Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Eyeballing denim branding

It must be hard for denim giants and their marketing departments to come up with new and innovative ways to spend their huge budgets, and in an increasingly grass roots focused on-line world denim brands are coming at you on the web, in clubs and on the catwalk.

In the midst of London Fashion Week, Levi's chose hip man about town Henry Holland (not to mention his supermodel side-kick Agyness Deyn) to launch a designer collaboration on the catwalk and exclusive retail distribution at Selfridges. These holey, slightly pop-art limited edition pairs of jeans retail for £200 each and embody the "of the moment" cache that the House of Holland brand has right now. At the same time Levi's premiered its four new iconic TV ads on-line via its 501 website which was a bit of a first after decades of impactful television and cinema advertising; everyone’s got a favourite, from the days of Nick Kamen in that launderette scene to the more recent US ads that took "impact" to a new level. The Knockout ads resonate with a Youtube generation in need of instant hit laughs and brand appeal. All this and for what? Oh the product - Levi's has reinvented the 501 with a more modern fit that includes a tapered leg, a straighter waistband and a lower backrise - all with three new "vintage-inspired" washes. Contemporised if you will via research in eight capital cities. About time! Better be sure otherwise the wall to wall tube ads at Oxford Circus will be a complete waste of eyeballs!

Meanwhile over in the Italian camp at Diesel it's all about the brand's 30th birthday.
Diesel is celebrating 30 years of denim "by giving something back to its customers" on October 10 with the Dirty Thirty jean at a bargain bucket price of 75% off the normal £200 price tag (=£guess). Available worldwide the special edition dirty wash jean is a one day wonder featuring limited edition hardware, leather tab embroidery and anniversary logo. And to help Diesel fans celebrate the brand has organised a global club night XXX in 18 major cities around the world: Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Beijing, Copenhagen, Dubai, Helsinki, London, Milan, Munich, New York, Oslo, Paris, Sao Paulo, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Zurich.

The London event, The Creative Experiment, will take place at new venue, Matter, situated in the O2 site but with its own separate entrance on The Thames. Designed by experts to offer a "unique, state of the art proposition for live music and club nights in the UK", Matter will have opened its doors only three weeks before Diesel's birthday. Yes you guessed it, 30 of the hottest musical acts are booked to perform unique and exciting collaborations throughout the night. Diesel friendly artists include, Cock’n’Bull Kid, Disco Bloodbath, Friendly Fires, Hannah Hanra, Lethal Bizzle, Mark Ronson, Mystery Jets, New Young Pony Club, Ox.eagle.lion.man, Pete Doherty, Rob Da Bank, The Lovely Jonjo, These New Puritans, The Souljazz Records Soundsystem, The Teenagers, The View and many more... Partygoers can experience this amazing evening for just £5 a ticket, with all proceeds going to the Youth Intiative Livity.

Andy Griffiths, Head of Communications at Diesel UK, commented “In celebration of 30 incredible years of Diesel, we will be putting on the biggest party of 2008, spanning the globe. London’s unique celebration will focus on 30 one of a kind collaborations from music’s most exciting and groundbreaking artists."

So in true Diesel style the denim brand is a lifestyle choice not just a pair of jeans.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Pop-in is the new pop-up

Pop-up retail has been a driving force on the retail landscape (so much so that I've decided to write a book about it!) so it's with excitement that I've discovered the "pop-in" variant. As in a pop-up store that exists for a limited period like its older sibling but is housed within a bigger store - like a department store.

Trust good old Selfridges to champion the latest retail brand love-in from b-Store. During fashion week the edgy menswear store launched its pop-in store on the first floor with a quiet scenester party and a celebration of the boutique's expansion into own-label. Matthew Murphy, buyer and manager of b-Store told me: "Pop-up shops are a good opportunity for relatively niche people to reach a wider audience, and it’s a great way for us to show people internationally - customers and other store owners - what we’re about and how what we do can work in other stores. About 60% of the space will be the latest collection from our own b clothing label, and the rest are limited edition pieces which have been created specifically by five of our designers. The idea is that if we do this again, in the future, we will use five different designers, to keep things different each time."

This crop of designers includes kooky undies from Bernhard Willhelm, Siv Stoldal’s chinos digitally printed with images of denim jeans, plus Hans Christian Madsen’s hand-knitted cardigan-meets-dressing gown creations, or silk denim-look blazers via Soar, not to mention Ute Ploier’s shirts with dinky bomber jacket details.

