Part 2: Some Thoughts on the Importance of Branding

Celebrity Designers


Project D, Harvey Nichols

In the middle of the designer clothing area of Harvey Nics there is a rail right in the middle of an empty space, almost as if to put it any closer to the other rails might cause contamination. In fact, I think it is to do with the fact that putting these dresses besides Cavalli, YSL, Gucci, et al would highlight one stark feature. These dresses are not of an equal quality, yet the are of an equal price.
Harvey Nichols womenswear is divided in two sections, on the right are the high end designers such as Alexander McQueen, Matthew Williamson, YSL, Gucci, Cavalli. On the left are the diffusion lines and lower priced designers such as McQ, Alexander Wang, Joseph, DKNY, Halston Heritage. In the void between the two areas stands the Project D rail. Hanging, unsure where it belongs.
The dresses are pretty, some a little tacky in design, but a range of pretty dresses all the same. Worn by a range of minor celebrities (see this flicker stream), though many you may not know, mostly TV hosts and of course Dannii Minogue herself.
If you are unfamiliar with the brand ‘Project D’ here is an excerpt from their ‘about’ page:
“We are so proud and excited to be able to share with you,
Project D by Dannii and Tabitha.
WeÔÇÖve been friends for many years and we always dreamt that one day weÔÇÖd end up working together on our own collection. We each have very different styles but essentially, we look for similar things – beautiful pieces which make you feel feminine but empowered, amazing quality and attention to detail.
We were always swapping stories of our latest finds and forever searching for the next perfect purchase when one day it just clicked…we should create our own wardrobe heaven! Fusing together sophisticated glamour (DanniiÔÇÖs signature) and a rock ÔÇÿnÔÇÖ roll edge (TabithaÔÇÖs touch) we think weÔÇÖve found a perfect balance in our capsule range of dresses.
We believe that there is a perfect piece here for every woman and for any occasion. We just canÔÇÖt wait to see you wearing it!”

The dress on the far left of the photos is called ‘Cracker’ it is 100% silk chiffon and retails at ┬ú286. On inspection however the beaded waist band was coming unstiched with areas of missing beads, the tag may have read silk but it was silk so rough you could have exfoliated with it. You can buy similar style dresses to this range at Monsoon for example, with a 1/3 of the price tag. So I have to question why is such a range for sale at Harvey Nichols and why is it commanding triple figure price tags. The answer, simply is branding.

Before I begin I should explain I actually like Dannii Minogue, whilst a design might not be to my personal taste I can appreciate it for what it is, I believe in paying for quality. I have a problem with over charging for poor quality, and paying only for a name tag.

Other brands in the ┬ú300 price range include Halston Heritage and Vivienne Westwood Anglomania, both you can see exactly what you are paying for from unique design to attention to detail. I am sure you could buy a dress from either one and still be wearing it ten years down the line. Could I say the same for Project D? I doubt it, every dress on the rail was scarred in some way – if it cannot withstand the shop floor, I wouldn’t like to bet on it withstanding much wear.

I am not beating up on all celebrity designers, in fact I would be the first to jump up and wax lyrical about Victoria Beckham – if you have not seen one of her dresses in the flesh I urge you to do so, I cannot even begin to explain the attention to detail. I see why she had to go for such a insane price range, to secure herself far away from the other celeb-designers. I am also a fan of Elizabeth and James, the well made and classically designed collection from Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen.

Danni wearing Project D


At least Danni Minogue champions her own range, she is 100% behind it, photographed in every single design, which I have to salute – there are many who are not. Have you ever seen Micha Barton with one of her own ‘Micha Barton’ handbags? Many celeb-designer ranges are closing, J-Lo’s Sweetface line recently folded, as did Mandy Moore’s Mblem ( I know, I never knew it existed either). But when one goes there is always another to takes it’s place.

Kate Moss in Kate Moss for Topshop

In the UK we have had Madonna designing a collection for H&M and Lily Allen for New Look. Most famously was the Kate Moss for Topshop collaboration. Even though it wasn’t for me I can see the allure, you might not be Kate Moss but if you can own her dress maybe you can almost, just almost get a touch of her life. At least these collections were on the same price point as the stores, fast fashion for a quick branding fad. Perhaps the natural next step from celebrity endorsements who already use their own personal brand to promote everything from make-up to cars.

