“Oh my god, is that Shrimps!?” shrieked about a dozen editors and buyers when they saw me coming towards them in a blur of orange and pink furriness. I wasn’t the only one taking to Sesame Street type coloured furs to combat the brutal weather in New York but this jacket from Shrimps’ first collection, had a life of its own. Shrimps is officially blowing up. And it all sounds like a happy accident as, 23-year old Hannah Weiland, was interning at Bella Freud and happed upon a faux fur collar on a coat that her friend, a childrens wear designer had done. That evolved into a teensy tiny collection of faux fur jackets and clutches, housed under a catchy label called Shrimps (Weiland’s nickname as a child). One of the coats was subsequently snapped on her friend Laura Bailey, and so the buyers came a-calling (Opening Ceremony and Avenue 32 are stockists and Net-a-Porter are getting some exclusive styles for spring – as we know, loopy weather can happen all year round so faux fur dropping in May isn’t as ludicrous as it sounds). Hence why people were shrieking, touching and swooning in New York. I was just the willing vehicle for the coat.
Back to London, bleary-eyed and slightly sick from a bumpy flight (no complaints – I wasn’t part of the crew who got marooned in Newcastle or Dublin), Shrimps was the first port of call to get me back to my happy place. I finally met Weiland and gave her a well-deserved hug for creating this tactile creature that is really based on a simple concept – great faux fur coats that don’t break the bank (in comparison to the real shebang). Her AW 14 collection was on the rails, expanding her repertoire to include wool bikers with fur collars and a collarless coat style. They’ve been given pet-derived names such as Dulcie, Mabel and Pluto, just in case you find yourself being petted and stroked, like I did (yes, that sounds wrong). They also come with a daisy-strewn lining, illustrated by Weiland, which is a lovely touch. Weiland’s British childhood memories and the pop art collages of Eduardo Paolozzi inspire the collection’s colours. Popeye’s sailor collar and memories of school scarves inspire the accessories and Shrimps gets a furry mascot called Lenny the Lion. An animal-friendly alternative to the Fendi Bag Bug? You betcha.
Whilst Shrimps’ clothing and accessories offering is compact, the Shrimps world is all-encompassing and Weiland takes us into that kitsch-filled universe with a brilliant short film, directed by her brother Max and Oliver Hadlee Pearch. It features model Adwoa Aboah, the film maker’s mother Janet Pearch and Laura Bailey in a surreal set-built caravan – boiling langoustines, watching cartoons, stabbing away at gherkins – a hilarious and charming expression of all things Shrimps. Watch and learn, ye bore-off fashion films with wafting models and dull meandering.
From Soho to Shoreditch, I entered a different realm of my happy place. As you might know, I heart Phiney Pet. I have hearted her since I saw her graduate collection from Ravensbourne last year at Graduate Fashion Week. We went on the awesome all-girl YouTube talk show Fox Problem together as guests and undoubtedly, Phiney stole the show with her style and everyone marvelling at her hand painted jackets and eye-popping illustrations. She was working for Topshop designing prints but has decided to go it alone after being pleasantly surprised at the reaction to her graduate collection. Her A/W 14 collection is no less imaginative. Overhearing conversations in South East London, she creates a complete wardrobe for her Deptford Wives. “Boring” declares a green suede jacket. “Housework Sucks!” cries a printed shirt. A tiara-adorned prom queen picture is blown up on a t-shirt and obedient secretarial telephone answering is referenced with a photo print. Yeah sure, some people might read some Meadham Kirchhoff-tones. To me, it’s more scribbly and skews towards street wear, making it ever so slightly aimed at the young (well, except I’m now 30 and loves it). It is an overtly feminine expression, not because it’s super super girly but because it expresses a “Grrrrrl” reaction to the idea of a stay-at-home housewife. I’ve been bigging up a lot of femmes in fashion recently, with their idiosyncratic aesthetics. That’s got to be a good thing.