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I very nearly put this under the Travel category.  Did I ever recall a joke where I said the only time I ever left the M25 was to go abroad?  Hardy-ha… not so funny when you get confused over the geogrpahical location of Cheddard Gorges and Alton Towers. 

I decided in the end not to, because Bicester Village, the location of today's launch of the British Designers Collective pop-up store is only about an hour away from London.  There is really no excuse as to why I have not YET visited Bicester Village, the outlet haven, that as I discovered has everything a fashion bargain hunter would want.  Disneyrollergirl has been extolling its delights and frankly, a proper day out, complete with visits to Blenheim Palace and *fingers crossed* The Fat Duck needs to be organised.  See end note.

So, the order of the day is not to bleet on about discount shopping but to check out this unique collaboration between the British Fashion Council and Bicester Village.  They've basically gathered up a juicy selection of British-based designers to sell in this pop up store which is open now until May 7th, selling mostly past-season stuff, as per the way with outlet stores at prices of up to 50% off.  Not that the words 'past season' will matter to the majority of customers passing through Bicester Village who may not be familiar with the designers in the store and basically are being introduced to their aesthetics… (**EDIT**a reader emailed to say this isn't indicative of all customers at Bicester and that of course, there are people passionate and knowledgeable about fashion there too …. apologies if this may have caused offense… I was sort of paraphrasing what the management at Bicester told me regarding their clientele…!)

Enter the store and out comes the brollies… appropriate for the drizzly weather we're getting… thanks for the wet Easter weekend… really, mucho appreciated…

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First up… lovely lovely Emma Cook.  I know it's boring to describe a designer's clothes as 'lovely' but they really are… the perfect blend of whimsy and practicality…

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Phoar phoar Jean Pierre Braganza with two rails of strong strong tailoring.  My protective leather jacket with the shaggy collar is there… as well as some panelled skirts that are calling out to Queen Michelle… especially stuff hovering around the sub ¬£200 mark. 

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The Felder Felder girls were at the store along with their rail that traversed between tough and pretty all in one go…

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Todd Lynn, an Erin O' Connor fave…

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I quite like the way the ribbon collar connects with the shirt front…

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Pretty pretty Erdem… congrats to him for winning the BFC/Vogue award… a cool ¬£200k in his pocket… I personally was gunning for either Marios Schwab or Christopher Kane but there ya go…

Some really great bargains on the rail including a 100% instantly-recognisable-as-Erdem watercolour skirt…

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I had a good time felling up this printed watercolour rain mac…  it's possibly the prettiest sort of plastic I've ever seen… sadly it was still ¬£700 post discount and also in a size L…

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Hannah Marshall's LBDs should go fast… love the one at the front with the pronounced hippage…

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Graeme Black had the most individual pieces that I wanted, despite being the designer with whom I was least familiar…  feathers, plenty of texture and non-discernable prints on biker jackets… lots of wearable pomp in other words.

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Markus Lupfer had a rail full of really good ¬£100-mark bargains… I especially love the dresses with the hour glass prints…

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Louise Amstrup was also very tempting with these printed pieces…

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House of Holland will get the teen crowd in with plenty of tees from the S/S 08 collection…

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Osman Yousefzada aka the designer I don't mind doing head-to-toe in when I'm an older, wiser me, caught my eye with this tulip skirt with a tightly pleated monochrome panel underneath…

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Shoe offerings were particularly good for bargains especially when it came to Atalanta Weller's shoes for House of Holland as well as Maria Francesca Pepe sculptural velvet boots…

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Georgina Goodman's negative space wedge boots were on offer // Here's someone I don't know a great deal about but I'll investigate because a) her name is Gwendolyn Carrie and b) there are some very dainty flat options on offer…

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Accessories wise, it was a well-selected selection if that makes sense.  As in, there were only two jewellery designers but they did choose well with Fiona Paxton and Maria Francesca Pepe.

