Here’s the latest weekly DRG STYLE INDEX ranking, a round-up of the brands currently buzzing on my radar…
1. COACH 2.0 IS LOOKING GOOD
Coach’s luxury push is hard to ignore. Its ads are all over the tube, it has a prominent position in Selfridges menswear and it’s now opened a store in Paris. So far I’m a fan of this amped up iteration of Coach, although the store interior is looking very Burberry…
2. ALEXA CHUNG X VOGUE
Sorry haters but I’m really enjoying Alexa Chung’s 10 minute episodes for Vogue on the fashion industry. They’re informative, informal, and just bite-sized enough…
3. BALENCIAGA JUST GOT COOL AGAIN
The fashion world’s reaction to the appointment of Demna Gvasalia of Vetements as artistic director of Balenciaga has been overwhelmingly positive. Expectations are high, let’s hope the pressure won’t be too great…
4. CHARLOTTE TILBURY IS OPENING A FLAGSHIP STORE
You read it here first but now it’s been officially announced. Charlotte Tilbury’s first standalone store will be opening in Covent Garden on November 21st.
5: AGENT PROVOCATEUR IS KILLING IT ON SNAPCHAT
Who is doing Snapchat well? Lots of high end brands have taken to it but their content seems to be a samey succession of backstage fashion show snippets smothered in emoji. For something different, how about Agent Provocateur, whose ‘agent takeovers’ let its shopgirls take over the app. These day-in-the-life ‘stories’ are irreverent, engaging and on-point for the brand. See more on Snapchat at @themissap (and why not give me a follow while you’re there: @disneyrollergirl)…
I won’t lie, I’m struggling with the idea of next season’s chunky-soled flatforms with their tacky gold chain (here and here) or lit-up soles. This season’s Chanel is far more me, the very same two-toe slingbacks that Gabrielle Chanel used to wear – completely unmodified.
Chanel put this shoe on all its models for the AW15 show and is giving it a big push with a series of videos. Four in fact, and very charming they are too. I’ve got to say, someone at Chanel is doing an outstanding job on the content front …
WORDS AND IMAGE: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl
Just what has Lyn Harris been doing with her time for the past two years? Since stepping aside from Miller Harris, the brand she founded in 2000, she has been reacquainting herself with her deepest loves – the British seasons, slow craft and creative collaboration – and cooking up a unique personal venture.
The sweet-smelling fruits of her labour have now been unveiled, revealing a reaction to the mass-market business of beauty that has personal resonance to her and hopefully to her customers. Perfumer H, a shop and working laboratory is a retail concept that puts creation and craft at the heart of the perfume-buying experience.
The look and feel of the Marylebone atelier is key, housed in a discreet corner shop with tinted windows, and elegantly fitted out by interiors alchemists Retrouvius. The décor, a mix of bespoke textile panels, handsome cabinets, reclaimed shelving and mid-century furniture complements the warm tones of the hand-blown glass vessels that hold Perfumer H fragrances and candles. And at the back of the store is the trump card. Here is a real working lab where the perfumes are made up in front of you, surrounded by apothecary bottles stored in original teak shelving (salvaged rather appropriately, from a school science lab). It’s all very experiential, yet very relaxed.
And so to the fragrances. The concept is three-tiered, but ultimately these are all high quality perfumes based around Harris’ authentic passion and respect for her beloved British countryside. Authentic may have become a dirty word, but it imbues everything here. Harris is fanatical about slowing the consumption cycle, offering an antidote to mass-produced perfumes. “We’ve got anything and everything now, there’s an overkill,” says the perfumer, who grew up in Yorkshire but took herself to Paris and then Grasse to learn her craft. The comforting, uplifting scents are a reminder of Harris’ childhood, much of it spent in Scotland with her grandparents. Their jam making, bread baking and vegetable growing made a lasting impression on her.
