“Blink” Retail: Behind the Scenes of the MMM for H&M Campaign

To say that the “Blink” team is excited about the impending MMM for H&M collaboration, would be somewhat of an understatement. I have already mentally incorporated all of my favourite pieces in to my Winter wardrobe. Let me just tell you that if you’re in my way as I try to get to the over-sized P coat, you are in trouble…

To help keep the frenzy fresh, H&M sent over this fabulous behind the scenes look at the making of the campaign video, directed by the brilliant, British artist, photographer and film-director Sam Taylor-Johnson. Shot on a deserted Paris street corner, the atmospheric images feature models Julia Nobis and Jamie Bochert, as well as the dancer Cyril Baldy. The campaign will appear on television worldwide from November 8th, as well as online and outdoor, with the collection being launched on November 15th in around 230 stores worldwide.

I suggest you start sharpening your elbows now…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=R7gAwu6I04s#!

For more retail news, just click here.

“Blink” Print: Go Global

We are really keen on the new global traveller mood coming through as the Summer deliveries start to drop. Paisleys have already been centre stage thanks to the spotlight on pyjama inspired looks (another thanks to Stella McCartney for that) and this has extended to incorporate ikat and tile inspired designs too. Whether intricate and complex or simplified and bold, we really like where this is heading.

Burberry

Burberry

Dolly Dare

Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders

Tory Burch

Tory Burch

Warehouse

Warehouse

Maison Martin Margiela

Maison Martin Margiela

New Look

New Look

For more print posts, click here.

 

Blink Interviews: Design Director of Cutler and Gross, Marie Wilkinson

A little while back, I had the good fortune to spend some time working for Cutler and Gross. It was a small diversion out of womenswear into the wonderful world of  glasses, and it was an experience that I treasure. Not only was it wonderful to work for such a well respected, design and quality oriented brand, the team there are a really special group of people. The atmosphere and ethos set by Tony Gross and Graham Cutler is core to this brands success. If you have never spent time in their Knightsbridge stores I urge you to do so.

Each pair of Cutler and Gross frames is entirely hand-made and follows in excess of 30 processes that have been set in place since the first pair was handcrafted in 1969. Until very recently, this took place above the Knightsbridge shop, but in 1982 manufacturing moved to the traditional sunglass manufacturing region of Cadore, Italy. The manufacturing process that Cutler and Gross specialize in is truly a labour of love, with each individual frame being treated as a bespoke creation that takes four weeks to handcraft.

Before the manufacturing process begins, enormous amounts of care and thought goes into the design. When Cutler and Gross started making frames in the 1960s inspiration came from a piece of furniture, a rare slice of film noir or an imaginary concept. Today, design is the responsibility of Design Director Marie Wilkinson, who joined the company in 1982 as an apprentice under Mr Cutler and Mr Gross. Marie expertly marries the heritage and history of Cutler and Gross with future trends. She works closely with Creative Director Monica Chong, and each season they work on themes and concepts for the new collections.

We recently caught up with Marie and we are extremely grateful that she agreed to answer some of our questions.

Tell us about your current design crush
Vidal Sassoon haircuts.

Which comes first for you, the brand’s own handwriting or trends?
The brand’s own handwriting comes first as I know from past experience, Cutler and Gross styles often set the trends.

Do you think commerciality or creativity is the most important?
I think commercial should mean that the glasses should appeal to a broad group of people and this in turn should feed  the creativity.

Does the idea of sustainability impact on your collection at all?
Yes , in that we have used  Vintage sheet acetate in our collections and we have even up-cycled unused stock acetate to create new sheets in a fabulous new tortoiseshell effect.

What are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
I am working on Fall Winter 2012 ideas for our own collections and for Victoria Beckham’s collection.

What or who are your longest standing design influences?
Mr Cutler and Mr Gross

What’s currently inspiring you?
1950’s furniture with brass legs.

Has your role at Cutler and Gross developed in the way that you anticipated?
Beyond my wildest dreams!

How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
Louise Brooks in a frock!

What was your first fashion memory?
The short A line mini dresses my impossibly glamorous Godmother wore when she came to our house for afternoon tea in the 1960’s.

Any advise on choosing the perfect frame?

Above all else the shape and the colour has to suit your face , your haircut and personality. Be honest with yourself and don’t just buy the latest ‘trend’. If your face suits ‘cat’s eyes’ only; embrace the cat!

What is currently tempting you into making a purchase?
Maison Martin Margiela with their fabulous furniture.

Sunglasses indoors… Fashion fabulous or fashion faux pas?
Fashion fabulous.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The opportunity to work with such huge creative talents.

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?
Designing exclusive glasses for the new Cutler and Gross showrooms in London, Toronto and New York that will be open by the end of this year.

What 3 words best describe what Cutler and Gross stand for?
Stylish, handmade, hand-polished.