This might all sound a bit tacky and desperate, but there are of course some exceptionally high class celebrity related collaborations. Some I am sure most of us can only approve, those by Hermes.
Grace Kelly with her Hermes ‘Kelly bag; Jane Birkin with her Hermes ‘Birkin’ bag

How can anyone not look fondly at an Hermes bag? Especially with such charming stories behind their celebrity names bags. The ‘Kelly’ bag, renamed after Grace Kelly was seen on the cover of Life magazine using the bag to conceal her pregnancy. The ‘Birkin’ was born after a conversation on a plane between Jane Birkin and Jean-Louis Dumas – the Hermes president. When Dumas asked Birkin if he could designer her a more practical bag than the over stuffed one she was carrying.
So there you have some more of my thoughts brought about by a few photos snapped on my phone, how about sharing some of yours?
Please feel free to agree / disagree, tell us if you ever bought a celeb-designer item and what you think of it?
Pearl
P.S You can read Part 1 here
If you have a couple of spare minute you can still vote DETAILS HERE for me until midnight, all your vote are much appreciated and thank you so much to those of you who already have!

Manifesto

(Wearing: Vivienne Westwood)

I really love wearing head to toe Vivienne Westwood, unlike many designer her clothes are so easy to wear in your own way without looking like a catwalk clone. This is something I wore out to dinner last week, the shoes are relatively new but the rest I have had for years and yet have never worn them in this way. Another thing I adore about Westwood is the many ways you can wear her designs.

I often wear this AR pin, in support of Vivienne’s manifesto here are some of her words:

Westwood defines Propaganda using Aldous HuxleyÔÇÖs words as ÔÇÿNationalistic Idolatry, Non-Stop Distraction and Organised Lying.ÔÇÖ She urges us to escape these, particularly Non-Stop Distraction, go in search of art and become artistic freedom fighters. This involves making the choice to become more cultured, thus more human, and to understand the world. Our route should be to actively engage with art and use our ethical imagination to be objective and see things as they really are; in the process acquiring knowledge. This knowledge in turn will make us act differently and become better citizens of the world.

ÔÇ£Every time I read a book instead of looking at a magazine, go to the art gallery instead of watching TV, go to the theatre instead of the cinema, I fight for the active resistance to propaganda.ÔÇØ We urge you to join the debate, not forgetting you get out what you put in.
Vivienne Westwood
I inhale knowledge and like nothing more than learning something new. Well said Queen Viv,
Pearl

Shoe Saturday: Atelier Voisin

There is no greater pleasure than discovering a new shoe designer. Especially when you discover a designer who has such a wonderful story as Atelier Voisin. In their own words Atelier Voisin is a family affair, it all started generations ago in 1880 when the Mimounis family were skilled mens shoe makers. In 1962 Le Maison Voisin was opened by Elli Mimounis, however it was in 1982 that Eric Mimounis aged 18 decided to create a womenswear collection. Eric worked hard to perfect his craft, seeking out the very best designers and cobblers in Paris. Today the company carries on the tradition of making fine shoes, no compromise is made on the materials or design, they make genuinely beautiful shoes which are made to last.


The brand caught my eye when I saw these velvety soft blue nubuck Vel Blue boots, with the
cuban heel and low ankle cut I just think they would be perfect with everything this spring.

I was also caught up with these perfect chestnut Dottie Chelsey boots. Whilst they work with the androgynous trend I actually think this style of boot can look very feminine, striking with summer dresses and socks of course.

If you like the Chelsy boot look but are a heel lover then these Trac boots should appeal, a cross between a Chelsey and a Brogue I think these would look sharp worn with a work suit, fresh with a checked trouser and edgy with dresses.

All this style and with the added knowledge that you are buying an exceptionally high quality shoe, sounds wonderful to me.
Pearl

Atelier Voisin shoes are available at Spartoo

Vote For Me!

Voting for the winning items on the Shopping Forecast ends on Monday and my two items below are in the running to win, I would really appreciate it if anyone could spare a minute to vote. All you have to do is click the pictures below and vote 10/10, you can vote anonymously just clicking a few details from drop down boxes or sign up to vote – all members can enter to win the items they like best! A million thanks, in advance,

Pearl xx

Oh and if you should happen to want a Vivienne Westwood bag like this check out Sister Wolf’s Blog

Oh and should you be really in a voting kinda mood you can vote for my Wendy B impersonation over on her blog, there’s no prize again just my sheer competitiveness!!

