When I first happened upon the revamped Fortnum & Mason store in Piccadilly, I practically recoiled in shock. What had they done? In their effort to modernise, all the character had been sapped out of the poor shop. A few months on and I decided to give it a second chance. To my surprise I discovered a gem. Parlour Restaurant on the first floor is a darling little ice-cream parlour, designed by David Collins (Madonna’s decorator no less) and decked out American diner style with a 50s Italian twist. The pistachio-green chairs work beautifully with the fondant-coloured crockery and floor-tiles, while neopolitan-hued lampshades coordinate very nicely indeed. But it’s not just about the decor. There is a choice of fabulous ice-cream sundaes including a few alcoholic ones and great attention is paid to presentation. My favourite touch? The mini-sized ice-cream cones served with the capuccinos in their own little holder! Absolutely adorable.
Remember my vintage Celine ‘bourgeois bag’ I bought from Rellik in June? Well after barely a few outings, I realised one of the tiny screws from the clasp had come loose. Before I had a chance to get it mended, the wretched screw had fallen out altogether. I decided to take it to the Celine shop in Bond Street for a bit of handbag rehab. After admiring the bag, the sales lady agreed to send it to Paris for repair. Two weeks later she called to tell me the cost would be £60. “Sixty pounds? But all they have to do is replace a screw!” I wailed incredulously. “Why does that cost £60?” I told her not to bother with the repair and to just return the bag. She decided to find out the reason for the excessive charge and let me know. A few days later I had heard nowt. Eventually, after a bit of toing and froing I got a call. Celine had decided to fix the bag for free and it would be winging its way back into my arms shortly.
I have to say, at every turn, the staff at Celine were unfailingly polite and helpful (if a bit slow) and I’m thrilled that my experience resulted in a happy ending. But I have to question this business of high-end brands charging high-end repair fees for their goods. If you’re spending hundreds or thousands (in the case of Cartier watches and suchlike) of pounds on their goods, would it hurt their profits too much to throw in a free repair every once in a while?
The penny loafer has been off-radar for years but I’m sensing a return to the collegiate flat. In my student years it was all about the preppie Bass Weejun worn with ankle-grazing stovepipes and a Harrington jacket, topped off with tortoiseshell Ray-Ban Wayfarers (yes, it was the eighties!). This time round it looks more exciting – check out these Christian Louboutin for Chris Benz neon leather and mesh loafers, spotted at New York Fashion Week…
A shocking spate of fashion robberies has hit London in the last couple of weeks with Luella, Christopher Kane and Brora all being burgled by moped-mounted mobsters within days of each other. The question is, who could possibly be responsible for these mysterious boutique break-ins? Let’s see… someone with a taste for sensible cashmere twinsets, avante-garde frocks and grandma-style handbags? Come out, come out wherever you are Miuccia Prada, the game’s up love.
Having had to spend morning, noon and night at ‘the shows’ last week I am still not quite up tp speed on my blogging, so please forgive me if you find an influx of comments from me in the space of a few minutes on your blog – I’m not stalking, honest.
Checking out Allure’s blog (http://allure-allure.blogspot.com/) I read a great post on Lou Doillon’s collection for Lee Cooper.
This denim range has been off the radar for yonks. It was big in the seventies and then, well I’m not quite sure what happened to it but it all but fell off the face of the earth. Well now it’s back and some clever clogs has enlisted Ms Doillon as a designer (not the most original idea but we’ll forgive them this time).
This video from Vogue Paris – http://www.vogue.fr/mode/Lou_Doillon,_designer_pour_Lee_Cooper-12210-info.htm – shows her talking about the collection and while the clothes aren’t at all bad, it’s Doillon herself that keeps you watching. Well, it did me. My crush just got a whole lot bigger.
PS – does anyone else think she bears an uncanny resemblance to Keith Richards?
As John Lewis predicts a downturn in high street spending, interesting developments are afoot in the luxury market. Only a few months ago, the clever fashion-follower was all about an on-trend bargain from Primark or New Look. It was still a novelty to find a catwalk-worthy coat from Peacocks for only £40. But brace yourself, things are shifting and they’re moving up more than a gear or two.
In the post-bling noughties, everyone has access to the cachet of designer labels whether it’s the £80 Comme Des Garcons purse or the £50 Louis Vuitton hair bobbles. Hell, it’s even considered normal to drop £800 on a Chloe bag when only a few years ago £500 was the average. So what’s a fashionista to do to distance herself from the hoi polloi? Trade up of course.
