The annual British Designers Collective at Bicester Village has become a diary essential for fans of young British fashion talent. For its fifth year it has a strong extra dimension that promises the most interesting pop-up yet, highlighting the close links between fashion and art. Alongside the last season’s work of 18 very bright designers, there is a selection of prints and other works – all for sale – from top British artists, in a new collaboration with the Royal Academy. The resulting synergy has encouraged both designers and artists to participate and display their collections in the imaginative Clare Ceprynski-designed shop interior (first picture).
The collaboration’s inspiration comes from the Keeper’s House at the Royal Academy, which has been newly restored both to promote art and act as a social meeting point thanks to its restaurant and garden. “You see young artists working in the Academy Schools there, you are surrounded by artworks, but you can also meet friends and relax,” says Desirée Bollier, CEO of Value Retail Management, the company behind Bicester Village. “We wanted to create a similar atmosphere to showcase both young designers and art to our very international clientele.” The fashion is curated by respected consultant Yasmin Sewell, alongside the British Fashion Council, and her influence is crucial in drawing in the designers.
Rising fashion talent Jackie Lee is a first-time contributor who says that Sewell and the art element convinced her to become involved. Her pieces are 50 per cent below standard retail price (such as the top, £210, and trousers, £196, in the second picture). Emilia Wickstead, also present for the first time, agrees: “Since we’ve had a Fashion Week show, our ready-to-wear business has grown fast and it’s good to offer an opportunity to a wider clientele. Bicester and Yasmin are so supportive of young designers and it’s great to be part of it.” Her price tags offer a 40 per cent discount (such as the Jamie tuxedo coat, £780, third picture).
Other first timers are Ryan Lo, Claire Barrow, Michael van der Ham and Marques Almeida, while more established attractions include Mary Katrantzou, Jonathan Saunders, Roksanda Ilincic, JW Anderson and Peter Pilotto. The art will include names as well known as Grayson Perry, Gary Hume, Eileen Cooper and Bill Jacklin, but, unlike the clothes, their work will not be discounted. “We are an international shopping destination with great product that happens to be last season’s stock, so it’s discounted,” says Bollier, “but art isn’t seasonal.”
The Collective opens on Wednesday May 21 and runs until Sunday August 17, but Lee and Wickstead expect to sell out of their limited stock sooner, so best get there quickly.