The darling of London’s shopping emporia turns forty this month, and invites the whole city to celebrate.
It’s a rare thing in the fashion world to treasure any one individual for their achievements. We’ve celebrated Louis Vuitton who has brought us the key trends of the last century – safari, androgyny and mini skirts in high fashion. We have rejoiced in Christian Dior’s gift of the New Look, which brought new optimism after WW II left the fashion industry ragged and frayed. We’ve honoured Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren for the beautiful anarchy brought to us in the shape of the Punk movement of the Seventies.
And yet, often those who have worked hardest to bring such talents to the forefront of the fashion media have frequently been considered as little more than inconsequential background noise. One exception to this is the universally adored Mrs. B (as she is affectionately named). Joan Burstein is the co-founder of one of London’s most iconic department stores, Browns, who this month is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a huge bang. Mrs. B’s nose for raw talent has brought us such designers such as Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and Halston to these shores. She was the first to sniff out talent from the Far East in the shape of Japan’s Comme des Garçons. And hounded out local talent Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan, both of whom have had the honour of having their graduate collections snapped up at first sight.
Festivities to celebrate the landmark age include an exhibition celebrating forty years of fashion innovation. Acclaimed photographer Paolo Roversi is set to shoot forty portraits of Brown’s ambassadors in the shape of designers, models, musicians and artists, headline names such as Natalia Vodianova, Lulu, Marc Jacobs, Alber Elbaz and Roksanda Ilincic. Each carefully chosen for their Classical Style aesthetics, which Browns loves to present. Famed set designer Simon Costin is also enlisted to curate the exhibition.
Running alongside the exhibition is the sale of the ‘Future Collectibles’ capsule collection. Forty designers – all part of the Browns heritage – come together to create a collection of forty limited edition pieces. Pieces include a version of Stella McCartney’s now iconic boxy blazer, a pair of Nicholas Kirkwood’s wonderfully cartoon-like shoes as well as designs from Missoni, Christopher Bailey and Dries Van Noten. Intended to be both aspirational and affordable, prices range from £175 for a Maison Margiela t-shirt through to £3, 750 for a Chrome Hearts handbag.
Browns has also partnered up with key luxury outlets in Zurich, Dubai, Berlin and Geneva to make the ‘Future Collectables’ collection accessible world wide, through the form of temporary pop-up shops.
The birthday celebrations begin on the 12th of May when Browns official dinner party will launch the exhibition, and will be opened to the public from the 13th of May at The Regent Penthouses and Lofts, The Courtyard, 16-18 Marshall Street off Broadwick Street W1. Entry is free.

Viewed clockwise, the pieces are:
1. Hussein Chalayan Dress
2. Phillip Lim Jacket
3. Balenciaga Jacket
4. Missoni Dress
5. Chrome Hearts Bag
6. Christopher Kane Dress
7. Nicholas Kirkwood Shoes.

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Browns, Christian Dior, Hussein Chalayan, louis vuitton, Malcolm McLaren, Paolo Roversi, Roksanda Ilincic, Vivienne Wstwood,