Pencil and paper or computer and mouse?
Pencil and paper.

Tell us about your most fabulous fashion moment

The time when I went to Elton John’s home to show him the collection and he loved the glasses and personally made me tea, served in Versace tea cups. He is the most charming host.

Who would you love to work with, past or present?
Ann Demeulemeester.

I feel most creative when…
the sun is shining

Any final word of advice?
I think it is important to have a mentor.
I had the most wonderful mentors in Mr Cutler and Mr Gross, for which I am very grateful.

Marie Wilkinson, Design Director at Cutler and Gross

from the Spring Summer '11 collection, 'The Mermaid and the Officer'

from the Spring Summer '11 collection, 'The Mermaid and the Officer'

Tony Gross and Graham Cutler

Thanks again to Marie for the fabulous interview. If you’d like to read more inspirational interviews, just click here. Enjoy!

Blink Retail: Bright Lights, Big City

If I fancy a bit of high end retail therapy I have a special route that fulfills all of my desires. My journey takes me from Liberty, cutting through Hanover Square across to Bond Street, then into Bruton Street, a flit across Berkeley Square and into Mount Street, then a stroll up South Audley Street and the final destination is Selfridges. Its a walk past some of the highlights of international fashion, incorporating some of my favourite names. You can say hello to Martin, Stella, Marc and Matthew as you decide whether you are thinking new shoes, frock or handbag- or perhaps all three?

This week I used the excuse of avoiding Oxford Street and headed on my therapeutic route. When I reached Mount Street, I was struck by the store windows. Some of the brightest and boldest that I had seen- and a joy that they were bereft of ‘final price slash sale bonanza’ signs. Grand scale and lots of wattage seemed to be the order of the day.

Lanvin

Christian Louboutin

Marc by Marc Jacobs

Blink Interviews: Gaudion Bowerbank

We first met Gaudion Bowerbank when attending a course on working sustainably at the brilliant Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Gaudion Bowerbank were already well progressed on their chosen path towards showcasing amazing jewellery that had been created sustainably and ethically, and we have watched their business go from strength to strength over the past year- never swerving from their mission.

In 2009 Gaudion Bowerbank was born out of the desire this duo have for creating an environment which fosters artistic freedom and creative collaboration leading to more intelligent design; a studio-boutique that would promote the behind-the-scenes craftsmanship of the best contemporary jewellery in the world. Working from small studios or their homes, the designers’ devote fine materials, years of expertise, and the physical workmanship hours needed to craft the orders by hand, one at a time.

“It was really important to Kelly and I that Gaudion Bowerbank have a point of difference, we wanted to offer our customers and designers a new retail experience, something with traditional values but with a contemporary and fresh aesthetic. Yes, on a basic level it [Gaudion Bowerbank] is a shop, but it’s a gallery too, a window into designers’ studios, and the hub of a vibrant, interactive, creative community.”
Claire Gaudion, Co-founder of Gaudion Bowerbank

Gaudion Bowerbank won designer brand of the year at London Jewellery Week in June 2010.

In addition to running Gaudion Bowerbank; Kelly Bowerbank works as a Junior Fashion Editor at Asos. Prior to that Kelly worked on the fashion desk at the Guardian for almost three years, with editors Jess Cartner-Morley and Imogen Fox. Claire Gaudion, alongside her role at Gaudion Bowerbank, also works for Edina Ronay assisting with design, buying and website development. She began this job whilst studying at London College of Fashion, which is where Claire and Kelly met.

We interviewed Kelly Bowerbank, picking her brains on her inspiration and influences. Thanks for the time you have given us Kelly!

Tell us about your current design crush
I’m really excited about a textile designer we’re launching soon. She’s a very talented weaver who makes beautiful scarves and throws. To the untrained eye her work is haphazard and geometric; but each of the patterns that make up her pieces have a secret Morse code word woven into them. My favourite is the design based on the word ‘love’, if you don’t know Morse code, then you’d never guess that’s what it said, or indeed that it said anything at all. It’s such a clever, imaginative concept, and it makes for an incredibly thoughtful gift. I will be treating the special people in my life to one of her scarves come Christmas!

Do you think that wearability is more important than creativity?
My head says yes, but my heart says no! Seriously, I think that (for me at least), it’s about balance. What I wear has to keep me from indecently exposing myself, fairly dry if it rains, and at a pleasant temperature- those are the non-negotiable ‘wearability’ factors. However, I don’t believe that creativity has to be sacrificed to tick these boxes. Even wardrobe staples: white t-shirts, navy jumpers, black trousers, can have beautiful, unexpected design details. I heard someone refer to these as ‘premium basics’ recently, which I thought was nice.

For you, what is the most important aspect of being an independent retailer?
Being able to promote emerging talent. In times of economic difficulty, the large department stores and chains are reluctant to take ‘risks’ with little-known designers. We can be much more flexible and reactive in our approach, and it means we can support new graduates and fresh talent.