Starting at £195 there are the entry-point Season Edition fragrances in richly-coloured glass bottles which you can have engraved with initials if you so wish. These are the ‘ready to wear’ collections of five scents (one to represent each of the five fragrance families – citrus, floral, wood, fern and oriental) that are updated twice a year. I’ve been wearing Cologne for the last couple of weeks; a not-too-sharp citrus softened with a twist of asparagus that’s perfect for everyday. Each 100ml bottle is sold with a funnel and two 10ml refillable travel sprays and they’re so popular they’re selling out already.
Then there are the Laboratory Editions, the library of other fragrances that Harris has spent two years developing, such as the many scents based around different varieties of rose. These cost from £250, or if you fall particularly hard for one of them you can pay £2000 and buy the formula outright, meaning it will be yours alone and no-one else can have it.
The candles are another carefully considered offering. Five varieties hand poured into the same hand-blown glass holders with evocative names that conjure up cosy autumnal evenings – Ivy, Dandelion, Smoke, Fern and Marmalade. These cost £95 and like everything else can be personalised with initials.
And for the ultimate personal indulgence (starting at £15,000), there’s the bespoke service. This sounds a bit like a therapy session where the pragmatic, Margiela-wearing Harris teases out your innermost values and desires and translates them into a unique perfume of your very own. It’s the service that she has offered to private clients for many years (It’s how Miller Harris’ bestselling L’Air de Rien came about, originally a bespoke order for Jane Birkin) and was the trigger for Perfumer H. Harris compares it to a Savile Row-type experience, “it’s all about how it’s composed, like a well tailored jacket”.
But what’s so nice about the overall Perfumer H concept is the harmony of the smells with the visuals and the element of thoughtful craft. The collaboration process with likeminded artisans is something Harris relishes. “I work closely with our glass blower Michael Ruh and it’s so different working with an individual. He can only do eight bottles a day; it’s a craft in itself. You don’t get that anymore.”
And while most of the appeal comes from the scents, (Harris has a knack of creating modern versions of natural fragrances, a lot of them are unisex), I can’t deny that the stealth factor is also a plus. It’s not shouty, it’s not cheap and it’s made by hand in limited quantities. Because who doesn’t like to feel they have something no one else has?
How great is it to see the British high street embracing style conscious ‘mid century modern’ women with well made, classic cuts that have contemporary flair? Whistles has successfully led the charge here for a while, M&S is doing so much better and Jigsaw is the latest to up its game.
As Lisa Armstrong pointed out in The Telegraph, Jigsaw was amazing in the 90s but then it lost its mojo. I remember the John Pawson-designed store and Juergen Teller campaigns and it was even successful enough to have snooty PRs who could afford to ignore you if your publication wasn’t cool enough for them.
However it’s not entirely Jigsaw’s fault that things slipped. The market changed as we entered the decade of Tom Ford’s Gucci, Juicy Couture, Victoria Beckham and Britney. Grungy minimalism just wasn’t cool in the 00s and I think they decided to grow up with their customer which resulted in too much sensible work wear and an over-abundance of pastel knits. Fast forward a little and Top Shop Unique, Zara and Cos have stepped forward to fill the Jigsaw-shaped hole for the 40+ market.
Props to the brand for taking risks again. Its store in Duke Street may be slightly off the beaten track but it’s making a statement in its bid for the aspirational Mayfair customer. And the product in there looks wonderful, from the menswear it launched three years ago to the current AW15 collection (below)…
This week sees the latest initiative from Jigsaw, a collection called A-Line (below). Arriving in 6 stores (and online), Jigsaw A-Line is a big step up from mainline Jigsaw with prices around the £300 mark for trousers and £700 for coats. These are designed as timeless ‘artisan-inspired’ pieces with UK and Italy-sourced fabrics to justify the prices. I’m guessing they expect to be positioned alongside the likes of Joseph and Nicole Farhi. The oversized, loosely-tailored coats (£695) are my winners, along with the culottes (£295), chunky knits (£295) and a beautiful tulip-print silk charmeuse top (£295). Buy it HERE.