The ones to watch: fresh designer names

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A new season means plenty of fresh designer names. Rebecca Gonsalves helps you stay ahead of the pack

As a new fashion season is ushered in, with it will come a host of new names to watch as boutiques and department stores proudly champion the pieces their buyers have tracked down on their travels.

To gain the buyers' attention in the first place, though not quite a formula, there are a few boxes which it helps to be able to tick.

A pedigree of provenance is usually essential – with stints at big fashion houses peppering designer biographies and showroom floors littered with the dropped names of celebrity fans. The stamp of approval from respected editors doesn't hurt either.

Filling your wardrobe with a range of under-the-radar names has long been the way to stay on the cutting edge – fashion, film, music and more all thrive on the cult of the new. And every household name has to start somewhere.

Manuela Dack

The Shop at Bluebird

Layers of leather and silk are the cornerstone of this young London-based designer's collections, which showcase a crisp, minimal aesthetic. "We have seen an amazing response to Manuela Dack, who is popular with clients looking for innovative statement pieces," says Paul Baptiste, head buyer at The Shop at Bluebird. Intricate crafted details such as beaded fringing, embroidery and hand-dying are incorporated into the collection, which draws on Dack's memories of growing up on the remote Caribbean island of Grand Cayman. 350 Kings Road London, SW3 5UU, 020 7351 3873


Dover Street Market

For his latest collection, "le chenil" – which translates as the doghouse – Simon Jacquemus took inspiration from the simple robes his mother wore at home in the south of France. Playing around with the idea of creating a uniform, the pieces are austere and simple, and most importantly comfortable with the uniforms of hospital nurses inspiring the five-colour palette. 17-18 Dover Street, London W1S 4LT 020 7518 0680

Annelise Michelson


Parisian-born and raised Michelson developed her vision of couture and glamour during stints with Hermès, Vanessa Bruno, and Paul and Joe. Following a collaboration with Carine Roitfeld for French Vogue, her first collection marries neo-Gothic and New Romantic inspirations. "I'm really excited about Annelise Michelson," says Nathalie Kabiri, buyer for the jewellery boutique. "Her creative talent and hand-crafted techniques bring a fresh take to the jewellery world."

Confezioni Crosby

Browns Focus

This collection – the work of two Italian designers and a New York-based uniform manufacturer – refines and softens cotton canvas and twill with grosgrain ribbon and faux-fur to create a feminised everyday workwear wardrobe. "We discovered the label in New York and fell in love with the designers' feminine take on classic workwear uniforms," says Ruth Runberg, buying director at Browns. "The collection felt fresh and new."

Una Burke

Wolf & Badger

It was Burke's conceptual leather armour, worn by Daphne Guinness and Lady Gaga, which initially caught the eye of Henry Graham, retail director of the independent boutique. "She creates interesting and unique leather pieces that make a bold statement. I have been following her since she graduated from the London College of Fashion and now that her collection is well-rounded and commercial we are pleased to be showcasing her work," said Graham.

46 Ledbury Road, W11 2AB, 0207 229 5698

Sophie Theallet


With a decade at the right hand of Azzedine Alaïa under her belt, Theallet's design credentials are of an enviable pedigree.

Crossing the pond to launch in the UK, Theallet's feminine pieces have an undeniably sophisticated French current running through them.


Harvey Nichols

The fruit of a partnership between Italian designers Tomaso Anfossi and Francesco Ferrari, COTE (meaning shelter and protection) celebrates the sensuality of the female form. Shereen Basma, Harvey Nichols' womenswear buyer says: "Tomaso and Francesco created something new and hard to find. Every piece has a different strength, be it a delicate feather collar, a voluminous balloon print dress or a three-tiered leather skirt, each of them remarkably unique yet equally desirable."

Callula Lilibelle

Net a porter

Nostalgia and retro inspiration, courtesy of silver screen sirens Marilyn Monroe and Betty Page, are inherent to this collection. Updated vintage styling – polka dots, pleats and classic cuts – complete a collection that designer William Calvert and entrepreneur Melanie Fraser Hart intended as an ode to femininity.

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