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…