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LONDON — With London Fashion Week just around the corner, the city’s accessories scene is gathering some momentum, with the planned opening of Lara Bohinc’s first store and a new joint venture between Markus Lupfer and Katie Hillier for a line of accessories.
Bohinc, who has made runway jewelry for Gucci, Costume National and Julien Macdonald, is set to open the store, Lara Bohinc 107, next month. The shop will be in Alexander McQueen’s former basement studio at 51 Hoxton Square, near such arty destinations as the White Cube 2 and the Victoria Miro and Stand Point galleries.
The Slovenian-born designer said she was determined to find a site away from the city center and main shopping streets, which is why she chose the quirky Hoxton neighborhood.
“It would have been my worst nightmare to have a major retail shop with a staff of 10 to look after,” said Bohinc. “I wanted to create something more unpredictable than just a shop space, more like a gallery, but without being pretentious. Here I can do that.”
Bohinc, who graduated from the Royal College of Art and launched her line in 1997, said the shop will feature “teaser displays” throughout the corridor and stairs leading down to the basement shop. There will be display cases, a relaxation corner with a sofa and coffee table and a traditional desk for consumers to sit down and examine the jewelry. There will also be a slide projection that will change with each season and a walk-through lighting system that is activated by sensors and triggered by visitors.
The space was designed by architectural firm Elastik, which is run by Igor Kebel and Mika Cimolini, who are old friends and fellow Slovenians.
As for the merchandise mix, the unit will not just feature her signature metal and Plexiglas jewelry, but it will also be the launching pad for Bohinc’s new sunglass collection. Bohinc designed the line in collaboration with IC-Berlin, the German eyewear company known for inventing the unbreakable hinge.
“I’m obsessed with sunglasses, so I’m having so much fun working on it,” she said. “We’re using sheet metal for the line. It’s ultralight — and it’s also a material that I work with every day in my jewelry designs, so it fits in well with the collection.”
Currently, her jewelry sells at Language in New York and Harvey Nichols and Koh Samui in London.
“I would love to do shoes next,” she said. “It would be fun to do something new. With accessories, especially, I always think that you can apply what you know to something different and learn the rest from other people.”
Lupfer and Hillier, meanwhile, are planning to launch their collaborative accessories effort — billed “Katie Hillier for Markus Lupfer” — during London Fashion Week, set for Sept. 12-17.
The new line will feature hats, jewelry and gloves. For spring, Lupfer wanted a natural but modern look to fit in with his collection, so Hillier responded with jewelry made from a mix of Plexiglas and wood, and hats fashioned from straw.
“The advantage of designing together was that we knew each others’ tastes really well, so once it was decided who designed what, the design stage flowed easily,” Lupfer said. “But it was difficult at first because we didn’t want to confuse Katie’s line with my own line of accessories.”
The two decided not to overlap the categories: Belts, bags, scarves and shoes, for example, are part of Lupfer’s main line and not part of the collaboration.
The duo have been pals for 10 years — ever since their days at the University of Westminster. Soon after finishing the same course, they went their separate ways. Lupfer started his own label, and Hillier worked for Luella Bartley designing accessories and fronting her p.r. department. When Hillier left Luella earlier this year, she started working with Lupfer. The partners are aiming for 10 retail outlets worldwide in the first season.