stage is when the high-end magazines, stylists and style setters give the trend the nod. In this day and age the next stage is the most crucial when the celebrity set latch on to the look whether or not with the help of their stylist. A celeb wearing a tricky trend in its early days marks them out as brave and garners them column inches, even if it’s a negative reaction. From this stage it’s a hop and a skip til the high street takes on the look, especially now that people are more style savvy and actively want to push the fashion envelope. The high-waisted look championed by Chloe and Kate Moss was a case in point. For someone who does not want to attract attention to her bum or tummy there was no way I was going to embrace high waisted. Or so I thought. A few months into the trend I spied an A-line denim button-through skirt in H&M, a nice seventies mid-blue, very Chloe with braided belt loops and the now-ubiquitous high waist. Hmm, I thought, that could look nice with my oxblood stack heeled Frye boots if I hold my tummy in. I tried on the 8. A bit too snug on the hips and being a shortie, my top was too long killing the proportion. But I couldn’t give it up. I took it home for a try with said boots. Still Not Quite There. I bought a 10. Another try-on at home. A few different tops were summoned. Dammit, I would make this work! But no, a high waisted skirt on a short-arse makes one look dumpy, frumpy and schlumpy! So I admitted defeat and took them both back. However big a trend there’s just no point forcing it if it’s not working for you. But good on those brave few who did the experimenting for the rest of us in the first place. If it wasn’t for them we would never try anything new and would be forever stuck in a style rut.
This evening I went to another shop opening, the new Wrangler store was unveiled in Carnaby Street. Is there even room for another jeans shop? Hell yes maam. Wrangler have been trying to reinvent themselves for a while and this time look set to succeed. It was nice to see some interesting looking characters out. This guy might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I’m loving those silk scarves!
Today was the longawaited opening of the Abercrombie & Fitch store in Savile Row. I recall a few months ago plenty of speculation as to whether it was a wise move to open an Abercrombie in the current retail climate. Well, clearly these guys have nothing to worry about. The shop does not even have a sign but it was packed to the rafters. In a colossal building with room upon room of rainbow coloured logo tees and sweats throbbing loud music created just the right amount of chaotic buzzing energy. The staff look like they stepped out of the sexy-but-wholesome photographs on the wall and they’ve all been briefed to do the “Hey, how are you?” thing you get in New York. Although prices are equal in pounds to dollars it seems they had no trouble amassing sales. The question is, will the UK chavs adopt it as their own?
The Anya Hindmarch ‘I’m Not A Plastic Bag’ bag went on sale today at the Anya Hindmarch stores. As usual, there has been masses of hype, the website crashed and Vogue.com ran a puff piece on it to create even more of a frenzy. Although the bags look lovely and certainly worth more than £5, and are for a good cause (although that would be the last of my reasons for buying it) I am still in two minds whether to get caught up in the hype. On the one hand I really like the style of the bag and it looks like a collectable. On the other hand, it’s canvas and will get dirty so will not be in a collectable state for long. Is it the hype that is making it so desirable? I don’t need any more bags. I get bored easily. If I go out of my way to get a bag now, will I still be using it in three months time? I think I will wait until April when they are in Sainsbury’s. If I’m not sick of the sight of them by then and manage to get one then that will be the deciding factor.
Another trip to Portobello yesterday in almost-spring sunshine and minus the Saturday crowds. I went to One Of A Kind, the vintage shop I have never been into before. Guess what? I liked it! I ‘ve deliberately avoided it til now being anti-hype and it always seemed a bit too…up itself. But it had some great stuff, and nicely displayed but pricey. Under the Westway I saw some cute velvet bowties and by Acklam Street a selection of very-nice-indeed saddle bags and not too expensive either.
Then I saw it. A very Desperately-Seeking-Susan-style cropped snakeskin-print suede jacket (you know, the scene where she goes in the vintage store and he says ‘that jacket belonged to Jimi Hendrix’). Very Antony Price but it had four real fur tails hanging from it. I really am a hypocrite when it comes to fur. On the one hand I know it’s cruel, even if it’s vintage. There’s just no excuse and I know wearing any kind of real fur sends the message to impressionable people that it’s ‘OK’. It’s not even to keep me warm (the usual excuse I trot out when I wear my ‘extreme weather’ Russian fur Ushanka). On the other hand, although it’s wrong sometimes I just can’t resist it – say what you like, fake fur just isn’t the same. So I tried on the jacket and the shoulders were a mite too big but hey, it was £35! I deliberated for all of two minutes. Now I’ve got it home, tried it on with my Nudie Slim Kim jeans and Tony Mora ocelot cowboy boots (oops, more fur) I think I can make it work. I just need to take the shoulders in …and get rid of the mothballs stink.
So what do we think so far of the Giles-New Look marriage? I went to the launch last night not planning to buy (even though it was 10% off) but more for the spectacle. Celeb count was low – I saw Daisy Lowe – but fashionista count high-ish for a high street do. Katie Grand and Katie Hillier (she of the Marc, LV and Luella jewellery) were in attendance to support bezzy mate Giles, model-of-the-moment Agyness was happy to pose for everyone’s digicams and scenester Molaroid was just there to be seen. Sadly no sign of Giles fan Sue Pollard or Drew Barrymore who modelled the pics. However the music was great and champagne free flowing. Reactions to the collection have been decidedly mixed. The print shoes were my favourite but apparently people in out of town stores have been pointing at them and laughing (Peasants!). The clothes are OK but if they didn’t say Giles you wouldn’t think they were anything special. I had high hopes for the goody bag but oh dear, a cheap pendant on a tatty chain do not a thrilling gift make. Poor Giles! I wonder how Madonna’s collection will fare when it launches this month?
Talking to Steven at Rellik got me thinking what will be the next generation of collectable fashion? He said the days of the hardcore Japanese Westwood collector are over. They have all grown up and it’s all about collecting chi-chi Vuitton, Fendi and Gucci now.
A nice jaunt to Portobello yesterday. Westbourne Grove swarming with Fulham type yuppies -there is even a Smythson at the posh end. Golborne Road by contrast was full of character and still a bit rough around the edges, like Portobello used to be in the eighties. First stop was Rellik to look at a Westwood top D had seen for me. Got talking to Steven who was most charming and insisted we visit on a Saturday morning at 10am when they pull out all the rare stuff. Oh yes! Yes! Yes! On to the furniture shops. I love Ollie (69 Golborne Road, W10) where there are just heaps of old broken mirrors, desks and chopper bikes all piled higgledy piggledy against each other – a complete treasure trove and not shockingly expensive either. I fell in love with this FiFi sign in another shop but I fear the neon sign has had its moment. Maybe I’ll reconsider.