- The following Connoisseurs kindly volunteer their time to rate which launches they most eagerly anticipate. It is the scoring from these highly regarded figures that inform the VeryFirstTo Luxforecast and VeryFirstTo Awards.
Founder of: Proud Galleries, Proud2, and Proud Cabaret
Alex Proud created the Proud Group in 1994. The group has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings... Alex founded his first venture; Proud Galleries nearly twenty years ago. The project was built on a trailblazing conception of bringing accessible photography to the masses.
A natural born impresario, Alex expanded the company to include live-music and photography with the opening of Proud Camden Bar and Gallery in 2000. In 2008 the bar and live music venue moved into its current location in the Grade II Listed Horse Hospital.
Proud Cabaret was the next edition to the Proud Group. Opening in 2009 and modeled on a 1920s speakeasy, Proud Cabaret quickly established itself as one of the most luxurious and extravagant burlesque and cabaret restaurants in the country. This success naturally inspired added venues in Camden and Brighton.
Alex has a talent of taking iconic venues and making them relevant to new audiences. His latest venture has seen him redesign and reopen Matter as Proud2, injecting the venue with a new lease of life. This year alone Alex has commissioned the revamp of his Camden and Brighton dining venues to mimic the style and success of Proud Cabaret City...
“Many have an insatiable appetite for new items and experiences, it’s a phenomena I consistently witness. I’m looking forward to helping rate which are the ones that appear to be the most worthwhile.”
Founding Director of Bacchus
Anouschka's first career was as a soloist ballerina for The English National Ballet and then at the Deutsche Oper Ballet in Berlin working with renowned choreographers Bejart, Ashton, Macmillan, Bill T Jones and Michael Clarke.
She co-founded Bacchus in 1999 with her business partner Charlotte Lurot. As a child she travelled extensively with her family which fuelled her passion for international cuisine and travel in general.
At Bacchus Anouschka's team specialises in positioning and promoting quirky, innovative and premier food and drink brands, leading chefs, restaurants, hotels and design brands. Her clients include Nobu, Momo, Tramp, Sketch, Hakkasan, Locanda Locatelli, Pernod Ricard, Gourmet House Caviar, Poilane Bakeries and Established & Sons design collective. Anouschka is considered one of the most knowledgeable figures in the luxury hospitality industry in the UK.
Blogger; Dj and Model
Bip Ling has generated tremendous interest from the fashion industry. Her hugely popular fashion, music and art blog - www.bipling.com reflects her enthusiasms and serves as a touchstone for her ever-growing army of admirers and fans. Creativity is in her genes; she is the daughter of Tanya Ling, the artist and designer renowned for her fashion illustrations and William Ling - the owner of London’s Fashion Illustration Gallery. Over the last year, Bip has fronted and collaborated on campaigns for Forever 21, Loewe and she is currently the 'fashion insider' for CK one cosmetics and the face of MADE BY NIKE.
After graduating from London’s Central Saint Martins Giles Deacon worked with Jean Charles De Castelbajac followed by Bottega Veneta and the Gucci Group.
Giles has collected numerous awards starting with the 2004 British Fashion Awards’ “Best New Designer”. This was followed by the Elle ‘Best New Designer’ award in February 2005. In 2006 “British Designer of the Year” at the British Fashion Awards and in 2009 Fashion Designer of the year at the GQ Awards, as well as the ANDAM award. In April 2012 Giles was awarded Fashion Designer of the Year by The World Fashion Channel in Moscow. Giles has been involved in ongoing consultancy with New Look, has worked as Creative Director of FAY (part of Tods Group).
Giles is an established illustrator with work appearing in Interview, The Face, I-D, Dutch and Arena Homme Plus.
Since its launch in 2003, the GILES collection continues to be bought by the most prestigious stores in the world.
Giles continues to have a strong following amongst celebrities, including: Kate Moss, Kristen Scott Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen, Daisy Lowe, Daphne Guinness, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Carey Mulligan.
“New initiatives that showcase design and creativity at their best are a positive. Having the opportunity to identify the crème de la crème of future launches will be very informative.”
Gurinder Chadha OBE
Director and Producer
Gurinder Chadha is one of the UK’s most proven and respected filmmakers with a successful track record in directing films, which are international box office successes. Her most successful films to date include ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, the highest grossing British-financed, British-distributed film, ever in the UK box-office (on release) and ‘Bride and Prejudice’ - the first film ever to open at number one in the UK and India on the same day.
