“Blink” Retail: Mulberry through the eyes of Tim Walker

WE LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Spring ’12 Mulberry ad campaign, shot by the amazing Tim Walker, staring Frida Gustavsson and Lindsey Wixson, Brighton Pier and some typical Walker style supersized props. Mulberry have cascaded the theme into their window schemes too. We spotted this huge egg with dippy in soldiers in the window of the Bond Street store. Gorgeous!

Mulberry, SS'12 campaign

Mulberry, SS'12 campaign

Mulberry, SS'12 campaign

Breakfast at Mulberry?

For more posts about retail, click here. If you’d like to read more of our shop window posts, click here.

Enjoy! Lucy

Blink Retail: Fashion paints a Rainbow

We had a little extra sunshine added to our lives this month as we were out retailing for the new round of reports. The ‘Colour’ message is being delivered loud and clear from all levels of the market and it really brightened up our day! We just had to share some of the best bits of this fashion rainbow with you, and add a little extra zing into this grey day for you too.

Enjoy, and just click here for more retail insights!

Christopher Kane at Browns

TRF

River Island

Mulberry

Topshop

Sonia Rykiel

River Island

Topshop

Blink Retail: Mulberry gets Upgraded

Mulberry is one of those brands that just ticked along in the background of fashion consciousness for a long time. Now it is fully front of mind for all fashionistas, and we are delighted for this very British label. Mulberry were recently awarded ‘Best Designer Brand’ at the British Fashion Awards and also opened their glamorous new flagship store on New Bond Street. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, they have also posted greatly improved figures for the past six months’ trading- so this brand possesses both style and substance. What a combination!

The New Bond Street Mulberry flagship store is located just a short trot along from the old address (from 41-42 to number 50) but it’s a world away in the retail experience. There are very obvious and luxurious features like the stunning fitting rooms (bigger than some London abodes), spacious layout, stunning wooden fixtures- all offset with a dry stone wall which harks back to the brands heritage. The store also has ecologically sound heating and lighting systems.  Don’t forget to look down when you are instore, so that you don’t miss the 25 brass discs laid in to the concrete floor depicting the lyrics of David Bowie’s Maid Of Bond Street: the work by British artist Jonathan Ellery.

Well, if all of that sounds quite earnest, then take a look at the current window scheme. Mulberry celebrates its iconic ‘Bayswater’ bag by creating a huge inflatable gold version that fills one whole window. On the other side is a glittering selection of smaller, helium filled bag balloons. I had to put my hand firmly into my pockets to restrain myself from grabbing a bunch and dashing off down Bond Street!

Mulberry massive, inflatable 'Bayswater' bag

Mulberry's gorgeous bag balloons

Mulberry's gorgeous bag balloons

For more retail news and stunning store windows, just click here. Enjoy!

Blink Interviews: Felicity Brown

The final interview of the year, and dare we say that we may have left the best until last? No, we couldn’t possibly say that. It would be rude to the rest of our interviewees- but maybe this one is about the most ‘up and coming’ or the ‘most fashion exciting’…

The subject is the wonderful Felicity Brown. We first spotted her work at February’s LFW when her inaugural collection was shown as part of Vauxhall Fashion Scout. We fell in love again when we saw her work at September’s Fashion Week as part of the NewGen designers. Have a look at our post on this great selection of talent, including the brilliant Felicity Brown.

Prior to launching her own collection, Felicity had designed for Alberta Ferretti, Loewe, Mulberry and, most recently, Lanvin. That’s an incredibly impressive CV to build up in a few years since graduating from the Royal College of Art. Her work seems to combine a certain fragility with a really modern feminine aesthetic that is utterly unique; as is Felicity’s working arrangements- she splits her time between her studio in East London and a wonderful atelier in the desert of Dubai.

Many thanks to Felicity, Henry and the team who made this interview possible. We are very grateful for the time that you gave us.

For you, what is the most important aspect of being a designer?
Having the amazing opportunity to create my own ideas.

How do you start developing a new season’s look?
I bury myself in lots of books and mountains of fabric

What project are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
I am currently working on my A/W 2011 collection that’s very Bedouin inspired. It is looking a little wild right now and maybe a little too uncut but so far I am happy with it.

Which comes first for you, your personal aesthetic or general trends?
Personal aesthetic

What is currently inspiring you?
I have been looking at Central American masks. They are not pleasing to the eye but there is something appealing in the expression created out of all the contrasting elements.
I love the way that they mix up completely opposing things, like the way they fill the hair with crazy different elements and the extreme expression of the mask. They are so bizarre, so odd, I really like them.

Do you think that ethical and sustainable issues are at all relevant to what you do?
I wish they were but its currently only a wish because of the nature of the dresses, we are a small production. Its all very cottage industry at the moment.
But everything that has been made is hand made, from paper stenciling to hand dying and printing. All done in old traditional techniques giving the garments that look.

