Last September was an odd season for the house of Nicole Farhi – Joanna Sykes had not yet started in her role as creative director and so what we saw on the catwalk was essentially the end of the “then” line. But now Sykes is all installed and been busy for the last six months getting everything shipshape. She’s the first to admit it’s just the beginning, but then you have to start somewhere.
“It’s really about getting the foundations in place, the manufacturing. When the label started, there weren’t the likes of Cos or Zara around, so now to stand apart you need to get that quality and fabrication right first,” explained Sykes matter-of-factly, adding that she’s barely had time to consider being daunted at heading up such a renowned label over the past six months. Instead, she’s been busy going back to the brand’s roots and making sure it does stand apart from what else is in the market.
“The idea of the collection isn’t particularly thematic, but we’ve been unpicking the DNA. It’s a personality. I remember having lunch with Nicole and asking her why she started the brand. She creates things that aren’t fashion first, the consumer needs a level of individualism,” recalled Sykes. “It’s quite a niche brand really.”
The idea this season is very much along the lines of: You know all of those items you want to steal from your boyfriend’s wardrobe? Well why when you can have your own? Courtesy of Nicole Farhi – for this is the menswear aesthetic just for women: androgynous, tailored, layered and tonal in greys and cream, biscuit, navy and black collaged together through thick cosy knits, fur-panelled coats, cummerbunds reinvented as peplums and skirts very neatly patched together.
These are the sorts of clothes appreciated best close up – and so today’s presentation format over a show worked best.
“It’s not fashion fashion. It’s smart in a relaxed way. Let’s loosen up,” summed up Sykes. “It’ll take a few seasons to get the handwriting.” But then that’s the just the right train of thought for a brand like Nicole Farhi: pragmatism. It suits the clothes and it suits the customer. And it looks like the right team leader is currently in place.
St Albans favourites deny rumours of new High Street in the sky
Late on Tuesday night, three high profile businesses in St Albans were forced to release statements denying involvement in the launch of a Super High Street above St Albans.
Three of the so called St Albans ‘Big Six’ – Chloe James Lifestyle, Must Wine Bar and Mad Squirrel – have all put out statements denying rumours they plan to create a new St Albans High. The remaining three are expected to make statements in the next 24 hours.
The announcement of a new St Albans High Street has caused enormous uproar across Hertfordshire and beyond, with near universal disbelief from shoppers, local residents and politicians – including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Unconfirmed plans suggest a monorail system will be constructed to take shoppers from the iconic clock tower to the yet-to-be confirmed new St Albans High Street somewhere above St Albans Cathedral.
Donna Nichol, owner of the popular independent fashion store Chloe James Lifestyle has issued a statement.
“I have absolutely no idea where this has come from and ironically, I cannot see it getting off the ground. We have been welcoming back our customers and have enjoyed the buzz of a busy shop. Why would I want to move my store 30 feet above St Albans?
I have just recently updated the shop window with a new French brand called FRNCH – how will anyone see it? Ignore the rumours and find us where we have been keeping St Albans fashionable for the last ten years.”
Mad Squirrel St Albans have also put out a strong worded statement in response to news of the Super High Street. General Manager James has gone on record and said “Of the 25 beers we have on tap, nothing is that strong”.
“We have been here in St Albans for almost two years and whilst we are accustomed to hearing the occasional bit of nonsense in the taproom, this idea is farcical. Beer and heights don’t mix so we will remain on the ground floor of St Albans in Heritage Close serving the finest beers to St Albans residents.”
Mad Squirrel has quickly established itself as one of the predominant beer destinations in St Albans. With access from the footpath towards the Abbey, it would seem a strange decision from management but when you are around beer all day, anything can happen.
Local resident Isabelle Ringing who we interviewed shopping in St Albans said the idea was nonsense. “St Albans is unique and residents love it the way it is. Why? a monorail? I just can’t get my head around it – we don’t need this nonsense in St Albans.”
Must Wine located on George Street were also quick to release a statement in regards to the rumours. Wine Steward and c0-owner Mike Nuttall explained, “I get the idea – great minds drink alike and the concept of tasting the finest wines with breathtaking views of Hertfordshire is idyllic.
However, the individual who came up with the pour decision of running a monorail above St Albans is clearly on cloud wine.” Must Wine will continue run wine tasting classes on George Street.
As these rumours of a break-away high street continue to spread, the TrendLife team will continue to keep you updated with facts instead of fiction.
St Albans’ favourite Chloe James Lifestyle prepares for reopening
As one of St Albans’ favourite destinations for all things haute couture, we are excited that Chloe James Lifestyle have announced they will be reopening this coming Monday 12th April.
Regular St Albans shoppers will know Chloe James Lifestyle has been a fixture on High Street St Albans for over 10 years. Despite being extremely busy preparing for the reopening, Owner Donna Nichol has shared her thoughts on reopening Chloe James Lifestyle and what changes fashionistas can expect.
What are you looking forward to most at Chloe James Lifestyle?
Personally, I’m really looking forward to the buzz of a busy shop again – lots of chat and laughter and the general feel good vibes of helping people look and feel their best. Nothing beats it! When we reopen, we are going straight back to our normal hours i.e. 10-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday. We can’t wait to open the doors again and welcome our customers back in!
What new changes can we expect at Chloe James Lifestyle?
The shop has had a complete refresh. Every single inch has been cleaned and there are lots of new products for our customers to enjoy, including great gift lines and a new jewellery brand as well as our Spring fashion collections. One of my personal favourites is a new French fashion label called FRNCH which we are currently featuring in our window – the colours are just stunning!
We love what independent businesses bring to St Albans. How do you think shoppers will respond post lockdown?
I believe there’s going to be a real return to shopping small. After all, we are the ones who have carried on throughout the pandemic, finding ways to adapt to our customers’ needs, offering Click & Collect and always being at the end of a phone to help find the perfect birthday gift. We’ve even personally delivered them on a specific date when it was possible!
We’ve also kept our windows vibrant to cheer up the daily walk and many people have said how much they loved this. It’s become apparent to everyone how much small independent businesses add to their community and we really must make sure they don’t disappear!
About Chloe James – Chloe James Lifestyle is an elegant lifestyle boutique based in St Albans specialising in fashion, art, stylish interiors and beautiful gifts.
AKILA have joined forces with techwear designer Charli Cohen
LA based eyewear brand AKILA have joined forces with UK based techwear designer Charli Cohen to create Halo. A special limited edition capsule collection, AKILA x Charli Cohen Halo drops this Easter Weekend.
AKILA Eyewear are designed to last & handcrafted from eco-friendly plant-based cellulose acetate. Unlike most other eyewear brands, Akila frames are made from cellulose acetate — an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum based plastics.
Charli Cohen was born out of a need for evolved clothing and progression within the fashion industry. They specialise in NEXTWEAR: a concept that looks to the future of fashion, aesthetically, in terms of technology and in terms of sustainability.
ABOUT CHARLI COHEN
Charli Cohen manufacture limited quantities of each style in London, Leicester, Porto and Shanghai. Using premium, responsibly produced technical textiles from Milan, as well as upcycling from military surplus and tacticalwear, Charli Cohen is a brand to follow.
This frame boasts a retro industrial look that combines hard-edged style with ergonomic comfort. Featuring a wrap-around shape, all pairs include a barb-wire chain retainer which can be attached to metal eyelets on each temple or worn as a necklace.
This capsule collection drops Friday 2nd April at AKILA