Full English : McQ Alexander McQueen

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Economic downturn be dammed! These British labels are bucking the trend

McQ Alexander McQueen

Sarah Burton continues to build on Lee McQueen’s legacy, this time with a four-storey McQ flagship in Mayfair

Description: Sarah Burton – Photographed for Vogue, December 2011

Sarah Burton – Photographed for Vogue, December 2011

Dover Street is becoming quite the London destination, and its avant-garde business will soon officially welcome their latest neighbor: McQ. Sarah Burton and architect David Collins are transforming one of the thoroughfare’s elegant Georgian townhouses into the brand’s flagship, and when it’s completed the four-floor store will offer an arresting space; the plans and innovations that Collins (who is also designing the new mainline stores in Miami and Shanghai, as well as a future Savile Row menswear store) has dreamt up mean you don’t know quite which elements have been restored from the original or created.

Description: Actress Victoria Justice in McQ at this Year’s Met Gala

Actress Victoria Justice in McQ at this Year’s Met Gala

“McQueen’s fascination with futurism and historicism, and also that sense of subversive luxury, interested me,” explains Collins, who pared back the interior of the building to reveal its bones before adding a juxtaposition of graphic black and white with subtly sensual flesh tones and ruby-red embroidered velvet upholstery.

As the store emerges so, too, will the McQ range and its customer. Previously a punkish, casual line for men and women that Lee McQueen founded in 2005, Burton has catapulted its sensibility into a new, more luxurious sphere. The focus is on special every day wear, on tailoring and very British fabrics – shearling and Black Watch tartan included. The debut London McQ show, staged in a forest scene, revealed sculpted military coats, velvet dresses, hand knits and leathers. “I want the store to feel beautiful and welcoming, and restored to a new glory,” says Burton, who visited Oxford’s Pitt Rivers anthropological museum for research. One floor will house a giant interactive screen, where you can immerse yourself in the McQ universe and connect to social media.

The Georgian denizens of Dover Street would surely have delighted at the novelties dreamt up by the latest residents of number 14. Harriet Quick

Rag & Bone

Created in America by two entrepreneurial Englishmen, the brand is now heading to Blighty

In Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, the Rag & Bone HQ is bustling. And at the eye of the hurricane is the shared office of business and design partners Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, complete with side-by-side desks and a tufted leather couch.

Description: Rag & Bone

Rag & Bone

During the past decade, the British-born two some have built one of America’s most doted-on fashion brands. Offering women swear, menswear and accessories, the label has grown from a hip denim line into a fully-fledged collection of urban cool (with its own slot on the New York Fashion Week show calendar no less), while also amassing real estate – there are nine stores worldwide. This month marks a full-circle moment for the pair as they prepare to open their tenth, a flagship store on native soil.

“It feels really good to go back to London, proud of what we’ve achieved here,” says the gregarious Wainwright of the forthcoming store on Sloane Square, housed in an imposing former bank, occupying 389 sq m of street-level storefront and the basement below. “We didn’t choose it for the area.” Wainwright notes. “We chose it for the building, which has been our approach to every shop so far.” Neville, rather more brooding, in a sleeveless blazer, charcoal T-shirt and black jeans, continues: “The stores are a window into the brand.”

Founded in 2002, Rag & Bone’s meteoric rise began after Wainwright relocated to New York and curiosity led him to a small denim factory in rural Kentucky, where he apprenticed, learning to craft a pair of jeans from scratch. Neville, an old school friend, signed up, leaving London and a career in banking behind.

The pair – who this season served up paisley-print pyjama trousers, Drapey Jersey dresses, belted blanket knits and leather-lapelled wool coats – now consider New York their home, but this London opening is no less sentimental. “The irony is that we’re coming back home,” Neville says, “but we need the shop to tell customers about Rag & Bone and all the experiences we’ve had, so that people truly get a taste of who we are.” Max Berlinger

Alice Temperley

What’s in a name? Quite a lot actually, says this successful Somerset designer

When it came to Naming her new line for John Lewis, Alice Temperley – part London-based entrepreneur, part cider-farm-dwelling country mouse – looked no further than her beloved home country. “I love the name Somerset,” she told us from her city studio. “I wanted something personal and unpretentious that symbolized the collection.”

Description: Alice Temperley

Alice Temperley

And like the county where she was born and raised, Somerset offers a wholesome, truly British take on designer/ high-street collaboration. Each piece has Temperley’s distinctive, Electic, bohemian appeal – from feather-light printed dresses and Frilly Boho blouses to oversize intarsia knits and leopard-print jersey jumpers – despite fitting the mould of a trusty, well-made John Lewis wardrobe staple. As a surge of nostalgia runs through the autumn/ winter catwalks, the look is timely.

“I think most women want their wardrobe to be versatile, to be stylish without being trendy, to be well-made and hard-working,” she says. “Since the recession customer are spending more on investment pieces, but they want high-street buys to work harder. They want pieces that transcend seasons, and to wear in the city or the country, from the office to a night out.” Sported in the campaign images by Lily Donaldson, the 80-pieces Somerset by Alice Temperley for John Lewis collaboration is the newest of the designer’s lines (Temperley London and Alice) and will be ongoing; other “lifestyle” elements are set to be added in coming seasons.

And with her first store due to open in Mayfair in November, too, Temperley laughs that she has “a lot of juggling” to do. But, she continues, “I’ve always been meticulously organized, and we’ve built a fantastic team over the past 10 years.” Given her Brit Global glamour, the designer is her own best ambassador. “I particularly love the big chunky jumpers and I wore the cape coat yesterday, all day – right through to dinner!” she says. Call Somerset well tried and tested. Lauren Milligan

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