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Here at JoJo, the design department are busy working behind the scenes on new clothing ranges a whole year in advance. To help come up with fresh new ideas, twice a year we travel to cities in Europe to get inspiration, and we’re just back from Paris, Antwerp and Barcelona with lots of new ideas!
On our first day, we got up bright and early to catch the 5:40am Eurostar to Paris from St Pancras – little did we know our morning was about to get a lot more exciting! As we were queuing to board the train, I turned round and saw Kanye West standing quietly behind me. I was so excited I shrieked “oh my God!” quite loudly before frantically texting my sister to share my news. I turned around for a second look but he’d sussed me out and put up his hood to try and look a little less conspicuous! There was no denying it was him, though no Kim or baby North unfortunately.
We arrived in Paris a couple of hours later (we waited for Kanye to get off the train for a final bit of excitement!) and headed to a trade show on the outskirts of the city called Premiere Vision to see what new colours, fabric and prints are forecast to be on trend in the coming season. After a long day there looking at hundreds of prints, we headed back into Paris for a dinner meeting with one of our Chinese suppliers who was also visiting the city for Premiere Vision. We went to the famous Chinese restaurant, Dave, which is really popular with celebrities. The restaurant’s walls were covered with photos of Dave’s owner posing with the A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Anna Wintour, Yves Saint Laurent and Renee Zellweger. We were hoping to get a glimpse of a few famous faces for ourselves but unfortunately it wasn’t to be!
The next day, we visited the Opera area of Paris to look for inspiration in the famous Galeries Lafayette department store as well as many smaller boutiques such as Jacadi, Petit Bateau and Bonpoint (which is frequented by the Beckhams). Paris is full of luxurious boutiques and Breton brands, and becoming immersed in the fabulous French culture is where JoJo takes most of its inspiration.
After a busy day at the Parisian shops, we took a two hour train to our next destination – Antwerp in Belgium. An early breakfast ensured we were waiting outside the department store Galeria Inno as soon as its doors opened for our first experience of Belgian fashion. We then took a walk around the pretty cobbled streets, discovering the many cute little stores filled to the brim with autumnal colours and fun ideas. Antwerp is truly brilliant for quirky prints, nursery ideas and independent boutiques.
When our day of shopping came to an end, we caught a train to Brussels and enjoyed a tasty Belgian waffle before catching the Eurostar back to London in time for dinner – but our adventures weren’t over just yet!
I had the weekend to relax and recover from the previous week’s travelling, before another 4am start on Monday morning to fly out to Barcelona for the day. My plane landed at 9am, which meant I had the whole day to squeeze as much in as possible. The weather was glorious – beautiful sunshine and highs of 28 degrees forecast. Unfortunately I was completely overdressed in my black skinny jeans and was surrounded by tourists in their hot pants – oops!
I started the day in the Gracia area of Barcelona which is filled with smaller international shops and boutiques, whizzing around to ensure I saw all the shops before they closed at 2pm for the afternoon siesta. After a quick bite for lunch, I headed to the El Born area in the old part of the city to visit a few small stores, then on to the Eixample area which contains all the large stores that Spain is famous for, such as Zara, Mango and Boboli. Finally, I visited Barcelona’s famous department store, El Corte Ingles which is full to the brim with Spanish and international brands, from high street to designer. The store also has an amazing terrace on the ninth floor, with stunning views across the city. I treated myself to a slice of cake while taking in the beautiful scenery before making my way back to London. Barcelona is fantastic for fun, bright high street stores and has a great mix of brands from across Europe.
Finally, I flew back to London and was in bed just after midnight, exhausted, but brimming with excitement, ready to arrive at the JoJo office and start designing the Autumn/Winter 2014 range armed with all my new ideas!