Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Swan song

Florence Welch in Givenchy at the Grammys, February 2011

Bjork wearing Marjan Pejoski, 2001

All the buzz about Black Swan has put ballet centre-stage this season. But beyond the leg-warmers and ballerina pinks, the swan itself is taking flight as a motif. Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine stole the show in this Givenchy swan dress at the Grammys the other night; though dramatic, it's certainly a more subtle look than the infamous Marjan Pejoski version that Bjork sported to the 2001 Oscars, which is more Rod Hull and Emu than Swan Lake.

The swan is prettier than the bright fruit and loud flowers going around. I've mentioned Tucker's fabulous swan-print blouses and dresses, below, in a previous post (22 Jan). Other takes on the trend include Markus Lupfer's beaded and sequinned swan T-shirt dress (£195) and Emma Cook's Sea Swan print T (£155), both at asos (Cook's swan dresses are available at Harvey Nichols). Aurelie Biderman's swan feather earrings are as delicate as they are pricey (£780); a cheaper alternative is Ridley & Dowse's stainless steel necklace (£38.50) from notonthehighstreet.com. And Tory Burch's swan wedges have a quirky charm about them for summer.

Edition at Debenhams

Black spot-print mini dress, £45, Jonathan Saunders/Edition at Debenhams

Debenhams gives its image a right old dust-off this week as a shower of young British talent bursts into its stores. Edition is their just-launched collaboration with the brightest of fashion names, including Preen, Jonathan Saunders and Jonathan Kelsey (with Roksanda Ilincic, her best-selling Whistles line already under her belt, joining in the autumn). The collection is available instore, online and, for a limited time, at a pop-up shop in London's Newburgh Street (just behind Liberty).

High fashion/high street collaborations are so common now, and although surely reached a peak with Lanvin for H&M, are still hugely welcome. H&M's coups are certainly hard to beat – as well as Lanvin, big guns have included Stella and Jimmy Choo – but Debenhams have been bold and streetwise poaching Saunders and the rest to pep up their spring offering. Kelsey's shoes, from flats to sexy courts and wedges, look more catwalk than high-street, but it's Saunders' range that really stands out, particularly the bold floral maxi dress at £85 and the sassy 1960s-style print minis.

Edition is well worth keeping an eye on over the following months, as the designers are involved for a minimum four seasons. What a welcome change from the rather tired Matthew Williamson range and its endless butterflies and peacocks. In Debenhams' home range, the Lisa Stickley homeware is worth a look; her cups and plates have a retro, Orla Kiely-type appeal and quirkiness, at a fair price.

You can get 20% off on fashion until tomorrow (although the downside is that you have to buy a copy of the Daily Mail. On second thoughts, it's really not worth it).

Shoes by Jonathan Kelsey/Edition at Debenhams

Friday, 11 February 2011

Flower power

Erdem spring/summer 2011

Turquoise floral shirt, £85, Liberty

This season, florals are not just confined to usual suspects such as Monsoon and Laura Ashley. From Chanel to Jil Sander and Marni, Christopher Kane and Jonathan Saunders (see below) to Etro and, of course, Erdem, the catwalks simply sang with colourful blooms, a bright welcome to a new season after a long cold winter.

Once you hit a certain age, florals start to sound like a rather dodgy proposition. A floral dress might look young and fresh on a 20-something, but does it become a little grannyish rather than breezy and bright as you get older? I think the answer is that a little flower power goes a long way. Liberty is always a good place to start for a well-cut floral shirt. Topshop's one-piece vintage floral swimsuit (£30) is fun, and their cream floral dress (£38) has an appealingly simple cut and would have a great vintage feel teamed with a little cardigan. Flowers are everywhere from brooches (see Lanvin's, above) to hats (at Reiss). Soon to be copied on a high street near you are Dolce & Gabbana's floral canvas shoes (as beautifully shot in this month's Red magazine, styled by Nicola Rose). I'm also drawn to the loud Paul Smith floral shirt in that shoot, above; a statement shirt for sure, and wearing it has to be uplifting. Red's tip is to team busy florals with cool Breton stripes – they seem to complement each other nicely.

Alongside florals are some seriously bold fruit prints, such as Stella McCartney's acid brights. And what's with those Miuccia Prada banana earrings? Priced £150. I had an identical pair in the '80s, wooden, bought no doubt in Miss Selfridge for a quid or two. How ageing it is to have worn something the last time they were around! I'm really not sure what makes them say 'high fashion' as opposed to 'Pat Butcher' now. I guess simply that Ms Prada has decreed it. Well, it has to be a good thing to be able to turn to fashion for some fun and frivolity – and, yes, a touch of the ridiculous – in times of such greyness and wintery moroseness.

Floral swimsuit, £30, Topshop

Floral print stretch-silk gown, £1,350, Jonathan Saunders

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


Sarah Murray, owner of Edinburgh boutique Jane Davidson, sure stole a march on Harvey Nichols by stocking one of the very hottest designer names of the moment, Erdem. Although available online and at Browns in London, with Erdem's stunning prints and sumptuous fabrics you really want to see them in the flesh. The even better news is that Jane Davidson is currently holding a fairly dramatic sale – but not for much longer, so be quick – including discounts of up to 80 per cent. The nude lace Lavinia dress by Erdem above is £517 down from a stonking £1,725, while the Angelica swallow-print dress, hot off the autumn/winter 2010 catwalk, is £274, also 70 per cent off. There are also silk Tucker blouses (see post 22 January) from around £70 and some leather-look J Brand Agnes cropped jeans for £88 instead of the hefty usual price of £295. When's the next train north?...