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In all honesty, I wasn't expecting such a broad selection and actually there were designers on the original press release that weren't in the store upon arrival (Louise Gray, Mark Fast – perhaps they're coming in later?), but still, the space was definitely bustling with stock and given that Bicester gets a fairly international crowd, it's actually quite a clever move setting up this 'pop-up store' where people can get a taste of what British fashion offers beyond the established Paul Smith, Mulberry, Vivienne Westwood and the like that have stores at Bicester.

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I also grabbed a few words with vice chairman of London Fashion week and spokesperson for British Fashion Council Erin O'Connor.  That she knew what the crap was a blogger was a surprise to me… guess I never thought err… ethereal beings Erin, once described with "she is like theatre!" (said Jean Paul Gaultier)… would be sniffing around the internet.

What are the challenges facing British designers, because whilst initiatives like this are great, there are still problems.
Erin O'Connor: You're right, there are certain challenges and what better way to have understood these challenges than being a model because you can't much closer to a designer than a model. I've been a silent observer over the years and you hold with them that anxiety and joy and feeling of expectation and timing and all of those things that I get to see that some people don't even imagine. 
I think we need to diffuse the reputation between accessible shopping and keeping designers exclusive in boutiques. Everyone has a right to look through incredible one-off pieces that you might not have access to.

Do you think there are designers that still hold this view about exclusivity with their own brand?
Erin O'Connor:
Designers have really embraced this project in this gutsy way because they do face, especially with the economy as it is, a huge challenge with their reputation for galvanising the avant garde and everything that has been drummed into them since college. The importance of being accessible is so timely. The fact that they're showcasing together here altogether is unique in itself and that means that they are embracing it.

Which British designers in particular do you like?
Erin O'Connor:
I have a few but I would never really rock one designer all at once. It's rather over the top to rock an all-in-one look. It's quite nice to mix it up.
I'm really drawn to Hannah Marshall – I love how strict, uncompromising and sexy she is. Todd Lynn – I love to feel feminine. I look and feel more feminine actually in well-cut suits. I'm a big fan of Todd and his structure makes me feel more 'held within it'.

How do you feel about your progression from model to the spokesperson that you have become?
Erin O'Connor:
Traditionally we're known to be very passive and yet it's in two-dimensional form and it's quite ironic that now, the main part of my career is to be vocal and to express an opinion.
I've grown with a lot of British talent and it feels natural that I should be doing this and it makes sense. It all started with my role in the British Fashion Council and really what I love is promoting British Fashion and it's important to not be afraid with what you want to say and have to say and hopefully it will contribute to sustainable change. 

Finally… of course SOMETHING had to come home with me… and it had to be this Emma Cook painter's silk shirt that I plan on wearing with… well… not a lot actually just to let the shape of the shirt fly and breathe…

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… and this House of Holland cropped tee from the S/S 08 collection, which I have just realised has a bit of that Proenza Schouler S/S 10 surfer vibe to it… I also bought these Alexander McQueen footless crochet tights from the McQueen outlet…

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(Worn with Topshop velvet body, Jean Colona leather skirt, Urban Outfitters belt and Michael Angel x Manolo Blahnik ankle boots)

P.S. Related yet unrelated at the same time seeing as this post is about bigging up Brit designers but after a quick walkaround Bicester, I've decided another trip is needed when my next imaginary windfall is coming… not sure when this is given my state of employment but here's hoping because today, I squealed over many things… Versace/Gucci/Dolce/YSL/McQueen/Fendi/Marni/Luella etc etc.  This rather sad that I've not been yet given my track record with discount shopping but fortunately, Bicester should outlive my wait for the windfall…

Comments (27)

  1. Clare says:

    Wow. That place looks a-maz-ing. I want, nay, need to go.
    I also need to find some moolah from somewhere…
    Seeing Steve this weekend when he ventures to Manchester, you should come too!
    tweet tweet tweet
    x

  2. love them umbrellas up on the ceiling…so cool.
    the clothes look incredible, love your outfits, amazing…
    http://misanthropicpulp.blogspot.com/

  3. style paula says:

    That blue top with the leather skirt at the end is very quirky… know what you should buy at
    http://www.theonlinefashionstylist.blogspot.com/
    http://www.theonlinefashionstylist.blogspot.com/

  4. k.m. says:

    oh i havent been to bicester for ages! i’m currently trying to get a friend to come along with me, i dream of some emma cook to wear!

