By  on July 20, 2010

Combining one of the biggest themes of the fall fashion season — heritage — with its own milestone, Hong Kong retailer Lane Crawford plans to mark its 160th anniversary with a wide-ranging program of events and special products.

Key among them will be to take two symbols of heritage — the Burberry trenchcoat and the Ming dynasty chair — and invite a range of creative talents to customize them.

Two dozen fashion influencers, mainly stylists and editors, took on the trench, decorating it with ribbons, brooches, studs or spills of tulle, or rendering it in unusual fabrics, from fur to gold lamé. Among those invited to take part were actress Maggie Cheung, pottery artist Jonathan Adler, fashion editors George Cortina, Lynn Yaeger and Anna Della Russo and retailer Sarah Rutson, the fashion director at Lane Crawford who spearheaded the “Heritage 160” initiative.

“History is about taking the best from the past and always being relevant for the future,” Rutson said. “We are always finding ways to give our customers new, exclusive and inspiring experiences in our stores and this is another program to bring them into our stores.”

Events will kick off on Sept. 10 at Lane Crawford’s 80,000-square-foot flagship in the IFC mall, as well as on the retailer’s Web site.

The trenchcoats — along with Ming chairs customized by such industrial design talents as Tom Dixon, Jaime Hayón, Ilse Crawford and Squint — will be exhibited at IFC before being auctioned off for charity. The beneficiary will be a UNICEF project bringing education to more than 30,000 children in 150 villages across western China.

Customers at the luxury specialty retailer — which operates five locations in Hong Kong and one in Beijing — will also be able to purchase limited edition shoes and exclusive “heritage” collections by contemporary labels.

Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Stuart Weitzman and Giuseppe Zanotti are among footwear mavens asked to create iconic, must-have shoes in editions of 24.

Meanwhile, Band of Outsiders, Acne, Elizabeth & James, Engineered Garments, Sacai and Visvim are among the labels for men and women that Rutson asked to create special capsule collections that exemplify the best fall fashion trends.

“We asked them to rework items we felt were iconic and staple items from anyone’s wardrobe — a trench, a cashmere sweater and a blazer — pieces that are always in style, regardless of what decade or trend is the latest,” Rutson said.

She asserted the last decade failed to produce a “real definitive new look” and instead revisited a range of fashion eras, particularly the Eighties. As a result, many houses are now “looking at who they are and what their strength and history are and using that as a focus.”

In her view, it reflects a wish to be “less of a throwaway society, wanting to embrace our heritage while respecting craft and quality.”

Founded on the Hong Kong waterfront in 1850 by Thomas Ash Lane and Ninian Crawford as a provider of general goods and provisions for the British military and their families, the store’s early slogan was “The Place to Buy Anything from a Pin to an Anchor,” said Lane Crawford president Jennifer Woo, whose family took over the banner, then a one-store operation, in the Eighties.

Today, the luxury fashion stores stock more than 600 brands, what Woo bills as the largest assortment of international brands in Asia, spanning women’s wear, lingerie, men’s wear, shoes, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics and home and lifestyle products. Its services include dedicated personalized stylists and a cosmetics concierge.

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