Ben Dickens and someone called Robbie Williams, I think, at the recent launch of Farrell at Selfridges. The range is available at Selfridges London, Manchester & Birmingham.

Ben Dickens was the Design Director at Burberry for four years, working across all of the men’s product categories. Due to his career successes he was most recently charged with heading up Burberry Prorsum and the London collection working closely with the incredibly talented, Christopher Bailey. Before this, Ben cut his design teeth working along another iconic Brit Designer John Richmond in Milan.

In November 2011, he left the Burberry check behind him and join a fledging brand called Farrell, devised by someone called Robert Peter Williams, or as you my know him the sometime member of a band called Take that and has a couple of awards including Brits, MTV awards and Ivor Novellos to his name, Robbie Williams.

At the time of Dickens joining Farrell, William said, ‘A breath of fresh air is floating down the corridors of Farrell. The beautiful Ben Dickens has arrived, bringing his optimism, passion and vision to my Granddad’s clothing line. It’s beautiful to be at the start and see an open road in front of us. The more we talk, the more ideas we throw around – it’s exciting. It’s very similar to making an album, after all that’s what an album? It’s an idea. What is art? It’s an idea, as are clothes. We are at the tip of an iceberg, and it is an iceberg. Come join us, we are many.’

How the AW12 collection appears on the shop floor in Selfridges

Farrell, is inspired by Robbie Williams grandfather, Jack Farrell or Jack the Giant Killer, as Williams refers to him, “My grandfather, Jack Farrell – Jack the Giant Killer – was a huge man, built like an Irish navvy, fought in the Second World War, lived on a council estate… He was the first real male figure in my life – he was an honest man, he taught me to box, I was surrounded by women and he worried that I was going to be a sissy. The integrity of his influence runs throughout this collection.”

He claims that Jack was a notable dresser and a strong man who had great integrity, honesty, good manners and a sense of humour. It is these qualities that form the foundation of Farrell and are now ingrained into the brand ethos, from the design process to the shop floor. Farrell promises to deliver classic wardrobe staples suitable for a night in, an afternoon at the footie or a night out. ‘Wear it in, Wear it out’is Farrell’s motto. Every piece within the Farrell collection is designed to become a longstanding part of a man’s wardrobe, growing and evolving with the wearer over time. Pieces such as the iconic Pea coat and Harrington signify Farrell’s dedication to British style and the principles of men being men.

Ben defines the Farrell man: “This is a brand for every guy – whether you’re going to the pub, taking your missis to the shops, going out with the lads. They’re pieces which will last you for years.”

Now, learn a little more about this man, the range and the man behind it and Ben Dickens answers a couple of questions for

In your words describe the collection:

We wanted to create a wardrobe of perfected gent’s classic pieces and at a price that most guys could afford. Clothes with honesty, integrity and built to last; future hand-me-downs.

What was the inspiration for it?

The collection is a tribute to Jack Farrell, Robbie’s grandfather, and all the men of his generation; a time when men where men, acted as gentlemen and took pride in themselves and their appearance. For this season the collection took a more military slant. We worked with a beautiful old image from WW1 of the Christmas amnesty football match. It has a sentimental as well as a stylistic value to us.

What are the key pieces in it?

The collection is lead by the coats and outerwear. Within that particular pieces of note are the Great coat, the Military Control Trench and Peacoat. They are the kind of piece that when a fella puts them on they become his suit of armor to face the world.

What piece of clothing would you relegate to Room 101?

Diamante encrusted t-shirts, in fact any ‘bling’ encrusted clothes for men.

If you could give your teenage self advice, what would it be?

Under no circumstance attempt to wear – a zebra print shirt, cornflour blue twin set, white fur coat, red/blu/yellow ski salopettes, nail varnish, bleach-blonde hair and black patent buffalo boots in the same outfit.

What piece of clothing should everyman have in his wardrobe?

A great classic raincoat.

What piece of style advise do you live by?

‘Socks before, or after trousers but never socks before pants. Make’s a man look scary, like a chicken…’ – Mark from Peepshow 2003

If you could wear one brand/designer for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?

Farrell… So far – it’s the epitome of everything I want to wear.

What would be the one piece of clothing you would rescue from your home in the event of a fire?

My lucky undies (and perhaps my vintage 1941 Belstaff dispatch coat).

