The other Westfield

So who’s all geared up for Thursday’s big retail unveiling? Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Gucci and Armani are all set to open stores at this year’s credit-crunch defying mall launch. But wait! It’s not Westfield London but another big retail splash that opens on October 30th. Alas, it’s on the other side of the world. Fashion Avenue at The Dubai Mall opens its doors to 70 signature stores and we’re talking a whole raft of upper-end designer labels, not just a token Tiffany or LV. According to the Global Luxury Brands survey conducted by market researches Nielsen, 59% of of United Arab Emirates customers surveyed said they wear designer brands to project social status and 43% think luxury brands provide significantly higher quality than other products. In addition, 31% said they currently buy designer brands, and they are the world’s biggest fans of Christian Dior, Givenchy and Fendi. Whether you agree with status-shopping or not, let’s hope their lavish spending can help haul the world’s sinking economy out of the doldrums.

Quote of the day

“I have always divided people into two types – discerners and non-discerners. Discerners are able to put factors such as style, service and presentation together and make a value judgement of whether to spend £30 or not. Non-discerners buy just on price – they would go to a cheap restaurant just because it is cheap. What we will see happen is that the sector of people who buy on price will swell.”
Wise words from Per Una boss George Davies

Daytime TV – A parallel universe

A Saturday isn’t complete without reading Susie Boyt’s column in the FT. Ostensibly about shopping, it isn’t really, it’s about anything Boyt cares to write about that week. This week’s column is about her appearance on Irish daytime TV promoting her new book ‘My Judy Garland Life’.

I was asked to do live Sunday morning TV a few months ago and, oh my word, it was a hoot! The daytime TV studio is like a parallel universe. You arrive at the studio (which in my case was a freezing cold warehouse-like building in Leeds) and from the moment of arrival you are chaperoned by an assistant who sees to your every need. After the tea/coffee has been fetched you are placed in a ‘green room’ type area – actually a modular sofa arrangement in a corner of the vast ground floor. You are given some sort of release form to sign which inevitable says you are signing away the right to any dignity and they can reuse the footage in any way they see fit. Obviously you don’t read any of it, you just sign it to make it go away.

You are taken to make-up where you don’t really have any say in what they do to you so naturally it’s caked on nice and thick. Then back to the ‘green room’ and as the minutes tick by, a few more guests trickle in and with each arrival some small talk of the ‘what are you in for?’ variety ensues. Everyone is very polite and friendly and unnaturally jovial considering it’s about 8am and we are all virtual strangers. The funniest bit for me was when one guest came in and it turned out that we would be arguing against each other. Sofa rivals! Yikes. It transpired that this lady really was a proper expert in her field and had written a book and everything. Me? I was a former fashion editor so my expertise was based on opinion and experience but I certainly couldn’t tap statistics off my fingers like she could. Whatever, it didn’t faze me, I was confident enough with my knowledge, especially after we had a brief run-through with the producer and established that we could have differing opinions without descending into a bitch-slapping slanging match.

As our alloted time slot came nearer, we were escorted upstairs where we were instructed to keep our voices down. We watched on a monitor behind a curtain as the presenters wound up their slot on Fathers’ Day, then were ushered over to The Sofa quick smart to get miked up and introduced to Colin and Louise while the news headlines were being read. And then we were live! It was so weird! You get all geared up for this big event, the moment of truth, are you going to fuck up or will it all be a breeze and then, finito in about three minutes flat!

As soon as your bit is over, the mike is whipped off and you’re shooed unceremoniously out of the studio. We were thanked and taken back to the ‘green room’ where a brief post-mortem took place and then, really bizarrely, all the guests (except me) swapped business cards and – get this – even copies of their various books! You see, the daytime TV circuit is very much a promotional tool as Ms Boyt will tell you, and while you’re there mainly to talk to the viewers, it clearly doesn’t hurt to do a bit of pre- and post-appearance networking with the other guests. After all, who knows when you might need to contact a rock-climber or a ‘freemale’ in the future? After another short stay in the ‘green room’, my car arrived and I was back in the real world and ferried to the station. Next time, I’m aiming for the big time – Lorraine Kelly, I await your call.

Absolut House of Masquerade – the verdict

So last night’s Absolut pop-up shop launch in Shoreditch was fun, fun, fun! Seriously, it was full of great characters – and bloggers! – and we all know how the combination of dressing up and cocktails is a dead-cert ice-breaker. I arrived with my friend Bish from Bish Shops and we were greeted on arrival by a giant red sparkly Absolut Vodka bottle in the window, followed by a cacophony of camped-up revellers inside – upstairs and down.

Can I say the music was fantastic? I can? Thank you. The music was fantasic (if a bit loud, I am getting on a bit you know) courtesy of DJ duo The Broken Hearts who played the best foot-tapping swinging tunes and also rocked the chicest glittery red lipstick and managed to look head-to-toe perfect all night long. (Like, how?)

The shop was beautifully merchandised with all manner of fancy frockery – not forgetting shoes, hats and hair accessories to make Dita Von Teese cry a river of tears. Stylist Sophia Hedblom (below, all in black) was on hand for advice and general zhuzhing as punters took their twirl in front of the camera. Alas, I didn’t as I spend all my life trying clothes on for work but to be honest it was far more fun watching everyone else while picking the brains of vintage dealer James whose company Mint Vintage provided the gownage.

I really loved all the retro props and furniture including my favourite Studio 65 lips sofa (I actually seriously considered buying one once) and all the bits and pieces specially customised by Daisy De Villeneuve – how cool is this wee table – I’m so copying that!

Meeting my fellow bloggers was obviously a highlight including Top Bird from Wee Birdy, Kate from Make Do Style (who snuck off early, tsk) and Tor and Becky from Fab Frocks who were both as cute and funny as their blog (that’s Becky in the gold jacket – a couture ‘piece’ apparently). I also had a nice chat with Courtney Blackman, co-founder and vice chairman of Fashion Business Club and director of Forward PR (two swishy jobs? Now that’s just plain greedy. There she is in the red hat…with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen!). Meeting Daisy De Villeneuve was pretty cool – check out her (wearing colour-clash Issa) and her mum – shouldn’t they be modelling for Comptoir Des Cotonniers?

I must say, I’m not a huge drinker but I did enjoy glugging the cocktails – especially the peach and ginger ones. It seems a lot of other people enjoyed the free voddy as those lovely sparkly red Absolut bottles that were dotted around the place (presumably as not-so-subtle branding) had all mysteriously disappeared by the end of the night. Some people – you can’t take them anywhere.

If you’re planning to get some House of Masquerade action, you’ll find all the info here. It’s on til Monday (evenings only), stock is replenished daily and it’s free to get in, so round up a crew and make the most of it!