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Dotted Lines.  Plenty of scrolling up and down.  Lots of links.  Far too many pictures. What could have bought this madness on?  Why, a retail project, whose title references one of my top guilty pleasure films based on my not so guilty top reads.  Bright Young Things launched at Selfridges London last week and what started off as initially being a project where the visual merchandising team at the department store wanted to work with up and coming designers on the windows has now expanded into a more evolved beast all together.  In addition to having full creative control over each famed window (I still think Selfridges has the best expanse of space and pavement in front of each window to do truly amazing windows…), each designer also worked with the buying team to create exclusive product for the store, either bespoke or straight from their collection. 

Bright Young Things as a term in fashion (it's definitely butchered to bits in written profiles of 'young' designers) can be excessivley broad.  What's 'new' to one audience is certainly not 'new' to others.  I'm sure there are some people that still consider Christopher Kane or Richard Nicoll as a young designer.  However, Selfridges have selected a blend of designers that for the most part are truly new – so new that some only graduated this year and if they're not brand-spanking-new, they're most certainly up and coming.  Speaking to Selfridges' women's contemporary buyer Alexandra Iancovici, she said that there were very few opportunities for a department store like Selfridges to engage and buy into young designers and that this project presented itself as the perfect project to put real product from fresh talent on the shop floor and online.  And it's actually selling.  Pieces are actually having to be restocked.  The argument from some buyers who say that unknown names have a hard time getting shifted from the shop floor when they're up against all the fashion biggies might well be a generalisation that can't sweep across the board.  I therefore raise my imaginary glass to this set of open minded customers who overturn lazy generalisations that ultimately prevent many young designers from progressing in their careers. 

And so… to this first lot of Bright Young Things, a few of which have not been featured here beforehand making this something of a handy round up for me to follow up on, to track their progress as the seasons go on.  There are also some pleasingly familiar faces too and of course it makes me beam to see their work celebrated on what is a huge platform.  Just to illustrate, as I was taking pictures of the windows, random tourists stopped too to take a few snaps.  I don't think they knew what they were looking at but they were definitely tickled by it all. 

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KIRSTY WARD – Graduated from Central Saint Martins MA in 2008

I told you yesterday that I had been a bad fashion blogger and I'm ashamed to say that Kirsty Ward's lookbook has been on my desktop for months and it took this jolt of a window to use this post to praise her work.  This is her debut collection as previously she had been working at Alberta Ferretti for a year as well as creating jewellery for David Longshaw (who did the drawings in the backdrop of the window).  I won't bang on about it now when there's a cracking lookbook to talk up but sheer structures accentuated by slinky-inspired jewellery makes for a striking effect. 

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3 COLOUR SLIP DRESS Frock

No prizes for guessing which Kirsty Ward piece that Selfridges is currently selling gets my heartbeat going.  Clue: It's sheer, layered and juts out in places…

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Kirsty

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LILEE - Graduated from London College of Fashion MA in 2010

Youngli Lee's MA collection was a structured take on ladylike involving plenty of navy lace and looping satin sashes and from that amount of detailing, she significantly simplified for her debut post-uni collection that was presented as part of Vauxhall Fashion Scout's Ones To Watch show in September.   You can get the best of both worlds currently as ASOS have reproduced parts of LiLee's MA collection and now her S/S 11 collection is also available at Selfridges.  The spirit of the soft pleats is best seen in this window where mannequins hang on trapezes. 

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Apparently the skater dress on the left with the collar has been a hit on the shop floor but I'm also quite in love with this long pleated Grecian dress that is both long and short…

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Lilee

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FRANCES CONTEH – Graduated from Royal College of Art MA in 2010

The ONE designer that I truly had to Google to find out about – damn – well, I suppose one out of ten ain't bad.  Or is it bad?  I blame my missing the RCA show back in June last year.  Conteh specialises in colour blocked knitwear and she presented her graduate collection at the ON/OFF exhibition in September.   

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Her pieces aren't available online yet but there's quite a few pieces that are on sale in Selfridges now, all from her MA collection.  I'm actually more taken with the lilac mohair pieces than the graphic print pieces but that could just be my current obession with anything resembling candy floss. 

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ALEX NOBLE

Noble is probably a fantastic example of a multi-disciplined creative that took an unconventional route.  He stopped his studies after A-Levels but went on to do everything from set design to fashion illustration to costume and concept designs.  Whilst it took a certain red bandage outfit in Lady Gaga's Bad Romance video and a lace-ensemble worn at the Brit Awards to put Noble on the map, his fashion illustrations and artwork are definitely worth seeking out.  His window reflects a mix of both his illustrative and costume work involving a lot of organic-looking frou frou ruffles as well as his masking tape and sketch illustrations. 

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I especially love this series of fifteen works for an exhibition in Brussels, exploring the relationship between fashion and art…

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For Selfridges, Noble delves into ready to wear for the very first time by transferring drawings of prettified skeletal structures onto silk georgette dresses

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Alex

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SOPHIE STEPHENS

You'll probably remember Stephens for her collaborative work with House of Holland that involved illustrated tees depicting the likes of Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld as cheeky nudes.  It's good to see Stephens popping up again in an impressive illustrated window display that is about err…Gongha.  I haven't a clue who Gongha… not sure if I need to know…

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Her t-shirts for Selfridges are a little easier to read… Sophie clearly hearts Blondie, Grace Jones and sunglasses that causes nosebleeds…

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SIMONE ROCHA - Graduated from Central Saint Martins MA in 2010

Simone's work needs no introduction since her speedy advance from MA in early 2010 to showing as part of Fashion East in September at London fashion Week.  Her S/S 11 collection is like the positive, lightened-up progression from her black-filled MA collection with paper camelias, perspex crosses and plenty of tulle aiding the softening process.

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(Backstage photographs by Morgan O'Donovan for Dazed Digital)

Selfridges have stripped the tulle back to reveal white cotton jersey deconstructed pieces that are exclusive and ultimately more wearable pieces.  The perspex box and rings also accompany the collection. 

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Simone

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CRAIG LAWRENCE – Graduated from Central Saint Martins BA in 2008

Damn you bus for getting into the reflections of the three-way mirror display of one of Lawrence's gold foil pieces.  I have of course harped on about Lawrence's development as a conceptual knitwear designer from his mermaid-inspired S/S 11 collection to his more wearable capsule collection for Soho boutique Machine-A. 

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The pieces become even more tangible in Selfridges where black knitted tops, vests and gloves form a solid introduction to Lawrence's aesthetic…

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Craig

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RP / ENCORE

Reid Peppard's taxidermy got him noticed EVERYWHERE on the blogs which frankly put me off from offering any additional sentiment other than "Oh, look, a DEAD MOUSE!".  I'm glad to see that Peppard's aesthetic has evolved into jewellery that doesn't just exploit images of the grotesque.

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I didn't see RP/Encore's pieces in store but I'm assuming they are the ones seen in the windows display and they're in the jewellery section on ground floor.

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(Photograph by Alex Shah)

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Selfridges' Bright Young Things exclusion also includes Jessica Dance (who probably didn't do a window because she's already done a display in Selfridges previously…) and her knitted pieces. 

**EDIT** Correction – Jessica Dance will be doing a window featuring her new collection entitled 'Mo Bear'.  I like the sound of it already…

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CHARLIE LE MINDU

I was saving the pink and the best till we're nearly at the end of our Bright Young Things journey.  Charlie Le Mindu is again someone who needs no introduction.  He's probably the only hairdresser I'm ready to put my lengthy locks in his hand to do something dramatic (I'm still trying to dream up 'something dramatic' to do with my hair but alas I keep coming up short… no pun intended…).  His window echoes the sentiments that I live 50% of my outfit mantra by – 'THINK PINK!'.  Except Charlie goes to realms beyond my prissy pink ideals… involving thongs, hearts, rollers, stripper boots and everything that's louche in a lovable way…

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His S/S 11 collection of wigs and hair creations isn't for the faint hearted but I did love that he 'went there' together with stylist Anna Trevelyan who ensured that bad taste was in abundance… by the by, that's bad taste, which in the end is whatever you make of it.  Me?  I sort of love it without being able to explain why…

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(Backstage photography by Saga Sig)

Sadly candy pink wigs can't make their way into Selfridges but hair strand earrings are on hand to blend into your coiffure…

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KEI KAGAMI – Graduated from Central Saint Martins MA in 1991

Yup, you read that right 1991 and most people will know Kei Kagami is anything BUT a Bright Young Thing.  So why the inclusion in this selection?  It's sort of frightening how much of an underground path Kagami has been treading since graduating and presenting his conceptual collections in London.  He did progress to presenting in Milan but now I believe concentrates mainly on footwear which is what a lot of people probably know Kagami primarily for.  I suppose this can be seen as a re-introduction to Kagami, to a new generation of fashion lovers that may not know about his earlier work seeing as internet documentation is scarce.  Kagami doesn't even have a website I think, which perhaps is a move to stay purposely under the radar.  I look upon this window display as more of a compact retrospective but others will see it as a brand new introduction to Kagami's work.  Hopefully a website or a permanent publication will be in progress to document Kagami's career trajectory in a more detailed manner than what Google Image Search turns up with. 

