There are some designers who make a song and dance about their clothes but who sell to a handful of obscure boutiques in central London. And there are others, like Lainey Keogh, the Irish Dublin-based knitwear designer who showed her collection on the catwalk for the first time this week, who can boast a client list that includes Demi Moore, Elizabeth Taylor, Isabella Rossellini, Marianne Faithful, and U2, but is herself almost unknown.
The 39-year old-designer began her career by accident when she knitted a jumper for her lover. Friends saw the textural hand-knit and ordered for themselves. Being well connected helps, and in Dublin, social circles are all-encompassing and close. Keogh was able to call on her friend John Hurt to read a poem before the show at Cobden Working Men's Club in west London. Models Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova and Helena Christensen offered their services free of charge, and Roald Dahl's voluptuous sex siren, Sophie Dahl (above right), turned up as well to show off the cobwebs of earthy colour, cashmere, feathers and ribbon.
Keogh's clothes are a tactile experience. At A La Mode in Knightsbridge, customers pay pounds 600 for a hand-knitted dress and between pounds 400 and pounds 700 for a cashmere sweater. Lainey Keogh is also sold in the most prestigious stores in New York, LA, Milan, Paris and Hong Kong.
Royal at the Roundhouse
The celebrity count at the shows this week has been high, with such unlikely combinations as Bob Geldof, Mick Jagger, Norman Lamont, Robbie Williams, Mick Hucknall and Princess Anne all in attendance on the same afternoon. But the celebrity coup of the week was at Antonio Berardi's show spectacular at the Camden Roundhouse on Tuesday night when the artist everybody knows as Prince waited outside in his limo for an hour and a half before creeping surreptitiously into his seat on the front row five minutes before the start, only to be frightened off by one particular terrier of the fashion press who sprinted half way around the circumference of the Roundhouse and sat down beside his majesty's tiny figure. The singer shifted uncomfortably and within seconds had darted like a hunted rabbit, to stand away from the glare of the cameras amongst the students and fashion groupies.
Prince's agent requested four tickets in the afternoon, and Naomi Campbell's agent rang to confirm that the artist would be there. "Prince will love this," she said as she was getting into her first outfit, a yellow leather trouser suit. Berardi, 28, was amazed the singer was there. "He's one of my great idols," he said after the show. Berardi has everything the singer has ever recorded, with duplicates kept unwrapped in mint condition.