The Same But Eclipsed: Vivienne Westwood Hussar Jacket

There are sometimes in life when simple, chic, elegant, paired down will not do, not at all. Times when only the inclusion of something so impossibly beautiful, so intricate, so well, so not like anyone else would ever choose.

I saw this jacket in Vivienne Westwood, one of the last few pieces on the sale rail. Admired it and carried on. Went to Selfridges and bought a beautiful soft wool black boxy Paul Smith jacket, that was a little too big but I figured I could have it altered. Went out, partied… woke up the next day bolted out the door, returned the Paul-Smith-jacket-that-was-classic-but-two-sizes-too-big and went back to VW to buy this jacket.


(Wearing: Vivienne Westwood jacket, Coz t-shirt, Topshop jeans, Christian Louboutin shoes)


The title of the post was originally meant to refer to the fact the jacket eclipses the black basic jeans and t-shirt more so that the other jackets I have been posting, however my jacket is also slightly eclipsed by my bestie who also bought one in a different colour way. I guess this is also telling in the fact as to why we are friends, I don’t imagine many people would wear a bonkers jacket like this, the fact you now may well find two in the same room says a lot! We might choose to roam the street looking like to intergalactic super heroes, because there will be bitch fights over who is wearing it.

Anyway you know I can’t resist a bit of design background!

Vivienne Westwood designed her A/W11 collection around a fairytale theme, entitled Prince Charming. “The traditional folklore fairy tale is very important for children as there is deep psychology in it. Fairy tales are about dealing with danger, injustice and terrible morality. They help children to become independent and mature by facing up to all kinds of things on an imaginative level. The great thing is the hero always wins in the end, even when he is a simpleton or an un-empowered person.” Vivienne Westwood

The Prince Charming is often seen in military uniform in many illustrations and pantomimes, perhaps to re-enforce the ‘hero’ role.

Historically a Hussar jacket is a type of military blazer with frogging details, worn by light horseman. The term Hussar originates from the Serbian xycap, meaning pirate – again synonymous with Westwood.

Historical Example Hussar uniform of Nicholas I c.1840 wool, gold thread, sable
I think the way Westwood used the draped gold thread to emulate the frogging is particularly ingenious.
Pearl

Bilson’s Boots

Besides being impossibly cute, there is one other thing I always notice about Rachel Bilson, her boot collection!

Spartoo stock a great range of boots in a similar style to Rachel.


Here she does grunge-chic to perfection, with a belted pair of flat boots. Ash do a similar pair called REM.


I think cut-out boots are perfect for summer, or evening, giving the same look as a boot but with a more dressy edge. I love the cowboy boot feel of these Santa Fe boots and this black leather Opium boots is going to look great with jeans or that LBD.


Everyone needs a perfect black boot, with a small heel, so it can be worn all day long. Rachel looks great wearing hers with denim cut-offs but this style boot, like these Ash Jeffwill look just as good with jeans, black trousers or dresses, a great work to play option.
Hmm Rachel, what size do you take? You know if you get bored of any, you could send them my way!
Because I enjoyed writing this post in association with Spartoo, plus some others you are yet to see, exploring things such as celeb style and new brands – all to do with shoes of course -I have decided to introduce Shoe Saturday where I will dedicate a post to, you guessed it, shoes!
Pearl

I’m in Grazia!!

Just flipping through my weekly Grazia, I was delighted to find my comment was published on this weeks Style Hunter!
If you don’t have the mag here is part of the feature:

Look closely and youÔÇÖll see that clever Reesi Kallas, 20, has clashed together all sorts of textures for her black ensemble. Which makes such a dark look really zing ÔÇô her striped leather and snakeskin skirt from COS looks great against super-matt tights and a woollen cropped jacket (also COS). It makes her grey knit really and long blonde locks really stand out. And the shiny finish on her boots tops the texture-mash-up off nicely! But what do you like about her outfit?

