Week 3 at Cocosa: Martin Grant and Sykes

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This is my third week as guest editor of luxury flash sales site, Cocosa.com* and may be the best yet. Even better than the Mawi baubles, the Luella shades and the Basso & Brooke dresses are cheap-but-chic pickings from Martin Grant and Sykes. Continue reading

The case for the iPad

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I still can’t make my mind up about the iPad. I’ve had a brief play on one but I haven’t decided if it really has a purpose. Of course that doesn’t stop me from looking longingly at cute little cases for them – you know I love a ‘tech-cessory’. These iPad cases from Dooney & Bourke and Oscar de la Renta Resort are very appealing, especially in ravishing red…

Dooney & Bourke $65

Oscar de la Renta Resort

What do you think? Yay or nay to the iPad?

Frock n Roll

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They say that recessions feed creativity and going by this one, I’d say that point has definitely been proven. Just look at all the clever cut-out-the-middle-man fashion retail sites that have recently sprung up, giving emerging designers a platform to sell their wares directly to the public – Catwalk Genius and Beta Fashion to name two.

Another example is that of Mrs Jones Emporium, a by-appointment shopping experience that totally trounces the oft-dull high street option. Firstly, let me introduce ‘Mrs Jones’. Fee Doran is a designer whose work speaks for itself. She has worked with Giles Deacon (Doran Deacon was the springboard that set Giles on his ascent to stardom), Scissor Sisters, The Killers, Florence Welch and Kylie – remember the white hooded catsuit? Last year she created Oxfam DIY, a range of upcycled clothing for the charity chain. She doesn’t really do fashion-fashion but her years of designing costumes for bands and special projects have culminated in the emporium, her latest baby.

Up a couple of flights of stairs in a nondescript Clerkenwell office building, you are greeted by the visual feast that is her archive. These dresses, jackets, ponchos, feather head-dresses, spangled shoes and all manner of other sartorial fabulosity are merchandised in her own inimitable style – colour, fabric and embellishment as far, wide and high as the eye can see. In one corner is a homely sofa, in another Victoria Saunders has set up her hairdressing chair, upstairs is a roof terrace for rock n roll debauchery summertime hanging out and further inside the tardis-like space is the nerve-centre, her design studio.
On a dummy hangs a dress made for singer Kirsty Almeida out of glued-together sheet music. The point of Mrs Jones Emporium is to kick back, try on and get creative. Flamboyant, fun and funny, essentially Mrs Jones Emporium is a dressing up box for grown ups. I’m sure there is some fancy newfangled term for these creatives like Mrs Jones and Supermarket Sarah who open up their homes/studios to the public, giving a memorable and eclectic experience to the consumer. It’s fashion as fun experience rather than trend-led ‘you should wear this’. How refreshing and how right for now…

Home is where the art is

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Yay, check my shit out! Blog buddy That’s Not My Age has done a Through The Keyhole-style interiors feature on my gaff. There are lots of Mickey Mouse characters, art books and novelty pens. No surprises there then. Oh, and I had to tidy up a lot for that visit. See more here.

Haute totes

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As the mood for next season promises to be a lesson in functional minimalism (yay!), it follows that bags will be just as sensible. So none of this small-scale silliness, we need proper totes to, well, tote our wordly goods in. Celine is already there with these AW10 super-soft red leather totes and will continue the directive with taller but just as useful bags for Cruise 2011.

Stuart Vevers is backing the trend with his Papelle collection of paper-look leather haute totes. Aren’t they lovely? (Although they do look rather similar to the Spooner & Watts bags below…)

Pre-collection for dummies

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I feel like all I have done for the past few weeks is eat, sleep and breathe pre-collection. If I’m not ogling Georgia Jagger at Chanel Cruise in St Tropez, I’m getting to grips with Phoebe Philo’s year-round furs for Celine or lusting after the just-dropped pre-fall collections in stores and online. Pre-collections have been around for donkey’s years but only recently has there been all the hoopla more usually associated with ready-to-wear. So why all the fuss now? I brought this up with Luisa de Paula, buying director of My-wardrobe.com who shed light on the matter. What I learnt…

The immediacy of online has fuelled a buy-right-now culture. The ‘new in’ section of any etail site is always busiest because that type of customer wants the most up-to-date fashion. The appeal of ‘pre’ for buyers is it fills a gap between spring-summer and autumn-winter or autumn-winter and spring-summer. While most of us are still shopping the sales, the ‘buy-right-now’ customer is craving newness and shopping pre-fall or Cruise. Pre-collections ensure that ‘new in’ never stops delivering.

Due to timings, pre-collections are on the shop floor for longer that RTW collections. This gives them a nice long stretch of about 6 months before the mark-downs begin. Buyers therefore make more money on full-priced pre-collections. “Pre-collections are a must and we want more of them, because it gives you longer to sell it,’ says de Paula. “Otherwise it’s a race to sell it before it goes into sale.”

In the past, the Resort and Cruise collections were so-called because they were aimed at jet-set customers travelling to warmer climes for the winter months and mostly consisted of beachwear and cocktail dresses. Now with a climate that has less-defined seasons, the purpose of ‘pre’ has changed. It’s become more about seasonless dressing, wearability, layering and understated pieces and less about trend-led statement-makers.

The trouble with ‘it’ pieces from RTW collections is they quickly become over-exposed. Do you really want those Prada chandelier shoes when they’ve been on every B-lister’s feet and copied by Primark, Peacocks and Dorothy Perkins? Wouldn’t you rather have a less identifiable piece from a smaller collection? Apparently ‘yes’ say the early-adopters.

Luisa de Paula raves about Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania line, a consistent best-seller of My-wardrobe’s pre-collections. DKNY also sells well. Their common quality is jersey – a perfect all-year-round fabric for layering as the temperature requires.

New in from My-wardrobe’s pre-collections:

McQ Alexander McQueen dress, £270

Paul & Joe Sister stripe dress, £108

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania scarf dress, £296

Paul & Joe print dress, £348

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania red print dress, £408

[Main pic: Celine pre-fall, Style.com]

Italian khakis – who knew?

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So, The Sartorialist informs me there is something called ‘Italian khakis’. Eureka! This is what I’ve been looking for forever. A skinny, ankle-length chino to wear in the summer with a half-tuck T-shirt and loafers or brogues and no socks. COS, Gap, Uniqlo et al, please take note. Girls need these…

This week on Cocosa…

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…there’s a clearance sale. I know! I have already chosen my top picks on Cocosa.com(sign up with invite code ‘Disneyrollergirl’ to see my choices as June’s guest editor) and they include Luella’s cat-eye sunnies for £45 and a Graeme Black dress for *gasp* £99. Continue reading

Easy as 1, 2 , 3

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I’m so going to try this out…

Nails by Sophy Robson for Giles courtesy of Mandi

Little bow chic

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Calling all garconnes… get a load of Baptiste Viry‘s menswear-influenced accessories. His first job was with Hermes which frankly is all the information I need.