Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Celia Birtwell for Express

As it looks increasingly likely that I may be returning to the world of full-time work in the next month or so, I am taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather (same temp as London, but strong sunshine), to ping around Manhattan on my bike, shopping during the day and being a lady who lunches.

Composing an outfit of sundress, tights & sunglasses (I hate this inter-seasonal hot/cold dressing nightmare), I whizzed over to Meatpacking from the East Village (I do not recommend cycling over cobblestones) to meet super stylish ex-Voguette O and adorable baby Oscar at Zampa for lunch.

Afterwards, as we were across the road, I gave O a guided tour of Soho House - I'm proposing her for membership - & we looked longingly at the pool and roof deck in the bright sunshine. I walked her home, and she gave me a pair of her Alaia boots that she's no longer wearing in her baby looking after mode. Very welcome.Then off to Express to check out the Celia Birtwell line. I'm a bit slow off the mark, as it launched a week ago, so I fully expected it to have sold out.

But no, there were racks of it in all sizes, and the dresses have been reduced by 25%. Such a shame that it hasn't had much press, as the designs & finishings are far more detailed than anything boring old Topshop has done with Birtwell to date, & the silk chiffon is beautiful. There are rows of tiny self covered buttons on the cuffs and down the backs of the dresses, giving a very 70's feel. The sleeves and pussybow ties are generously cut too. It's great to see too that she is using her archive prints, so you really feel that you are getting something very Celia Birtwell, rather than the usual High Street dilution of the designers' ethos.

My criticisms? Somewhat stingily cut across the bosom in the medium & large, I was busting out all over which means I am going to have to wear my dress in the evenings rather than as a sundress, as planned. The price point, although a bargain for this Englishwoman who is paid in pounds, but gets to spend in dollars, is quite high for Express and, I suspect, is responsible for the slow sales. (Birtwell is not nearly so well known over here as she is in the UK.)

This is what I bought (please excuse dodgy cameraphone in changing room pics):Lapis Lazuli print pussycat bow blouse. There is some elasticated shirring under the bust, so I fear I will never be wearing this shirt without the cardi - way too alarming on the bust front otherwise. $79.50/£40Beautiful lilac Mini Posh Dot print dress - rather a lot of cleavage going on, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. $128 reduced to $96.Okay - these having nothing whatsoever to do with Celia Birtwell, but navy anything is hard to find, & I love their nautical styling, & they were on the way to the checkout. $44/£22