Friday, 30 October 2009

Guess says "Wonder, Passion, Freedom" for retrospective celebration

Iconic US denim brand Guess decided to celebrate 28 years of sexy photography with a party in London last night. Oh and the new flagship store on London's Regent Street.

With steamy black and white photos of ripped jeans, rippling torsos and plenty of cleavage all over the walls, not to mention Claudia Schiffer and the brand's other heavyweight supermodel faces through the past couple of decades featuring in the two week long exhibition at Il Bottacio, Knightsbridge - this was a party for a party's sake.

For those party-goers unfamiliar with the current Guess collection there were a few mannequins dotted around - skin-tight denim and gothic-meets-bling touches would be my take on the brand's DNA right now.

Actually the black and white photography stills from past ad campaigns was certainly a visual retro fest for those interested in denim iconography. My how Guess has changed its tune in the last 28 years!

A couple of days later I was passing the new flagship and perused the gothic-meets-bling-meets-rock-chick windows and noted the VM is an accomplished affair. (But EXACTLY the same as the plethora of US stores). Also, I have to say the store would have been a much better venue for the exhibition - after waiting so long for the right location I can't help but wonder why the celebratory event was held elsewhere? And while they were about it, the party should have had a Hallowe'en theme guys - it's all about the costume at Hallowe'en after all!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Anthropologie is retail magic

At last! Anthropologie has finally opened on London's Regent Street. As a seasoned US Anthro customer I was beyond excited at the prospect having a good look around at the press preview on Wednesday - and they added a sumptuous tea party spread to boot!

So the real secret of Anthropologie's success Stateside is the clever VM and eclectic product display that mixes fashion, homewares and lifestyle with a certain je ne sais quoi that sews it all together. It's retail magic that makes you want to buy everything! Each store has two dedicated VM experts that change around new product all the time and are responsible for the story telling aesthetic Anthropologie is known for. From wardrobe to bedroom to kitchen table to pantry and even to garden (with sister retail brand Terrain) it's all there to be discovered.

When I asked visual manager Camdon Richardson what was his secret he told me the devil is in the detail: "It's all down to the little touches I put in the nooks and crannies to catch people's attention. Some of our shoppers are used to Anthropologie displays (and love us for it) but others are captivated when we add the little related product ideas and special props we find from our travels around the world. It's about inspiring people to follow our style in their home so I like to show them how to do it for themselves." He added that the London store has been his favourite so far because the UK - and Europe provides such a rich cultural melting pot of ideas. "It's a huge first step for us here in Europe."

James Bidwell is MD of the Urban Outfitters owned new Anthro UK. He told me: "We're all about experience and we exist to provide our customers with a journey of discovery in-store. The secret of the store is the merchandising. Average dwell time per customer is an hour and a half and it's because there's so much to discover. It's like layering different product stories for the customer." He added that the creative visual team take a completely different approach to each store - they're based in each one and take inspiration locally. So London means Union Jack wall hangings, quilts and throws - with one even styled on a mannequin as a skirt to throw the different departments together.

Other quirky highlights in-store include the giant lifesize Narwhal hanging above the laden tabletop display (made from all the plastic packaging from the products shipped in for opening, and covered in paper mache), the Magpie chandeliers made by South African artist communities, the Christmas room complete with snowy clouds (check out Anthro's wonderful ornaments selection) and last but certainly not least is the 2000 sq ft growing plant wall complete with over 80,000 plants, created by UK based company Biotech. "It's like a green oasis on Regent Street". If you look closely the plants are arranged in a plaid check formation and are supported by their very own sustainable irrigation system from the roof. The wall together with the three storey staircase (made from reclaimed wooden frames), stitches the building together. Oh and I nearly forgot the stunning circular hanging window display made from hundreds of dip-dyed used tea-bags. Very British!

I also had a quick chat with head of buying Olivia Richardson who said she wanted to bring over what was relevant from the US and translate it for the UK market. "We had our London customer firmly in mind and wanted to source the local market to make the Anthropologie offer right for Europe. So we're doing a number of collaborations with both the interiors and fashion offers including a capsule range with Eley Kishimoto and several items from the boutique Beyond the Valley. We have also worked with French artist Nathalie Lete to create some one off home pieces and British interior designer duo Clarke and Reilly have created a line of hand crafted furniture exclusively for us."

She added: "Our customer encounters everything from textiles to home accessories, as well as decorative antiques and vintage objects that are literally found by our buyers who travel the world in search of originality that's right for Anthropologie."

