Our two days at Barclays Bank in Hanover Square to cover London Collections: Men was extended to the whole week. Mark and his dad (both our dads are Arthurs) covered the mannequins in strips of pasted Financial Times and then we chose the clothes we would display before reporting to clock in at 9am on Jan 6th.
It was funny watching people walk by, double take, then come in to talk to us, not only to pay a bill. It was a thoroughly worthwhile exercise and we are really grateful to Osman and the team there who made us feel welcome and interesting, indeed we were quite disappointed not to be asked to tag along to their Austin Powers themed Christmas party on the Friday night. Glad to see Barclays being careful with the pennies and celebrating Christmas in January when you get better rates for party bookings.
On the Wednesday we had a host of visitors including Chris & Ed from Jocks & Nerds magazine http://www.jocksandnerds.com/, as well as their roving news hound Mark Webster, and Bill & Marcela Curbishley. They gamely posed outside - indeed Marcela was our demonstration fitting, trying her two jackets in the foyer while the business of life went on around her.
The banner on the magazine is "Style. History. Culture" and we make the case that Bill is a Titan of all three, having produced Quadrophenia, Tommy, McVicar and, in cinemas now, The Railway Man. Lucky he has Marcela to represent Beauty for him ; )
If you've seen the big sexy films of January, American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street, go see The Railway Man next. It tells the true story of Eric Lomax, a trainspotter nerd in the British Army. He gets closer than anyone would want to the business of railways when he and his division are set to build the Thai-Burma line in the Japanese prisoner of war camp. This history was memorably portrayed in "Bridge over the River Kwai" but is one theatre of war that has often been overlooked. When I was a little girl we lived next door to a gentleman veteran who was in one of those camps and would hear him awake screaming in the night. So it's not a rom com or in any way light entertainment but if your soul needs some fibre, we recommend it most highly. Wouldn't that be something, if the conclusion caught on - that forgiveness is more powerful than revenge. All the cast do marvellous work, the older leads played by Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, but Jeremy Irving carries the honours as young Lomax - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Railway_Man_(film)
|The Jay B overcoat in Harris tweed with red piping, in our window on Hanover Square|
On Friday lunchtime, I put in a call to GQ magazine, some twenty odd yards away in Vogue House. Jonathan Heaf, Features Director of British GQ, assured me he'd be over to see us. By 4.45pm he had yet to appear. I felt that queasiness as I redialled that comes from the uncomfortable suspicion that you might be a pest. "Argh! I forgot! I'm coming right now!" he proclaimed and seconds later there he was. Life Lesson # 6152 - always make the call. Feel the fear and do it anyway. That meet and greet was a splendid closing quarter of an hour to our week of showcasing in the West End.
And on Monday we were back at 9am because we just couldn't stay away. But mostly to clear away:
One of the things we were excited to tell Jonathan about was our jeans. A few weeks ago a gentleman called up to ask our advice on manufacturing in the UK (we are on an online register for making in the UK www.letsmakeithere.org ). I helped where I could and then he mentioned that they sourced their fabric from London and its environs. "London?!"
Yes, he assured me. The London Cloth Company.
I was on the phone in two seconds flat and spoke for almost an hour to Daniel as I looked through his website. My heart quivered as I scrolled - he makes denim. No one has woven cloth in London for a century. No one has made denim in the UK, anywhere, for Lord knows how long. HE GETS WOOL FROM THE CITY FARM SHEEP for one of his cloths!! Excuse me shouting, it is just so exciting. The whole "de Nimes" thing is an urban myth put about by the dastardly French he maintains. The soldiers of the South in the Civil War couldn't wear wool as it was too darn hot, and anyway, think about what fills their fields down there - not sheep, COTTON. We made an appointment to visit a few days later. Meeting Daniel was a revelation. He is only thirty-two but it is like being in the presence of a master, the Dalai Lama of the loom, the Young Wizard of Warp & Weft. I made a little film of him talking. We are still walking ten feet off the ground. I would have hesitated to reveal this so soon, but Ralph Lauren has already found him and The Times and the Evening Standard both ran pieces last week on the marvel that is Daniel.
Here's my entry for Best Documentary Short then:
In a nutshell, Daniel used to make clothes for film and TV, then he found a loom in a barn in Wales and thought that would be a fun project, tinkering with that. And that's what you get from a spot of tinkering. It inevitably leads to all consuming passion:
It's so bloody cold up there in North London that the cat has to sleep under a hypothermia blanket. And Mr Wesley picked up some cloth from the floor, an experiment of Daniel's, and wrapped it about himself. And lo, the "Hobo" coat was born. "Hobo", by the way, is one of my favourite words, a concertina of HOmeward BOund.
|I do not lie, the cat under a hyperthermia blanket|
|Mr Wesley was taken with a piece he picked off the floor|
|And lo, the Hobo coat!|
Bedlam, where jeans come true!
Well done gentlemen, the sixty gun salute has sounded from the ramparts of Bedlam!