New boutiques from Christopher Kane and Roksanda; pop-ups from the Charlottes – Olympia and Tilbury; food by Soho House – if Bicester Village was once a shameful secret pencilled into our fashion address books, it now qualifies to be there in bold. Expanding by a third from October 19th to house a raft of high fashion newcomers, it surely qualifies as a style mecca.
The Village has in recent years become a fixture for shoppers revelling in the chance to buy past season Céline, Gucci, Prada, Dior and friends – during my last afternoon there I found a pair of Givenchy boots, a Valentino dress and a Marni blouse; not from the current season, granted, but they carry all the quality and lasting love of any high fashion purchase at a fraction of the guilt – because while it may be vulgar to talk about money, in this context the savings you make on iconic, beautifully-made pieces make it all the more fun.
“It’s such a great day out,” says Roksanda, whose first Bicester store will open for six months, alongside that of Christopher Kane, in two week’s time. “I hadn’t been for years and it was such a lovely surprise – great stores which are really well curated. They are very focused on providing a fantastic experience – food, atmosphere, wonderful flowers everywhere – it’s a treat!”
“From a business point of view it’s going to be a great way for me to open up the brand to a whole new customer – Bicester has a huge global reach – and from a personal point of view it has just felt really welcoming.”
The latest development will see the Village add 30 new boutiques to comprise a total of 160 covering mens, womens, childrens and sportswear including Acne, Joseph, Zadig & Voltaire and Orlebar Brown as well as great accessories and homeware from The White Company, Bamford and Villeroy & Boch. And as if they need to try harder, the lead up to Christmas will see the launch of The British Collective: a multibrand gifting boutique offering Chinti & Parker cashmere; Lily & Lionel scarves and Markus Lupfer knitwear – all pulled together by Luke Edward Hall’s gorgeous interior design.
“We are thrilled to unveil the new expansion at Bicester Village,” says Desirée Bollier, chair of Value Retail Management. “This new footprint allows us to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation to new levels, giving us the freedom to showcase young and exciting design talents of tomorrow.”
It’s only a little over half an hour from Marylebone on the train (and these days it has its own railway station about a minute’s walk from Gucci) – it can’t hope to hold onto its secret status much longer. Try it.