Fashion Rambler calls Jeff Banks

This time last week I was off to London Fashion Week for my first time at the capital’s fashion catwalks. (see my LFW diary here)
En route, I was still playing journo. I had a slot to phone the one and only Jeff Banks for an interview. A phone call that would continually be cut off because of tunnels but one that unearthed some surprising results.
Allow me to elaborate.

Fashion Rambler: What are you doing in Manchester?

Jeff Banks: I’m at the People’s Catwalk at Manchester Trafford Centre and launching the new Debenhams refit.
fR: You’ve always been a keen supporter of young British design talent, setting up and sitting on the board of Graduate Fashion Week. Where do you stand on idea that today’s bloggers are tomorrow’s journalists and fashion forecasters?
I got cut off. Ring back, repeat.
JB: Actually, I think bloggers have become too egotistical and are not journalistic at all. Bloggers are not affecting trends or new design, it all tends to be very personal. If you ask me will blogs take over, I’d say no.


fR: I was not expecting that, but I do see where you’re coming from.
JB: What?
fR: Never mind, How do you envisage the future for small independent stores with big shopping centres like Manchester Trafford Centre opening and demanding too-high rents?
JB: I think it is actually a big opportunity. Big centres open up and give young designers the opportunity to get cheap rents in town. If they’ve got good product, there will be a resurgence.
Got cut off. Text PR with next question.
fR: What are your thoughts on the BIBA reincarnation? (a contemporary of Banks)
JB: If anyone should reincarnate BIBA is should have been Barbara Hulanicki.

Amanda Wakeley S/S’11 Manchester Preview

The Royal Exchange Theatre held a fund-raising dinner at The Midland Hotel in Manchester. Guess who the special guest was… Amanda Wakeley.

Wakeley is a long time supporter of the Arts, “we’re both in the Arts, Theatre and Fashion.” she told the bronzed crowd, and was born in Cheshire – so she’s practically Mancunian!

Amanda Wakeley (centre) and two models in her latest collection

Wakeley’s S/S’11 collection has not been seen outside London and choosing Manchester as the first non-capital to UK city to see the designs said something about the fashion kudos in the North West.

Wakeley’s designs were brought forward on BOSS Models (Manchester) models and some rookies. Wakeley told me in the Champagne reception that “some have never [modeled] before and some are old hats at it and will be showing the other ones the ropes”, she looked nervous which was surprising since the Designer and sole Brand owner has had London Fashion Week eating out of her palm for the past two seasons. 

There was a smattering of celeb, Shobna from Corrie (whose name I totally forgot but was kindly corrected via Twitter by BlackWhiteDenim), someone from Emmerdale, someone from Brookside, Peter Kay’s mate and Ted Robins. Bonus.

Emma from The Fashion Network and Me.
Emma went for 80s glam in an LBD and I opted for Colour Blocking Black Tie.
Suit and shoes, Topman Ltd
Shirt, T.M.Lewin
Cufflinks, Tiffany’s
Bow Tie and Cummerbund, Debenhams

Easily the hottest couple in the room.
Lynda, Health & Beauty Editor for Manchester, London, Leeds and Liverpool Confidential and her other half, Chris.

Jewelery was statement, including one necklace piece that consisted of one gold plate above the breast that caught the light and stunned the room.

Hair by Andrew Collinge…

Pleats were a plenty with mainly earthy and soft plum hues. Coral and Electric Blue came out on top at the end and gave a signature to the mass of the colours already filtering onto the high street.
Oh, it was nice to chat girl-clothes for once.

Oh and the raffle alone raised £15,000 with £4,000 coming from Wakeley’s bespoke gown gift and shopping experience.

See the collection here.


General Store Brand of Manchester winner Mononoko: a ramble about a party.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a rather lovely do at The General Store on Deansgate in Manchester the other night. The night was another of the store’s Brands of Manchester launches which, after a competition to find a winner, welcomes a new designer into the premium indie store for a three month stint. Last season’s winner was Pretty Disturbia women’s wear and for the next three months Mononoko Couture has taken the coveted position on the second floor of the Barton Arcade store.

Model One, Two, Christina from General Store, Mary, Model Three and Four all in Mononoko.

The lovely ladies from Urban Decay in Manchester Debenhams were on hand to do up models with their Deluxe Pallet of bold and bright shades and to assist guests on everything from false lash application to lip gloss dilemmas. Urban Decay in Manchester Debenhams offer master classes on a regular basis and can offer full make-overs from £20.00 redeemable against products. Contact Anna and the ladies on their Facebook page here or search Manchester Debenhams Urban Decay.

Louise and Anna from Urban Decay, Manchester Debenhams

Whilst circulating the room and networking rather shamelessly I managed to grab Mary, the designer behind Mononoko, for a quick word about her new collection, exclusive to General Store.

Mary O of Mononoko and myself, looking rather dazed.

Mary told me that she found out she had won the competition only three weeks before launching in General Store and at that point had no collection to sell, ‘I had what the girls are wearing … and other bits and bobs basically’. Mary went on to talk about her capsule collection, saying of the pallet: ‘my autumn winter collection was black, white and red, so I’m moving on from that but throwing in splashes of colour.’ As Mary adds to the small capsule collection we can expect an infusion of the ethnic, ‘for my spring summer eleven collection I’ve been taking on a lot of Moroccan and North African influences’. When asked if this influence was the origin of the infamous Mononoko earrings Mary said ‘No… I don’t know where they came from, they’re just random!’

Good luck to Mary and Mononoko, I’ll be in again soon to see the latest editions!

Photos provided by Anna J Westerman