It's that time of the year again to cosy up with fellow Bicester buddies (errr…. well, actually just Alex Fury of Love Magazine who is also my Yoox/eBay sage because we collectively love a bargain) in fashion and head on up to this Oxford shopping mecca to see the launch of what is now the fourth British Designers Collective. What started off as a tiny shop in Bicester Village's sprawl of outlets that include Prada, Marni, Celine and Versace (alright just rattling off my personal faves there…), has now turned into a strongly curated affair with a storefront that is sure to grab curious passers-by, even if they've not necessarily heard of say Peter Pilotto or Mary Katrantzou.
This year's British Designers Collective was given a meaningful umbrella theme of "Future VIntage", essentially branding pieces by this set of mostly young British designers, as highly collectible, something which I'd certainly concur with, looking to the way I buy into Brit designers, not just for aesthetic value, but possibly for posterity's sake as well. Yasmin Sewell, multi-tasking fashion consultant extraordinaire, together with her team was responsible for curating the space as well as overseeing the visual merchandising of the store, which is definitely a vast improvement from previous BDC stores. A powerful image of Queen Elizabeth I as the headline graphic is likely to draw the crowds in, even if they get lured in under the impression that they might find Tudor-themed souvenirs inside. As an expert in retail, Sewell has also ensured that there's a good stock flow going in and out of the store, so that it's regularly replenished and never looks stale. Oh, and Rita Ora is fronting the campaign this year if that interests you. When asked by someone what I thought of Ora, I couldn't even lie through my teeth and feign knowledge. I literally have NO opinion of Ms. Ora, not knowing her music or anything about her. And yes, I do like living under the cooling shade of my habitable rock.
The likes of Jonathan Saunders, Preen, Nicholas Kirkwood and Holly Fulton are old BDC hands but joining the roster of labels are J.W. Anderson, Lucas Nascimento, Meadham Kirchhoff, Mary Katrantzou and millinery power from Noel Stewart and Piers Atkinson. Hussein Chalayan was the new addition from the established set of designers and to emphasise the future vintage point, had a dress from his seminal a/w 2000 collection made from 250m of tulle on display in the window. On the accessories front there are additions from scarf designer Athena Procopiou, sunnies from Prism and Linda Farrow and jewellery from Annina Vogel and Imogen Belfield. The selection is the richest it's ever been and could well be worth multiple visits over the course of the year, to take in not just BDC, but the other delights that Bicester offers. The ever-wise Mr Fury advises that visiting mid-week is potentially better for scooping those fresh Celine deliveries and that super low markdowns may occur around the August period. Don't take those words as golden though. The beauty of dizzy shopping (dizzy=discounted) is the sheer surprise so a chance visit on a random day could result in… well, whatever is your personal dizzy shopping dream buy.
I didn't strike it lucky anywhere outside of the BDC but I did get in on some heavy embroidered Peter Pilotto action from their S/S 12 collection. It's weighty and I fear that I might cause accidents with broken threaded bugle beads but for future vintage's sake, this is one piece that the likes of Kerry Taylor (speaking of which, they have a brilliant auction coming up judging by the catalogue) might be interested in, 40 or 50 years down the line.