Design

Cool to be kind



Had enough of killer heels that you can’t walk (let alone dance) in and handbags so heavy that even She-ra would have trouble lifting them? Me too. But hang in there because the totes they are a-changing. After the giant bag trend came the absurdity of the superclutch and then the even more ridiculous micro-clutch. But now designers have finally decided to give us something that we actually want: lightweight, roomy and practical bags that do a job and look good.

Mulberry’s creative director Emma Hill is at the forefront of the movement, telling Vogue, “When I pick up a bag that’s heavy when empty, I don’t want it,” and creating a line of lightweight bags for spring-summer devoid of weighty hardware. Alexander Wang’s soft-n-slouchy suede Dorothy sac (below) marries his signature laidback luxe look with a utilitarian twist – my litmus test is whether it will take a copy of Vogue as well as my umbrella, diary, sunglasses and purse without slopping out of shape like an unwieldy sack of potatoes. It passes with flying colours.

The luxury leathergoods-makers Valextra are keen to join the party. Valextra have softened the lines of their trademark bags and introduced the half-moon Namasté which weighs in at a featherweight 600g and can carry up to 15kg without putting your back out of whack. “We worked on it for months to balance it so the weight falls on your hip,” chairman Emanuele Carmiati Molina told the FT, “We threw away over 25 prototypes”. (The price is also less painful at under €1000, that’s cheap for Valextra.)

Not to be outdone, everyone’s favourite Marc Jacobs muse, Sofia Coppola has unveiled her capsule collection for Louis Vuitton consisting of predictably fuss-free day bags and classy clutches. She also rejected the first prototype for being too heavy, finally signing off a collection that is classic, chic and ultimately useful.
Now to swap those plat-heels for something a little more manageable, perhaps these Sofia-for-L-V wedges for starters…

Pics:
Alexander Wang, Dazed Digital, The Fashion Spot


The Convenience Store




No sooner has one caught one’s breath after the razzmatazz of fashion weeks left, right and centre does launch season begin with a zillion different shop openings, high summer previews and A/W press days. In the fortnight ahead I have another Joseph shop relaunch to attend (poor me), press days for Harvey Nichols, Paul Smith, Lulu Guinness, Swarovski, Blow PR and so on and so forth. That’s not including the flood of invitations set to arrive next week for the rest of the press days or the Fashion Business Club talk with Alexandra Shulman I’m attending on 26th March.

On Thursday night it all kicked off with the launch of the clever new pop-up shop by The Convenience Store. The Convenience Store is taking a three-week sabbatical from its home in West London (next door neighbours to Rellik vintage store to be exact) and has taken up residence in the chi-chi environs of the St Martins Lane hotel.

What caught my eye? Ooh, where to start? Wonderful shoes by Camilla Skovgaard (those are her legs and sexy shoes below. If you think they look hot, you should see her face!), raunchy Pam Hogg catsuits, T-shirts and credit-crunch-friendly mugs, sequinny sportswear by Sophie Hulme, lots of lovely Ann-Sofie Back and A.F Vandevorst and plenty of Gareth Pugh including a ventilated armour dress which one commentator was overheard unkindly referring to as looking ‘like an airconditioning unit’, meow!

Everyone was networking like crazy – I have never been given so many business cards – and bemoaning the state of the industry. It was quite nice in a way as everyone is in the same boat and not bothering to hide it. There was a good flow of champagne, much gossip and laughter and a great procession of fashiony characters including Fred Butler, a rosy vision in head-to-toe pink, Pam Hogg, Steven Rellik, various mums-of-designers and handsome blogger Pelayo with the most perfect quiff ever. Topics of conversation: Blogging, men in skirts, Twilight the movie, Starlight Express the musical, soulful house clubs, street parties, press day goody bags and the price of toothpaste. You can’t buy toothpaste at The Convenience Store but you’re in for a treat if you’re after cutting edge, collectable fashion.

The Convenience Store is at the Front Room at The St Martins Lane Hotel, 45 St Martin’s Lane, WC2 from March 19th-April 9th

www.theconveniencestorefashion.co.uk










Dashing Tweeds




Oh how I love a good coincidence. When I was doing my reporter’s stint at London Fashion Week, I happened upon a jazzily outfitted dandy-type outside the mens shows. He let me take his photo and we got chatting. It turns out this tweed-attired fellow was a photographer and our paths had in fact crossed briefly before. He told me he was now dabbling in design and handed me his business card. “Dashing Tweeds?!” I exclaimed (as that was the name of his business), “No way!” My boyfriend D is a big fan of Dashing Tweeds and we’re both regular visitors to the blog, we just didn’t realise who was behind it.

Dashing Tweeds is a brilliantly innovative modern tweed company which was set up by Guy Hills (he of the dandyish attire) and RCA graduate Kirsty McDougall. Hills wanted to do something new and interesting with tweed and discovered textile designer McDougall while visiting the RCA. A keen cyclist, one of Hills’ innovations is a reflective tweed called Lumatwill that means you can cycle to work in a suit without having to grapple with reflective jackets, tabards or sashes. Another is the tweed cycling trouser that has adjustable hems and another is my favourite – the teflon-coated tweed tailored cape, as modelled below by Iris Palmer. Dashing Tweeds is starting to get a lot of recognition but Hills is extremely low key. Despite having created that purple tartan for Henry Holland last autumn and Dashing Tweeds’ suits being sold in Savile Row, there is no hint of ego or arrogance in this affable character.

An ecommerce site is currently under construction so I predict we will be hearing a lot more about Dashing Tweeds. In the meantime, check out the blog, it’s brilliant!