British shop that aims to put young designers on top

British shop that aims to put young designers on top
Deirdre McQuillan, Fashion Editor, in London

Irish Times
Feb 16, 2005

LONDON FASHION WEEK: Yesterday morning, in the august surroundings
of the Royal Academy in Mayfair, three new young generation British
designers sponsored by Top Shop got the chance to present catwalk
shows and their professional mettle to press and buyers.

The three, Gardem Demerdjian, a Lebanese Armenian from Beirut,
Ebru Ercon, a British-born designer of Turkish descent, and Swash,
two graduates of Central St Martin’s, produced widely differing
collections for winter 2005. Each had its strengths and surprises,
but Gardem was outstanding.

His clothes, hand-dyed in earthy colours, harked back to the l8th
century, but in a modern way. Highwayman coats flared over ballerina
layers of thin and delicate tulles, nets, silks and chiffons.

Imagine Marie Antoinette in a firmly fitted black jacket, raggy skirts
and long, loose hair. Chocolate leather jodhpurs and a tight, toreador
jacket was another typical combination and accessories like crystal
studded headphones, silver jewelled belts and mitts added witty,
decorative touches.

Swash was more tricksy and playful, using marine rope to loop elements
of a skirt together or to lace up a grey wool jacket.

Leg o’mutton trousers are not the most flattering clothing items and
the Long John Silver look appeared self consciously laboured. Outsize
bucket pockets, cropped academic gowns and a pink cable-knit coat
with gold lame trousers did little to excite the imagination either.

Ebru Ercom used robust materials like army blankets, rough hemp and
denim to fashion some artful combinations that often worked in a
folksy way like a black, empire-line pleated dress with a cutaway
white blanket bolero and white beads.

Top Shop is currently the single biggest patron of young British
designers, with an annual spend of around GBP1 million on practical,
behind-the-scenes support.

“Everybody who is successful in the industry should give something
back,” their marketing manager, Jo Farrelly, told The Irish Times
yesterday. “We would rather spend money on nurturing young talent
than on advertising.”

Valuable endorsement for Top Shop’s own design label “Unique” came
this week from the uber chic boutique, Corso Como in Italy, which is
to Milan what Colette is to Paris. It ordered the complete collection
from the British high-street chain.

Fashion retailing may be changing fast at the moment, but British
designers continue to raid the past. Jessica Ogden’s jaunty collection
of Madras cotton checks and ginghams evoked the 50s and featured
kimono tops, denim dungarees and big patchwork skirts with a certain
Gallic twist. Handiwork like embroidery and quilting mark her style,
and swing jackets added to the jaunty air of the whole collection
notable for fuller sleeves, fuller skirts and child-like smock tops.

Betty Jackson had a reflective moment, too, with a collection, as
polished as ever, that harked back to the 70s and hippy chic with
sequined dresses, embroidered Afghan coats and cowboy boots.

But whether it was a neat cigar leather belted coat over narrow
trousers or a flared check jacket over a full skirt, her sense of
colour and proportion was as sharp and as chic as ever.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress