Fashion Notes from London

In a recent December trip to London, we were pleasantly surprised to find a number of fashion events that month. Everything from the British Fashion Awards to Isabella Blow exhibition.

The British Fashion Awards on December 2 gave their votes to Christopher Kane for Womenswear Designer of the year, Christopher Bailey for Menswear designer and Simone Rocha for emerging Womenswear designer. Check out the rest.

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Isabella Blow

The highlight of the trip was the Isabella Blow exhibit at Somerset House. For those who do not know Isabella Blow, she was the fashion director of the Times and Tatler, discovered Alexander McQueen, Phillip Tracy, Sophie Dahl and Stella Tennant and was a consultant to many fashion/art projects.  She had a stunning wardrobe of designer hats and dresses, many by Phillip Tracy (hat designer) and Alexander McQueen. Many of her iconic pieces from her wardrobe were on display. It took over 2 hours to view everything. At the end of the exhibit was a very moving video of a tribute fashion show by Alexander McQueen and Phillip Tracey. The music and background was developed just for the tribute. Isabella’s voice was heard in the background. Check it out.

 

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Spitalfield Market and Vintage

Spitalfield, a market area in London since 1666, has under gone a renewal program. It was an area in decline now it is a vibrant market and shopping area. There is a vintage market and many vintage stores in the area as well as shops with British designed and made fashions. We checked out the market and a few vintage shops. The market had both new items by local designers and many vintage clothes and accessories. The vintage shops we visited, much to our surprise, had lots of Canadian vintage clothing such as a sweater with Calgary Braves, kilt made in Toronto, hand knit sweater with Canadian geese. I guess we are sending our vintage or thrift rejects to London not to Africa.

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Cheapside Jewels

We had the choice of visiting the Paul Smith exhibit at the Design Museum or the Cheapside Hoard london’s lost jewels at the London Museum. We opted for the Cheapside jewels, a cache of Elizabethan and early Stuart jewelry, that was unearthed from a cellar floor in London’s Cheapside. This is the first time it has been displayed. The craftsmanship and variety were exquisite.

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London Fashion

We immediately notice many London women wearing knit hats with large pom poms something that have not reach our shores yet. Oddly enough, the only hat I took to London was a knit hat with a pom pom.

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We came across British made and designed fashion at Bolongaro Trevor (British designers Kait Bolongaro and Stuart Trevor, founders and former designers behind the retail store group All Saints) their designs are often reworked men and women’s vintage pieces or newly designed, based on vintage military or British street style. We loved the WILD OFF DRAPE BIKER and the PACIFICO SHIRT DRESS (STEEPLE GREY).

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Percival, a men’s store with the philosophy of local production, quality workmanship, timeless styling and clever detailing had a pop up store near Leister Square. We especially liked a play on the classic toggle coat but with grey wool sleeves, navy body and hood lined with what looked like a fair isle knit. Another jacket we liked was made of British brown tweed. The associate was very helpful in giving us an overview of the store.

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An iconic British shoe, Grenson stared in 1866, continues to make shoes for both men and women. It has both the classics and also follows trends using classic details updated with coloured leathers or platforms.

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Not to be forgotten is the well known Marks & Spencer. Some of the British have fallen out of love with M & S saying that they are dated. We found some lovely pieces in their Autograph collection. A red wool boucle short coat, a sequined jacket with a modified peplum, a blue linen like tweed, mini skirt with lots of side details, the Chelsea boot with an almond toe, an Aryan knit pom pom hat and leopard print tights. We also saw a pale grey sweater with red details that reminded us of an Isabel Marant jacket at H & M. On the other hand, yes some of the clothes were frumpy; the blue/white lighting in the store did not flatter the skin or the clothes, lack of photos of items put together in an outfit and the uniformed staff. Why not have the staff wear the clothes? The store layout and too much on the floor could also be improved but there are many great items and they ship to Canada.

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British stores have developed a new concept in retailing. Shop online and pick up your purchase at the store the next day or if they do not have your size in the store it will be delivered within 24 hours. Hey Vancouver retailers, sit up and take notice.

These are just a few of the fashion events happening in London in December.  The weather was great 10 – 12 degrees and no rain.

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