January 17 2011
For a fledgling designer, the chance of exposure in one of London’s iconic store windows is nirvana, so there was hot competition for the 20 places in Selfridges’ new Bright Young Things scheme. From now until the end of February, the store’s Oxford Street windows have been turned over to a selection of new fashion, jewellery and set designers, plus an art collective, with results varying from stylish to wittily bonkers. All are, without exception, eye-catching.
As the first principle of commerce is that you only design it if you think you can sell it, Selfridges has set up a pop-up shop (also online) selling the window merchandise, showing admirable commitment to Britain’s design future. Most pieces are exclusive to the store. All offer the chance to own an early work from perhaps not just a Bright Young Thing but the Next Big Thing.
The windows will change on February 4 to bring in a second tranche of youngsters. All have been selected by the buying team under concepts manager Sarah McCullough, who says she is “wowed by the excellence and bravery of emerging designers, who now find it more challenging than ever to launch a career. We wanted to help and we especially wanted diverse disciplines – there’s a set maker, a wig maker and an illustrator. London’s talent is bursting at the seams – our shortlist was 50 strong.”
The team dug deep among new graduates and the underground circuit. Some, like Simone Rocha with her clean, white, opaque and sheer mixes (jersey dress, £270), or spectacular knitter Craig Lawrence, are just above the parapet. Others are new to retail. Look out for Alex Noble’s couture tulle ruffles – he already designs for Lady Gaga – illustrator Sophie Stephen’s disturbingly Goth-rock T-shirts (£85), Lilee’s flirtily modern dresses (first picture, £340), menswear designer Martine Rose’s vivid digitally printed silk bomber jacket (second picture, £1,825), and Kirsty Ward’s adventurous sophistication (appliquéd T-shirt dress, third picture, £85).