If you could have invented anything what would it be?

The Aston Martin, in particular the DB5.

Who is your style icon and why?

It’s a toss up between Steve McQueen and Harold Steptoe. Steve Mcqueen because he is cool as hell. Harold Steptoe because he’s literally thrown together, but always looks the epitome of disheveled elegance.

When I first started on this blog adventure and I came up with the idea of textual conversations, one of the first people on the list was Oliver Spencer, since its launch in 2002, I’d admired his clothes, the cut, the design and overall feel of the stores and the brand, plus over the years as I got to know him from meeting him at various Fashion weeks, events and the occasional pint, I discovered what a genuine and decent fella Oliver is.

Now whats interesting to know is with no formal training Oliver founded the label as a reaction to the merging boundaries between mainstream and fashion collections, bridging the gap between dress-up and dress-down. The label mixes quintessential English style with quirky flourishes and attention to detail.His signature label sits alongside his involvement with Favourbrook, the label he founded in 1990, and which now has three stores on Jermyn Street, London, catering for those seeking an eclectic take on modern sophistication.

Of his eponymous collection, Oliver admits, “I wanted to create clothes that bridge the gap between workwear and fashion, mainstream and utility.” In doing so he developed a sophisticated and intelligent approach, where detail is vital in each and every garment. Detachable collars, innovative linings, hidden pockets and quirky accessories are all stamped by Spencer’s craftsmanship and tailoring skills. As he says, his collections are, “All about culture, not about cult.” Notably Oliver made the decision to aim the designs at a more grown-up clientele, who would judge the designs on merit alone, and in spite of maintaining high production and finishes, the clothes retain a handmade sensibility. However, in turn his skills have caught the attentions of the Great British high Street and has seen him work with, amongst others Selfridges, TopMan & Asos on exclusive collaborations. Plus he counts Paul Waller, Mad Men’s Don Draper, sorry Jon Hamm and Benicio Del Toro as ardent clients.

Anyway, enough of me going on with myself lets see what he’s got to say for himself;

In your own words what is you’re A/W12 collection about & What’s your favourite piece in the collection ?

A Feeling of 1970’s Arthouse and the impeccable style of a youthful Lucian Freud.

The two tone bomber is my favourite.

If you could have invented anything what would it be ?

The iphone.

What’s your favourite piece of clothing ?

KWay pack a mack.

Who is your style icon ?

Lucian Freud, because he’s eclectic and artistic.

Tell us something no one else knows ?

Prada is going to open on Shoreditch High Street.

Can you tie a bow tie ? If yes, who taught you?

The unique Lucian Freud

Yes, Self taught.

What piece of clothing should everyman have in his wardrobe ?

A suit, one good suit.

Have you ever bought a piece of clothing and regretted it ?

Yes, A Yohji Yamamoto shirt, it was too big and made me look like a chef.

What do you have to do after this conversation?

Go and look at the venue for our forthcoming show.

What would you like to be doing after this conversation ?

Going to a restaurant.

What track would always get you on the dance floor?

Anything by Arcade Fire.

AskAnt had a bit of a hiatus over the summer months and we’ve had quite a few enquires asking about it’s whereabouts and well being. Fear not dear reader the sword of damocles has not fallen on this feature, not by a long chalk. So not only is a new season upon us but also a new quandary to test my retail knowledge and sartorial skills. So without further gesticulating, who’s the next subject please ? ;

Ahmed, I like your thinking, I’m currently in the process myself of sorting out new business cards & I can’t tell how mortified I feel when asked for a business card & I have to explain the situation. This instance is unforgivable and shows you in a negative light from the off set and in my mind is an immediate red card and something I need to amend post-haste. So without further ado, lets give you your options.

Now, I’ve decided not to go for the more contemporary  metal or plastic business card holders as I personally feel they upset me & the line of your jacket in the same way as a mobile phone would, they have a tendency to drag things down, a look which is amateur and unflattering. However, if this is what you are after the least offensive can be found in Muji or Amazon.

So, my choice of business card holder, I would go with something a little more traditional, but that can show off a touch of your personality and something that can say what you are about and what you want to put out there, ideally a professional persona.

Mulberry @ Harrods

1) First up is this beautiful option from Mulberry, it says traditional, aspirational, style savvy and masculine. This chic Mulberry business card holder is a sleek staple accessory that will see you through each season in businesslike style and is available from Harrods the height of unique sophistication.