Hebden from Style…A Work In Progress revealed last year that Hermes is taking its watch-making operation in-house (www.styleawip.blogspot.com/2006/10/girl-youll-be-woman-
soon.html). With strict quality controls and its own staff and premises, prices are set to be pushed up six-fold. My prized Hermes Medor watch (which took many months of saving, not to mention a wait of several weeks) cost £700 five years ago but will most likely cost well into four figures in the not-too-distant future. Similarly, Hebden also reports a rumour that Chanel bag price hikes are likely to take effect sometime before November by as much as 22% (www.styleawip.blogspot.com/2007/08/inflatation-frustration-
vs-conjunction.html). Better get those 2.55 orders in fast girls!
What has caused this sudden upswing in the luxury sector? Evidence points at a ploy to get the luxury brands out of the clutches of the middle classes and create an uber luxury status for the ultra rich. It makes sense; now that the accessible luxury market has been exhausted (who doesn’t own a Mulberry keyring or a mini Smythson notebook?) the logical conclusion is for luxury goods brands to go the other way to unaffordable luxury. Despite what you may think, there are still plenty of rich people out there with money to spend on pointless purchases.
Globally, luxury markets are expanding at a phenomenal rate. India, China and Russia are all opening up to a super-luxe market they’ve never experienced before – they want status symbols too! Which also goes to explain the opening of departments like the £10 million Wonder Room at Selfridges with its unfathomably expensive laptops and Simon Finch rare books, and stores like Tom Ford’s Madison Avenue menswear flagship (complete with butler to greet ‘guests’, I mean…please!). Not to be left out, Harrods’ Timeless Luxury promotion features 140 brands that have produced limited edition pieces such as a Fissler gold and diamond cooking pan – hmmm, I really need one of those.
Note the limited edition aspect. Instead of luxury for the masses, this is exclusive luxury for the chosen few, hence the new Etailer www.20ltd.com which sources small runs of desirable items that will never be made again. At London Fashion Week, the trend continued with Linda Farrow’s new fine-jewellery encrusted sunglasses range launching in spring. Think gold-plated bespoke sunnies retailing at around £10,000 – imagine losing those in a club.
You may be wondering what the bobbins this has to do with you but don’t scoff too soon. There is always a trickle-down effect and where Hermes and Chanel lead, others will follow. Whether it’s fragrance or make-up, or even those pesky LV bobbles, chances are the prices will leap up, limited edition ranges will breed and we’ll all think it’s entirely acceptable to spend silly money on an alligator-skin TopShop handbag or a gold-plated Mac lipstick. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
So another London Fashion Week is over and I don’t know about you but I’m totally fashioned out. This season has been a good one if only for the sheer variety and numbers of different shows, exhibitions and parties on the schedule. My first big ‘wow’ moment was the Moet Mirage party at the opera house in Holland Park. Quite frankly I have never seen anything like it. This was big-scale luxury hospitality, I mean, it’s LVMH after all, so the champagne flowed faster than the Niger river. As well as the lit-up balloon release (that didn’t quite go according to plan but never mind) and the excitement of standing within whispering distance of Naomi Campbell and Gareth Pugh together, I witnessed a Gareth Pugh-outfitted model wearing a skirt made of full champagne glasses and more fashionistas than you can shake a Chloe bag at descending on the fairground carousel (yes, including you Hilary Alexander). I also managed to snap Misshapes’ Leigh Lezark and Agynes Deyn hanging around ‘DJ’ Giles Deacon, surely one for the youth culture of the noughties photo album…
Next thrill of the week was receiving a ticket to the Luella shop opening. (Sadly no show ticket but this was a good enough substitute.) The shop is lovingly decorated in signature Luella style (e.g. stickers, equestrian touches and Noki artwork) and I was given a sneak preview of the downstairs VIP room where Luella’s ‘special’ clients can shop in comfort without being gawped at by her lesser customers. Here they will be able to order bespoke handbags (which are displayed in antique cabinets – cute!) to their specifications as well as laptop cases and surfboard covers. Oh, and I managed to steal a glimpse into the stockroom where there are shelves and shelves of handbags all encased in pink Luella-logoed dustbags – how very pop art!
The Diane Von Furstenburg shop opening in Bruton Street was another can’t miss affair and it was literally dripping in high-octane glamour. Ms Furstenburg herself is the epitome of elegance – who needs Kate Moss when you can aspire to this amazing businesswoman who looks naturally stunning and manages to perfectly coordinate her dress to the furniture as if it was a happy accident? Certainly not me.