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(Photography of Kei Kagami at work in his studio for TRANOI magazine by Kasia Bobula)

His collection for Selfridges is thanks to London leather stalwart Jas M.B. and  YKK, who Kagami has been consulting for a few years now.  The wooden-base bags on wheels takes the practicality behind the weight distribution system of wheelie suitcases and applies it to hand bags… who's up for wheeling one of these about town with laptop, magazines and everyday junk in tow… I am!

Kei

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That's the last dotted line.  Hurrah!  But there's more… well not until the 4th February when the windows change over to the next lot of ten Bright Young Things including Shao Yen Chen and Yang Du.  Thankfully, most of the next lot are menswear designers so hopefully Steve will take over on the duty of promulgating dotted lines and excessive amount of JPGs and links…  

Comments (17)

  1. gorete sousa says:

    Great Post and Pics!!!!!!!!!
    lovely!!!!
    xoxo
    http://www.ilovenystyle.blogspot.com

  2. callahan says:

    Thouroughly enjoyed reading through such an enjoyable post. Your blog opens my eyes to so much fesh new talent its unbelieveable! I think its such a good thing what Selfridges has created, and like you said its a great platform for all the new young talent out there that deserves to be recognised and completly earns their place next to more well known designers on the Selfridges floors, definatly a visit is in order after work! x
    http://peaceandloveand.blogspot.com/

  3. Crystal says:

    It’s so great that Selfridges purposely brings young/new-ish designers to the forefront. This was an incredibly eye-opening post. Though if I had to pic only one item I might go with Kagami’s wheeled drawstring bag. It’s got tiny gold wheels! I saw it and immediately thought “that bag has personality”, haha!

  4. Sorry, I re-read yor article. And typically me I did not read the last sentences. Thanks go men’s fashion forward eventually. That makes my first comment not necessary. The Fashion Philosopher

  5. Arstcrylique says:

    This is one of the most interesting and beautiful posts ever.

  6. I want the necklace shown on the black dress!!
    Freakin’ amazing!! :D

  7. moi says:

    Woah.. mamouth! Hats off to the big S, pulling this out the bag, highly informative for the ‘mortals’ paving the streets. I think ASOS have pressured a few to re-think how they want to communicate to their clientele via product. The problem for a lot of these designers isn’t the talent which they clearly possess, it’s the business acumen and timing, alongside production headaches and all the problem solving they must contend with. Not to mention the dreaded cash-flow. David has taken some time to emerge but is looking solid. From this little pot here, I can see Simone Rocha kicking on hard and opening a good few accounts… ;) Also love the approach from Kei, intriguing.

  8. Selfridges is my favorite, too bad I don’t make it over to the other side of the pond often enough…I wonder if Barneys New York does anything similar? Unfortunately, it seems to me that there is not nearly as much showcasing of new and young talent in the US as there is in London. Thank you for sharing!
    Impetuous Style

  9. What an eye-opening post, so much new information! I really think that young and talented designers should be stimulated just the way Selfriges does it! Thanks for this post!
    xoxo
    http://fashionagony.blogspot.com/

  10. X Alex says:

    Wow. that was such a comprehensive and informative post. I love the fact the everyone has a space to showcase their works and spirit, but most of all, it’s just amazing how the designers themselves put in so much to make it happen. Kudos! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Fabi says:

    I LOVED this post. :D
    Tonight I shall dream of pleats and attending Central Saint Martins and pink wigs.

  12. viviane says:

    really a great and infortming post, thank you for the lots of inspiration! ;Love all the items of KIRSTY WARD – really great, that Selfridges supports new talents!
    Peace,
    http://www.hippiebohoreloaded.blogspot.com

  13. Love to see them promoting young and talented designers. It’s exciting to see what the up-and-comers are creating: they are more daring because they have something to prove. I will make a point of checking out Selfridge’s next time I’m in London.

  14. Holy smokes!!!! The windows….the displays are mind blowing AWWWWESOME! Such amazzzing talent shines in every creative gorgeous window! Love the pics of him making shoes and of the bags…the accessories look like they are made with lots of TLC and craft!!! Killer post, Susie!!!!
    kisses
    xoThe Beckerman Girls
    http://www.BeckermanBitePlate.com

  15. SJLD says:

    These designers are so inspiring!
    fashion illustration—> http://stephaniejoellelouise.blogspot.com

  16. Tulle says:

    Oh la la! Someone was thinking-Height without the pain

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