On the subject of Manchester, I didn’t get to check out the high street offer so I can’t vouch for its Topshop but this sounds like a fun event. On November 11th, Topshop will be hosting a ‘pop-up magazine’ in its Arndale Centre store. From 5-8pm there will be a screen streaming the SS11 show, a series of style talks from an exciting industry insider, beauty makeovers and consultations (I have to say, the Topshop make-up line is one of the most exciting out there), as well as a make-up tutorial streamed on a screen throughout the evening – all accompanied by a glass or two of sparkling wine.
Exhibitionists will be rewarded with a style competition where the best-dressed punters get snapped by Topshop’s scouts for an in-store Best In Show wall. The best effort-makers win £250 and £100 Topshop gift cards.
PS: If you live in Nottingham, you can experience all this on Wednesday November 3rd…
Two weeks ago I was introduced to the delights of Manchester to celebrate its Heart Of Fashion campaign. Aimed at showcasing the fashion offer of the city, I was given a tour of the Northern Quarter (AKA vintage heaven), treated to an audience with Amanda Wakeley at Harvey Nichols and wined and dined in the Harvey Nichols restaurant. In between, I managed to shoe-horn in a three-hour vox pop session with most excellent photographer Jason Lock for a travel mag. During our ‘stylish people of Manchester’ scouting, we spotted the most incredible trio of 70-somethings, straight off the Corrie set (circa 1968). There they were, ‘aving a fag and a mother’s meeting on the street, resplendent in pastel-hued raincoats, shampoo-and-set coiffs and sheer Northern character. And – I swear to God – one of them sported a handful of ghetto-fab nails that put Willow Smith’s 3-D claws to shame. Did we get a photo? Hell no, the poor biddies were camera-shy and ‘running late for bingo’. I could’ve wept.
We drowned our missed photo-op sorrows at Harvey Nichols as local girl, Amanda Wakeley presented her AW10 collection in an animated presentation. Super-luxe leathers, suedes, cashmeres and jerseys, scissored into capes, coats, sculpted jackets and ‘scuba’ dresses, were accompanied by Camilla Skovgaard asymmetric heels. All flattering for all ages and made to last. I was impressed with the attention to detail; Wakeley’s cashmere cardigans are lined in satin and all the stretch pieces are lined in stretch silk so they feel as good as they look. We discussed the commercial side of fashion. Wakeley believes that “in a recession, people buy things that stand out but have a longevity. They want value in the fabric, the make, the cut.” On the subject of fashion and the web, she’s a firm believer (next season Amanda Wakeley will be sold on Net-a-porter.com), but doesn’t think online will kill bricks and mortar. And of the moment Angelina Jolie wore Wakeley’s silver beaded gown to the premiere of Salt, she said, “the follow-up was phenomenal, the blogs went berserk! The power of celebrity and online has surged.”
Following a make-your-own-mojitos session, we feasted on slow-cooked Cheshire beef, truffle gnocchi and baby leeks in the Harvey Nichols restaurant, where I discovered that the best selling labels in the Manchester store are Juicy Couture and Roberto Cavalli. Who said bling is dead? By bedtime, I was truly spent. Thank God then for the Lowry Hotel, who comped me the biggest hotel room I have ever seen – think floor to ceiling river-view windows, a massive bed, ocean-liner size desk, leather chaise longue, plus an entire separate dressing area (makes a change from the usual foot of rail space and two meagre hangers).
It would have been nice to have free in-room wi-fi but luckily I’d come equipped with my mi-fi dongle *smug face*. After an emotional half hour watching the Chilean miners emerge triumphant from their hellhole, I drifted off into a deep and blissful slumber.
Day two involved a tour of some of Manchester’s high end boutiques and stores. Manchester is a city where old and new exist proudly side by side. While 175 year old Kendals is the oldest department store in the world, there was much ado about the Armani store opening in the newly built luxury destination, The Avenue at Spinningfields.