Smythson @

2) Option 2 is  something a little more colourful, this Azure blue leather card case with one slim internal slip pocket and one gusseted pocket for business cards is by Smythson, if you want to display your creative, artist side and something a little left field that can be a good conversation starter, this is your boy and is from

Liberty London collection @ Liberty

3) Now your final choice is a bit of a trump card as it has many (many) options all from the under the same roof or platform depending on your preferred preference of purchase. The department emporium Liberty has literally oodles of business card holders and covers every personality from flamboyant statement to conservative classicism.

Acne @ Liberty

Lastly, as requested all of the above are all under the stated budget of £100, actually well under, so enough for another sneaky purchase or even a good night out, sir.

So Ahmed my friend, all that is left for me to do is to advise you, the choice is yours ??? Do let us know what your decision is and join us again soon for another style clinic.

Please remember, if you have any Sartorial stuppers and are in need of a little stylish advice PLEASE don’t forget your not on your own just email us here at @ and we’ll answer your problems practically.

Liberty – There aren’t many other stores that can boast shopping in such a beautiful environment

Many things are described as a British institution, everything from Bruce Forsyth to Eton Mess have at some time been cited as one. However one such institution that is undoubtably British through and through, as the afternoon teas they serve in their café is, Liberty. Nonetheless, dear reader, there is something distinctly Un-British at the heart of its corridors of power…..

Since, joining as buying director, from luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman, Ed Burstell was promoted to Managing Director in June 2010 and is now responsible for overseeing all buying functions and marketing at Liberty. The larger then life and surprisingly funny New Yorker, has blown off all trace of cobwebs from the traditional department store and transported Liberty well and truly into the 21st Century and placed it back on the international fashion map as a shopping destination for not only the local consumer but the cosmopolitan tourist to boot. Burstell, has been highly instrumental in the recent launch of the new Liberty Westfield Stratford City store, just in time for the all important Olympics. In this period Liberty has collaborated with such brands as Nike, Barbour & even the international value retailer Target, taking full advantage of the legendary floral print. There is no possible doubt that Burstell has taken Britain to his heart, but at the same time it’s very clear the UK and Liberty have adopted Ed too. Now a man this busy you would have thought wouldn’t have time for interviews and yes he doesn’t but when call you, its hard to say to no;

Ed Burstell – The Managing Director of Liberty

What piece of style advise do you live by ?

Never dress or admit your age or you’ll become your age.

What’s your favourite piece of clothing ?

My Miguel Adrover cashmere column top coat – years before Twilight or True Blood…

Who is your style icon ? Why ?

Steve McQueen. Hot, in absolutely anything.

What piece of clothing should everyman have in his wardrobe ?

A hoodie. Cotton for the kids and cashmere for the rest of us.

If you could have invented anything what would it be ?

The airplane or space ship. The mystery of flight still amazes.

How did you get into the industry, what was your big break ?

After my gap year of living on the beach in Florida and doing what one does when living on a beach in Florida I found myself back in New York with no money and no job.

It was November and I went to Macy’s. They had two jobs – Santaland or a fragrance sprayer. I chose sprayer and worked my way up from the very bottom.

If you had one day to live what would be your biggest regret ?

That I had given up any vices.


What do you have to do after this conversation ?

Boring meeting with a supplier.

What would you like to be doing after this conversation ?

Pimms o’clock with a cigarette

If you could only wear one brand/Designer for the rest of your life who would it be ? Why ?

Rick Owens, for his consistent original vision over time.

Who would do you ideal diner guest and why ?

Grace Jones, 64 and still kicking ass.

Never one to do things by convention, the brand and house of Alexander McQueen has long been known for its dark, gothic and unusually beautiful nature in how it produces garments for both Womenswear and more recently menswear. After the untimely death of its namesake, figurehead and dare I say Spiritual leader, Lee McQueen who tore up all of the fashion protocol and did things very much his way. Still in keeping with Lee’s spirit and producing equally jaw dropping collections Sarah Burton has taking McQueen’s mantle and completely ran with it, to her credit.

For the Menswear Collection for Autumn 2012, the brand has produced a short film to showcase the range, which is directed by Marlon Rueberg, with music by John Gosling, The film very much captures the essence of McQueen and truly what the brand is all about.