Another international fashion designer being celebrated during London Fashion Week was Karl Lagerfeld. A new film, Lagerfeld Confidential (www.lagerfeldfilm.com) attempts to lift the lid on the enigmatic designer and we were given an advance viewing at the Rex Cinema in Rupert Street. As soon as the film opened with a scene of his study piled ceiling-high with books, magazines and I-pods I knew I would love this film and I can’t wait to see it again when it’s released on 26th October.
Finally, Italian Vogue joined forces with Peroni beer to produce a pop-up exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, one of London Fashion Week’s show venues. This exhibition celebrates fifty years of Italian style as illustrated through the fashion pages of Italian Vogue. The bad news? It’s only on for one week and ends today. Ah well, that’s fashion for you, here today, gone tomorrow.
I was asked to cover London Fashion Week for a website and one of the things they were interested in is the goody bags. A lot of people get very excited about goody bags and to them I say “calm down”. London Fashion Week is not the Oscars. You don’t get free phones, Jimmy Choos and diamonds, not even in the front row.
The most common component of most goody bags is the beauty product. This is because beauty companies have all the money while fashion companies are mostly poor. (I’ll never forget going to a Swarovski party and receiving in my goody bag a 4-inch square suedette pouch made from floor scraps with a crystal or two stuck on. I was not best pleased.)
I thought it would be interesting to spill the beans on who gave what in their goody bag at London Fashion Week.
Gavin Douglas – L’Oreal hair products, L’Oreal lipstick, L’Oreal T-shirt, L’Oreal mascara
Ben De Lisi – Bottle of water
PPQ – Shu Uemura bath product, skin purifier and eyeshadow
Diane Von Furstenburg – T-shirt, lipstick plus the carrier bag itself was a work of art
Markus Lupfer for Armand Basi – A bottle of Armand Basi fragrance
Spijkers En Spijkers – Dr Hauschka hand cream, mini lemon body moisturiser, mini lavender bath oil, sachet of foot balm
Of course, as with everything else Fashion Week-related, there is a strict goody bag hierarchy. If you’re a front row VIP you get the full works but as each row gets further back, the goody bag gets lighter. Those fairly low on the pecking order (i.e. row three) get the cheapest thing in the goody bag – hence the Ben De Lisi bottle of water I received as a lowly third-rower. Any further back than row three and you’re lucky if you get a press release.
When it comes to parties and events, the distribution of the goody bag is altogether different. There is a set number of goody bags and you need to time your departure perfectly. Leave too early and the bags won’t be ready, leave too late and they’re all gone. Never be shy about asking for your goody bag. It’s rightfully yours – it’s your bribe for supporting the brand – so either ask for one (don’t be embarrassed, we all do it – well I do) or just help yourself from the ones lined up by the door.
Whose goody bag is your favourite?
Excuse me but when did Wallpaper* get this good? I heard rumblings that Hedi Slimane was guest-editing the latest issue and those rumblings have turned out to be true. Not only that but Jeff Koons and Dieter Rams have also guest-edited so there are three different covers to collect! (Um…does anyone actually do this?)
I decided to have a browse before parting with my five-odd quid and wow, it’s pretty damn amazing. The whole magazine looks great but I especially loved the fashion shoot in various designers’ archives. Genius! Can you imagine how much fun that shoot was playing with Valentino’s old dresses and Louis Vuitton’s vintage steamer trunks?
Turns out Wallpaper* has also ramped up its fashion week coverage and features daily reports and galleries – www.wallpaper.com/fashion. Go look!
Diane Von Furstenberg’s auumn/winter collection was inspired by beetroot. “I went out for lunch and I spilt some beetroot juice. I used a napkin to clear it up and it was the most extraordinary shade. I took the napkin into the office and said ‘ This is our colour’. Designers eh, they’re all bonkers.
Arthouse director-writer-actress Miranda July had a penpal who was a convicted murderer when she was fifteen.
80s designer-to-the-stars Antony Price is opening a new couture studio in Mayfair.
Barbara Hulanicki’s autobiography From A to Biba is being re-released through V&A Publications. How the hell did I miss this first time round?
The long awaited monograph, Bob Richardson edited by Terry Richardson is due for UK publication in October. Bob Richardson (father of Terry) was big in the seventies but fell on hard times and died in 2005. The hands-in-pockets-slouch was his signature model pose.
Pic: Bob Richardson by Amazon.com