Meanwhile b-Store Wardrobe held a back-to-back menswear show, during fashion week with fellow bought in label Soar - also on sale at b-Store. Murphy said: "The b-store wardrobe spring collection is inspired by a picnic by Henley on Thames Temple Island. So it's all about being outside in the English country summer and pursuits like boating - so straw hats and gingham checks with easy chambray denim shirts and pleat front trousers."

And Tim Soar designer for Soar said this collection is called 'And the sun shone straight in all directions' identifying his latest rockabilly styled meets cowboy with a range of descriptions such as "puckered mesh herringtone, vented pleated, work play" meaning fans are created by finding the label themselves.

And giving the new pop-in store's seal of approval, Gary Mason, senior menswear buyer for Selfridges said things couldn't be better with regards B-Store's sales: "It's the reason we decided to do the dedicated store in menswear (call it "pop-in" Gary), B-Store has quite a following after only a year - they seem to capture that quirky, neat gentlemanly take on country styling, our guy loves it."

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Trends that sell: London's winning looks

There were plenty of ideas at London Fashion Week and not all of them crazy! The 80s was the decade du jour with many designers referencing the time that style forgot. 20s, 30s and even 40s or 50s were also mentioned in dispatches but whatever the era there were a handful of winning looks that London designers did well and will, in time also do well for retailers. Here's the best looks to start researching now:

It's all about the headgear for spring, where it's a good time to be in accessories. Especially hats.

Leader of the pack has to be the granny-chic jaunty net affairs at Luella, who set the tone for the age-old ladylike instant glamour hit. Polka dots and bows are de rigeur with great looking net and full on party hats at PPQ.

Meanwhile at Temperley London, more romantic headgear was the order of the day, with the top-hat meets cloche or Grecian floral crowns for her "Romantic Odyssey" collection.

And there was more than a nod to Madonna's 80s film Desperately Seeking Susan with bows-as-hairbands at Danielle Scutt, Emma Cook and Topshop.

And as for colour, well it's time for neon pastels or candy-box inspirations: check out PPQ, Richard Nicoll, and Josh Goot for clear purveyors of new colour options. Topshop had a go while Luella takes the crown for best and liberal use of colour full stop.
Metallics are a recurring summer option as are spring florals - take your pick from the best looks for night and day from Nathan Jendon, Marios Schwab and Roksanda in shimmering form while House of Holland, Luella and Erdem should join forces at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Sheer layering
is here to stay after New York's lead, and it looks set to confuse everyone with new lengths and proportions, so start practicing early with the likes of Meadham Kirchhoff, Aquascutum, and Louise Goldin or Christopher Kane.

Scallops are the new ruffles - so says Christopher Kane and Emma Cook and Roksanda Ilincic.

Gekko-chic gave London dinosaur appeal with Christopher Kane and Eley Kishimoto both references reptiles while Kane continued the beast appreciation society with Planet of the Apes style photo-print dress, Flintstones inspired leopard cashmere along with Emma Cook's elephant skin ruffled print dress.

The boyfriend jacket looks like it's here to stay too - add an accentuated rever for tuxedo style at Todd Lynn or an elongated line from Topshop and Ann Sofie Back.

Grey jersey was everywhere - and not that boring! Try newbie Natascha Stolle, Peter Jenson and Luella for the best marled looks.

Suits galore - all in ones that is. Try a romper, play or utility suit from Marios Schwab, Topshop or Danielle Scutt for effortless workwear options.

"Subtle sexuality" was the overall theme for Harvey Nichols' fashion director Averyl Oates, who liked the undercurrent of S&M and peek-a-boo looks creeping through, while womenswear director at Selfridges Anita Barr like the energetic video game references at Giles or 3D volume touches from scallops and frilled edging at Christopher Kane.

New talent maybe the reason they come to London but new trends is the reason people buy London design and why shopping here is worldclass.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Reinventing the wheel: British fashion houses have their day (again)

Avsh Alom Gur at Ossie Clark has quickly stepped up to the mark, it seems after a somewhat shaky start. In his second collection for the reinvented label, Gur captured that quintessential 70s bohemia mood that the original designer was so revered for. And he harnessed it in a kaleidescope of bright colours for a modern take on effortless dressing. Yes there were the commercial tailored pieces and the "order one in every colour silky draped dresses"; but let's hear it for the sprig and leaf print kaftans or the floor length crepe jump-suits - it's what modern day hippy chicks will want to wear not to mention a legion of Ossie fans. Talking backstage Gur told us: "I wanted the collection to be really simple and elegant. Minimalism in block colours and pared down prints. It's a modern femininity."

