Excitement is not usually a word I associate with the Japanese brand Uniqlo. Because although I do rather like this terrifyingly brightly lit store (kids’ cashmere reduced to £15 a pop and heat tech vests – why wouldn’t you?) it tends towards the practical and the non curvy, neither of which apply to me, other than once in a very rare while.
Uniqlo is Asia’s largest clothing retailer with a profile which has heightened in recent years largely due to their affordable yet good quality cashmere and their collaboration with designer Jil Sander. I was personally introduced to Uniqlo by my friend Kerry who dragged me into the Westfield branch for heat tech undergarments for her skiing trip. Yawn, I thought. But Kerry being Kerry (sensible, gorgeous but occasionally daft as a brush) talked me into buying a nude coloured strappy vest and I have never looked back; it was a revelation. Given that Kerry and I once sent pictures to her new boyfriend of us in TK Maxx wearing matching giant white Calvin Klein puffer jackets that made us look like Michelin men*, this Uniqlo experience was really quite grown up. Needless to say my mum was very pleased with my sensible vest purchase.
For Autumn 2015 Uniqlo has gone all sexy because on 29th October it launches the collaboration with former French Vogue editor in chief Carine Roitfeld. She of the mussed up hair, bare legs and pencil skirts. I tried not to get too excited about this I really did, but now I’ve had a look at it, I am beside myself. I have my eye on the leopard print coat and the silk camisoles. You just can’t go wrong with this rock chick look especially as slip dresses are so very on trend all the way to next summer. Just layers until then.
Next up this new collaboration season is the hugely anticipated Balmain for H&M. I hardly even dare mention this one as so hyped is it already that come 5th November we may have all peaked too soon. I am not going to hold my breath or set my heart on something when Grazia inevitably previews the collection because as soon as the doors to H&M on Regent Street opens, it will all be over. Ebay will be the winner here as always and I have a school run to do. Perhaps this time I will rise above the hoop-la. Perhaps I won’t.
& Other Stories, H&M’s more sophisticated sister just down the road yesterday announced its forthcoming collaboration with Rodarte. Touted to launch in spring 2016, designer sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy promise “a truly special collection” while MD of ‘Stories’ notes that this partnership will add a “new LA influenced perspective to our selection.” How true, Scandi style meets LalaLand – can’t wait.
High street stalwart River Island has long championed new upcoming Brit designers and this season is no exception, it’s a shame its Design Forum often falls under the radar. Good news for mere mortals who aren’t prepared to camp out on the pavement for a pair of trousers, you can still get your mitts on Zoe Jordan’s other worldly collection for River Island. I love these print trews which give the illusion of having no knees. I’m not sure this is something I’ve ever aspired to but with a skinny black polo you could really look the business on Hallowe’en night.
On a more classic note, John Lewis, who pulled it out of the bag with their romantic Temperley collaboration, have now joined forces with veteran of British fashion Bruce Oldfield. Available currently, this is a safe, demure collection with beautiful tailoring and at an approachable price point. Bruce Oldfield doesn’t mess about with gimmicks and his pieces ooze effortless grace and style. I particularly like the blouse which is perfect day to evening wear with anything from a pencil skirt to a pair of scruffy boyfriend jeans.
Sigh. Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing had it right when he said that his collaboration with the high street allowed a wider audience to “get a piece of the dream”. I want several pieces of the dream. If only I can get my computer to work a bit faster…
* The new boyfriend became Kerry’s husband. He has still never mentioned the Michelin men photo and thinks I’m even more ridiculous than Kerry.