Happy When It Rains at Hunter Boots, Donna Karan X Paul Andrew in Mayfair, Missguided Guides Itself to Nordstrom and Whitney Port and Her Personal Stylist Talk … Style (What Else?)
Fashion Week Journal for Monday, February 23
“Hunter Boots has always had a great heritage and a great story to tell, but they only had one boot to tell it with,” said Alasdhair Willis, who might also be known as the brand’s creative director and/or Stella McCartney husband. Regardless, it was clear at the Albert Embankment Warehouse on Monday night that Willis is keen on adding to the narrative.
Hunter has been growing in leaps and bounds since the successful fashion consultant took over in 2013; last year at this time he staged the brand’s first London Fashion Week show. If you’re still thinking of them as an outdoor brand (or just a rain boot line) Fall ’15 will change all that.
Gorgeous all-over colorful, complicated knits (shades of McCartney’s fall ’14 collection), dramatic funnel-neck coats imprinted with geode- and crystal-like patterns, obsession-worthy bags and some very, very good puddle jumpers come together to evoke the Scottish Highlands—Hunters’ homeland.
Willis took that modern spin on heritage one step further in the large, industrial space on the Thames. Models marched around a manmade moat and under manmade waterfalls to music director John Gosling’s sometimes imaginative, sometimes literal soundtrack which included “Happy When it Rains,” by the Stone Roses, “Dance and Cry,” by Darkness Falls, and PJ Harvey’s “Down by the Water.”
“I’ve sort of opened up a box of toys so that we can really express what this brand is,” Willis (above) told me. They do feel like clothes and accessories you can play in, and they’ll be some of the most stylish and attention-getting good times ever.
And now for a quick pop-up.
Back in New York, I learned that Donna Karan would be hosting a Paul Andrew pop-up in her London shop, so of course I took the opportunity to pass by. The pairing—artfully built shoes and beautifully fluid ready-to-wear—is pretty dreamy, and the zen-like setting—typical of Karan’s stand-alones—is out of this world.
London has some of the most beautiful shops in the world—Ms. Karan’s included, which is in the Mayfair neighborhood. Make sure it’s on your list next time you visit and in the meantime, visit our Donna Karan and Paul Andrew shops.
Another thing that London has a lot of are super tony private clubs like the Arts Club. Only not so much like the Art Club after all, because this place was so fantastic that I’m not at all sure anything is like it.
I took a break from the shows to have breakfast there yesterday as the guest of Nitin Passi (above), founder of Missguided which, as of April, will be one of Nordstrom’s newest brands. Missguided isn’t just new to Nordstrom; it’s new to the states. Over eggs and smoked salmon, Passi told me that he chose to launch his fairly young but phenomenally success Manchester-based brand in America through Nordstrom, and we’re all pretty excited to see it happen.
Missguided look book images courtesy Missguided
Passi’s game is all about what he calls newness. His company is set up to rapidly respond to trends and distribute them to his loyal—obsessed?—worldwide shoppers. “Whatever Kendall wears to a music awards show, we need to have a version of it the next day.”
The next day? Yes. The second-generation clothing business player is serious about fresh product. He says the company’s offices have samples everywhere. “It’s like a girl’s bedroom,” he told me. Passi is known within the industry for creating newness every day, but he sat pretty straight faced across the table from me and said he’s trying to figure out how to do newness multiple times within a day.
All this newness means you’ll see even more fresh, celeb- and street style-inspired looks at Nordstrom when Missguided launches. (Don’t worry, we’ll come back and let you know when it’s live.) Count on them feeling really global, too. Passi and his teams travel almost constantly; a trip to Seoul was particularly inspiring. And count on them feeling “cheeky.” That’a British word that means … well, something like sexy with a sense of lightness and humor.
Missguided look book images courtesy Missguided
Back to Fashion Week before we sign off for the night.
Whitney Port styled by Lara Backmender for New York Fashion Week, image courtesy Whitney Port
There’s a lot of pressure to look amazing for photographs, meetings, and front rows, and you might be surprised to hear that the former Hills star (and star of our 5 Ws series) doesn’t always find all of that easy. I sat down with Port and her personal stylist Lara Backmender, who I met back in New York, for tea one rainy London afternoon to talk about how the sweet New Yorker helps the kind Los Angeleno navigate the world of outfits.
The pair goes all the way back to Teen Vogue days; Backmender was styling a band for the mag, and Port, as you’ll recall, was interning. They’ve been sartorially inseparable since. When Port launched Whitney Eve, Backmender styled the first show, but mostly they work together on Port’s special event looks.
“Stylists understand the language of design,” says the Parsons Fashion Design grad. “We translate design for the outside world.” So while Port herself now speaks that language and works as a collection creator, she still defers to Backmender all the time.
Lara Backmender at Maria Cornejo during New York Fashion Week
“A piece on its own can be great, but when Lara puts it in another context, that’s when it really comes alive,” says Port. “I love choosing shapes and fabrics, but my strong suit is not thinking about how my girl is going to wear the pieces together.”
Backmender also pushes Port out of her comfort zone. She brought all manner of loveliness of Port to wear this week, and they’ve had fittings every day with pretty great success, pictured here.
“Lara knows what’s good for me. I didn’t really tell her I wanted to take a few more risks, but she seemed to know it anyway.”
The Lara and Whit show is pretty adorable really. Here, or, well, hear. You can heck it out yourself.
Whitney Port in the Whitney Eve Delphinium jacket