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What to expect at the sixth British Designers Collective at Bicester Village

Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015

Now (almost) as much a part of the summer style calendar as The Chelsea Flower Show or Cannes, the Bicester Village British Designers Collective is in its sixth year. Launched last week, the latest pop-up presents some of our biggest British fashion talent in a theatrical new setting. As usual, the Bicester PR machine commandeered a train carriage just for press, to give us an early preview of the BDC before it opened to customers.

This year’s British Designers Collective boasts a cleaner layout, leaving space in the centre of the store for… a gigantic tree root. It’s all part of this summer’s ‘Best Of British’ theme, which was reflected in the nature motifs and idiosyncratic touches. Fashion-wise, this year’s selection feels like it’s focused on the extra special occasion-wear pieces – Mary Katrantzou’s unique prints, Peter Pilotto’s cascade dresses, Sophia Webster’s playful heels and Holly Fulton’s decorative accessories. If you’re shopping for a bit of a do, then this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to buy something out of the ordinary (at a very good price). Other British Fashion Council designers taking part include Ryan Lo (his colourful handknits were my standout), House of Holland, Thomas Tait and Eudon Choi.

Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 Ryan Lo
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 sophia Webster
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 Thomas Tait
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 Desiree Bollier CEO Value Retail
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 Holly Fulton

As the biggest event in the Bicester Village calendar, the British Designers Collective has become a major draw for fashion lovers here and abroad. “People come here especially for British Designers Collective. They like not knowing what they’re going to get,” explained CEO of Value Retail Desiree Bollier, of the outlet village’s huge overseas clientele. “They travel a lot, they’ve seen everything, so this is an opportunity to surprise them with something new. Our customers expect it.” I’m sure they weren’t expecting the knotty tree branch sprouting from the wall of the store, which is suitably eccentric, yet somehow perfectly apt.

Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 Holly Fulton
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 Holly Fulton
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 House of Holland
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 Holly Fulton
Bicester village British Designers Collective 2015 Mary Katrantzou

Elsewhere at Bicester Village, it’s shopper’s heaven at the moment, for a few reasons. Summer is generally a better time to get deals here, because lightweight tops and jackets are more affordable than coats. Then there’s the brands on offer. The ‘village’ is always evolving as new stores come in or small stores upgrade to bigger premises. Prada has become one of my favourite destinations and thankfully it’s now in a huge two-storey building so no more queues. I was – ahem – bowled over by the array of squat, fabric bowling bags in dfferent prints, all priced around the £250 mark. There’s also a ton of Miu Miu in right now, for those in need of a silk blouse or a leather bomber emblazoned with retro graphics.

Bicester village Prada
Bicester village Prada

Céline is always reliable, with this season a riot of primary-colored abstract prints and painted corrugated metal jewellery. Givenchy is a brand new arrival at Bicester Village, selling menswear, womenswear and lots of accessories including these tooth pendants. And Saint Laurent is looking great, now properly stocks with a full complement of Hedi’s tuxedo tailoring, lip-print silks and leather biker jackets (plus these snazzy winkle pickers for the boys). In fact, the Bicester buy seems to be super-wearable and almost classic this season, meaning that however much you can afford to spend, your investment will go far. And that I guess is what has made Bicester one of the Uk’s biggest attractions in the last 20 years. If you want wearable perennial pieces from great brands but aren’t obsessed with the buy of the moment, then that’s what you get here, in a beautiful setting. But for now, if you want something a bit different from established and new British-based designers, then head to the British Designers Collective pop-up, it’s only there for six weeks.

Bicester village celine
Bicester village celine
Bicester village Givenchy
Bicester village Saint laurent menswear


WORDS AND PICTURES: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl
[IMAGES: Top to bottom
British Designers Collective store exterior; drinks on arrival; Ryan Lo knitwear; Sophia Webster shoes; Thomas Tait, Desiree Bollier’s welcome speech; Holly Fulton handbags; a ‘tree root’ inside the store; Holly Fulton dresses; Sophia Webster shoes; House of Holland dresses; Holly Fulton print detail; Mary Katrantzou dresses; fabric bags in the Prada store; Miu Miu jacket; Celine x 2; Givenchy; Saint Laurent men’s shoes]


Here’s the latest weekly DRG STYLE INDEX ranking, a round-up of the brands currently buzzing on my radar…


MarquesAlmeida LVMH Prize

Exciting news of the week was the announcement of Marques’Almeida as the winner of the LVMH prize. I love what these guys have done, consistently refining their raw-edged aesthetic and building their business at a steady pace. They’re already moving on a little from their denim-centric vision, so I’m wondering if we’ll see more of the luxury element of their so-called ‘undone luxury’ in the near future.


karen walker fragrance available at Harvey Nichols

Another brand with an authentic, youthful aesthetic, Karen Walker has slowly added to her product categories in a strategic way. The sunglasses have become a cult classic of sorts, and this month she has launched her first fragrance trio, exclusively at Harvey Nichols. The packaging is suitably light and poppy, while the fragrances (called ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’) follow suit, A is a verdant fruity floral, B is sweet and peachy and C is the sensual, woody one. Buy the Karen Walker eau de parfum online at Harvey Nichols or at the special pop-up in the London store.


The autunomous collecton consciously produced clothing sold at LNCC

Since its buyout by The Level Group, LN-CC has been working to reestablish itself as an important player in luxury retail and ecommerce. Starting from AW15, we’ll see a new focus on consciously produced fashion, which includes a re-think on its fur policy. For the new season, the only exotic skins and furs will be animal by-products, a noble stance from the influential retailer (especially at a time when furs and skins are more popular than ever). I’m rather keen on the patchwork woven pieces from The Autonomous Collection


Ronnie Northampton Goodyear welted shoes

I’m very excited by this new footwear discovery, Ronnie Northampton. Recent graduate Kirsty Ronnie is passionate about preserving Northampton’s shoemaking skills, designing menswear styles for women, made with traditional techniques. My favourite style is the four tasseled loafer with its elegant, gentlemanly silhouette but quirky detailing. All styles are made to order, so will take a few weeks to arrive and are sold via the Ronnie Northampton website.

WORDS: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl

Fashion meets function at The Natural Shoe Store

Natural Shoe Store Charlie May


The Natural Shoe Store and I go back a long way. To the eighties to be precise, when its Bass Weejun loafers were the height of cool, albeit far out of reach of my meager pocket money budget. Founded in 1976 by Robert Lusk as a destination for all things earthy and comfort-soled, it was always a bit of a stealth influencer. (more…)

Buy it now: Chanel Collection Mediterranee make-up

Chanel Collection Mediterranee

Here’s a brief respite from no make-up make-up. Chanel launched its Collection Méditerranée about ten days ago, a celebration of the Riviera inspired by Coco Chanel’s casual summers of the 1920s. Of course, Chanel invented tanning as a luxury pastime, so the hero item is the limited edition Creation Exclusive Lumière d’été, a camellia-embossed talc-free illuminating powder to gently add a golden highlight to cheekbones and décolleté (below). (more…)