Friday, 11 January 2008

Designer insight

Ah yes the heralded "topical discussion" took place at the Design Museum last night.

My expectations were zero - I was attending to get myself out of the house (away from bread making - more of this another time) and dress up.

A trouble free journey into Tower Hill tube, a pleasant saunter over Tower Bridge and along Butler's Wharf were a further plus. I dutifully lined up with gathered attendees as a 'billy no mates' and then we entered the Design Studio where said fashion industry talk was being held. As I walked in I beheld a vision in white (Anna Garner - head of fashion at Selfridges), a mane of hair (Alexandra Shulman - Editor of British Vogue) and a gleaming tanned feature (Joseph Velosa CEO of Matthew Williamson).

I sat down and waited. A lovely faux but better vision of Agyness Deyn sat next to me and across the small gap we were shortly joined by a man and his companion. I looked down at the Johnny Depp pirate boots and saw the glass of red wine in hand and realised it was Matthew Williamson himself.

I was of course sans vino of any description as not a VIP. It was all I could do to stop my hand grabbing my phone and taking a photo - in the interest of blogging of course. Happily I sat demurely and restrained.

The talk kicked off with an eloquent intro from Joseph - who remained so, for the duration of said talk. He was an immensely interesting and clever man. Clearly a marriage of creativity and business acumen enabling the 10 Years of Matthew Williamson that is being celebrated at the Design Museum.

Anyway back to the talk. The format undertaken entailed two design students posing the initial q's for the panel of Anna, Alexandra and Joseph to answer. What struck my immediately were that both the female and male student were not British. Their names seemed Scandinavian or Northern European and their accents were heavily pronounced. The questions were contrived, predictable and at times quasi design student intellectual. Matthew and his bon ami were very naughty and kept pulling faces and sniggering at times. I had to stop myself from shouting out 'this is London calling can we please have the results of the Helsinki jury'. Whilst the panel conducted themselves very professionally. I didn't gain much additional insight into the fashion industry although I did note how stick thin Matthew's legs were.

Joseph Velsoa struck me as the person you'd want to manage your business and your budget. Unhappily I couldn't ask him for any make do top tips or discuss balancing the budget, nor Matthew style advice, although he excuded individuality and creativity.
Given my close proximity to Mr Williamson I refrained from asking a question when Norway and Germany had given up and the opportunity was opened to the floor. I have no ides what q's were asked as they were duller than the ones by the students. From the talk itself, I can tell you that a notable Italian Fashion house didn't advertise with Vogue for a year as they got huffy about lack of editorial coverage - my guess is it was Dolce & Gabbana. Based on a flick through past Vogue issues. All's well that ends well, they are back as advertisers see February's issue!

Another irrelevant fact is that Paul Smith generates the least column inches as a designer/fashion house but achieves one of the highest sales as a fashion retailer. It was a whole hype versus reality debate - serious student issue along with the cut of the fabric recognition matter. It's all about drapery.

In short I had an agreeable little sojourn. I duly thanked the panel on my way out, being polite and all that but spoilt the demure, elegant exit by tripping over the taped floor lead. Durr, no excuse in flat boots! Mind you it wasn't as good as MW's companion scuttling behind the maestro as he made a sharp exit right away from the hoi poloi.

Don't ya just love a man who wears a black very fluffy fake fur jacket.

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