Fenwick is by no means a slouch when it comes to collaborating and supporting cool names. It has a reputation for discovering wearable but interestingly individual collections, often at sensible prices, long before they are taken up by other retail outlets. In arranging a month-long pop-up, opening Monday September 5, for queen of gamine cool Bella Freud, the store is honouring a more established but resolutely individual designer who is a byword for modern intellectual chic but prefers to fly under the radar. Alongside her clothing collections, Freud has successful fragrance and candle lines, closely related in theme to her fashion designs, and the pop-up is ostensibly for the exclusive launch of her new fragrance Close to my Heart (£95 for 50ml EDP, first picture), a heady and feminine mix of tuberose, neroli, Rose de Mai and jasmine with underlying notes of patchouli, sandalwood and oud. It comes in a rich red bottle and she has created one of her signature cashmere slogan sweaters (£300, second picture), also exclusive, with the fragrance name embroidered in handwriting and an intarsia heart on the sleeve.
The third floor pop-up has enough space to allow not only interiors features inspired by Freud’s Marylebone shop – custom dyed velvet Richelieu carpets and 20th-century furniture such as a cube chair by Massimo Vignelli – but also a fuller range of her new collection, with iconic, enigmatic slogans such as “1970”, “Lion” and “Ginsberg is God” on sweaters and candles and funkier items such as gold Lurex zip-up jackets and track pants or pastel slogan cashmeres. Such pieces help to create the distinctive, slightly boyish look that makes her a feature of The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman, a new book by Navaz Batliwalla (Laurence King, out Tuesday September 27) that examines the timeless appeal of stylish women who effortlessly mix witty masculine elements into female looks to great and surprisingly feminine effect. “It’s inspired by my father, who was usually covered in paint but had amazing glamour when he put on a grey flannel suit,” she says in the book. “I’m obsessed with suits – I don’t like to look masculine, but I think boyish is feminine and sexy.”
The Fenwick pop-up came about through director of brands and communications Mia Fenwick, who says, “Bella’s knits and fragrances have become iconic, but we wanted to showcase her complete world, offering customers the chance to see all her designs against the backdrop that inspired them, and it’s been a real collaboration”. Freud found it “a wonderful opportunity to experiment with my brand, making special things for the shop that can then inspire further collections. I love that Fenwick will have a true representation of what inspires me.” Plus a little profile raising perhaps. “I want the brand to stay authentic, to grow and be successful, but not to do things for the sake of them,” she tells Batliwalla. Both pop-up and shop, she says, “should make you feel some kind of connection, not just a consumer experience.” If only all luxury brands thought that way.