"British Designers are at the forefront of many exciting, creative initiatives. I wholeheartedly support any vehicle that brings attention to this exciting work."
Joan Burstein CBE
Co-founder of Browns
Joan Burstein, once described by the late Jean Muir as “a courageous retailer with a sense of discernment and a good nose for fashion”, founded Browns with her late husband, Sidney, in 1970. Then a small boutique, it is today recognised as one of London’s most famous fashion emporiums. Their daughter, Caroline, has since joined them and in 2007 was appointed Creative Director, shortly after which their son Simon moved back from Paris in 2008 to head up the company as CEO.
Mrs Burstein has been instrumental in the initial success of household names such as John Galliano, Donna Karan, Alexander McQueen and Sonia Rykiel. She has an intuitive eye for innovative design direction and has been known to snap up new prospects before most of her competitors had noticed their existence - for example, Browns’ support of British designers including Erdem, Hussein Chalayan and Roland Mouret. In 2006 Browns was actively involved in kick starting the careers of a new generation of designers, which included Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou and Roksanda Ilincic, by being the first to buy into their graduate collections.
In 2006, Mrs Burstein was honoured as CBE in the Queens birthday honours list. She was acknowledged for her magnificent work in making Browns the global fashion emporium it is today and her efforts towards the British Fashion Industry as a whole.
2010 saw Browns celebrating 40 years!
CEO, the Design Council
John is Chief Executive of the Design Council, appointed to assist its transition from government body to enterprising charity. The Design Council exists to champion and promote the use of design in transforming the way people live their lives. He has always been a champion of design having been President of the Design Business Association for three years and having been involved in many industry initiatives.
His career has previously spanned marketing in the private sector and running a number of well-known brand and design agencies including the likes of The Brand Union and The Holmes & Marchant Group.
He likes things beginning with a ‘C’ – Cycling, cooking, Cornwall and catching fish
Jewellery and accessories designer
A graduate in fashion from Westminster University in London Katie Hillier was commissioned in 1999 by Luella (Bartley) to create accessories for her second fashion show. Rave reviews lead to Katie working on jewellery, bags and small leather goods for Luella until 2009. Katie’s knack of creating coveted accessories lead to the launch of her Studio through which she has designed for and collaborated with Marc by Marc Jacobs, Jonathan Saunders, Giles, House of Holland, Hogan, Clements Ribiero, Salvatore Ferragamo, Asprey, Loewe in Madrid, working alongside Stuart Vevers and more recently Victoria Beckham.
Katie is amongst the world’s most sought after accessories designers. In 2009 she won Accessory Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards and in 2012 she was again nominated for the same award. In the same year she was also named as one of the 50 most influential names in British fashion by Elle magazine in the Elle Fashion Power List and in April 2009 she was nominated for Accessory Designer of the Year by Glamour magazine.
In 2010 Katie launched Hillier with a collection of fine jewellery. The collection consisted of 18ct gold ‘paperclip’ animal pendants, in her signature style of “luxury with a wink”. The Hillier collection of exquisitely produced, adorable fine jewellery and hair accessories in stocked internationally in some of Katie’s favourite boutiques including Dover Street Market in London, Colette in Paris and Biotop in Tokyo.
Image courtesy of British Fashion Council
Leanne Benjamin OBE
Principal dancer Royal Ballet
Leanne Benjamin, Born in Rockhampton, Australia, is the Royal Ballet’s longest serving principal ballerina. She was invited to join the Royal Ballet by the acclaimed choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan in 1992 and was promoted to principal a year later. She was awarded an OBE in 2005 for services to dance.
“In my world we are constantly striving to deliver freshness and originality. I’m relishing the opportunity to help rate the most innovative and enticing developments in a whole spectrum sectors.”
Chairman of Royal Society of Arts; former Chair of Channel 4; Chairman of Patisserie Valerie and Gail’s and FT columnist
Luke Johnson is a British serial entrepreneur. He is the Chairman of Risk Capital Partners LLP, a private equity house, and Chairman and part owner of Giraffe Restaurants and Patisserie Valerie and Gail's among other businesses. Luke is the Chairman of the Royal Society of Arts and he writes a weekly column on entrepreneurship for The Financial Times. He is also the author of several books.
Managing Director of Harrods
Michael began his career in chartered accountancy, training originally with Ernst and Young in 1980, before taking his first Group Finance Director position at Bassett Foods PLC in 1986.
In 1989 he transferred his skills to the drinks industry when he was appointed Group Finance Director of H.P. Bulmer Holdings PLC.
