IN a corner of Covent Garden this week, there was a certain buzz about the air, and it wasn’t coming from the rush hour traffic of the West End. While Vogue’s Fashion Night Out (FNO) popped up in cities all over the world this season, Thursday was London’s turn, and the capital didn’t disappoint.
For the first year since Vogue’s FNO launched in the States in 2009, the Seven Dials shopping district has been included in the event. While designers prepare for what is one of the highest profile fashion events in the world, the fun and energetic Fashion Night Out is a perfect opportunity to whet the appetite for what is yet to come.
“There’s something about British fashion which still has a sense of quality, but it’s not necessarily fuddy duddy’ says Harriet Vine, “it has a special sense of humour.” It’s this ability to not take fashion too seriously that led Harriet and her college friend Rosie Wolfenden, to build their expanding cult jewellery line Tatty Devine.
With glass cabinets displaying chains of half-peeled bananas, pairs of brogues and florescent-coloured acrylic words like ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Cockney’, this is jewellery that oozes personality and ‘Britishness’ combined.
Ever since they met on their Fine Arts degree at Chelsea’s School of Arts, Harriet and Rosie have formed a close partnership. Harriet’s kind act of putting a roof under her friend’s head when the roof of her own student flat fell in, tells the story of their close friendship. It was then their teamwork and determination to impress Vogue stylists who headhunted them one day, which shows how tight-knit the pair are.
“It was a Friday morning and I was working in a vintage store in Kings Road when a stylist from Vogue came in,” Rosie says.
“She admired my hair band – it was a ribbon covered in gems – and she said she loved it. Before I knew it I’d agreed to take our jewellery and accessories collection to Vogue on the Monday – but we didn’t even have a ‘collection’! We worked all weekend from our bedrooms to try and put a collection together. A few days later we got a call from Harvey Nichols and our stock made it to the same shelves as Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs.”
While Rosie and Harriet’s collection made it to the front cover of Vogue’s cover that year – modelled by the now controversial designer John Galliano – they don’t lose sight of their humble beginnings.
Harriet admits to once rummaging through eighteen sacks of rubbish to find piles of leather samples from an upholsterers. From there they made iconic leather cuffs that they sold on Portobello and Camden markets.
With a passion for incorporating music into their work, the designers spark conversation of a ‘dog on wheels’ necklace made alongside Scottish folkband Bell and Sebastian, and a new collection of sequinned head pieces, made alongside The Rodnik Band.
Their fans also include Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beth Ditto of the Gossip, Katie Perry and LA artist Krea Shawn. But while the Londoners are proud to have worked with a range of designers, one of their proudest collaborations is with Eley Kishimoto – from the House of McQueen – who has helped design a distinctive tiger-print scarf especially for London Fashion Week.
A few doors down the cobbled Monmouth Street, cupcakes, champagne and cocktails were spilling out of the store’s independent boutiques and stores. And while an burlesque dancers from Soho’s nightclub The Box sashayed within the window display of sex store Coco de Mer, another designer who stands out for her passion for all things British is bespoke jewellery designer Laura Lee.
With a delicate range based on Laura’s love of charms, the designer’s loyal customers include Kylie Minogue, Cheryl Cole and one of her favourites, British actress Keira Knightly.
“I love Fashion Week and I’m definitely a Londoner,” says Laura. “Trends aren’t so important to me but I do look forward to the Vivienne Westwood show each year and take note of what happens each season. I take inspiration from anything I see – from reading a book to going to an interesting art exhibition. But my favourite stone has to be the diamond. They’ve got life, they are millions of years old and there’s something extraordinary about diamonds.”
As designers like Laura, Harriet and Rose take advantage of the FNO to mingle with their loyal fans, waiting eagerly for autographs and chats with their favourite designers, there’s an air of anticipation.
London Fashion Week is near, and thanks to this worldwide event stretching to the cobbled streets of once of London’s favourite shopping meccas, one thing’s for sure – London does fashion very well indeed.
Laura Lee will exhibit her new jewellery collection on Friday 16 September at Somerset House. For more information go to www.LauraLeejewellery.com
For information on Tatty Devine who will also exhibit at LFW go to www.tattydevine.com