So who else is watching Lily Allen's From Riches to Rags story on Channel 4? We tuned in to see what all the fuss was about as we had read about Lucy in Disguise when it was launched as part of Vintage at Goodwood last summer. Aside from the initial blaze of publicity and a few follow up stories in some glossies, we hadn't heard much about it since.
The idea of hiring, rather than buying, high end vintage apparel for special occasions certainly sounds an interesting one in principle. Moss Bros has shown for the past 160 years that garment hire works as a concept, and numerous designer dress and bag hire shops have popped up in more recent times, so why not vintage?
Sadly, Lily and her sister seem ill prepared for the challenges of setting up a new business in a sector of which neither has had any experience. At least they were honest about that from the outset and sensibly hired themselves a couple of experts, but throwing money down a black hole without a proper plan is inevitably going to end in tears. And there were more than a few of them from Lily when feedback from Mary Portas and a focus group of consumers was brutally honest about the concept, and especially the pricing, in the first episode.
The two episodes to date have not shown the project in a particularly good light and we can only hope it gets better. Storing couture vintage clothing in a smoke filled room which doubles as an office is nothing short of criminal - indeed is it not now a crime to smoke in office premises? - and will obviously be offputting to prospective customers, smokers and non smokers alike. Similarly, going off on buying sprees without customers or suitable premises on the immediate horizon is an especially perilous pursuit in the current economic climate as it will kill the cashflow stone dead. Enthusiasm for your product is no substitute for the hard work of marketing and selling it at the right price, preferably before your capital runs out!
We'll continue to follow Lily's progress (or otherwise) as it makes entertaining viewing, if a bit 'car crash' at times. As fellow vintage enthusiasts, albeit on a smaller and much more affordable scale, we wish her every success, but we're very glad she has a fall back position in that she can sing!