1 12 THE LIST 1 -1:') Apr 2004
Look up your credit cards: EMPORIO ARMANI has come to Edinburgh. But Helen Pidd is just as excited by another new fashion outlet in the capital.
he new Emporio Annani shop in Edinburgh is so swish they keep the
bras behind glass. If you want to check the cup size a sales assistant
has to crank open the display to reveal the lacy treasures. It's the lingerie equivalent of fondling the Venus de Milo.
This. couture kids. is the latest upmarket dazzler to adorn Edinburgh's shopping crown. Should we be excited? Honoured? Dismayed at the spread of Urbanisme Nouveau‘.’ Or do we actually not care a jot‘.’
If you believe the hyperventilating fashionistas and council propagandists. Giorgio Armani's decision to open an Edinburgh store is a signal that the capital‘s shopping scene is in rude health. it‘s a conveniently amnesiac claim. What about Edinburgh's placing in this year‘s Experian shopping league'.’ Ranking 16th is a little embarrassing. Especially when Glasgow — home to an Armani store for over a decade — triumphed. coming second only to London.
According to the St‘nlsnum. Armani himself is delighted with the new outlet. But not so delighted that he could attend the opening bash. sending instead his ‘UK ambassador‘. non-entity Hello! favourite Lady Helen Taylor. to keep Kelly Cooper Barr and co in canapes.
Given that the perpetually over—tanned Italian wouldn‘t leave his sun- lounger to make the trip. Edinburgh seems to have been doing all the wooing in this courtship. LaSalle Investment Management. which acts on behalf of the owners of Multrees Walk. admits that financial incentives were offered to businesses jumping aboard.
Whatever. the store opening certainly bodes 1w" well for the ‘Walk'. which. Harvey Nichols aside. has been a sorry sight since opening in 2002. Empty and lifeless. its pale sandstone walls had all the atmosphere of a prison exercise yard. Now Armani and Louis Vuitton have To joined the party. however. others are clamouring ' for membership to the gang. Valvona & Crolla is poised to open a posh cafe while clothing chain
Reiss and shoe retailer Sole have both snapped ' up units. No doubt the opening of these shops will add
a new dimension to the city's retailing landscape. but it‘s not yet clear whether Edinburghers crave so-called ‘destination stores‘. After all. until recently the majority of store card holders at Harvey Nichols hailed from . . . Glasgow.
What the city really needs is access to hip. young designer labels. and certainly not more safe. old-skool stick-in-the—muds to please the pashmina‘n‘Pringle loving old guard. While there is a definite tendency to over-emphasise the MTV effect. Edinburgh is doing its damnedest to shimmy right into the modem age. And it needs the shops to prove it.
Huzzah. then. for Livi. a boutique which opened in March to rather less fanfare than its glamorous rival on the Walk. Situated just off the Royal Mile on Jeffrey Street. ()livia Scholze‘s new venture deals in palatany priced. hard-to- find designer knick—knacks. The way-cute prom dresses by Hunter and Gatherer are nothing less than divine. while Lulu & Red (a favourite of Beyoncé and Kylie) offer gorgeously raggedy. ribboned skirts. Armani‘s gennolene pink suede jackets just can‘t compete.
As well as wooing the corporate big guns. the council should chuck money at the independent little shops which struggle to pay the exorbitant rents. Analogue and Odd One Out on Victoria Street are two examples of operations sticking their necks out with exciting new designers but who receive zilcho governmental support. Armstrong's on the Grassmarket. meanwhile. is still Scotland's best vintage outlet. It sells stunning antique petticoats — and not one of them is kept out of bounds behind glass.
Livi, 3 Jeffrey Street, 0131 556 71 17. Emporio Armani, The Walk, 0131 523 1580