Wow 'buyer at large' sounds like my dream job!

As usual I didn't hold back snapping away inside, here's my selection of pics for your visual delight!
Anthropologie Regent Street

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Monsoon's boudoir lingerie

Monsoon's new lingerie line is pure boudoir dressing.

Launching today, the new collection makes its debut at larger branches of Monsoon stores all over the world with a special corner boutique full of rose petals, dressing room furniture and scented candles to get you in the the bedroom mood!

Cute pastels and florals mix with silky satins for mesh bra-tops and knickers, camis and lace-edged slips. I snaffled one of the blue satin lace-edged bras and cami-knickers matching sets at the press launch in the Kings Road flagship store and was pretty impressed with the bargainista high-street prices. And the thing I love so much about Monsoon is that it does such good homewares products too - so alongside the new lingerie, find really feminine cushions, knick-knacks, picture frames, candles and other bits and bobs to prettify any bedroom corner.

It's so pretty and so Monsoon, and now we're so ready for some boudoir time!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Smithy's new shoes

Paul Smith has opened a new accessories store where it's all about the shoes. Happy dayz!

Everyone's fave eccentric British designer has chosen the quiet, chic enclaves of Marylebone High Street for his new boutique that's small but perfectly formed into two sections for men and women.

I snapped a few pics from inside the store launch last night but go check out the shoes, socks, scarves, wallets, handbags and er... teapots!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Les filles do Madamoiselle Chic in Paris

Tranoi Femme SS10 October 2-5 2009, Paris

The girls are back and it's Paris chic all the way at French trade show Tranoi where brands such as Heimstone, Les Prairies de Paris, Madame a Paris, Eurythmic, Mont St Michel and newcomer Roseanne are setting the scene for that gamine street look that mixes bohemian rock chic with effortless Parisian nonchalance.

Always a favourite of mine these are the brands that rock in Paris - it amazes me why they are not more widely available outside of France - they are all completely retailer friendly with wardrobe-ready collections just waiting to be edited down. They are a boutique owner's dream ticket; travel to Paris or St Tropez and see these Madamoiselle Chic labels in action.

Elsewhere at Tranoi previous season’s country showcases have been absorbed into the main show – Scandinavian brands including Bllack Noir, Rodebger, Dagmar all showed in the Bourse location while Japanese brands Vas Blomme, Il by Saori Komatsu and Hiromi Tsuyoshi showed at the new Carrousel de Louvre venue. And Indian designer Namrata Jamipura symbolizes the exquisite workmanship that the country is known for through its sequin eveningwear.

For out and out commercial appeal New York designer Binetti and Australian design duo Sass & Bide were our top picks returning again to the show, while first timer Bolangaro Trevor is a British label on fire right now - with sales through the roof at the show to prove it.


Surf inspiration is a big story for spring/summer 10. From neon sporty hoodies or tank vests to vibrant beach scene prints. Graphic prints are everywhere – swirling tropical leaves, painterly brushtrokes, pixilated florals – to inspire high-octane culture clash combinations.

Colours are suitably summery: pastels are on the runways and in the booths therefore they are the season’s strongest trend - along with neons and clashing brights. Metallics make a perennial appearance with all over burnished gold washes looking like a key update.

Fabrics are textured with crochets, lace, broderie anglaise and mesh knits or lightweight tweeds giving unexpected tactile appeal to seasonal favourites.

Here's a selection of my spring/summer brand picks:

Binetti – New York based designer Diego Binetti likes the Ibiza lifestyle and it shows in his glamorous, resort inspired clothes. This season the designer has focused on a gladiatorial statement of armour-style beading on metallic jerseywear pieces, digital tropical prints and tribal designs. The diffusion line ‘I love Binetti’ is now 75% of the business and this season has a light safari on the beach mood with fun prints and belted cotton shorts, tops, dresses and jumpsuits.

Bllack Noir – This ethically minded Danish fashion brand has a play on textures as key inspirations this season. Zippered leather hooded gilets sit next to satin bombers and feminine silk dresses nipped and tucked under the bust for understated sexy styling.

Bolangaro Trevor – Kate Bolangaro and Stuart Trevor are the British designer duo behind the vintage inspired collection that has quickly become a hit contemporary designer label in London. Vintage flag designs, military tailoring and preppy schoolwear jersey pieces mix with figure hugging draped or feminine dresses for a modern take on vintage “thrifting”.