Retail beckoned, and in 1994 Michael took up the post of Managing Director of Lloyds Chemists PLC, later cementing a talent for the sector with retail roles at Celsio AG and Apax Partnership.
It was in 2005 that the opportunity came to take up his current role of Managing Director at Harrods Ltd. Michael has embarked on a programme of significant business development, growing Harrods into the unrivalled successful retail model it is today, while overseeing a smooth transition to new owners in Qatar Holding.
Michael was born in 1956 in Kingston upon Hull. He is married with three children, and away from the shop floor is an expert cook, while indulging a passion for collecting art and art deco glass.
Nadav Kander (b. 1961) was born in Israel and moved to Johannesburg, South Africa at the age of three. He began photographing at an early age and moved to London in 1982 where he still lives with his wife and three children. In 2009 Kander was awarded the Prix Pictet for his Yangtze, The Long River series and was also named International Photographer of the Year at the 7th Annual Lucie Awards. In 2012 Kander is exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery as part of their Road to 2012 project in which the National Portrait Gallery commissioned a series of portraits to celebrate London’s 2012 Olympics. His work appears regularly in many international publications and in early 2009, coinciding with Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration, Kander’s 52 full page portraits of Barack Obama and his closest colleagues, aides and advisors was the largest portfolio of work to date that has been published in one single issue of The New York Times Magazine.
A new series of Nadav’s work Bodies. 6 Women, 1 Man, made over the last two years, is published as a monograph by Hatje Cantz during October 2012. Monographs include: Beauty’s Nothing (2001) and Yangtze, The Long River (2010)
Model and British Fashion Council ambassador
Poppy Delevingne is one of the most sought after faces in fashion. She is in high demand with prestigious fashion brands, due to her iconic style and undeniable beauty. She has worked with several international brands, including Cartier, Agent Provocateur, Diesel, Paige Denim, Alberta Ferretti, Louis Vuitton Cruise, Mango and is the current face of Nails Inc, Zadig and Voltaire fragrance, and a brand ambassador for both Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Poppy has had worldwide recognition for her influential style & knowledge of fashion, which was noted by the British Fashion Council, when they invited her to be one of their ambassadors, to help support and develop young designers.
Professor Louise Wilson OBE
Course Director MA Fashion, Central Saint Martins College of Arts & Design
Professor Louise Wilson is the course director of the prestigious Fashion MA at Central Saint Martins, London. Wilson has taught some of the world's most revered designers during her tenure at the college, including Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders and Roksanda Ilincic. Widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the fashion industry, she is famed for her no-nonsense approach, tough-talking teaching methods, and razor-sharp wit.
Professor Wendy Dagworthy
Royal College of Art’s Head of Fashion
Professor Wendy Dagworthy joined the Royal College of Art in 1998 where she became a Professor and Head of Fashion, becoming Head of the School of Fashion & Textiles in 2000. She has now become Dean of the new School of Material.
She formed her own company in 1972 and two years later joined the prestigious London Designer Collections, where she subsequently became Director from 1982-1990. She had huge success during the 1970s and 80s selling her collections to an international market and exhibited seasonally at London, Milan, New York and Paris, which confirmed the importance of her contribution to the international fashion industry. In 1989 she became Course Director at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.
During the 1990s she became a design consultant to companies such as Laura Ashley, Liberty and Betty Jackson; a consultancy role which she still maintains. She has participated in various exhibitions, including the Cutting Edge exhibition in 1997 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, The London Look 2004, Museum of London and Focus on 4 Designers 2007, Bath Museum of Fashion.
Her personal dedication and passion for the fashion industry is reflected in the overwhelming amount of work she undertakes for all aspects of the industry. She has been a judge of many art and design projects, awards and competitions and has given lectures all over the world. She has been a member of key international and professional committees and remains an External Examiner for several major European colleges. Her ongoing commitment and influence continues with her membership of the British Fashion Council's management Council - a position held since 1996.
She was awarded an OBE for services to the fashion industry in the 2011 New Years Honours List.
"With such a plethora of luxury launches every season, it is a really worthwhile exercise to identify a number that really merit attention."
Sir John Hegarty
Founder. Creative. Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH)
John founded Bartle Bogle Hegarty in 1992, which was soon to become one of the most talked about and awarded advertising agencies in the world, winning every Agency of the Year accolade and every creative award possible and has been at the industry’s forefront for 27 years.
