There was a lot of buzz last night at the launch party of a brand new designer fashion boutique in Central London, in a little known corner of Mayfair known as the Connaught Village. It's where Cherie and Tony Blair have their humungous townhouse, and it looks like it's set to be the Marylebone of the next decade. The boutique belongs to Julia Smith, who designs sexy fashiony dresses from ethical materials and Joanne Stoker, an up-and-coming shoe designer who has already created shoes for NewGen designer Michael Van Der Hamm. The store has a 1920s cocktail bar as a cash desk, and is furnished with 1970s cocktail glam pieces and elegant '20s furniture. It's super chic. How did these recent graduates, both aged 26, come to have a swanky shop in this sought-after area? Well, they won a competition that was judged by (among two others) me and the legendary Jimmy Choo. Open only to MA graduates at London College of Fashion – where Choo is a lecturer – and with a store that is a few steps from Jimmy's couture boutique, we guess the famous shoe designer was trying to keep it in the family.
Last night's party to launch their store was a stormer! TV crews for a BBC show were in attendance – you couldn't move inside – and the wide-eyed designers were dazed by the attention. 'It's been pretty mental, hasn't it?' said Julia Smith, who barely knew Joanne when it was decided the competition was to be won by the pair of them.' But we've worked so closely together and look what we've done.' Where is Jimmy tonight? I wondered aloud, only to be told he was in Malaysia on business as he has taken up a political envoy role. Huh? That sounds interesting! Better get on the line to the Malaysian Embassy!
But the girls did share his words of wisdom and they are:
'It's tough at the start.'
'You'll have to work really hard.'
'Be careful in business.'
OK, so he's not exactly, Confucius. But we like it.
- Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor-at-Large