September 14 2010
John Lewis has always revelled in its role as universal store to the middle classes; now it is going all élitist on us, but it is doing so in a typically sensible and democratic way. To celebrate the £10m revamp of the fashion floor of its Oxford Street London flagship store, it is launching a tiny capsule collection of special designs from exciting British names. Prices are at the upper end for JL, but they are absolute bargains for these luminaries’ work, and quality is, naturally, up to the standards we have come to expect from the firm.
There have already been John Lewis designer specials from Celia Birtwell and Joe Casely-Hayford, but nothing on this tiny, super-exclusive scale. The maximum order for dresses is 100, which makes sense as these are dramatic pieces that a wearer would not want to see duplicated in the same room. A bold, black-and-white geometric print dress from William Tempest (first picture, £200) captures this young talent’s gift for sharp tailoring, while Osman Yousefzada’s long, draped-jersey dress in vivid geranium (third picture, £250) has all the graceful sophistication for which he is becoming known. Philip Treacy’s crystal-studded red cocktail hat (second picture, £375) is an invitation to be daring and is a star buy since a mere 18 are being made, while Terry de Havilland’s 1940s-inspired wedges and mules (fourth picture, £250 and £195) will be perfect with autumn’s longer skirts (about 225 pairs are being made).
As the store is making big strides in the fashion arena, we must hope that this is the first of many such designer links, inspired by head of buying, womenswear, Jo Hooper who, in another life, was the guiding light behind the very successful Designers at Debenhams. Meanwhile, these choice items go into the Oxford Circus store on September 16 and are likely to disappear faster than the extras on a guilty MP’s John Lewis list.