Curious Trends


Trends track record

Before I launch into the first Curious Trends post, I'd just like to  briefly mention my track record as a trend spotter, by way of a few examples:

It’s rather an understatement to say I’m an early adopter. I’ve always favoured the edgy and unusual over the conventional – and not just because it’s different. There’s always a reason for my lifestyle, clothing, cultural and creative preferences... Whether it’s a new product at the supermarket, a place to live, a piece of music, a course to study, or a vintage dress, the most important thing is that my gut instinct is attracted to, or interested in the thing at the time, for whatever reason.

In the mid-1990s, many of my friends were totally appalled when I had a Nicky Haslam moment and suddenly changed my dress style virtually overnight. Out were the structured power suits, tight fitting evening gowns and formal were the boho-chic, bias cut, layered petticoat dresses, along with recycled, marabou trimmed cardies and wedged shoes. No more Yves St Laurent, Claude Montana and Isabell Kristensen: now it was Voyage,Christa Davis and Marni. I had spotted a major new trend – and one that’s still lingering on to this day, especially in the eco-friendly/ethical sector.

When I opened my former boutique, Fashion Gallery, in 1997, one of the designers I stocked was Patty Shelabarger. As well as her brightly coloured flippy silk dresses and cashmere knits (a good few years into the trend by then), she designed a range of traditional French style chairs, with curiously colourful paintwork and silk brocade upholstery , possibly inspired by Mendini's late 1970s Proust armchair. (I'm pictured sitting in one above, needing sunglasses due to the garish colours).

In early 1999, The Daily Telegraph devoted a whole page of coverage to the exhibition of Shelabarger chairs in my shop (see left) and ES Magazine featured them as an ‘object of desire’. It was rumoured they were being snapped up by celebrities like Madonna, who also ordered a mini version for her daughter.

A number of years later, I saw some chairs rather like this in the window of the Designers’ Guild shop in Chelsea… but fast forward to Clerkenwell Design Week in 2010, and similar chairs are now being awarded 'iconic design' status. How long before these Postmodernist icons go the way of brown antique furniture I ask myself – surely we're due a style reversal soon?

Another object of desire spotted by ES Magazine, amongst others, in late 1998, was Ann Louise Roswald’s dip-dyed sheepskin trimmed clog. The Yorkshire born designer was then only 24 years old, but had already worked for Marni (at the time often confused with Armani). Roswald explained to journalist Elisa Anniss that “I design clogs because my Swedish father has a clog workshop in Scarborough, and I was brought up making them.” 

I tried to sell the pink, red and plum leather clogs at my store, but was probably just too far ahead of the trend: it never really caught on, until now...

Unfortunately, the designs this year are a little too clever and convoluted for my liking, but at least clog makers somewhere are still managing to eke out a living.

Chanel went for a high heeled version, with Louis Vuitton opting for a decidedly curious kitten heel clog shown here and above... complete with fluffy trim, toggle like thing, strap and buckle - in addition to the label, of course.

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