London Fashion Week Day 2

Quite frankly, after Day 1, I was already pretty exhausted. The days just seem to take it out of you – way too much coffee and vitaminwater floating around, not nearly enough food. I started the day at Somerset House, meeting up with my editor Rachel. I used the time to get some street style photography in, devour some yummy espresso frozen yogurt, and sing loudly along to alt-j, which was blaring out in the courtyard. I got photographed a few times myself, as had opted for a fairly eye-catching floral crown; and I got interviewed by a lovely chap about what I was wearing.

 

Next it was up to Vauxhall Fashion Scout to see the beautiful Ji Cheng show, which was absolutely stunning. Again, full write ups will be on my work websites, so just a quick overview on here. The editor of Vogue China was front row, as was Kate Nash, who had a rather intriguing Cruella De Vil hairstyle going on. After that I went to the press lounge to chill, and drank an awful lot of this stuff called Zeo water, which is supposed to make you feel rather giggly. They had a nice chap from Beach Blanket Babylon making the drinks into non-alcoholic cocktails, with cucumber and rosemary, lime and agave syrup etc. Really yummy stuff, I’ll definitely be serving it as a booze free cocktail!

Then it was a dash off to Goldsmith’s Hall for the Jeffrey Michael show. I have to say, I love the venue hugely, but it’s a massive trek out, and the show was probably less than 10 minutes long, so a bit frustrating! I was starting to really flag after literally running from Mansion House to the hall  in heels, and eating only a tiny cup of fro yo and a bag of low calorie popcorn. Never trust anything low calorie, I always say! The show was actually rather beautiful, full of strange and interesting textures and technicolour, and with the ever fascinating front row presence of Pandemonia.

Like a bat out of hell, I moved from the Goldsmith’s Hall (by the way, I’m not saying it was hell. Or that I’m a bat) back to Covent Garden where I got stuck in the Saturday night people traffic while making my way to the Royal Opera House. By this stage, I was dizzy and increasingly disoriented, and desperately trying to get to the venue on the time. I saw the presentation of A La Disposition in the Crush Room, which was impeccably presented and had a theme of ‘Misfit Toys’, but the creepy chiming music box children’s soundtrack made me feel even weirder. As I left, I was proffered a goodie bag containing sweets and one of those Jean Paul Gaultier designed Coke bottles. I’ve literally never been so happy to see a goodie bag, and I ate it like some sort of well dressed pig on my walk back to Vauxhall Fashion Scout.

Back to the bliss of the VFS Press Lounge, where I collapsed into a squishy leather armchair, had some more Zeos and a Vita Coco, and tried to pep myself up for the evening. Bernard Chandran went some of the way to perking me up  – an incredible show by the man whose clothes have been worn by Gaga, Estelle and Rihanna. Very New York, very sports luxe, and extremely glossy. I met my friend Grace and we headed off to the Bloomsbury Ballroom for Fashion Retrospective, an event mounted by the truly awesome Bourne & Hollingsworth. You can read my full write up here, but let me just say it was beyond fantastic. We drank Gatsby cocktails out of champagne coupettes, saw some of the most incredible vintage pieces on the catwalk, watched a man drive a Vespa through the middle of the ballroom, and ogled the hot waiters. Strongly, strongly recommend getting along to one of their events.

I was nearly dead the next day, so didn’t go anywhere on Sunday, but Days 4 & 5 will be coming soon…

What does ‘Vintage’ mean to me?

Not too long ago, I was informed of the fact that a website called VintageBrighton.com were looking for bloggers to fulfil a brief for them, writing on the subject ‘what vintage means to me’. Being in a massive rush, I skim read the brief ridiculously quickly, and as a result completely misread the word content, managing to write roughly 10x as much as was required. Go me. Anyway, I thought I’d publish my thoughts on my site, as well as directing you towards the site. Vintage Brighton is a great resource for all sorts of information around the South Coast, providing events listings, shop directories, blog posts and features. Check them out, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @vintagebrighton. You won’t regret it. 

Ask any vintage enthusiast the question ‘what was the first piece of vintage you bought?’ and I’m 99.9% sure they’ll all remember. I am no different. It might as well be yesterday that I loped up the stairs of a juice bar-cum-vintage shop in Falmouth, Cornwall. (Look, it was the noughties. Everything was a juice bar!) I was on a family holiday, and was pleasantly bored witless. We embarked on a day trip to Falmouth – I think some sort of maritime museum might have been involved – and on the main drag of the town, I spotted this shop.

I think it was called something like ‘Kitten Caboodle’. I fancied myself as a bit of a vintage lover, despite the tiny technicality of not actually…well, you know, not actually OWNING any of the stuff myself. Now was the time. I was about to be deflowered. I stole across the wooden floorboards, convinced I’d be pegged as an imposter, but no one said anything. I began to grow more confident. I walked from item to item, gazing, stroking, smelling. Oh. Ok, no smelling. Blimey.

