LONDON’S HATCHERY FOR DESIGNER IDEAS

Byline: James Fallon

LONDON — Egg has become the place designers shop for their apparel and, perhaps from time to time, an idea or two.
“All the designers come here for their weekend and at-home clothes,” said Maureen Doherty, an owner.
Like who? Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Joseph Ettedgui, Issey Miyake and Stephen Marks of French Connection, she said very quickly, adding, “That says something about the fashion industry today.”
Doherty opened Egg last year with Asha Sarabhai of the Indian apparel company RAGG. The little store in a former dairy on Kinnerton Street has a rough stone floor, plain wood display tables and a peaceful, subdued air.
“This shop basically is a space for like-minded people to find what they like,” she said.
What they like is mainly the khaki cotton collection from India, with drawstring pants at $86.90 (55 pounds), waistcoats at $150.10 (95 pounds), jackets with agate buttons at $197.50 (125 pounds) and A-line dresses at $237 (150 pounds).
But Doherty spices the mix with injections of designer collections Flyte Ostell, Eskander knitwear and Mr. and Mrs. Macleod jackets and knits.
There also are Chinese cotton jackets and pants in indigo blue, high-buttoning Breton wool waistcoats and Seinerzeit wool jackets from Austria. Not to mention butcher’s smocks from London’s Smithfield Market. “Customers thought they were Miyake,” Doherty said.
Doherty spent the first 12 years of her fashion career helping set up a number of women’s wear stores here, including Elle and Valentino. Then she joined Issey Miyake and helped him open his three stores in London and begin planning for the launch of his fragrance, L’Eau de Issey.
But Doherty grew tired of the fashion whirl and quit to study ceramics in Paris for five years. She returned to London, only to be recruited by the fashion chain Jigsaw as head of its design operations, which she did for a year and a day before quitting to open Egg.
Doherty doesn’t want to build a string of Egg stores worldwide, preferring to focus on the one she has.
“I’ve done the chain of shops. I don’t want that again. All I need is new projects to keep me interested,”she said.
Over the next few months, her plans are to introduce a tailored collection of unisex jackets and pants — but without a label.
“The only reason to put a label in is to promote it or make people safe to be wearing it. I don’t aim to be a multimillion-dollar company so I don’t need to promote the name.”
She also hopes to expand the store slightly to introduce more men’s wear and home furnishing items, and is working with a doctor and a perfumer in France to develop a line of fragrances and bath oils that will range in price from $157 (100 pounds) to several thousand dollars, depending on their ingredients and their containers, which will include limited-edition ceramic bottles.
But however pricy things may become, Egg will remain low-key, according to Doherty.
“We aren’t designer-based,” she said. “It’s to do with the senses and comfort, not with personalities. Egg is about being anonymous and a feeling that it’s been here forever.”