Wearing head to toe black is always chic, yet the twist is in the flat boots making it practical – but I bet she has a pair of Louboutins in that huge bag!
PearlWestwood

Part 1: Some Thoughts on the Importance of Branding

There is a large mall in Manchester called the Trafford Centre (because it is in Trafford), I hate the place. It doesn’t really have any shops that Manchester centre doesn’t, none that I want to go into, but the Selfridges does hold some different lines such as Louboutin shoes and the French brands Sandro and Maje. On a rare occasion (I was tricked into it) I had to go to the second hell that is the Trafford Centre (think crowds, pushing, shoving, screaming children) and my friend Aimee insisted I needed to leave the sanctity of Selfridges and see the ‘dark shop’. No matter how many times she explained it to me I couldn’t picture what she meant:

From the outside we see the shop, a long queue formed outside, hmm looks to me like an Abercrombie & Fitch (on closer inspection we see it is Hollister by A&F).


Lots of hip kids, and kids dragging around their parents are in the line, all looking very excited. Being British I decide to joint the queue to see whats going on.


Trying to take a sneaky peek inside, so ok you can’t see much of what is inside, but it must be good if their is a queue right!!

Hmm well I actually couldn’t tell you if anything was any good because I couldn’t see a thing:
This is not bad photography, but exactly what it was like inside

Random spot lights were used here and there

But not here

It was also deafening with loud music, we kind of stumbled around a bit until we fell, blinking, out of the exit. Aimee: ‘What did you think’ Me: ‘I need to think about that in my head for a bit’.

Whilst doing my thinking we went to grab a Coke, but the Coke machine was in darkness too, was this another attempt at being edgy or was it just broken, argh the confusion!?!?!!

…….

Anyway after thinking about the strange Hollister experience I figured it was for cool kids who like to surf and stuff. Likely more of the ‘stuff’ as Manchester does not have a beach. We concluded it was the kind of shop that teenagers went to, and if you didn’t wear a Hollister t-shirt on non-uniform day at school you would be bullied. Hollister is cool, so must be worn (when I was at school it was a selection of Nike and Adidas, Aimee in NZ had Rip Curl and other surf brands).

Wanting to know a bit more about this aberration of false cool I checked out their website, again confused as to whether I was a ‘Betty’ or not? I didn’t find out much about the company other than I could purchase some VERY small clothes should I want to. They don’t have any company policy so Wikipedia had to come up with the goods.

“Hollister – American lifestyle brand by Abercrombie & Fitch Co. The concept was originally designed to attract consumers aged 14-18 through its SoCal -inspired image and casual wear” Ah ok I am too old but I get the focus group.
But then it got really interesting:
“All of Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s spin-off brands have an elaborate pseudo-history to give meaning and feeling to the brand image of the Hollister concept.” Right so lies then?

“Hollister Co.’s story begins with the fictional character named John M. Hollister. An adventurous youth, he spent his youth practicing sports in the waters of Maine. He graduated from Yale University in 1915 at the age of 21. Not wanting the high-life his father established for him in Manhattan, the young man boarded a succession of steamboats, finally arriving in the Dutch East Indies by 1917. There, he bought a rubber plantation from the fictitious Gregory Van Gilder, and soon came to know and love Gilder’s daughter, Meta. Afterwards, Hollister sold the land, and with half of the money purchased a 50-foot (15 m) schooner on which he and Meta spent two years sailing the South Pacific Ocean treasuring the diverse cultures. John and Meta harboured in Los Angeles in 1919, and married in the late fall. John M. Hollister, Jr. was born in 1920, and after “discovering California and himself” with his love for the South Pacific in mind John Sr. established Hollister Co. in 1922 in Laguna Beach. The company became purveyors of South Pacific treasures (hand-crafted furniture, jewelry, linens, and artifacts from all the islands). The company changed after John Jr. took over the business in 1957, bringing into the inventory surf apparel and equipment. Only in fantasy is the company said to be still managed by the Hollisters. Abercrombie & Fitch calls the story “a story of passion, youth and love of the sea [carrying] the harmony of romance, beauty, adventure.”
“The story is not made publicly available but it helps tie in many elements of the brand with what was, in reality, conceived by Abercrombie & Fitch in the 21st century. The Hollister Co. brand is marketed as being established in 1922, and the date is found the labels and designs of the merchandise. The store is designed to simulate the feeling of being in a surf shop. Furthermore, the story of the character John Jr. being a renowned surfer is on the back of Jake cologne packaging.”
“Goods are given names from SoCal beaches. The labels proclaim Hollister Co. as “pacific merchants” established in 1922. A&F Corporate keeps HCO price points affordable to its targeted high school consumers. HCo price points are about 20% lower than its parent Abercrombie & Fitch. To maintain the SoCal theme, stores and merchandise are categorized within the divisions named “Dudes” (men) and “Bettys” (women).” Oh now I get it.

