Last night I went to the launch of the Spirit of Fashion 2011 Pop-Up shop in Manchester’s Spinningfields.
In association with the Royal Collage of Arts, sponsored by McArthurGlen, the exclusive collection showcases the work of three RCA alumni designers, Carolyn Massey, Rachael Barrett and Manchester-trained designer Matthew Miller who was there on the night. The Awards were set up to provide support to emerging fashion designers as they move their businesses forward. Open exclusively to alumni of the RCA Fashion School, which has fostered world-renowned luminaries including Christopher Bailey of Burberry, Erdem Moralioglu and milliner Philip Treacy. As part of the award, McArthurGlen has provided the designers with 12 months PR support, access to leading industry professionals, and commercial exposure through the manufacture and sale of the Spirit of Fashion Collection, which they have designed exclusively for this project. The winners, announced in June 2010, were briefed to reinvent a timeless classic fashion garment in their own ‘handwriting’ creating unique, commercial, designs.
Shaeren McKenzie, Director of McArthurGlen Group, says; “Reinventing an iconic classic is one of the most difficult challenges any designer can face, and we were keen to see how each designer would approach this brief”.
Each piece in the collection was beautifully cut and tailored. Limited to just 100 of each design and priced between £75-£215, I can’t see them being left on the shelves for long. The Pop-Up launched in London and will be in Manchester for just one week before moving to Glasgow, so you will need to head down there sharpish.
Matthew and Carolyn chose to design Menswear shirts, whilst Rachel focused on Womenswear. Matthew added vinyl bands to his classic white shirt, the designer told me he is passionate about working with fabric and technology. Carolyn, whose pieces were inspired by the history of Menswear, also designed a white shirt, with a quirky chain detail at the neck and a blue and white bib shirt with metal stud buttons. As you know I am more often seen in men’s shirts than women’s so I was really hankering after adding one to my collection. For Womenswear Rachel, whose designs can be seen on Lady Gaga in the Bad Romance video, designed a black pleated skirt, mushroom silk vest, burnt orange cap sleeve top, sleeveless cream blouse, structured LBD, black wool culottes and blazer which could be worn as separates or a suit, and a silk shirt dress available in black or mushroom. Her collection was a reinterpretation of the school uniform.
All the pieces were real wardrobe staples but with a contemporary twist. I would have been more than happy to take any piece, or in fact every piece, home and know it would fit in perfectly with my wardrobe. Of course I took my glamourous assistant Rich with me who favoured the blue shirt, whilst I fell for both white shirts and the black wool blazer.
I would highly recommend you stop by and take a look at the collection. The entire project is so inspiring and if I am a little selfish I will admit the thrill of owning just one of a hundred, limited edition designer pieces for high street prices is too good to resist. Rich and I will be going back over the weekend for a closer look.
You can find out more about the collection, view the lookbook and the background of the designers here