How to shop for fashion week with designer Patrick McDowell

When tasked with curating a wardrobe for Milan Fashion Week, the sustainable designer headed straight to Bicester Village.

When it comes to planning your wardrobe for sitting front row, “it’s all about mixing statement pieces with your everyday essentials to create outfits that work for all occasions – there are always lots of events planned,” explains Patrick McDowell.

Since graduating from Central Saint Martins, the Liverpool-born designer has made headlines with his sustainable approach to design. This year he’s even hosting a ‘swap shop’ at London Fashion Week rather than exhibiting a new collection.

“It’s important to shop designers who support sustainable practices and work those new buys with the key pieces you already have to create new looks,” he adds.

While prepping for his fashion week visit to Milan – where Patrick will be reporting backstage from the new Fashion Hub pop-up from the National Chamber of Italian Fashion (CNMI) – he made a trip to Bicester Village. “It’s so enjoyable to get out of the city: for the fresh air, amazing people and great food. The vegan soup and avocado-and-crab toast from farmshop restaurant & cafe was my favourite,” says Patrick.

But what about his wardrobe? “I shopped the Swarovski boutique – I love their support of young designers like me, as well as their sustainable production methods. I found some great Swarovski necklaces and earrings to wear at my swap shop in London.

“Gina also had amazing sparkles and the shoes are London made!”

It’s about mixing statement pieces with your everyday essentials to create outfits that work for all occasions

Patrick McDowell

Sustainable designer

Patrick’s eponymous brand features ethically produced materials and reclaimed fabrics, and his aim to reduce fashion's global impact through moral practices is something he’s passionate about discussing.

“Italy has been a pioneer in the past few years around sustainability and they’re really pushing forward with the new Fashion Hub pop-up. I’m so excited to see all the incredible designers, especially the five up-and-coming talents from Africa, hosted in partnership with Fidenza Village. It’s so great to see people with pioneering voices being supported by such a global platform.

“It’s also going to be so great to learn about the designers’ history and design process. As a designer myself it’s always so interesting to learn about other people’s way of working,” he adds.

Post-fashion week the designer would love to “visit a spa and go running through a forest” – even selecting “The White Company candles and vases to fill with fresh flowers to help me relax after a stressful fashion week” from the Village.

“But in reality I’ll probably be answering emails and running about London. I might have to settle for a bath!”

Don’t miss Patrick’s takeover of The Bicester Village Shopping Collection’s Instagram account (@TheBicesterVillageCollection) as he goes behind the scenes at the CNMI Fashion Hub.