BBH, twice winner of the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement, has offices throughout the world with John overseeing all their creative output.
John has won golds at every industry awards including D&AD, Cannes and British Television. He has been given the D&AD President's Award for outstanding achievement and was admitted to the US One Show Advertising Hall of Fame. He has also been voted one of the most influential people in fashion.
He has an honorary Fellowship from the University of the Arts, London; honorary fellowship of The Marketing Society; honorary doctorates from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College and Middlesex University; and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Design Museum; as well as being awarded a Knighthood by the Queen in 2007.
John has recently launched the book ‘Hegarty on Advertising – Turning Intelligence into Magic’, and been honoured for his creativity at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, being the first recipient of the inaugural Lion of St Mark’s Award.
CEO and Co-founder of Matches
Tom Chapman and his wife Ruth founded Matches in 1984 near their Wimbledon Village home. Matches is an international luxury fashion omni-channel retailer with a point of difference – its curated edit is the best in new and established international labels. Offering a seamless experience across all its platforms: from online to its 14 stores, and Private Shopping department, Matches creates a truly personalised retail experience that encompasses International Style, with London spirit.
Trevor Baylis OBE
Trevor Baylis was born in 1937 in Kilburn, London and was brought up in Southall during the Blitz. His education was disrupted by the War which led to the failure at the 11+ exam. At the age of 15 however, Trevor was swimming for Great Britain. His first job was at a soil mechanics laboratory in Southall, where a part-time day release programme enabled him to study mechanical and structural engineering at the local technical college.
His early career was very diverse: he worked as a stunt man, escapologist, Physical Education Instructor for the Army, and proprietor of his own swimming pool company which successfully installed over 350 pools in schools throughout the UK using his own original design.
Inspired by a television programme on AIDS in Africa he invented the Clockwork Radio, and in 1997 he was awarded an OBE for services to Africa. Always concerned about the neglect of inventors, inventions and intellectual property, he set up Trevor Baylis Brands plc (www.baylisbrands.com) to help inventors get their products to market. He is also in demand as a public speaker inspiring others to ‘think outside the square.’
Wayne Hemingway MBE
Co-founder of Red or Dead; Chair of Building for life; Founder of HemingwayDesign
Wayne Hemingway MBE believes in the supremacy of design, whether in clothes or in buildings. He is a British fashion designer and co-founder of Red or Dead. He is also chairman of the South Coast Design Forum, and chair of Building For Life. At the height of his fame as a fashion designer, he sold his company Red or Dead and turned his attention to social housing.
Red or Dead began as a market stall in Camden. The label went on to receive global acclaim for its distinctive footwear, clothing and accessory collections. It won the Fashion Council's Street Style Designer of the Year award three years running. Wayne Hemingway has since been involved in many award-winning redevelopments of urban environments in Gateshead, Manchester, Lothian, London and elsewhere.
“There are numerous awards which retrospectively honour items after they come to market. To acknowledge items, which have yet to launch is a refreshing new idea. We’re letting consumers know what we feel are the ones to watch.”
TV presenter and DJ
Zara Martin is generating an incredible buzz and her unique rock n’ roll image has grabbed the attention of many industry insiders. She was the official host of London Fashion Weekend for two seasons and will be hosting this year’s The Clothes Show Live. She is currently in production for her own fashion based show for Sky Living ‘Show me your wardrobe’ which will be aired in October 2012. Alongside her flourishing presenting career, Zara has had notable success designing. Following a successful collaboration with fashion house BodyAmr, for Elephant Parade London she launched her first fashion line ‘BodyAmr & Zara Martin’, a seven piece capsule collection. It was a great success and sold out at retailers after her dresses were worn by Kylie Minogue, Cheryl Cole & Florence Welch. Her first jewellery line in collaboration with ethical brand, MADE is now available exclusively from ASOS.
“The VeryFirstTo Luxforecast and Awards is a first in its own right, I haven’t identified anything else like it. I am thrilled to be one of the Connoisseurs”
- Alex Proud
- Anouschka Menzies
- Bip Ling
- Giles Deacon
- Gurinder Chadha OBE
- Joan Burstein CBE
- John Mathers
- Katie Hillier
- Leanne Benjamin OBE
- Luke Johnson
- Michael Ward
- Nadav Kander
- Poppy Delevingne
- Professor Wilson OBE
- Professor Dagworthy
- Sir John Hegarty
- Tom Chapman
- Trevor Baylis OBE
- W Hemingway MBE
- Zara Martin