Meanwhile over at Mulberry it's ex-Marc Jacobs designer Emma Hill's turn for a spin at the creative helm most recently left by Stuart Vevers. For spring, Hill has given the British leather goods and clothing label a "warm fuzzy" feel (her words) - as befits the brand's classic heritage, that's like a national treasure according to Hill. With a girlfriend/boyfriend vibe at the youthful presentations during LFW there were playful denim shirt dresses and beige safari-esque pocket shifts among silky halter dresses with warm paisley prints in raspberry or tobacco and plenty of leather. As for the continuation of the Mulberry "it-bag" phenomena; all the editors will mostly be wearing the new Bayswater clutch in a range of mouth-watering shades for chic summer dressing.

Oh and if you didn't know edgy British menswear designer Kim Jones takes over as creative director at Dunhill next season. The classic menswear brand has just unveiled its brand new flagship location: Bourdon House on Davies Street in the heart of Mayfair. And it just happens to be steeped in a healthy amount of reinvented history, from the underground humidor to the rather authentic and therefore slightly scary Sweeney Todd-esque barber, not to mention a light and airy bespoke tailoring room and the Discovery Room - full of vintage delights and a range of "collectibles" such as art-deco lighters, monogrammed pens and backgammon sets. And this is only Jones' first foray into designing for the classic menswear brand, we can expect much more to come.

Whoever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks hasn't heard of the new designer teaching an old house new tricks.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Retailer designers part two: celebrating Britishness

Maybe it was the polished approach to commercial fashion that appealed at the Jaeger and Paul Smith shows, or maybe it was the furore surrounding "celebrating" British fashion at Number 10 Downing Street on Monday night - either way it's something to be applauded when major labels such as these British stalwarts send out utterly wearable, utterly on the money collections that women can actually wear.

Jaeger London
has quickly become one of the most successful higher-end, premium retail collections around and its presence on the London Fashion Week schedule is testament to the label's wide appeal - both for the mass market and designer crowd - and the fact that it thinks like a retailer not a designer. Belinda Earl, GCE has turned the brand into a highly desirable fashion offering while designer Karen Boyd delivers seasonal must-haves that manage to interpret rather than follow current trends.

Product-wise it's all about the signature slick tailoring in cool cottons and chic double faced canvasses - outlined with black bindings for extra graphic modernity. There is a softer side with floaty and romantic sprigged tunic blouses, billowing sleeves, fluid maxi dresses, flirty voile minis and a full range of trouser shapes; from the fashionably slouchy peg leg to the sportive crop and the bold sweep of a wide palazzo or a floral printed harem pant. With an overall theme of raffish British elegance and a romantic notion these are instant "buy now" hits. No wonder it's one show that attracts the rare US buyers in town this week.

Meanwhile traditionalist Paul Smith wouldn't dream of sending a non-commercial collection down the runway and with this approach he seems to be a designer thinking like a retailer. His spring 09 collection was inspired by an exhibition of British Orientalist art that just closed at the Tate Britain museum, and it was a cultural hybrid where classical English florals mixed with Raj-era style tailoring, clearly meant for hotter climes. Highlights included kaftan-inspired long cotton dresses and fluid harem trousers. The blue painted-on gingham check had a faded-in-the-sun appeal, turban head-scarves and linen scallop edged coat dresses were lightweight and formal attire for the summer social season. These gardenia print chiffons and black lace edged full skirt dresses are womanly and commercial all over the world - Smith's success across Asia and increasingly the US show his attention to the "money shots" when it comes to design. And it's no wonder his take on recession dressing will enable him to continue to have mass appeal: "we focused on scarves as the main accessory this season, because when times are tough women cut back - and there's a million ways you can use a scarf!"

