40 Winks boutique hotel
Why of all the weekends does London City have to shut down the whole of Jubilee line (the line I needed because I was staying in Swiss Cottage) and parts of Hammersmith & City and District line during London Fashion Week, so frustrating especially if you wanted to get to the 40 Winks Pop-up Showroom in East London's Mile End. Well anyway after having to make a million changes on the underground and walk from Whitechaple to Stepney Green (which was interesting in itself) I finally made it to what has been quoted as "the most beautiful small hotel in the world" by German Vogue, and it did not disappoint. Going through the very Grand front door I was greeted by the rather eccentric proprietor and interior designer David Carter, who had someone come up with a cup of tea and slippers (as it was a shoeless house). The showcase was spread over three floors with 6 designers each been given a space in which to display their collections.
Alexandra K designThe first designer I had a chance to look at was Alexandra K, who had recently graduated with a degree in Fashion and Textiles from the University of West England and had showed her collection at the London Graduate Fashion Week in 2008. She had both her Spring/Summer and Winter/Fall collections, which were inspired by architecture and the belle epoque period with interesting use of structure and curves and intricate detailing. She used such beautiful materials from fine silks to silk organza and feathers to produce extremely luxurious items that had been hand-crafted to such a high standard and despite only recently graduating she had a full and varied collection and I was thoroughly impressed.
Ruti Danan designsThe second designer who is somewhat of an industry veteran was Ruti Danan, who creates one off, made to measure couture evening dresses. She learnt her craft from Alexander McQueen and many a celebrity has worn her creations, including Kylie Minogue, Elle Machpherson, Naomi Campbell and Nicole Kidman to name a few. The use of deep reds and greens gives the dresses a magical and romantic quality and the beautiful tailoring reveals her expertise in cutting and draping luxurious fabrics to enhance the female body. Ruti was kind enough to let me choose a dress for the model to try on....and it looked so fantastic, a perfect fit. Ruti also launched her new collection of chiffon cami scarfs at 40 winks. The only downfall is perhaps her collection is simply not very accessible, only been sold in one shop in Covent Garden, which is not a bad thing as exclusivity is key in her company, but I felt it was perhaps marketed for a slightly older generation, or for those who are willing to pay a lot of money for something that would really only be worn once as they where designed specifically for red Carpets or very special events.
Atelier Annick BagsThe third designer was French born Atelier Annick, whose parents originate from the Cote-D'ivoire and from which she draws her inspiration for her handbag collection. The African theme runs through most of her designs and uses a mix of fabrics creating a fusion of interesting textures. She has showed her bags at the highly acclaimed Pret A Porter show in Paris, were she will be showing again in October. Having been born in Cape Town myself I loved her high-end zebra patterned bag, which retails at around £800.
Katherine Wadropper designer pieceNext up was the award winning textile/jewellery designer Katherine Wardropper who uses "sculptural fabric technique" to create her highly intricate and unusual statement accessories. Her collection consists of delicate brooches, neck pieces, hairpieces and belts that swirl and twist with elements of lace and bejewelled snowflakes. Fairytales and fantasy are the main themes with a hint of Victorian charm added in, her pieces are instantly recognisable and are a feast for the eyes as the detailing is incredible.
On the top floor was the tweed label Timothy Foxx, which is the brainchild of Rosalie Eustace. She combines traditional British Tweed with an eclectic range off fabrics giving a new lease of life to old tradition and English heritage. She sources most of her tweed from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, making it a true British Label. Her collection comprises mainly of tweed skirts with colourful lining and funky silk splits, as well as a beautiful tailored collection of jackets. She also told me that she is working on a range of leather bags. Her label is an interesting concept, I just wonder though what the staying power of a label only really dealing in tweed designs and how much of market there is for that, well I wait to see.
The last designer and possibly the youngest, was the just graduated Lisa Gibson, who had recently shown her work at the London Graduate Fashion Show. Lisa had the smallest collection out of everyone and you could see she still had a way to go to find her own sense of being within the industry - not to say her collection was not good because it was, the designs where beautifully hand made, very fragile little pieces, dresses and tops inspired by nature with wonderful flower details sown on. Lisa seemed very shy, unlike the more confident Alexandra, although she is very talented, I just hope she grows and becomes more self assured in her work.
Overall I was glade I came to see the showcase despite of the difficulties of getting there, I just hope for the designers that more people made the effort as all the work was of very high standard and all very different, which I one thing I must applaud 40 winks for doing, as it had something for everyone, evening dress, jewellery, bags, tweed, accessories you name it all set in what felt at times mad hatters tea party with douched in luxury.