“Hollister California pursues the technique of “walking self-marketing”, where in wearing an item of clothing from HCO results in direct advertising. This is notably achieved through the large embroidery or screenprint of the brand’s name, initials, fictional date of establishment and the flying seagull logo on the vast majority of their merchandise. The HCO-labeled shopping bag carried out of the store produces a similar effect. As a result, the company has not relied on media marketing to communicate its desired look and appeal. The brand’s marketing images are sepia toned and modified in order to look somewhat faded; this is reminiscent of the grayscale marketing images used by the Abercrombie & Fitch brand. The sepia toned images provide HCO’s campaigns with a vintage feel that is adequate to their fictional date of establishment, and the lifestyle promoted by the brand.”

I hold my hands up that this is a marketing phenomenon, its is very clever making the brand billions. You see the beautiful shop assistants looking very hip, beachy-cool, make the store edgy and unusual, create demand with queue’s = high sales amongst young teens. But isn’t it awful? The fakeness about it, that they had to create this false history and that they brand the clothes with the 1922 date. Why? Why not brand it with the true year of establishment ‘2000’?
Then I read on:
“The Hollister Co. brand together with its parent company Abercrombie & Fitch brand is being criticized in the UK because the merchandise that is offered to the UK customers cost double the prices (or even a direct $/┬ú swap) found in the United States and that goods offered in the UK are from past US seasons at full UK (┬ú) prices without past season – clearance discount.”

That says it all to me, again it is a great way to make money hawking past season as double the price, but really not the kind of company I would ever want to be associated with. There will be no ‘walking self-marketing’ from me!
What do you all feel about this?
I feel it is patronising, that we a brand to have been established to hold any weight.
I feel it is false, and that I would rather by from a brand with honest roots.
Does all this even matter, if you like the produce?
Pearl

Roger Vivier – Belle de Nuit


I have a new obsession, have you seen these Belle de Nuit shoes from Roger Vivier!!!
Roger Vivier, the inventor or the stiletto heel – oh yes in 1954 he was the first to use a thin rod of steel to create what we now know as the stiletto. High heel were around in the 19th century, but not as the true stiletto, named after the Italian knife with a long slim blade. He worked with many famous designers such as Dior, Schiaparelli and Yves St Laurent. Vivier was also the first designer to use clear plastic for shoes as early as the 1940’s and popularised thigh-high boots in the 1960’s – a style that had previously been deemed too risque.
The label is now designed by Bruno Frisoni, who is keeping the house under good order, creating the Belle de Nuit’s platformed sister the Limelight.
Anyway what more can I say that feast your eyes on these beauties!


My girl-crush Vika looking stylish in a pair (Altamirnyc.blogspot.com)


They come in many different colours but I love the printed ones best.


Anyone else hooked?
Pearl

The Same But Different

(Wearing: vintage jacket, Cos t-shirt, Topshop jeans, Christian Louboutin shoes)
Maybe its because I like wearing mostly black at the moment, maybe because I am lazy, either way I am wearing the same here as I wore in the last outfit post – did you notice? That’s the beauty of accessories. I thought I would go with a theme and show you another vintage jacket, this one has sequins and beading. Black beads always remind me of jet and its use in mourning jewellery, not that there is anything morbid about this jacket. The zig-zag black beads are mixed in with shimmering peacock blue sequins in flowers around the edges. I would usually wear this with my stack of silver rings and black nail varnish. I broke the black up with tan Louboutins and since I was wearing jeans ditched the handbag and stuffed my pockets.

There are a few patches of missing beads, not that you would notice, I sometimes get the urge to sew some random unmatching beads in their place, but have resisted so far. Maybe I could sew my own jacket!

I have to add these shoes are incredibly comfortable, they seem to be the perfect shape for my foot, and I am obsessed with the spindly heel.


Any one ever had a go at beading?

Also I have noticed on a few vintage items that lovely silk jackets can be lined with polyester, I guess to save on cost and extend durability, but is it just me or does that seem odd?
Pearl


Don’t forget you can still SHOP MY WARDROBE!