What or who are your longest standing design influences?
I admire Lanvin and Balenciaga

How would you describe the Felicity Brown aesthetic?
Raw

Any style secrets?
Keep it unfinished

Who would you like to collaborate with, past or present?
I would love something incredible like a day in Picasso’s studio and as for present, I would like to work with someone from a different discipline, like a painter.

What would you like your business to achieve in 5 years time?
To stay strong and true

Pencil and paper or computer and mouse?
Fabric!

Do you work differently in your Dubai and London studios?
Yes, in London you take it all in and absorb where as in the desert you can concentrate- it’s so still.

I feel most creative when…
When I’m buried in fabric.

Felicity Brown

Felicity Brown's Spring Summer 2011 collection

Felicity Brown's Spring Summer 2011 collection

Felicity Brown's Autumn Winter 2010 collection

Felicity Brown's Autumn Winter 2010 collection

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

Blink Wardrobes: Eastside Story

We style spotted Katy Brown on her way into the 1234 festival and she featured as the lead in shot for our ‘Shoreditch Shorts’ post. We then struck up an email conversation and were delighted when Katy agreed to get involved with the ‘Blink” blog. Katy is a Fashion PR working for a seriously fashiontastic London store, so we thought that she would be the perfect candidate for the revival of our ‘Wardrobes’ feature. Katy sent us over some recent shots, giving us a virtual sneak peek into her closet. We love her unique take on black and denim with a dash of goth and retro rock chick thrown into the mix. Katy’s also just launched her own very cool fashion blog too.

Most worn from Summer 2010? Vintage Levi’s shorts, fur trimmed leather jackets, MAC ‘Girl About Town’ lipstick and enough jewelery to set off every metal detector in a 5 mile radius.

What will be your biggest investment for Autumn 2010? I’m waiting for the highest bidder on my vital organs so I can splash out on the original and best Burberry aviator jacket and/or a Mulberry Alexa. Be still, my beating heart…

Your personal style is:
Glamorous goth, everything sequined or sparkled, inappropriately dressed for any occasion and/or climate, and anything your Mum swears she wore the first time round. And always kohl-rimmed and pink lipped, naturally.

Your current style icon is:
I have a serious girl crush on VV from The Kills and Karen O still reigns supreme. I have a new found affinity for Joan Jett’s wardrobe after watching The Runaways.

If money was no object and practicality went out of the window, you would wear:
Cocktail dresses at all times. A lot of Balmain. Any leopard print pieces by Dolce and Gabbana. Arm-candy to be provided by Mulberry for day and Chanel for night, please.

Most used fashion phrase?
Trashtastic.

Photo 1

Photo 1: As photographed by “Blink”! Taken at the Shoreditch 1234 Festival, this is a typical festival ensemble for me. From top to toe, that’s a sheer-panel leotard from Ebay, a vintage leather jacket I customized myself with gold studs, a vintage pocket-watch necklace, my treasured ‘Katy’ nameplate necklace courtesy of Ebay, vintage Levis shorts I’ve ripped to pieces, Marks and Spencers sheer spotted tights, a Harvey Nichols Timex watch, a vintage Chanel bag courtesy of Rokit and my most worn item: a hair bow made from half a metre of chiffon from the John Lewis haberdashery department.

Photo 2

Photo 2: Snapped at the incredible Maison Martin Margiela exhibition at Somerset House. That’s a sheer leopard print blouse I cut the collar off and turned back to front from a charity shop, teamed with a fringed leather waistcoat from Miss Selfridge that I LOVED for the ‘Almost Famous’ vibe. There’s my glorious Mulberry again, alongside my Ray Ban Wayfarers and a pair of New Look cage shoes. I swear by their footwear…

Photo 3

Photo 3: Evidently posing as the Mayoress of Mile End! That’s an Ebay dress I turned back to front so the fringing sat at the front rather than at the back. I’ve protected my modesty with an 80’s Beyond Retro acid wash jacket which has the most amazing/horrific diamante and stud detailing. That’s another hair bow made from a Tie Rack scarf and that vintage Chanel handbag was an incredibly generous birthday gift from my best friend. Lucky, huh?

Photo 4

Photo 4: This is one of my all time favourite finds – it’s a vintage lace dress courtesy of the vintage store ‘Cow’ in Birmingham. It has the most amazing bodice detail. I’ve teamed it with a vintage black and gold belt, a vintage leopard print scarf tied as a hairbow, yet another vintage quilted bag and a squillion bracelets I’ve picked up and collected from various markets over the years.

Photo 5 from the Vogue website

Photo 5: Snapped at Notting Hill Carnival by Vogue, I’ve managed to perfectly co-ordinate my cocktail, my lipstick and my nail-varnish. Score! That’s an ASOS t-shirt dress with my studded leather jacket, teamed with Marks and Spencer sheer polka dot tights, New Look cage shoes and a shedload of vintage jewelery including my pride and joy charm from Chanel. The glasses are the Wayfarers again- a very kind gift from their Press Office.