• What to wear

    Twice a year, designer Alice Ashby travels to Pitti Filati in Florence - the Olympics of yarn - to source succulent threads for her contemporary knitwear brand Blake LDN.

    Straight lines, neutral shades and colour-blocking are signatures for the brand founded in 2012. So it comes as little surprise that Alice's first job fresh out of Central St Martins was assistant knitwear designer at New York headquarters of Rag & Bone - the brand that could write a monograph on single-colour chic.

    But with a litany of fresh-faced designers emerging each year with the same speed as the Greeks launched boats in search of Helen of Troy, what makes Blake LDN standout? Quality not quantity could be the brand's epigraph; all the pieces are made by skilled British craftsmen from the the finest Italian materials (merino, cashmere, cotton and angora). And as Alice releases every design in limited numbers, each collection is tightly considered with longevity in mind. Take the high street conveyor belt and picture the opposite.

    Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2015, Alice has been experimenting with new yarns; the aesthetic is minimal, the quality is high and the wearability oh-so comfortable. Sold via her website, Colette in Paris and on Net-a-Porter, for which she has created exclusives, it won't be hard to find yourself wrapped in a Blake LDN angora sweater or cashmere beanie.

    By Bridget Arsenault


    Blake LDN offers all Vanity Fair A-List members the chance to win a one-to-one consultation with the brand's designer Alice Ashby at The Secret Christmas Grotto on 2nd or 3rd of December (2 Percy Street, London W1T 1DD). With Alice's guidance the winner will pick out a piece from Blake LDN's Autumn/Winter collection (value up to £300). 

    Don't miss out on future offers,  sign up to the A-List.

  • What to buy

    Despite unfavourable odds, Hunter has fashionably crossed over to the urban side.

    Thanks to Creative Director Alasdhair Willis, Hunter is no longer the preserve of honking country sloanes. What began with festival folk realizing the value of a dry trotter, has paved the way for Hunter wellies in a palette of pantone pretty colours. Suddenly the rubber boot was footwear of choice at unpredictable-summer-weather parties across the land.

    Willis has sprinkled magic dust over the 1856-originated brand, making inclement-weather wear irresistible to townies. Last week the new flagship store opened on Regent Street, decorated in primary brights, that give a cheery feel to the potentially gloomy act of buying wet-weather gear. And the same goes for the slick product that includes rubberized rucksacks, a dream green duffle coat and knits with fluoro hits, that cleverly remind the joy of childish puddle-splashing rather than cursing adult caught in a storm. 

    The new shop is filled with (albeit mud-free) reminders of the brand's outdoor roots; floor to ceiling videos showing country life, leafy light-box backdrops, a bright red garden shed and a (fake) grass-lined lift. And despite Hunter's rainbow brights being aimed at urban slicksters, all the classic hits are still there. So there's no upsetting the (notoriously fierce) green wellie brigade.


    Hunter, 83 Regent Street, London W1

  • What to see

    Unlike many actresses who are happy to slip on their allocated clothes, get on set and do the job - Gone With The Wind star Vivien Leigh saw her outfits as central to the character she was playing and would often collaborate at great length with costume designers.

    To celebrate these collaborations, Fashion and Cinema have created a weekend of talks and screenings, including a discussion on 5th December led by V&A Theatre and Performance Curator Keith Lodwick. Followed by a screening on 6th December of The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone for which Leigh was dressed in Balmain haute couture, with an introduction by Kendra Bean, author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait. And finally on Sunday 7th December a screening of A Streetcar Named Desire (for which Leigh won the Oscar for Best Actress in 1952) at Ciné Lumière with an introduction by both Kendra Bean and John Lahr, author of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh.

    And if that's not enough, then a visit to the V&A Theatre Performance Galleries will sate the most curious fan. Last year the museum acquired Leigh's archive, which includes rare photographs, diaries and over 7,500 letters addressed to both Vivien and her husband Laurence Olivier.

    Fashion & Cinema: Dressing Vivien Leigh, 5th-7th December