There’s clearly something of a Westwood following in Manchester, judging by the two shops and an Agent Provocateur store (not strictly Westwood I know, but loosely-related). However, the highlight for me was Hervia Bazaar. Owned by the same team who run the Westwood franchises around the country, it stocks an eclectic edit of labels including Rick Owens leathers, Elke Kramer jewellery, Pierre Hardy shoes and bags, A Child of the Jago menswear (see, the Westwood connection again) and Pyrenex outerwear, all beautifully merchandised. The store has also been a great supporter of emerging British labels – unsurprisingly my eyes went straight to the Sibling knitwear…
A Child of the Jago
When I saw Lulu Guinness during London Fashion Week, we had a long old blather about blogging, bloggers and all things digital. She has just launched the Lulu Guinness blog and I love it already. Especially this post about Eley Kishimoto’s journals for Noble Macmillan. Do I really need another EK Flash-printed item? Ppffft, stupid question.
The new issue of HERO magazine is out, along with its new website. To celebrate, JW Anderson has designed a special limited edition dip-dye tee (only 30 available), with all profits going to Anderson’s chosen charity, Mind. (Note: the tees are made to order so delivery may take a few weeks.) Also, don’t miss the story on JW Anderson’s SS11 collection, including his thoughts on his design process and the business of fashion. It’s a gripping read.
“There is no more fashion because there is too much fashion”
Have you seen Lisa Eldridge’s make-up how-to videos? I suggest you do. This sought after make-up artist makes the most useful tutorial videos on every subject from how to do a quick smoky eye to how to cover up acne (actually that one is pretty genius). The reason I Iove Eldridge is that she is approachable, articulate and thorough. All her tools and products are credited – even the nail polish that gets a cameo appearance. And she makes everything look easily achievable without taking hours.
My favourite tutorial is how to take your make-up off. I love Eldridge’s eye make-up removal process which goes like this:
1) Split a cotton wool pad in half so you have two thin pads.
2) Halve one of these so you have two half-moons.
3) Generously soak each one with eye make-up remover and place under the lower lashes (actually best to do this one at a time).
4) Soak another cotton wool pad, place over the eyelid and gently hold and press on it so the remover can do its work – no rubbing required.
5) Keep gently pressing the pad on the lid, especially around the eyelashes for a minute or so (this will also remove false lashes).
6) When you ease off the pad, the eye area will be completely clean. Bonus: No itching, no irritation. I’ve tried it, it’s miraculous!
And to make your make-up removal feel more of a pampering, less of a chore, how about a pack of Chanel make up remover pads? At $20 (from here) they’re possibly the most affodable luxury skincare item you’ll ever buy (lordy, did I really just say that?).
New in at Liberty: Allure by Diana Vreeland (with foreword by Marc Jacobs) in an adorable dinky size. Yours for £22.95…
“It’s not just about people having less money. People have changed the way they go for luxury, because they realize at a certain point there’s other things to do with your money than buy things like couture that you may not really need. So I am trying to find a new way to excite them and make them buy in another way. Not a reasonable way, because reasonable is always boring. But finding a new way to attract them.”
Bruno Frissoni on ditching Roger Vivier’s couture line
Well, what a storm in a Café de Flore teacup about the use of a – shock horreur – YSL belt in a Chloe fragrance ad. Did stylist Joe McKenna mischievously throw the skinny waist-cincher in the mix or was it an intern mix-up*? Personally I see nothing wrong with a bit of cross branding. When Ines de la Fressange agreed to walk the Chanel ss11 runway, rumour has it that it was with the proviso that she wore Roger Vivier shoes rather than Karl’s creations. Ditto the ad campaign. Likewise, J.Crew was recently in the news for directing website visitors to competing brands alongside its own merchandise.
I would like to see even more deliberate mixing up on the catwalk and in campaigns – say a Comme Des Garcons jacket with a pair of vintage Levi’s or a Ralph Lauren coat with Gap khakis. Why not, isn’t this how people dress now, rather than head to toe in one designer? I think it would show immense confidence for a brand to show its own designs styled with another’s, although still in keeping with its overall aesthetic. After all, almost every name designer of note has done a high-meets-low high street collaboration, isn’t this just a continuation of that idea?
*Oh yes, when in doubt, blame the intern!
I shouldn’t really be lusting after bags, having just taken delivery of a naughty little Celine tote, but what to do when PRs keep bombarding my inbox with treats like this? Margaret Howell‘s stealth satchels are beautifully made in England by Whitehouse Cox, a Midlands factory specialising in saddlery. The bags are made from vegetable tanned bridle leather which will soften and age with wear. Mmmm… *inhales dramatically*… you can just smell it, can’t you?
These bags are a limited edition, available in all stores in two sizes: £455 for the medium and £255 for the small.