Elizabeth Galton – the new it-bag of fashion AND/OR missing Links

January 14th, 2009

I’m sure it was the hottest ticket in town, last Thursday 18th Sept 08. Camilla Campbell certainly knows how to throw a summer swansong party in Sloane Square. With the secret code of “SocGen’s Women’s Network: Anthology”, I was ushered into a bedazzling Aladdin’s Den of haute couture, under lock & key … at dusk. The local Sloane Rangers narrowed their eyes and bit their proverbial lip, as I disappeared into Links of London. Even still, they couldn’t have imagined what they were missing. I would soon be privy to the secrets of one of the foremost movers and shakers in town. Elizabeth Galton, Creative Director of Links, herself, would reveal what is to become the new “it-bag” of the fashion elite: the Anthology collection.

 

I was stunned by the sparkle, but managed to find the lovely ladies who launch from SocGen, and helped myself to the amply stocked array of healthy nibbles in their company. With glass of oaky red wine in one hand, I steadied my purse with the other and squeezed in with my colleagues on the couches to avoid temptation.

 

The lights were dimmed, the screen was lit and we were on the edge of our seats for the wizardess of glamour, Elizabeth Galton. Cool and poised as she guided us through the dramatic, colourful sweep of her promo presentation, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was really someone behind the scenes. Surely she belonged in front of a camera or on the catwalk – the preferred vehicle for her work, her forte in fact. Svelte and styled to perfection, it was no wonder she was able to soothe the savages on Dragon’s Den, twice – even doubling her money in the 2nd round. But never mind the hype, we all discovered that Ms Galton is one qualified lady. With a Central St Martin’s undergraduate degree in silkscreening & goldsmithing and Masters from Royal Academy of Art, she started her own brand, upon graduation about 10 years ago (no shrinking violet!), and rocked the fashion world with commissions by Gucci, Mont Blanc Swarovski & Mercedes Benz. She’s crafted installations for Harvey Nichols, regularly features in British & Italian Vogue, was the darling of London Fashion Week 06 with her Orchid’ Ready to Wear collection and ‘Orchid’ Diffusion collection, plus she was shorlisted for ‘Bright Young Gems’ at International Jewellery London and for UK ‘Jewellery Designer of the Year’ Award. More recently she has expanded into Asian and Australian markets with her collections – notably Blonde Venus, Australia & On Pedder, Hong Kong. She joined Links of London as Creative Director 2007, to expand collections into new categories.

 

“Affordable Luxury”, she finessed, when asked about her place at creative helm for Links of London.

 

Anthology collection

This unique and truly original showcase centers itself on a concept that they name, “Spirit of Discovery”. It focuses on travel, whether globe-trotting on the planet or just jet setting within the realm of one’s imagination – through time, even. East meets West is a recurring theme. The collection also hints at Victoriana style keepsakes and treasures, art with the imprint of nature (the pressed leaf imprint on some pieces nearly dances across the white gold surface) … and even costume history.

 

The press for Autumn collection includes 11 images showcasing jewelry and watches, but the hero of the collection is the Diamond Capsule Pendant, inspired by the Japanese inrō. The inrō was once a 16th C. miniature case to carry tiny objects, like medicines & identity seals, since there are no pockets in traditional Japanese costume. It is now coveted object d’art. This particular model of inrō is available to order … and worth £28,000, but it is designed to be customized. The wearer curates her/his own inrō pendant, with various companion pieces, including diamond embedded charms, lockets, keys and other personal treasures worn close to her/his chest. There are 4 categories of gem featured in this body of work – Rose quartz, rock crystal, Red Jasper (crown cut exclusively for Links) and Turquoise – all on white 18 ct gold. For those who do not consider 5 figures to be anywhere near “affordable luxury”, not to worry there are also some micro-pave’d diamond inrō available for £2,500 – a bargain, considering how handbags are priced recently.

