Filed under: Fashion | Tags: Camden Road, designer, Fashion, Kent, label, new, Original Annie, tunbridge wells, UK
I thought it was about time I celebrated some true home-grown talent, and with that in mind I was overjoyed to hear that a brand new fashion label called Original Annie was opening in my hometown of Tunbridge Wells. Intrigued, I hot-footed it to their showroom to view select pieces of their collection and discover Original Annie’s Raison d’Être.
Approaching their intimate showroom in the now thriving, artsy area of Camden Road (number 121, for those of you itching to see it), there was a throng of people already inside, excitedly chattering about the clothes and the prospect of a new designer in town, and that genuine buzz of eager anticipation among the crowd. I took along fellow fashionista and gal-about-town (who also happens to be a colleague of mine in my fashion day-job), Sallie Gibson, and together we took the plunge into the crowds of people admiring the clothes from this brand new fashion label.
The first thing that struck me was the delicious simplicity of the designs on show. I don’t mean that to sound derrogatory – far from it, for as anyone involved in fashion will tell you, the more simple the garment, the less it has to hide behind, so the more perfect it has to be. If that supposedly simple looking piece isn’t exquisitely finished from top to toe, it rapidly becomes apparent, and these pieces are just wonderful for a modern woman to slip into her wardrobe and accessorise however she wishes – to put YOUR very own stamp on an outfit, rather than a designer dictate every aspect of your outfit.
The second thing I noticed when viewing the SS11 collection was the highly original fabrics used. The majority of garments on show were made from a thick, waxed cotton in bold, block candy colours – very striking to look at, but utterly divine to the touch. I do so wish you could reach your hand through your computer monitor and stroke the pictures of these clothes, as I stroked them lovingly in person. It was quite amusing, actually, to glance around the boutique and see so many people doing exactly the same thing – reaching out and touching them as my colleague Sallie and I were! It’s impossible not to do, they are soft but with a definite structure. Quite addictive!
I fell madly in love with a modern take on the waxed jacket – the Bronx Hudson – streamlined and simple, again, with a touch of military styling about it. Completely fantastic and adaptable to so many looks and ages – as are most of the pieces I saw. Sallie fell for a sample of a stunning baby-soft wool shift dress in powder blue with a creamy micro polka-dot running through the fabric. Yes, there are very flirty short dresses, but one could easily wear them as tunic over leggings or thicker tights and boots on colder days, or with jeans and Converse pumps for a dress-down casual look. I could see a number of people I know in many of the designs, ranging from teenage gals about town through sophisticated fashionistas of my age (30’s. Beyond that, not saying ;p) and well beyond. It’s all about the styling, dahlings.
So, buoyed up with enthusiasm (and not just because of the retro Babyshams we were drinking!) and having seen the pieces up close and personal, we discovered a bit more about the team behind this new fashion label.
Oliver Lee-Haswell”]Oliver Lee-Haswell “]Colin Cleaver is the head of design and came up with the concept behind Original Annie. Although Colin’s roots were based in architecture – indeed, he originally trained as an architect at the Architects Association, London – it isn’t such an unusual start for a fashion designer as you may think. The streamlined designs, which are continually re-worked until he is 100% happy with every aspect, are very architectural themselves, in that nothing is there without a purpose.
De-nuded of the frills and furbelows some designers use to trick the eye, with an Original Annie garment what you see is what you get – no seam is extraneous, and this beautiful simplicity underpins their very ethos: Strength and Beauty.
The Orignial Annie team are fortunate to count among their number one of the very finest pattern-cutters in the business, Jefferey Witkin. On his rather prestigious CV, Jefferey can list Vivienne Westwood, Gucci and Valentino to name-dop a few of the houses he’s been involved with.
Multi-tasking superwoman, the incredibly glamorous Laura Duret, is one of those effortless-looking plate-spinning types who manages Original Annie’s PR whilst also running the boutique showroom and being in charge of styling. Oh, and she models some of the clothes, and runs about 100 other projects simultaneously! Laura also harks back to Colin’s design roots, explaining to a fellow blogger (the wonderful Lady M Presents, who showcases and models a number of the designs on her own blog piece about Original Annie, which you can read here), that the pieces Colin wanted to make are like “…architecture for the body, to make women look beautiful”.
From what will surely become their trademark shift dresses, through to tailored jackets and flowing fesitval capes, we found that Original Annie maintain their design standards throughout the range, whilst managing to encompass a huge number of potential ‘looks’ or the types of women who would wear them – something quite rare in these days when many design houses take that element of fun out of playing with clothes, accessorising and dressing up or down depending on what mood you’re in that day or how confident you feel.
Although very much a homegrown talent, with the flagship store and showroom based in the Royal spa town of Tunbridge Wells, Kent; Original Annie have their eyes on the horizon, too, with a hope to eventually become an internationally renowned label which one could purchase in fashion capitals around the world. Original Annie isn’t only available to the lucky few who may pop in locally, however, so don’t despair! They are already up and running on the ASOS Marketplace website, so everyone can own their little piece of design-history in the making.
All photos of the Original Annie shop & launch event © Oliver Lee-Haswell (who is also busy designing their official website page – another of those plate-spinner types with so many projects on the go). All other photos © Original Annie Ltd.
Original Annie Boutique: 121 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, England, TN1 2QY.
4 Comments so far
Leave a comment