Monday, 15 September 2008

London's edge

The first day of London Fashion Week was like a shot in the arm for fashion edge. Thank God for the creative and bubbling talent pool that is here, season by season quickly gathering pace. Topshop has a lot to do with this feel good factor with its New Gen sponsorship programme and in-store events to celebrate it's chosen few. The retailer's Two One Four publication is a way of reading all about LFW through the buyers' eyes. Meanwhile LFW's Daily Rubbish publication has grown up into a more quality read: The Daily.

Topshop's Unique show kicked off the week ahead celebrating leftfield design with a fun and notably younger collection styled by Katie Grand and full of the joys of "the faded glory of archetypal British seaside towns and celebrated teenage rebels who roam the arcades and piers". A British thing with some fun gambling edge connotations - Lucky 7 motifs and hearts and diamonds print patterns across New Romantic style structured pieces. Zippered grey suede dresses and hard-edged stone-washed denim or jersey shoulder pads reigned supreme elsewhere.

Amy Molineux one half of design duo for PPQ said the Le Style Anglais collection was based on geometries and creating a print signature for the label which is known for its party dresses. She said the stories ranged from Hector - "your flared and fluid best friend, easy pieces in Gi styles, 50s and 70s dresses" or Rhombus - "the square group tilted towards nautical niceness" or Zeladon - "tighter than tight, showing the natural angles of your body". Actually she said they had so many new ideas they couldn't decide what to pick, so they stuck them all on the runway to let other people decide!

Caren Downie, fashion director at on-line retailer ASOS says she loves PPQ and sales are great for the label on the site. "I love the irreverent party mood of PPQ collections - Amy and Percy just let their hair down - and their fans love them for it. They have lots of energy with the label and it shows."

Ann Sofie Back looked to have had a commercial moment when designing her SS09 09 collection - using plastic surgery and liposuction as unlikely points of reference. Jail-bird chic was more like it with kooky black and white jersey stripe dresses, more great sharp lines from oversized boyfriend jackets and razer sharp labels and those navy fringes on suede jackets and dresses. Swing out sister! Loving the bling decorated sunglasses - adding a whole new DIY accessorising moment.

And as for Peter Jenson I loved the all over red gingham preppy outfitting and slightly nautical slightly floral jacquard prints but with the collection based on Jodie Foster's movies we kinda like the idea - shame about the execution. "

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

My Moto Tosho

Not only will Topshop finally arrive in New York in October (see previous blog entry: Tosho drip feeds Manhattan fans) but next week the UK retailer will also launch a more "premium denim offer" in the shape of a brand new Topshop Moto shop-in-shop at Oxford Circus.

Kicking off in time for London Fashion Week, Topshop has teamed up with a select few "masters of jeanology": including Sass and Bide, J Brand and Dittos to create a collection of perfect cut, wardrobe essentials especially for Topshop Moto. The premium capsule collections include exclusive styles and washes such as the Strays slim leg, New Nights spray-on and Bon Vivants side-pleat jeans; which are sold alongside the more fashion forward, higher-end pieces in its own Moto denim line.

Check out this rock-chick delight from Sass & Bide for Topshop in-store now.

"Topshop has been revolutionary in changing the face of high street fashion... they are iconic & leaders in the marketplace & we are very excited to be collaborating with them" says Sarah-Jane Clarke of Sass & Bide.

Key rock-chick items such as coloured tiger print jeans or all over black sequin jeans as well as core seasonal pieces such as the Evita or Baxter jean will sit alongside cult brands such as Joe's Jeans, My Lovely Jean and Radcliffe in the new space.

And last but not least because Topshop understands that the quest for the perfect pair of jeans is the ultimate battle, Suzy Radcliffe, the brains behind Radcliffe jeans will be running Topshop's very own pop-up Denim Clinic from Monday 15th - Saturday 20th September in the Oxford Circus store. I'm a massive fan of the W2 Paddington style and Radcliffe's ingenious ankle cuff-links system make the brand stand out from the denim crowd. She's in good company in the new denim space too.

Oh and it's opposite the newly refurbished Kate Moss area in-store, where you'll find Mossy's own take on denim. She says that striped trousers are the new skinny jeans. I kind of like the rock-chick-meets-sexy-clownette look!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Retailer designers

You can always rely on New York Fashion Week to be out and out commercial. Retailers need designers and designers need retailers. It's a symbiotic relationship that is increasingly media savvy. And Gap's latest offering, shown yesterday, for Spring 09 is new designer Patrick Robinson's first full collection - and as you would expect it's thoroughly commercial - in a Gap kind of way.

