Breaking news: Church’s to open standalone women’s store


News just in: Forget Louis Vuitton, Prada and Chanel, the only shoe destination you need in New Bond Street is about to open at number 163. Formerly a mens shoe shop, the new standalone Church’s store, ‘Lady Bond’ (according to my mole) will be dedicated to women’s shoes in unique colorways. These shoes will be made in Italy ( thanks to the Prada connection?) as opposed to Northampton.

I’m praying for highly-polished brogues, oxfords and lounge slippers in Laduree macaron shades – not much to ask I’m sure you’ll agree. ETA: end of November.

The future of fashion: inclusive or exclusive?

Just as we get nicely comfortable with the idea of fashion for all, the goal posts shift again. Fashion’s Night Out was a fabulously jolly affair with customers, celebs and designers all happily sharing the same breathing space. This round of fashion weeks will have more brands than ever live-streaming their shows, while a number of designers and CEOs also tweet from behind the scenes (hello @vbfashionweek, @MarcJacobsInt). Marc Jacobs’ tweeter, CEO Robert Duffy has also been giving away bags and surfboards (eh?) to lucky tweeters, creating quite the fashion frenzy. Very caring, very sharing.

But just when it was getting so cosy and democratic – BAM! – all change. Yes Burberry is live streaming its show online and broadcasting it on screens in-store but those in-store iPads aren’t just for any old civilian. No, the in-store treatment is for a select few privileged customers, so while they get to watch, shop and quaff champagne in the luxe surroundings of Burberry’s serene-but-sexy temples, the rest can press their noses against the window and like it will have to make do with their iPad at home on the DFS with a cup of PG Tips for company.

Tom Ford made his much anticipated and (not-very-well-kept) secret comeback yesterday during New York Fashion Week and what a to-do there was. No live-streaming for Ford. Instead there was a small salon-style show where only a handful of VIP press were present and they were strictly instructed that “all photographic and recording devices are prohibited. Thank you.”

Ford introduced each outfit modelled by an all-star cast including Beyonce, Lauren Hutton and Julianne Moore. How thrilling! And the outfits? Well we won’t be seeing those for quite some time, the official pictures were taken by Terry Richardson (allegedly for French Vogue) and are embargoed until next year. Blimey, New York Fashion Week has never been this exciting. Ford has clearly decided that all this ‘fashion for everyone’ guff has reached its tipping point and is leading the charge in the opposite direction. At his preposterously luxe end of the market, he’s making a case for super-exclusivity, the kind where customers are more than happy to pay for the privilege of wearing something that’s not been seen on every other Tom, Dick and Sharon.

Is Ford onto something here? It was noted recently that Chanel has scissored its sample sale guest list. The Chanel sample sale invitation is already one of the most coveted perks in the fashion and beauty business and invitations are like gold dust. The culling of the list sent out a firm message; for all that they may be embracing bloggers, setting up etail sites and interacting on Facebook, there’s no doubt that exclusivity still has meaning for luxury fashion brands. Just ask Tom.

First look: Louis Vuitton London Maison

When I mentioned the opening of the Louis Vuitton UK flagship to D (aka Mr Disneyrollergirl) on Tuesday, he didn’t hide his disdain. “I’ve seen it. I passed it yesterday, it looks like something out of Dubai airport via Stanstead. Deeply tacky,” was his damning assessment. He may have curled his lip.

The Louis Vuitton Maison is the most expensive luxury goods shop ever opened in London. Yves Carcelle, worldwide boss of the brand won’t put a figure on it but speculative guesses suggest at least £30million was spent on this temple to consumerism. And yes, it does score high on the glitz-o-meter. This 1500 square meter space boasts a watch shop, a sunglasses shop, a lit-up glass staircase and an entire wall of vintage suitcases – and that’s just a wee part of the ground floor. To highlight Vuitton’s relationship with contemporary art, there are priceless artworks by the likes of Gilbert & George, Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons. For the opening, Brit artist Michael Landy has been commissioned to create a mad sculpture that draws doodles and cuts up credit cards. All around are dotted mini piles of art tomes and there is even an art bookshop in the middle of the first floor (but sadly an embargo meant no photos).

Next to the bookshop is a small exhibition space which currently houses a Katie Grand-curated arrangement of mannequins wearing a ‘greatest hits’ mish-mash of Marc Jacobs for Vuitton outfits, complete with bags on their heads, ho ho! Actually, the fun factor is the best bit about the store. “I said, ‘I’d like to make a store that when you went in you wouldn’t mind spending half a day in there, rather than getting the bag and getting out’,” architect Peter Marino told the Evening Standard. “If people are nice enough to come in, you owe them a good time. Why go shopping if it’s not fun, glamorous, different?” By the way, the store design is all Marino’s work, Marc Jacobs doesn’t get involved in shop-fits.

From the humorous Louis Vuitton planets orbiting an area devoted to logo hair clips and bangles, to the mechanical sliding shelves that play peekaboo with handbags and scarves, to Murakami’s martian sculpture, there are plenty of playful elements that bring a bit of wit to the serious business of luxury. They certainly help to make luxury accessible, as do the offer of affordable knick knacks from keyrings, to sunglasses, to a £5 George Orwell paperback sold in the ‘librarie’. The store opens tomorrow. Tacky or not, the customers are sure to flock.

The wall of vintage trunks
The plastic planets
Takashi Murakami’s Kiki
At the ‘bag bar’, these cubes slide from left to right in a playful puzzle
More sliding panels in the scarf area
A wall of animal-print scarves, a work of art in themselves
Flower-lined monogrammed wallets
Naturally, the floor is logo-ed
Monogramming kit
Ugh, let’s not talk about these…
The Katie Grand exhibition

Sofia Coppola for Louis Vuitton

The Michael Landy sculpture
A console table laden with art books in the lift lobby
Vintage furnishings throughout

Yep, a piano in the shoe department. Of course!

I had to delete my bookshop photos but I found this one on a blog. There are all manner of art and photography books including some of my favourite artists – Elizabeth Peyton, Martin Parr, Bridget Riley, Tim Noble and Sue Webster

UPDATE: Watch the sliding wall in action!

Coffee and cones

fortnum & Mason coffee and mini ice cream cone

When I first happened upon the revamped Fortnum & Mason store in Piccadilly, I practically recoiled in shock. What had they done? In their effort to modernise, all the character had been sapped out of the poor shop. A few months on and I decided to give it a second chance. To my surprise I discovered a gem. Parlour Restaurant on the first floor is a darling little ice-cream parlour, designed by David Collins (Madonna’s decorator no less) and decked out American diner style with a 50s Italian twist.

The pistachio-green chairs work beautifully with the fondant-coloured china and floor-tiles, while neopolitan-hued lampshades coordinate very nicely indeed. But it’s not just about the decor. There’s a choice of fabulous ice-cream sundaes including a few alcoholic ones and great attention is paid to presentation. My favourite touch? The mini-sized ice-cream cones served with the capuccinos in their own little holder! Absolutely adorable.