I have a little philosophy, which is that in any particular vintage clothing emporium, there will be one item that has been torn from your dreams and has tucked itself onto a hanger for you. Just that one item. The thing that you’ve always desperately wanted, whether you know it or not. It might a 1920s headdress. It could equally be a peter pan collared 60s minidress. Maybe it’s a sweatshirt from the 80s.

It didn’t take me long to find my destiny on that day in Falmouth. It was a romance. I spied her, gleaming under the soft lighting, flirting with me, dripping lazily off her hanger. I stepped closer. She was a 1930s silk Hollywood style floor length dressing gown. And when I say ‘dressing gown’, you are obliged to INSTANTLY banish any ghastly thoughts of towelling, or terry, or God’s forgotten fabrics. This was lace trimmed, creamy, champagne coloured perfection.

I wasn’t in a little shop in Falmouth anymore. I suddenly understood it perfectly, this desperate need for vintage. It made sense of everything that was going on inside me. It linked together my cultural references, my personal codes, the things that were sartorially important for me. I was brought up on a diet of black and white films, theatre productions and furtive readings of glossy magazines. As a child; even as a teenager, I’d felt an aching sadness inside that I would never descend a staircase in a perfectly cut Grecian gown, my lips wine red, my hair tortured and teased into conformity.

I’d never be able to live the life of my screen idols. How could I possibly tilt my champagne saucer to one side, lower my cigarette, and deliver a startlingly brilliant line to my dashing and moustachioed male companion? I couldn’t do it, I simply couldn’t, because all my friends were wearing jeans and drinking Bacardi Breezers. That sort of glamour or lifestyle couldn’t still exist because it would look bizarre. Oh, I was a frightfully narrow-minded teen. I went through a very bad stage of just wanting to conform, so if jeans and alcopops were the way forward, then that was what I should have to resign myself to.

I simply hadn’t realised it was all possible. That I could trip around louchely in my ‘house coat’, draping myself over furniture. I could dazzle in my Grecian gown. I could be Edie Sedgwick, or Marilyn, or a Chekhov character, or Lolita, or ANYONE AT ALL. I wonder if you remember the time when the whole world opened up to you? When you suddenly realised that your childhood dreams were fine – that you really could be whatever you wanted to be? And the best part was that I wasn’t alone. Others shared my dreams too. I knew that I wasn’t different, or wrong, for wanting to live in an England where gin & tonics were perfectly blended and sipped on the lawns of country houses with men in white linen. That ignoring every other sport apart from croquet was not a crime. That fancying men in moustaches is not only acceptable but highly encouraged…

Ultimately, I dress in a carefully considered way. You might see me in a long black coat over a white lace mini dress with some flat boots on, but that isn’t what I’m wearing, actually. I’m actually dressed as Masha from Three Sisters, embarking on a doomed love affair, before hopping off to swinging London for a big of gogo dancing on Carnaby Street. And it doesn’t matter to me that you don’t know that. Because I do.

After purchasing my 1930s gown, I began to curate more. You can’t plan what you’re going to buy when it comes to vintage clothing, because you ever know what you’ll find. But just looking at my wardrobe, I can see the jacket that Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend wore, a 60s minidress that also reminds me inexplicably of Charles II, and a white dress with a blue satin sash that is pure Sound of Music. My clothes make me happy. Each thing I wear means something different to me, and I’m proud to say that vintage clothing has defined who I am today. I’ve finally got my champagne saucers.

In short, vintage has helped make me ‘me’.

Tunbridge Wells Fashions Night Out

*This post was first featured on http://blog.loveisboutique.co.uk/616/tunbridge-wells-fashions-night-out/ – go and check them out!*

On Thursday 8th September 2011, I was lucky enough to be part of a very glittery, exciting evening at Love is Boutique. Apparently some people were heading to London for, oh, I don’t know – the Vogue-hosted Fashions Night Out, something like that. Well, Fashions Night Out most certainly came to Tunbridge Wells. At around 4.30, the sun had burst through an otherwise rainy day, the champagne was chilling, the goody bags were at the ready (more on those later), my shockingly bad playlist had starting to pump out of the speakers, and the first of many shoppers stepped into the shop.

Love is’ was looking on absolutely top form, at her shimmery, glamorous best, enticing in the hoardes of Tunbridge Wells. The window featured one of the most glorious tableaux I’ve ever happened upon. A mass of inky netting and lace formed into a skirt, topped off with the crispest of crisp white shirts, accompanied by oversized Louis Vuitton bag and a sprinkling of blood red shoes. Seemingly settling in the folds of this tremendous skirt were a host of pink metallic butterflies, and adding to the ethereal effect were a pair of fluffy angel wings.

