Queen of Hearts..
What do you get if you cross the hottest denim label of the moment with Hoxton's hippest boutique? The answer is PRPS Hearts Start, an inspired collaboration between PRPS denim and uber-stylist Brix Smith-Start. The latter is the proprietor of Hoxton's Start boutique, the go-to destination for London's coolest fashionistas (and fashion Misters). You'll recognise her from Channel 4's Gok's Fashion Fix. In the show, she pits her wits against his, in a fierce catwalk battle of designer creations versus highstreet imitations. I caught up with Brix at the launch party while Ladyhawke spun feelgood tunes ranging from Stevie Wonder's Superstition to Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 for the cream of London's coolest cats. The collaboration is a highly limited collection of 56 pieces, comprising of 50 pairs of jeans and 5 leather jackets (there were six but they sold one that morning). Both the jeans and jackets were based on existing cuts and fabric treatments, though both feature distinctive stud details. Manufactured on traditional selvedge looms and distressed by hand, Brix said of the jeans, "they're not contrived, they look and feel authentic, like something you've had in your closet for some time". She explained that a studded heart motif is placed on the back pocket prior to washing, then removed to reveal a "ghost heart" relief design - rock 'n' roll tie dye for the Noughties. Brix told me the back pocket motif has become something of a PRPS signature, with previous mainline designs featuring a trompe l'oeil wallet design. The heart design was chosen because they knew the party was going to be called PRPS Hearts Start. The black washed leather jackets feature a silver studded heart motif on the back - as modelled by Brix at the event. On the topic of the boutique's history with the brand, Brix said "PRPS is the Rolls Royce of denim brands, their washes and fit truly set them apart. It started out as a menswear brand so we found ourselves selling small sizes to our female customers as boyfriend jeans". When I asked her about her must-have item for AW09 she said, "it's all about the PRPS Hearts Start black washed leather jacket with silver studded heart motif on the back. As soon as I saw studs at the shows I instinctively knew they defined the tough aesthetic for womenswear this season". Ladyhawke imbued the neo-grunge trend to perfection. With her heavy fringe, sheer black knitted hoody and black and white striped breton tee shirt she looked like the love child of Stevie Nicks and Kurt Cobain. At the other end of the style spectrum, Harrods fashion and beauty director Marigay McKee held court in an exquisitely draped corset-effect navy Givenchy dress. With subtly padded shoulders and minimal lines, it was reminiscent of 40's couture, particularly Schiaparelli. She accessorised with a pair of midnight python gladiator heels from cult designer Deborah Lyons' Mechante of London AW09 collection. Her fierce footwear only serves to highlight that tough chic is the definitive look for fall. Deborah Lyons says of her own AW09 designs "The collection is warrior/fighter inspired. A lot of the materials and shapes are suggestive of armour, but still elegant and very feminine. When I was naming the shoes, all of these women had a sense of that guarded powerful femininity and timelessness". It's not surprising Marigay opted for the Bouddeccia gladiator heels, she's something of a warrior queen in her own right. Despite a fiercely competitive market, with her guidance, the beauty turnover in Harrods has more than doubled from £30 million to £63 million. Ever gracious, she said of the event "I love the PRPS Hearts Start collaboration and greatly admire the unique ambience Brix has created in-store. I told her I wasn't sure I'd fit in with such an edgy crowd but myself and my colleagues from Harrods are having such fun. The collection, the music, the people - it's a magical combination". When I asked what we should look out for at Harrods this season, she said "I'm very excited about the French designers. We're really supporting Lanvin, Balmain and Givenchy - they're all super-important for autumn/winter 09. Roland Mouret has designed beautiful beaded pieces exclusively for us - and in very limited numbers. We've also recruited Susie Murray, former global sales director of Aquascutum, to be the new CEO of Jasmine Di Milo. With her on board, we expect to see immense growth in the brand's development. Snap up a pair of the Jasmine Di Milo leggings - they're a key piece". Before heading home, I chatted with Gareth Lindsay, personal shopper at Start. He earned his style credentials, rocking a sequinned Mr Start tuxedo jacket with a two tone Comme Des Garcons shirt, PRPS shorts and studded Converse shoes. When asked for styling tips he said, "Wear your PRPS shorts with one hem casually turned up for a skater feel". Being a magpie, I couldn't help but spy his remarkable finger candy. After a little digging from yours truly, he confided that the gold, baguette cut aquamarine and pave set sapphire and diamond ring was his own design. Having studied fashion, he'd been inspired to create jewellery. With a collaboration with high end jeweller Hannah Martin already under way, he's without doubt an emerging talent - and one to watch. When it comes to PRPS Hearts Start, I couldn't say it better than Kylie, "Two hearts are beating together. I'm in love, I'm in love".
PRPS HEARTS START is available exclusively from Start Boutique.