It’s official: cycling is chic. If it weren’t enough that Aggie seems to base her wardrobe around it, or that the Sartorialist has devoted a whole section of his blog to two-wheeled fashion frolics, now we actually have designers stamping bicycles with their own seal of approval. This year for National Bike Week, a host of celebrities and designers were asked to design their dream bike – and what a freewheeling lot they were. From Giles Deacon to Alan Sugar, they unleashed their inner pedal pushers and created an array of brilliant bikes that will go up for auction during National Bike Week in order to raise money for charity.
Before being mounted in an exhibition in Covent Garden opening this Wednesday, I was let loose on them and got to test ride some fiendishly fashionable bikes – dressed, of course, in the threads to match. It’s taking outfit coordination to a whole new level.
The Giles bike was just my kind of scene: a featherweight little fixed gear racer, he based the design on his own little fixie from über-cool bike shop 14bikeco. Splashed all over with the cloud print from his AW2010 collection (even the air tube caps were miniature clouds!) the bike was a lesson in catwalk-to-sidewalk urban cool. Unfortunately, his vision might have been scuppered by my attempt to ride it. I tried to hop over the crossbar wearing a sprayed-on shift dress from his SS10 collection. This was not a successful endeavour - especially when I realised that this fixie had no breaks (only for the truly hardcore cyclists). Heels, skin-tight organza dress and no breaks on a busy London road = recipe for disaster. Readers, do NOT attempt this at home.
The Orla Kiely bike was an entirely more ladylike affair. There is something extremely refined about riding a sit-up-and-beg Amsterdam bicycle while wearing a dress that actually matches the trimmings of the bike. I wished I had a little dog in the basket and a bunch of flowers to complete the picture. Kiely’s retro aesthetic and girlish appeal shone out as brightly as the yellow of the bike, which she used because it “reminded me of the sunshine”. This is a bike for leisurely ladies who lunch (and then like to lightly burn it off afterwards).
Amy Fleuriot of hot cycling label Cyclodelic roped in her devoted boyfriend Christopher to hand-paint the whole bicycle in a vivid Harlequin pattern (which went perfectly with the beautiful cashmere scarf/hood/hand warmer combo that she’s got coming up for her AW2010 collection – a cold cyclist’s dream). She designed the bike “to make you want to light up the city streets even on gloomy days and be seen for the right reason.” Sweet little details like hints of gold leather on the seat and a perky little bag under the saddle made this the perfect ride for flashy fashion-y city girls.
Red Or Dead designer Wayne Hemingway was “brought up to make do and mend” so he created a bike that was made entirely from second hand parts. Dressed in some pretty vintage threads from his Vintage at Goodwood dressing-up box, I felt a bit Audrey Hepburn circa Roman Holiday. But even in 6 inch raffia wedges I could barely touch the ground, as the bike was a two-wheeled juggernaut that weighed a ton. Obviously traffic was slower in the olden days – I couldn’t imagine getting anywhere in a hurry on this bad boy.
The bikes can be viewed online at bikeweek.org.uk and you can see them in all their two-wheeled glory at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden from Wednesday. All proceeds from the auction go to social enterprises to help provide jobs for disadvantaged people.
So you’ll know you’re bidding for more than a mode of transport.
But a Giles bicycle was never just going to be a mode of transport anyway, now was it?
- Alannah Sparks