While we always love new arrivals, pre collections can often prove a little tricky to contemplate. But with no end to the decidedly unseasonal weather in sight, yesterday's delivery of the Made in Heaven AW12 pre collection was met with much excitement, slight relief even. Not at all out of place. Simply gorgeous and perfectly now.
We think Stephen Kenny is great. In fact, we'll freely admit we're rather envious of the way he spends his days, working from home at 'problem press' headquarters in Walthamstow, listening to Radio 4 and producing some of our most favourite posters and greetings cards. No fuss, no computers, just three presses, the most amazing collection of wood type and a man with a great sense of humour who loves what he does.
Much of the equipment is over a hundred years old. The Adana '8 x 5' prints all the stationery and two proofing presses print the small, medium and large scale prints. Then there's the wood type collection. Over 50 complete sets dating from the 1840s - 1930s. A hand cut gothic font from the 1840s is probably the rarest, but it still gets used.
Everything is designed directly on the press with moveable wood and metal type. As Stephen says, "I like letterpress in its purest form...rather than design in Illustrator to produce a zinc plate to print with. You can emboss with the zinc plate. But what's the point? It's soulless. Also, printing with old worn out wood blocks that are marked and scratched makes each block and each print entirely unique."
Inspiration comes from musicians and artists more than designers and typographers. Names like Andre Breton, Harry Houdini, David Lynch, Peter Doig ...and Sherlock Holmes, hence the company name. If ever Holmes had a particularly tough case to solve, it would require two (or sometimes three) pipes to solve. Stephen doesn't smoke a pipe. But he is partial to a glass of fine French wine after a good day's printing.
We're feeling a theme here. From top to toe.
If you've popped in over the last week and wondered what exactly the impressive collection of corgis on the counter-back would amount to, then wonder no more. The corgis have been leashed up in national colours and put on parade in our right royal window display. And as expected, they are well and truly stealing the show. Or rather, one royal impostor is!
Sunspel is something of a under celebrated national institution. Based in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, the brand has spent the last 150 years quietly perfecting the art of luxury basics, producing some of the finest underwear a man can buy. They're probably best known for introducing the boxer short to the UK in 1947 and providing the memorable pair that appeared in that infamous 1985 Levi's ad.
Evolving from a major textile manufacturer to a specialist maker of undergarments, the brand has a long tradition of quality craftsmanship and is one of the few British labels to have retained the capability of hand cutting and sewing many of their garments on these shores. Throughout their long history they've experimented with new styles, fabric structures, knitting techniques and have collaborated with the likes of Paul Smith, Margaret Howell, Thom Browne and Kris Van Assche to name but a few.
Despite featuring in many an underwear drawer, it was the appointment of British designer JW Anderson and the opening of their first store on Redchurch Street that really brought the brand to the industry's attention. While continuing to make the most of six generations of patented textile innovation and old school tradition, they have successfully re-edited their 'hero products' to incorporate modern detailing and fits. You know that well fitting Riviera Polo sported by Daniel Craig's Bond and Christian Bale's Batman? Sunspel.
Forget confectionery, this is the kind of treat you really want to find in a biscuit tin. Utterly original, beautifully understated and nicely priced bling from our new collections by Depeapa and Paper and Chain. Irresistible.
Welcome to Winchester, YMC. Don't you fit perfectly in our project space with the charming mix of oddities and beautifully straightforward clothing you're displaying. We're quite certain you'll make plenty of new friends here thanks to your latest offering of re-imagined classics. Recall summer days gone by, knee-length silhouettes, preppy chinos, blazers, crisp cotton, pretty broderie anglaise and leather sandals. Yes, YMC we like your style, please make yourself right at home.
Takeovers tend to be unwelcome affairs, but we couldn't be more happy about this one. Yesterday we flung our doors wide open to favourite Brit label YMC, plied them with tea and biscuits and let them do their wonderful YMC thing to our first floor project space. For the next month we'll be wearing their clothes and playing their music, and to offer a bit of background on it all we had a nice chat with Design Director and Partner, Fraser Moss.
YMC takeover The Hambledon. What can we expect?
Winchester can expect a little of what YMC has to offer in its home town of London. Old oddities from all over the world mixed with a clean, fresh approach to clothing.
Tell us a bit about the SS12 collection?
The men's is clean cut with a sporty take on Ivy League to it, whereas the women's offers delicate details, cropped hem lines and a touch of the English Riviera.
How does each collection evolve and how do you marry the menswear and womenswear collections?
The YMC collection evolves naturally. We like to keep moving and hopefully keep things fresh and exciting. The colour palette, prints and fabrics stay true throughout the mens and womens collections.
If you could only keep two pieces, one for a boy and one for a girl, which would you choose and why?
From SS12 I'd keep the cotton knit Boating Blazer for men because it is a staple smart and casual item which is extremely versatile. For women's, it would have to be the beautifully simple lace embroidered skirt just for being so pretty and timeless.
What inspires you?
I'm constantly looking for inspiration wherever I am. I often find what I need in the most obscure places from old comic books, poster art and a seemingly never ending source of vintage detailing which can be worked into a modern design.
Tell us a bit about the mix we're playing and what part music plays at YMC?
My job can be pretty mentally intense at times and my obsession with music is what keeps me sane. Growing up the two were so tightly entwined that if you were into clothes you were naturally into music, from Mod to Goth to Punk etc....it's part of by my DNA.
Who would you most like to see wearing your designs?
Intelligent, modern thinking people. Someone that isn't influenced by things that we are 'told' to wear.
How did you get started as a designer?
Growing up in Wales there were limited resources so to be stylish and fashionable you had to be very canny which involved a lot of secondhand clothing and various alterations. I feel that I have always had this in me and it was an inevitable route but I had to do it the hard way as I am self taught.
What do you like most about your job?
Being able to create.
And having a shop?
The shop has been an interesting learning curve and has helped me from a design point of view by giving me more of an understanding of the correct balance between creating an interesting yet commercial item. In the past I may have been a bit too left field!
What's next for YMC?
Our first catwalk show at Mens London fashion Week in June which is a really exciting project for YMC. Photo: Noble Pauper
Red Ear is the surprisingly under the radar premium denim and clothing line from acclaimed Brit designer Sir Paul Smith. Perhaps it's because you need to turn the clothes inside out to truly appreciate them. Rob reckons the quality and attention to detail is as good as mainline Paul Smith. Either way, inside and outside, we think this season's super cool collection, inspired by the work of the late artist Louise Bourgeois and the director Jean Luc Godard, is deserving of some serious attention.
Squeaky, sweet, clean, fresh, bloomin' spring. Has to be our favourite time of the year at The Hambledon, after Christmas that is!