The It-bag robberies

Those wretched baglifters are still at it, smashing and grabbing from every It-bag peddler from Bond Street to Sloane Street. On Monday evening the bike-mounted bag-burglers targeted the Fendi store but were papped by photographers stalking Rebecca Loos as they drove past Cipriani in Mayfair with as many as thirty bags hanging off each bike. Although it’s not much fun for a bag designer to have their stock plundered only to have the precious loot unceremoniously flogged on Ebay, it must be a bit of a comfort to know they’ve been targeted. In a way, these robberies are serving as quite the accidental barometer of what’s hot and what’s not in arm candy. So far, Luella, Anya Hindmarch, Mulberry, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Salvatore Ferragamo have all been victims, imagine the shame if you were the only bag shop that wasn’t being raided, you’d almost have to stage a robbery yourself, just to save face.

Naughty numpties

The latest round of autumn-winter press days has just begun and amongst the booty we can look forward to in our goody bags are vouchers to spend at the high street department stores. A while ago, certain stores decided (correctly) that we’d far rather be given gift vouchers to spend on items of our own choosing than the usual scarf, bag or necklace. (Actually, we’d rather have the cash but that would be a bit too greedy.) Alas, an unfortunate turn of events has taken place that may put an end to the gift voucher tradition.

Four press officers for a well-known department store have been sacked following an investigation into a gift voucher scam. It seems these hapless PRs were ordering rather too many gift vouchers for phantom ‘competitions’ and then spending them themselves. So did they go to an off-radar branch of their store to spend said vouchers? No, they spent them in the Oxford Street store, mere yards from their press office and were caught on camera committing the offence. Doh! Still, it’s not as bad as the PR for another high street chain (clue: it’s the one that has sales hat start at 5’oclock in the morning) who was sacked for selling press samples on a market stall. Euww, how common!

Where east and west meet in the middle

One of the things I found hard to get my head around when I was working in India last month was the disparity between traditional design and modern fashion. The magazine I was launching was an international title which is nothing new, as the emerging markets are opening up of course all the magazines want a presence. Elle, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire have been in India for a few years, Vogue launched last year, this year should see Glamour, Grazia, In Style and (I believe) Harpers Bazaar. What was confusing was that my initial editor (an Englishwoman) made a point of saying the magazine needed a 50-50 mix of Indian and International fashion and features while her Indian successor insisted that references to Indian traditions were kept to the absolute minimum. This meant no mention of saris, kurtas, mother-in-laws or maids if we could help it. As the very person this magazine was targeting – the single middle class, twentysomething working woman – her reasoning was that the modern Indian woman wants to be ‘international’. She travels abroad, she watches American sitcoms so she wants access to those brands and lifestyles that she has experienced in the western world. All very understandable, however I couldn’t help feeling that it was a bit of a shame.

Here is a country with such great history and culture, not to mention an amazing textile heritage, but to have any hope of succeeding outside India or appealing to the new Asian middle classes, designers have to move away from traditional Indian style and design with a more western-influenced eye. The same seems to go for Chinese and Russian fashion (example: Kova & T). Clearly, a balancing act is needed. The designers that inspired me when I was in Mumbai were those like Drashta which combined cocoon-like western shapes with the sequins and saturated colour we associate with India. Anupamaa designs simple kaftans and silk shifts in the most breathtaking fabrics, while Manish Arora is now a household name with his wacky Indo-Western psychedelic-pop prints. I’m not knocking Wendell Rodricks or Gauri & Nainika, their accomplished designs are certainly worthy of attention from overseas but will find it harder to stand out amongst similar fare from American and European designers. The ultimate challenge for designers from emerging nations is learning how to design for the western market while throwing in a taste of local flavour that reflects their heritage.

Pic: Drashta aw/08


My dear friend Z is travelling in Asia and wanting to get some dresses copied. In particular a MIu Miu dress that she describes below.

“ANYWAY I need your help! I’m looking for a picture of a Miu Miu dress I saw in loads of mags last year but lost the tear. It was in LOADS of mags – last summer I think – Red I remember, and in Vogue India in January (!) – the Gauri Khan cover. Anyway I can’t find a pic of it and wonder if you know what’s a good website to look on as I can’t find it on or netaporter, or even if you have a pic of said dress. It’s strapless, prom shaped, made of different cuts of quite heavy fabric around the bodice, and then one fabric for the skirt. It’s pastelly in colour. It’s AMAZING. Does it spring to mind!?!?”

Ugh, no idea what she’s talking about. Any clues anyone? PS, the dress is pink, not red (as I first thought) – she saw it in RED magazine, but It’s PINK!