FOR THE past couple of weeks, the fashion writers, editors and stylists who are responsible for putting together glossy fashion spreads and a-trillion-and-one-ideas have been out en masse, tramping up and down New Bond Street and Knightsbridge. Everybody knows about the London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks. What they don't hear about are the press open days. These come around twice a year, just like the shows. And they feature such diverse names as Robert Cary Williams (who showed his first collection at London Fashion Week in September) and George at Asda, who didn't show anywhere near London Fashion Week, but whose clothes more people will wear in a single season than Mr Cary Williams will probably dress in a lifetime.
Press offices lay on an amazing spread and open a few bottles of wine, and members of the fashion press are invited to trawl from one to the next, notebooks and pencils at the ready. So while most people are out Christmas shopping, the fashion pack are out "shopping" (a term used for fashion research) for next summer. Press open days are not about elitist, unaffordable fashion - although that is also on show - but about the clothes that will actually be on sale in the shops once the January sales end. So the same people who ooh and aah about an Alexander McQueen suit will also be here, getting hot under the collar about a cardi by Jigsaw or a chiffon dress at Oasis, a pair of trousers at Karen Millen, or even a pair of fabulous under pounds 20 shoes by George of the House of Asda.
At Camper, the Mallorcan shoe company that recently opened its third London shop in New Bond Street, we were treated to asparagus and spinach nibbles and other sun-drenched Mediterranean delicacies, plied with a sparkly tipple, and left to pore over the next season's shoes. This is privileged information: we know what you will be wearing if you choose to part with any hard-earned cash in exchange for clothes, shoes or other accessories next season, which I'm sure you will. I can let you into one secret though. Camper will be stocking sandals, for men and women, made out of a leather which miraculously changes colour from tan to bright white in warm sunlight.
So if you've ever wondered how a particular item of clothing gets to be featured in a magazine, it is as a result of long but not too arduous research. And although you might not actually see it until the March or April issues, fret not - your trusty fashion editor will have selected it for you already. Roll on summer. !
Clockwise from top left: black tuxedo trousers, pounds 155, by Whistles, 12 St Christopher's Place, London W1, enquiries 0171 487 4484; black fishnet tights, pounds 4, by Jonathan Aston, from major department stores, enquiries 0116 286 2388; black strappy heels, pounds 135, by Free Lance, 253 King's Road, London SW3, enquiries 0171 351 4038. Blue diamante high heels, pounds 323, by Gina Couture, 189 Sloane Street, London SW1, enquiries 0171 235 2932; pink skirt, pounds 60, by French Connection, branches nationwide, enquiries 0171 399 7200; diamante double-seamed tights, pounds 10.99, by Jonathan Aston, as before. Sparkle dress, pounds 99, by Hobbs, branches nationwide, enquiries 0171 586 5550; grey beaded shoes, pounds 40, by Ravel, branches nationwide, enquiries 0171 534 3800. Black dress with turquoise sequins, pounds 45, from Cornucopia, 12 Upper Tachbrook Street, London SW1, enquiries 0171 828 5752; diamante strap shoes, pounds 45, by Ravel, as before. Black satin pedal-pushers, pounds 65, by French Connection, as before; pink ankle socks, pounds 3.95, by Hue, from department stores nationwide; black shoes with diamante strap, pounds 69.99, by Shellys, 159 Oxford Street, London W1, enquiries 0171 287 0939Reuse content