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The Queen and The Quinn: a historic front row LFW endorsement

What a day for Richard Quinn. The emerging designer delivered perhaps the biggest headline of London Fashion Week as Her Majesty, The Queen was sat in the front row of his show on Tuesday. Her first ever appearance at a fashion show throughout her 60-year-plus reign is some global endorsement for both the designer and LFW.

Perched between BFC chief executive Caroline Rush and US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, she was there to present the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.

Prior to the show, she toured the Designer Showrooms event to view the collections and met the creatives behind labels showing as part of Headonism and Rock Vault. They included designers Completedworks, DAOU, Frances Wadsworth Jones, Harvey Santos, Lily Kamper, Rachel Boston, Shimell and Madden, and The Season Hats.

The Queen

WGSN’s Alice Gividen captured HM, The Queen as Richard Quinn’s collection came down the runway.

She was then introduced by Sarah Mower (who’s BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent) to a group of Newgen designers including Ben Cottrell, Charles Jeffrey, Grace Wales Bonner, Liam Hodges, Marta Jakubowski, Matthew Dainty, Michael Halpern, Nicholas Daley, Paula Knorr, Phoebe English, Richard Malone and Sadie Williams.

Quinn, who has just been announced as the newest name on the Debenhams list for its Designers at Debenhams label (see below), was honoured as the first recipient of the new award named after the British monarch. The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design was initiated “in recognition of the role the fashion industry plays in society and diplomacy,” and will be awarded annually to an emerging British fashion designer “who shows exceptional talent and originality, while demonstrating value to the community and/or strong sustainable policies.”

Later the Queen called the award “a tribute to the industry, and as my legacy to all those who have contributed to British fashion”.

London-born Quinn established his signature label in 2016 on graduating from the Fashion MA course at Central Saint Martins. Specialising in womenswear and textiles, he’s known for his strong prints and “for his ability to combine unique handcrafted skill with a refined high fashion sensibility.” He also established a print studio that offers high quality, accessible services to students and his peer group of emerging designers.

The award itself was designed by the Queen’s personal advisor Angela Kelly, who has orchestrated her wardrobe for the past 26 years.

During his show, some models wore headscarves, un-coincidentally similar to the style favoured by the Queen, but tied unconventionally to cover their faces. There were also motorcycle helmets print-matching the outfits, puffa coats and brightly printed foil capes, inspired by mid-century couture shapes.

After the show, Quinn told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s a bit surreal. We only found out a few days ago so we added in a few Queen touches with the headscarves and the scarf patterns, we were already planning a few scarves but we really hammed it up.”

Meanwhile, Quinn has just been added to the line-up for the flagship Designer at Debenhams by the UK department store group. The first collection will debut in May and will comprise 12 dresses, priced from £69-£149, with a second collection following for spring/summer 2019.

Steven Cook, Debenhams’ MD of fashion and home, said: “Collaborating with design talent to create collections with appeal to the high street is a compelling part of Debenhams and we are delighted to recruit Richard’s fresh and unique aesthetic to our offer.”

That unique aesthetic includes a high profile in print creation and with print and pattern being a key purchase-driver at present, that should be good news for the chain.

It follows the arrival of Preen on the roster two years ago, a collaboration that has made a big impact, despite the retailer facing challenging trading conditions. A capsule Studio by Preen dresses collection has been added for SS18 and the retailer has rolled out the line to more stores for a total of 48 locations.

Debenhams is currently trying to reinvent itself as a hub for ‘social shopping’ and part of its approach to this has included taking a close look at its Designers at Debenhams offer. It’s dropping long-serving designer names and picking up newer, cooler brands that should resonate with Millennial shoppers. Yesterday’s HRH endorsement for Quinn and his work, plus the accompanying mass publicity, will also help.

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