It's a shame that the troubled retail giant had to dispense with its European design team - the collections shown previously in London had more bite - in a Helmut Lang kind of way. In fact my NY friends told me that the Euro designed pieces used to sell out in-stores first. But we started to see Patrick's new influence with the summer hits of coloured khakis and pastel striped cashmere with Liberty prints.

(Actually the Liberty prints are just one of a whole range of limited edition designer collaboration pieces available again at Gap & Colette's pop-up store just opened in New York at the retailer's Manhattan flagship location on 5th Avenue and 54th - for one month only! Check out the launch party pics on Hypebeast)

So it's refreshing to see the commercial spin put into action again with a credible design talent such as Patrick. Now that it's solely his responsibility for global design, he is moving Gap's ethos on slowly but surely. The sports-chic techno feel of re-worked khakis in silk or jersey, knitted jersey relaxed blazers and a wide array of coloured denims gave this collection a new kind of preppy appeal. It's all in the stripes really and subtle rainbow colourways will brighten the stores come next February. They just need to do something about the stores now - separate entrances for men and women just won't cut it.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Fashion Week squabbles

So it's fashion week circus time again. New York has kicked off the Spring/Summer 09 collections preview as usual this weekend, but it's going to be handbags at dawn next week with an emergency fashion week summit where the major players from the Big Four cities are flying into London to discuss "moving the dates around". Changing times ahead perhaps?

The problem apparently is that New York designers are complaining that their early September launch date is... well, too early - to produce the collections on time for the merry-go-round of shows and media attention, and presumably ahead of the real selling season when buyers place orders over the next few weeks. My first question is: can't they start earlier in order to finish earlier?

The US isn't like Europe where in fashion-land you can forget about getting anything done in the month of August because everyone is on their 'olidaze. Ditto Christmas time, which in the States is a mere couple of days off during the Holiday period. That aside I remember when New York was last on the four-city schedule (a decade ago) and complained so much that they were being accused of copying the more avant-garde European designers resulting in New York being bumped to first out, just so they could prove they have some original designs. How times have changed. Would they like to go last again? No the heavy-weights of US branding /fashion design and their governing body, the CFDA of which legendary designer Diane Von Furstenberg is chairman, are proposing that they move their dates back by a week so encroaching on London Fashion Week's traditional period by at least two valuable days. This is compounded by the "non-negotiable" helpfulness of Milan and Paris scheduling, who are refusing to budge. So London suffers with less time to show its array of up and coming talent which is kind of the problem - not enough heavy-weights to shout loud enough. There is the real risk that the few major international buyers and press that do come to London to support LFW and its focus on new talent will just skip it and go straight to Milan if time is tight.

Still it's a merry-go-round for a reason and designers come and go. Luella, Alice Temperley and fashion queen Vivienne Westwood are back in London on their home turf, mostly because they don't have to try too hard anymore. Preen, Matthew Williamson and now Jonathan Saunders are in New York making their name because they are still chasing the big bucks the US has to offer. (Saunders has followed the well travelled designer path of doing the chic thing and producing a GO International cheap n chic range for mass market retailer Target - in-stores this month).

Gareth Pugh (on the cover of Dazed & Confused this month to celebrate his Paris debut) is the latest British talent to have flown the nest over to Paris because the City of Lights is about as important as New York these days and he will join the likes of fellow Brits Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan who have decamped there for good.

However there is positivity in all this fashionable squabbling. London is increasingly recognised as the number one destination for sourcing new talent. Not least thanks to the sponsorship opportunities that the British Fashion Council and the likes of Topshop's New Gen initiative offer young designers in the capital. It's an interesting place to be for Von Furstenberg who financially backs one of London's hottest young designers: Nathan Jenden (A/W 08 pictured). I'm sure his runway slot will be secured among other crowd pulling names. And I'm also sure that London's edgy new designers will be resourceful enough to find a way around the conflicting schedules. Hot names to watch this season include Charles Anastase, Modernist, Peter Pilotto, Meadham Kirchoff, Poltock & Walsh, Louise Goldin and last year's Fashion Fringe winners Aminaka Wilmont. Yes we may have more shows crammed into less days but as long as organisers are sensible with venues and timings and mindful of clashing designers' wishes, it will still be a case of the more the merrier. And despite some heavyweights throwing their fashion might around London will live to fight another day. Especially for its 25th anniversary come February 09!

