Many thanks to my dear friend Miss Antonia Pearce for her sage words of sartorial wisdom. Antonia is a lifestyle and travel writer- formerly of Elite Life and Travel she now edits Project Travel and acts as freelance media consultant to a range of London based and international clients...She has a contact book as extensive as the Reims caves and twice as many bubbles- She also has a rather amusing story about Mario Testino but I will leave her to tell you that...
The desire for bespoke products is set to continue in spite of ‘boom and bust.’ With evidence of the bespoke everywhere from the i-pod to the couture dress. In times of surplus, those that could seized the opportunity to act out their whimsical fantasies through patronage. With people from London’s Belgravia to New York City's Upper East Side taking on the guise of a latter day Catherine the Great; such was their extraordinary energy to consume and spend. Whether commissioning a pair of beaded couture boots from Jimmy Choo, a perfume by Fredrick Malle or a genetically engineered blue-eyed baby; the demand for bespoke goods rarely faltered.
In the ‘boom’ phase bespoke was a byword for luxury and prestige. However, more often than not, the creative process was delegated to somebody else; the concierge or our own personal shopper. In the process we fooled our inner artist into believing that we had played an integral part in the bespoke journey. We looked good but dangerously and increasingly uniform.
Now that things have gone ‘bust’ the trend for bespoke continues to live on and with a rather advantageous shift in emphasis. Rather than commission others, we now have the opportunity to take on the bespoke ambition for ourselves. It is time to re-interpret our identity and get creative. In 2009 there is now a sense of ‘mend and make do.’ So for a quick bespoke fashion-pick-me-up all we need do is scoop up and rummage through buttons, beads and lace and pin them to old coats and cardigans in a brave attempt to re-invigorate and inspire. Alternatively, why not take old shoes to the cobbler and enjoy the magic of being reunited with a trustworthy friend; shoes that give you a confident swagger rather than the blistering pain of the new.
That is not to say that we should abandon shop - far from it! However, a bespoke product implies thought. It is the antithesis of mass production and the endless display of colorful tank-tops and Pokka-dot bikinis that line our high street floors like candy. If we start demanding bespoke items now - it could be a powerful display of rebellion against targeted advertising; forcing us to think about what we really want.
Moreover, if we are going to spend then we need to start demanding value and worth from our acquisitions. It was for this reason that Coco Chanel launched her bespoke jewellery line during the Great Depression of the 1930s. She understood that during hard times people desire the real and the magnificent. New visionaries in 2009, such as the designer Jessica McCormack, advocate diamonds that are all about wear-ability. She welcomes everyone, from the woman who wants to create an heirloom to a young man with only one hundred pounds to spend. A recession has always been a dazzlingly creative period. Newfangled pop bands and designers rose to great heights during the recession of the 1970’s. Vivienne Westwood’s punk garments and the extraordinary talent that blossomed from there on in: is just one testament to the impetus of hardship.
It’s a horrible economy out there; but there is a world of opportunity to fight for. So go forth and commission or create something bespoke. But remember: keep up appearances no matter what the FSA ordains.