Dagmar - Arty, chic knitwear items and 40s boudoir styling are key for the new collection dedicated to the Bombasse – a mysterious woman who looks sophisticated but dresses in refined lingerie parts. There’s a new casual mix from denim pieces mixed with graphic prints while voluminous drapes and close fit dresses are further highlights.

Giorgio Brato – The Italian leather brand has worked with new washing techniques on pastel leather jackets and leopard print effect bombers. The younger casual line, Wild Lab Generation features printed jersey track pants and sweat tops or nylon bombers.

Heimstone - Oversized shrug-on jackets have 70s feel with paneled leather and suede designs while the Paris brand’s lightweight dresses and tunics are perfect for underneath. Zip body-con dresses continue to be best sellers and tribal prints round out the chic Parisian collection that has a global fan base.

Hiromi Tsuyoshi - Knitwear is the main focus of the collection, with key pieces created from 14 different yarns and produced by hand. The label’s signature style is fused together fabrications with open-weave knits, multicoloured 14 yarn sweater dresses and preppy jersey striped blazers or double layer bright cardigans important items.

Il by Saori Komatsu – The desert was this season’s inspiration for Japanese designer Komatsu who loves to fuse fabrics together to produce unlikely double combinations. We love the broderie anglais look knit and chiffon weave effect dresses also worn as tunics.

Kaylee Tankus- draping and folding are key for this wardrobe building Italian collection that has officewear and smart utilitarian design at its core.

Les Prairies de Paris - Tuxedo style tailoring is lightweight for summer and brightly coloured suede or self-striped cheesecloth fabrics are product highlights for grown up smart/casual looks for day and evening. Easy footwear completes the look.

MSGN – This season the Italian label has taken influence from the blogosphere and a retrospective meets futuristic take on fashion trends for the season. Think 80s Chanel braided jackets in tweeds, lacey frill dresses and brightly coloured brushstroke strapless prom dresses. Oh and neon too.

Namrata Joshipura – Exquisite Indian craftsmanship for eveningwear with a modern, contemporary feel.

No 44 – The Japanese brand that has vintage military as its style influence takes on a wardrobe building manifesto for spring with knitted tops and knitwear added to the urban workwear offer.

Osklen – Brazilain sportswear label Osklen is having its day with the big surf trend set for spring/summer. We love the jersey broderie anglais effect printed tees, hooded sweats and layered pointelle lacey tunics. Metallics are another highlight for glamorous sporty daywear options.

Rodebger – The Swedish label was showing for the first time and with a dark brooding collection strong on textures such as punched leather or soft corduroy and silky paisley print dresses. With a new 10-piece limited edition range of eveningwear and studded wedge footwear the Scandinavian newcomer was a hit.

Roseanna – Lingerie as outerwear is the design ethos at this French label that is full of whimsy and feminine charm.

Sass & Bide – the Australian design duo are a firm favourite and now show their urban chic collection on the runway in New York. This season’s key looks were gladiator body-con meets 80s raver for voluminous jersey casualwear. The brand’s Black Rats leggings have been instrumental in starting the ‘treggings’ trend and the ruched lurex animal print styles are commercial winners.

Accessories were also strong with key footwear and bag brands such as:

Benhaz Kanani – Couture level craftsmanship puts Kanini’s shoes in another league. This season more sandals and lighterweight summer options feature snakeskin, eel and ostrich leather cuts.

Elsa – Danish footwear and accessories designer Elsa has used washed out tans, creams and pale blue or yellow for her utility inspired collection with hints of neon and transparent paneling that work for both the men’s and women’s collections. Her mix and match uppers and soles for shoes are a hit with retailers.

Jas MB – covered studs across leather holdalls and mini-camera bags as clutches are new for the British designer that sells his bags from the US to Asia.

Peachoo & Krejburg – this Danish designer duo has a new focus on gothic styled jewellery mixed with chains for belts and harness-strap leather footwear.

Stephen Venezia – the Italian shoe designer mixes avant-garde designs with high-end luxury leather techniques and colourful combinations for directional footwear.

Suecomma Bonnie – this Korean brand has been running since 2003 and has 12 stores in its home territory with a growing European interest from retailers. Styles are quite glam with high sexy heels with a focus on embellishment and intricate detailing from studs to crystals to frills and ribbon tie bows. Italian manufacture.

To see all my photos click here:
TranoiFemme SS10