PS Eric Wilson has a good point in his New York Times article: The Sun Never Sets on the Runway in that every month there is a fashion week around the world from January through December, so take your pick from the bikinis of Sao Paulo to the furs of St Petersburg and if you're really lucky you may even find a Borat in Kazakhstan.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Pimp my ride

Fashion fans are clearly getting younger if the new designer collaboration from posh pram and baby accessories brand Quinny and Danish designer Henrik Vibskov is anything to go by. The Danish designer was targeted by Quinny to "jazz up" its image and provide a range of eye-catching designs - Vibskov's somewhat crazy prints adorn the exterior or inside of vehicles such as the Buzz Dreami Pram or Zapp Buggy.

My personal favourite is the Penguin Footmuff (to sleep in please) if only they made adult sizes. As part of the range there is a natty, raver friendly poncho (great for the boat, thanks) and matching umbrella in one of Vibskov's three psychedelic prints.

And what a fantastic shoot for the ad campaign. Describing his inspiration for the range Vibskov says:
"Far away from the city, in a fairytale-like place deep in the forest, a group of odd characters come together. Feeling out of place in the big city, they find solace in playing music together underneath a Magical Rainbow Tree. their music vibrates through the forest, shaking the leaves on every tree and reviving the colours of the Rainbow Tree. As the rain drops start to fall from the tree, they not only colour the instruments, but add an enchanting melody to the music..."

It looks like a bed-time carnival in the dark where the kids have all the fun. Campaign images by Frederick Heyman.

From this back-story, three prints were derived - Mad, Rainbow and Raindrop - which are then contrasted with leather accents and base colours of ecru and black and worked in various ways on the different Quinny products. There are Mad print knitted blankets and penguin beanies while Raindrop contrast Rainbow stripe sun hats, a nappy bag and sunglasses complete the Quinny by Henrik Vibskov collection.

And finally knowing that Vibskov loves a good installation we weren't disappointed with last night's launch party in London where Vibskov created a crazy wooden pram handle-bar cross sticks forest display.

Harrods has the range exclusively in the UK, Colette in Paris and Seven in New York are also stockists alongside the Henrik Vibskov flagship store in Copenhagen. And in case you're wondering these premium rides go for around £900. The colourful creative mind of your baby is for free.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Harvey Nicks heads west

I adore this new ad campaign for Harvey Nichols' new Bristol store - mostly because the loveable creatures that are Wallace & Gromit look so cool with their new fashionable makeover courtesy of ad agency BMP. And as for Lady Torrington, Penelope Keith eat your heart out!

In case you're wondering the born and bred Bristolians' new wardrobes are as follows: Wallace wears navy cashmere jacket and silk tapered trousers by Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana fitted white shirt and Giorgio Armani tie. Gromit wears navy silk Paul Smith scarf. Lady Torrington can be seen wearing a black draped jersey ‘Acorn’ dress by Alexander McQueen, red patent ‘Triclo’ shoes by Christian Louboutin and metallic bronze ’Puffy’ bag by Zagliani.

Meanwhile away from the headline grabbing plasticine puppets the new store itself is a retail designer dream, full of new season collections not to mention a sexy looking new store design by Christian Biecher. An intricately decorated black chrome cut-out screen forms a vertical back drop to the centrally located escalators to create a striking centre piece elevating up through the store - from the gold and fuchsia pillars decorating the ground floor beauty area to more gold and beige for the womenswear floor up to menswear and the Second Floor Restaurant and Bar shimmering away in gun metal silver.

The 35,000 sq ft store, which is spread over three floors, is located at the base of the luxurious new residential tower on Penn Street which will be the foundation of the Quakers Friars development. The Bristol store will be Harvey Nichols sixth store in the UK and will open at the end of September 2008 - when fashionistas in the South West will probably shop in their droves for the latest Lanvin and McQueen or Louboutins that were previously unheard of in those parts.

Wallace and Gromit are expected to do the ribbon cutting while Lady Torrington will take to the red carpet for the photo call. Hopefully for Gromit's sake there will be a Billionaire Boys Club concession inside featuring the futuristic looking new spaceship interior - then he will feel right at home among all the cheese in the Food Hall - and the pair can get set to do a remake of their classic movie Wallace & Gromit's Grand Day Out.