Unless you’re being deliberately fashionably tardy on the designer/high-street collab front, you’ll know that the big wow of the week is H & M’s love-in with Comme Des Garcons. The collection is set to drop on Thursday morning and I’ve been advised by my mole to bypass Regent Street and Oxford Street in favour of Westfield or Knightsbridge if I actually want to buy something (as opposed to simply being crushed underfoot by hoardes of plat-heel wearing fashion freaks).
The tunnels and escalators of Oxford Circus tube station have been liberally plastered with posters of a polka-dotted Missy Rayder but the quirkier sighting for me was spotting this ancient poster for H & M at Marble Arch station a few blocks down. Check out Bridget Hall in her satin body (body!) back in the days when H&M used to be called ‘Hennes’!
Race you to the polka dot cardigans…
A few weeks ago I was invited to the UK launch of Vente-privee.com, a new members-only online discount designer club that has been doing very well in France, Spain, Germany and Italy. My first thought on receiving the invitation was ‘hmmm’ but I was tempted by macaroons and champagne at Sketch. The way Vente-privee.com works is you sign up for membership and for each sale, you receive an e-invitation 48 hours in advance. Each sale lasts a mere 48-72 hours and once the sale ends, the merchandise is no longer visible on the site.
On watching the presentation I kept thinking, ‘who shops like this?’. I am really not an online shopper. I never think ‘I need a new top, let’s have a look online and see what’s out there’, simply because it would take forever. The choice is literally endless and in any case, I like the retail experience. I like browsing, touching and even sniffing things (leather wallets, yum!). I like guessing the prices and getting a buzz when I see something’s unexpectedly reduced. I rarely shop in the sales because I expect them to be full of crap. And yet these discount shopping clubs are booming.
According to this article in The Wall Street Journal, people have become tired of greedy shopping. Spending hundreds on an It bag, shoe or even a coat is somehow not so chic any more but getting the cachet of a designer piece at a hugely marked-down price is still appealing. A digital marketing agency has noticed that interest in discount retail sites is on the up. Blog postings and online ‘buzz’ about discounters such as BlueFly.com are increasing, while breathless raves about merchandise featured on Netaporter.com has taken a dip. In fact, Netaporter’s response to this is to introduce Theoutnet.com, an outlet and sample-sale priced sister site that is pencilled to launch by the end of the year. And Asos.com recently launched discount site Asos Red with up to 70% off international brand names (and there are some good brands there – April 77 jeans at £35 anyone?).
So what about these clubs, why not just shop on BlueFly or Asos Red? Credit crunch or no credit crunch, people like an element of one-upmanship. Online shopping clubs aren’t available to everyone, you have to make the effort to sign up and the ‘club’ tag gives it an edge of prestige and exclusivity – your membership has to be approved or you have to be recommended. Fashionconfidential.com was originally set up for cash-rich, time-poor businesswomen but is now just as viable for fashion addicts who don’t have as much disposable income as they had a year or two ago. Members get a heads-up on all the best London samples sales (think Valentino and Chloe for starters) as well as exclusive and generous discounts on brands like Anya Hindmarch, Jaeger and Agent Provocateur.
What all this goes to prove is that even though people are spending less, they are still a long way from giving up the shopping habit completely. Money may be tighter but the lust for new clothes hasn’t waned - the challenge is finding fresh ways to satisfy that lust while keeping within our ever-decreasing budgets.
This isn’t an interiors blog but twice in three months I’ve seen hand-drawn illustrations on wooden screens*. First at the Acne shop opening at Liberty and this week, set-designer-slash-artist Gary Card took his colouring pencils to a live draw-in window installation at Stella McCartney’s Bruton Street shop. Could this be a new trend-in-the-making?
*OK, the Gary Card drawings are actually on wardrobes but they look pretty, no?
OK, I get that black lace is a big trend and all that but I’m seriously worried about where this is going? What is up with the black lace and white silk combination? First we saw it on Katie Holmes – a (quite nice actually) lace top worn beneath a silk strapless jumpsuit arrangement, but apparently she ‘designed’ it herself so I guess we have to let that one go. But then Gwyneth in this Antonio Berardi affair. WTF! I understand that it’s witty and clever in its design but why black on white? It’s so ugly! Not to mention cheap. And nasty. Please, if any other designers (or God forbid, high street imitators) are ‘inspired’ by this, take a valium and have a rethink.
“The Olsen twins are admittedly cool but only in comparison to other celeb dimwits who all like to claim fashion stakes in their own dubious clothing lines.”
Well said, Susie Bubble!
Strictly speaking, no one needs a watch these days but surely I can’t be the only technophobe suffering from phone fatigue? Despite the best efforts of fashion designers to piggy-back on the mobile phone bandwagon (Prada’s LG, Samsung’s Giorgio Armani and the $28,000 Lady Dior for starters) there’s something about an old-fashioned wrist-watch that still resonates with me. I have quite a nice little collection of watches ranging from Swatches (including my prized Vivienne Westwood orb), to an Hermes Medor (took months of savings), a Peter Blake Tikkers and my goes-with-everything Cartier Tank. Yet still I lust for more.
I’m not a big fan of Louis Vuitton’s clothing but Marc Jacobs’ debut watch collection for LV threw up this Emprise watch – a 45 thousand pound extravaganza on an alligator strap, encased in 18k diamonds. Who said bling was dead?
I’m also strangely drawn to the so-gaudy-they’re-beautiful monstrosities that are Zadora watches – how can you not love these exotic jewelled creatures that sit atop a stingray watch-strap? Surely the Judith Leibers of the watch world…
Then there is this intriguing vintage number from Hermes, called a ‘belt watch’ but surely it couldn’t be a belt! Can you imagine? So must be a precursor to the flip-up Medor watch.
My ultimate timepiece however is this vintage Hermes Movado pocket-watch, a genius feat of self-winding engineering that resides in its own calf-skin case. Why buy a for-this-season-only designer phone when you can have one of these beauties and cherish it forever?