Which comes first for you, personal style or trends?

I have eclectic style. One day I may be dressed in homage to Mad Men, the next could be my take on military, and another I’ll be channeling Snoop Dog (yes really). Trends don’t massively influence me, but I do nod in their direction, especially when it comes to styling my outfits. There’s been a massive shift towards minimalism recently, so I’ll be putting a lot of our designer’s simple, paired back pieces to good use this season.

Do you think that ethical and sustainable fashion can compete with main stream high-street fashion?

It has to, and it is. Today’s customers are shrewd, if ethical fashion doesn’t fulfill their requirements then they just won’t buy it. Of course, there is still room for improvement, but in recent years, the design credentials of the best ethical fashion has really improved to a point where is can easily compete with the fast fashion of the high-street

What season are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
Gaudion Bowerbank doesn’t really work on seasonal basis, we just choose designers that we love and who deserve a platform for their work. We do apply some common sense to our operational schedule though, for example we wouldn’t launch a knitwear designer in June, when what women really want is is summery dress.

What or who are your longest standing design influences?
Elsa Schiaparelli and Martin Margiela. I’m the proud owner of a Margiela jacket, the shoulders are so huge that I have to go through doorways side on when I wear it. I’ve yet to acquire any Schiaparelli, but I’m hopeful!

What’s currently inspiring you?
We visit many graduate and new designer shows each year, and there have been some great ones this summer. Seeing all of the new talent, fresh and enthusiastic, re-affirms our ethos. Creating a platform that supports emerging designers, that’s inspiring. Claire and I are both also  really looking forward to the Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, exhibition opening soon at the Barbican Art Gallery. I’m sure I’ll come out of there energized, notepad and pencil in hand, eager to design and create!

How would you describe Gaudion Bowerbank’s fashion aesthetic?
Minimal, timeless, and beautiful. A bold design statement.

What is currently tempting you into making a purchase?

Erm, I’m a little embarrassed by this, but I’ve literally just bought some Rebecca Taylor leopard trousers, despite lots of protests from my boyfriend. After the February fashion weeks I realised there was a huge gap in my wardrobe where animal print trousers should be. Mulberry and Ungaro presented some gorgeous ones; mine are charcoal and black, they’re made of really soft wool. They’re much nicer than what you’re probably imagining! If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m a sucker for fashion…

Any style secrets?
Wear at least one thing everyday that makes you smile. And wear it with confidence.

How has the ethical and sustainable fashion scene changed since you opened your business?

The awareness of ethical and sustainable fashion is growing all the time; both within the industry as more brands launch eco/organic/fairtrade lines, and with customers becoming more conscientious shoppers. Since opening the business, we’ve definitely perceived a positive shift towards sustainable fashion. A year or two ago people were engaging with ethical fashion because they felt they should, but now it’s because they actually want to- there’s been a massive change in attitude.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Seeing the craft behind the products. It’s amazing to be privy to the skill and the love that goes into creating them.

Any future projects that you’d like to tell us about?
We’re focusing on two main projects at the moment, expanding our product range and re-developing the website. It’s a massive job, the revamped site will look clean and modern, and the improved functionality will make the shopping experience much smoother for customers.

Any fashion regrets?
As someone who has indulged in almost every daft trend, you’d think I’d have lots! But fashion is too much fun to have any regrets. Live, wear and learn but never regret.

Whats the best fashion advise that you’ve ever been given?

Don’t save things for ‘special’, it just means you’ll never ever wear them.

Can you share with us your most fabulous fashion moment?
I felt pretty pleased with myself (and only mildly embarrassed) when Jerry Hall had to wait to pass, while the Japarazzi took my picture at an event at London College of Fashion. She was very gracious about it, and totally stunning.

Who would you love to work with, past or present?
Working with new and relatively unknown designers is one of the best parts of this job and what drives Gaudion Bowerbank. But there are of course some iconic designers and brands that we’d love to partner with. It would be amazing to do something with Pierre Hardy, I adore his shoes. You can spot his designs from a mile away, there is something about the proportions,  classic, contemporary, simple, yet creative. Whistles is one of my favourite stores and Jane Shepherdson is exceptionally talented- the Phoebe Philo of the high street. She has a sixth sense when it comes to design, she intuitively knows what women want and she doesn’t fail when it comes to delivering it. I’d never say no to a collaboration with Whistles or her or both!

Any final word of advise?
Keep the momentum and smile even when things don’t go to plan- they have a habit of working themselves out. Make time to see your loved ones even when you’re frantically busy.

Claire and Kelly at London Jewellery Week earlier this year

designs by Simone Brewster

designs by Simone Brewster

designs bu Lua Lua

designs bu Lua Lua