I had the amazing opportunity to attend the GQ British Designers Collective Launch at Bicester Village, London, in mid-September thanks to the girls at Chic Outlet Shopping & HAVAS PR MENA. After reading the invitation email, I couldn’t hold my excitement for long and called to confirm my attendance within a couple of minutes. Now, it was just a waiting game before I was on that Virgin Airlines plane heading over to London. I also missed out on Dubai’s excruciating heat for a couple days thankfully.
After finally arriving to Heathrow Airport London and waiting approximately three and half hours in the customs line, then another hour and a half in traffic, I finally arrived at the luxurious Kensington Hotel (part of Doyle Collection), located in South Kensington, Central London. My room was simply impeccable. My whole experience at the hotel for that matter was outstanding. From the level of customer service and the room’s quality, to the amazing meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I felt just at home.
We met in our hotel lobby around 8am, where our personal driver drove us to Marylebone train station. Here, we all hopped onto our express train en route to Bicester Village with a whole bunch of press, bloggers and designers from all over the world.
The nervousness in approaching Desiree Bollier, the President of Value Retail, soon faded after acknowledging she too is of Lebanese decent. Needless to say, we got along like a house on fire. We discussed the mandatory “Arab talk” on where we are both from in Lebanon and what we are currently doing with ourselves, before discussing Value Retail’s growth, development and future. Ms. Bollier often travels to Dubai to attend conferences, organise workshops and scout the market for potential. When asked whether or not they planned to open a village in Dubai, she smiled and said “it’s in the pipeline”. Don’t know about you, but I’m super keen for a village to open up in Dubai…asap, and I’ll later tell you why.
Dylan Jones, the Editor in Chief at British GQ, was also at the store launch, however I didn’t get a chance to catch him. I did manage to bump into a couple of the designers from the collections being showcased at the store, including one designer who I have followed for quite sometime now, Mr Hare. Marc Hare, the creative genius behind the shoe brand, is one cool and down-to-earth dude. Coming from a mix of British and Jamaican decent, you can just imagine how much humour this guy is filled with. He took me through one of my favourite style of shoe, the monk strap, and step-by-step on how the shoe is made and what differentiates these shoes from the rest.
I also had the pleasure to catch up with some close Pitti friends in Filippo Fiora & Filippo Cirulli of TheThreeF Blog as well as the clever Darrell Hunter behind ModeHunter. We spent some quality time together, catching up on months of projects and began discuss the next Pitti Uomo and how we can all collaborate.
So, now that all the talk about the store launch is done, I can finally discuss Bicester Village itself and how clever of a set-up it is in reality. If you’re after a bargain on our favourite luxury brands, then Bicester Village should definitely be on your to-do-list on your next London trip. Only 45 minutes out of Central London, the magnificently designed village offers you 60-80% of retail prices. My favourite brands in the village included Gucci, Burberry, Tod’s, Vilebrequin, Saint Lauren, Brooks Brothers and Prada. Yes, all luxury brands, but finally at an affordable price. Here the sky is your limit. So come with an open credit card and/or that cash you’ve been saving for months, because you’re going to spend it all and head home broke.
Resisting the temptation to purchase a Burberry coat for only 300 pound, I settled with a plain navy polo for a catch at 50 pound. I crossed paths with Filippo Fiora who had just walked out with a new Burberry wax coat excited as ever, with Cirulli shaking his head in amusement.
With so much walking, Darrell and I ended the day a little early and headed back to the hotel, where we had a quick bite before heading out to snap a few shots of my Sacoor Brothers Dubai outfit.
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