 

Watches – “Chinks in the Links of London

Links of London launched their first watch collection AW07 last year. This year sees their 1st Limited Edition range, with a nod to Elizabeth Galton’s expansive contribution as Creative Director. With an emphasis on bling, the “refreshed” watch collection will be launched early October in 4 different irresistible flavours:

 

Driver Charm – watch as jewelry whereby the miniature time face dangles from the wrist chain as if a charm bracelet. There is opportunity for engraving on the back within a Baroque background, to stress the timepiece as jewelry.

 

Driver Ellipse – feminine but luxuriously large, they have added two new cocktail watches this year – White & Black – both with diamond indexes (but the White variety lights up at night).

 

Driver Ellipse Chronograph – distinguished by Mother of Pearl face

 

Rogue Axis – Evening wear, featuring gold plate case

 

Next year will see the launch of a new family of sport watches in February 2009 including an exclusive range which hosts 365 diamonds – one for each day of the year. I didn’t dare ask the cost. If I have to ask, I can’t afford it right?

 

Driver Edition 16 – only 16 models of 5 editions, so extraordinarily exclusive. The look suggests “provenance of Sloane Square”, but there are 2 more varieties within this spec:

Baroque –female/curvey – more decorative or Gothic

Art Deco –male/geometric –defined by style of London landmarks

 

Driver Chicane – launched by the sponsorship of British Formula 3 driver Henry Arundel, this is a particularly sturdy model boasting a titanium PVD (powder vaporized deposit, don’t you know) coated stainless steel case. Competitive, where timing is everything whilst on track, and perfect for road rage at rush hour during the oil peak.

 

 

The Anthology collection is quickened by diversified teams of fashion experts and watchmakers all over the world, including those in London at Hatton Gardens and nearly onsite, just around the corner from the Sloane Square outlet, at Duke of York Square. Designs are submitted for approval by Elizabeth and other directors. Elizabeth admits to being passionately involved in negotiating the final result, sometimes hotly contesting decisions in the sign off process, with a dedicated creative temperament. She also has the final word on the promotional campaign for her bespoke couture. This writer was amazed that someone as serene as Elizabeth Galton could be a dragonlady in the boardroom, but it is obvious that she gets what she wants.

 

When asked how she would avoid the fate of Burberry’s or Tiffany’s – providing cheaper product which spirals to high street overexposure and a Chav reputation, her reply betrayed a savvy and acumen beyond what would be perceived as a pure “creative” talking. She acknowledged that it was a seamless skill to tread a fine line between affordable product & blatant exploitation in the journey from brand to product, especially in the context of Far East “snide”. She revealed that her trick is sheer mastery of design – “raising the bar of luxury”- and quality materials, whilst maintaining adequate pricing: solid business fundamentals, really. As an example she cited her designs with rock crystal as apropos for office wear to lunch on Sunday. Galton is pitching for middle market and her design flair is trump.

 

It seems like there is palpable chemistry between Links & Galton. The promotional campaign is definitely informed by Galton’s theatrical flair for catwalk design; and while the actual designs for Anthology are more daring and bold than traditional Links fare, they are also a departure Galton. Elizabeth Galton, the brand, is renowned for its outrageous and extrovert qualities. Indeed some of the showstoppers for her Orchid Gem series, created for Swarovski, border on Centurion style performance art pieces – woman as warrior or even some variation on the theme of a floral iron maiden. Her choices for Links of London are more intricate and draw from real, functional moments in costume history. She has triggered a different emotion with her newest works. Though she jokingly refers to herself as the “Anti-christ” of Links, Elizabeth Galton is definitely leaving a luxurious mark on Links of London.

 

Links of London Background

Started from the kitchen table, literally, of Annouchka Ducas and her husband John Ayton, two London fishmongers. They tried unsuccessfully to find a pair of salmon cufflinks for a client and had a pair crafted at Hatton Gardens which they designed themselves, and then sold to Harvey Nichols. Opened a shop, referred to as “the fishbowl”, in Broadgate, 17 years ago, and have since expanded to Hong Kong, Dubai, USA, Canada. October sees an opening in Japan and in China, next year. In July 06 sold up to Folie Follie Group.

 


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