  5. Swooning over the Todd Lyne and Graeme Black, you got some great find there!

  6. melina bee says:

    I love the flats with the metallic toe!
    melina bee

  7. Caitlin says:

    you never DID tell us the story behind those amazing michael angel/manolo blahnik booties!?

  8. I was going to buy those exact McQueen leggings but friends talked me out of them saying they will tear as fast as fishnets, do they? They look amazing on you and now I really want them again!

  9. J says:

    I live about fifteen minutes away from Bicester Village and just a couple of tips:
    * Christmas is far too busy and all the best bargains have gone well before the decorations go up!
    * School holidays bring out lots of public school girls who despite being thirteen, can still kill you when they look you up and down…
    Other than that though, it is a great place to swoon over gorgeous things!

  10. Brigadeiro says:

    Ah! Really really want to go to Bicester Village! Hopefully I get to make my way to London/UK this year…LOVE your Emma Cook shirt and McQueen footless tights, and all the clothes on the racks are calling me…
    xx

  11. bianca says:

    ohhh dear! way to break hearts from the other side of the hemisphere! You are the spokesperson for young british designers – it makes it hard for me to love many aus/nz designers because I’m always lusting after the british greats you’ve introduced me too.
    I would have died shopping there… I’m actually sitting here right now thinking how much better I could dress and how its all a matter of geography!

  12. Winnie says:

    That Erdem mac is gorgeous but I think I love your McQ leggings the best. Love the Emma Cook painter shirt too, those sleeves are incredible.
    I need to make a trip down there but unfortunately…I don’t think I could afford anything even with the discounted prices, ah the woes of a poor student!

  13. Gene Doe says:

    The A.McQueen tassel wedges are a great score
    http://genedoeproject.com/

  14. Kate says:

    Love the watercolours, especially on the raincoat there! Wish it wasn’t so pricey, it rains so much in Austin I could justify getting a nice, slick, plasticky raincoat. ^_^

  15. You are so very lucky, hobnobbing with these giants 🙂

  16. jenna says:

    what an amazing pop up store

  17. susie_bubble says:

    J: Lol…your comment about 13 yr old school girls made me laugh… I’m very scared of teens in Topshop so I’ll be taking your tip about school hols…
    Caitlin: Well, there wasn’t a ‘story’ as such but these shoes were basically the souvenir of my trip to Michael Angel’s studio… posted about here http://stylebubble.co.uk/style_bubble/2010/03/floored-by-the-floors.html

  18. Leonidas says:

    you always manage to put together the most amazing pieces. and i love that shirt with the black ribbon on the collar!
    http://thestyleparticle.blogspot.com

  19. m says:

    Hi. I love the flats and must say that I love the shirt. I have a very similar ‘Lover’ cotton jacket/shirt in exactly the same hue, similar cuffs and sleeves from a few years ago…

  20. YES! The Emma Cook shirt looks super cute on you and I am definitely on board with the “at home in my painter shirt” concept. I have a long long chambray shirt that serves the same purpose.
    It was lovely to see you less briefly than usual x

  21. sisely says:

    OMG look those shoes love all of them. So classic those heels just so unique. I wanna have one pair of them gee.
    xx

  22. pearl says:

    It is a nice and amazing store. I may check it out later. Girl you u lucky

  23. wall art says:

    WHat a brilliant post, thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  24. WHat a brilliant post, thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  25. Brilliant post, so much fashion that reminds me of pop art icon Andy Warhol

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