Inside the shop itself was no different. The lights twinkled, the vintage brooches jostled for attention, snakeskin lay with eelskin, creaking antiquated vanity cases burst forth with a profusion of silk scarves and driving gloves, all watched over silently by the Gods – a gaudy Galliano tunic, a suave Dior dress, a Jean Varon confection in peach. Crowning this already sparkling glory were an army of sleek, musky furs – a distinguished presence on rails and mannequins. Our hosts for the evening looked just as stunning. Paula colour-blocking merrily away in tomato red maxi skirt and shoe boots the colour of blue hydrangeas, and Lynne walking her usual inspired line between edgy and elegant in black jumpsuit, biker boots and Missoni knit jacket.

It was into this warm and welcoming environment that a host of bloggers, press, and general darlings of Tunbridge Wells walked. As the champagne flowed, they walked, mesmerised, as ‘Love is’ began to work its unique magic on them. Almost instantly, jackets were seized, dresses were whipped away into loving hands, and a queue formed for the changing rooms. By 5.30-6ish, the boutique was absolutely teeming. Photos were taken of every dazzling surface, delighted treasure-hunters were holding up lace shirts, Moschino dresses, tuxedo jackets, and slipping into the embrace of those rather excellent furs. Item after unique item was carefully handed over, wrapped in tissue, and sent on its way. Customers were, quite rightly, charmed by the boutique. In fact, the only thing that slowed them down was pausing to consume an utterly delicious truffle (or two) from Little Treats Bakery (http://www.littletreatsbakery.co.uk/). These little stunners not only looked spectacular, but achieved the truffly ideal – not too sweet, so all the more reason for helping yourself to a few…My personal favourites were the coconut dusted version, although I did try all of them, just to make sure. Purely in the interests of research, naturally.

After the sheer joy of finding a vintage or designer item at a bargainous price, the next thing to put a smile on the face were the massively generous goodie bags, organised by both Becky Cowing (http://champagneandgoodbags.blogspot.com/), and Maria Matzeu, who you can find on Twitter as @nikemaria. I have to admit, I’m a huge one for a well-stuffed goodie bag, and these were just that. We were spoilt for choice with two types. I’m going to go into details, purely because I still keep looking at both of them and smiling.

Green goodie bag

Arranged by Becky, these contained some spectacular products from Nature’s Finest Cosmetics. (www.naturesfinestcosmetics.com) I’ll admit it – years of being a complete and utter beauty junkie have dulled my excitement somewhat when it comes to new products, and it takes a lot for me to get excited these days. Well – impressed I was. I squealed in delight on opening the pristine white box containing the Natures Finest bits and pieces. I can’t remember the last time I saw something quite as pretty as their ‘Purple Hills’ soap, a perfectly crafted chunk of heaven, in pink and purple, smelling of patchouli and lavender. Their slogan is ‘Nautral Needn’t Be Boring’, and quite right, I say. I’ve used that soap every day since getting it, and I think I’ll be buying many, many more. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve also got two tiny glitterballs to pop in my bath. Excellent job to both Becky and Nature’s Finest. I think I’m in love with my soap.

Pink goodie bag

These were courtesy of Maria, the resident Clarins goddess of Tunbridge Wells. I’d always been convinced Clarins was for older skin, but Maria set me straight and showed me the light. I was delighted to receive one of my favourite products, the Clarins ‘Water Purify One-Step Cleanser’ in mint, along with Clarins ‘Wonder Perfect’ mascara. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any luckier, I spied something divine. A perfect recreation of a dress, in biscuit form, devised by Emma Buchanan of Array of Cakes (www.arrayofcakes.co.uk). Not only did it look incredible, but, reader – I ate it, and it tasted just as fantastic.

Goodie bags aside, the evening really served to highlight the best assets of ‘Love is’ – the personal service. After the happy hoardes had scattered out into the night, swinging bags full of their new wares, just a few remained in the shop. One particular young lady was looking for a dress for an awards ceremony. She’d found a few nice but unremarkable dresses, and was nearly swayed by a perfectly luscious nude lace 30s style drop waisted number, but she didn’t feel it was quite right. Lynne cast her expert eye over the dresses in store, alighting on a beauty – a lurex maxi dress with squares of bronze, silver and gold. The ¾ length sleeves and collar detail made it an ideal choice for a daytime ceremony, and Lynne paired it with a biker jacket to give it a kick.

Lynne and Paula absolutely come into their own with this kind of informal styling service. There’s no pressure, shoppers are given an honest opinion, and will always be encouraged to take some time to think about it. Lynne suggested our young heroine gave it a few days before deciding, and that she should return with her own accessories to really get an idea of if it was right for her. As it happens, the cavalry was sent for in the form of a helpful friend, and Ms Awards Ceremony settled for the maxi, which she looked unbelievably gorge in. If you’re reading this, please send in a picture!

So, all round, a very successful night, and a great reminder about why this kind of boutique is such a treat to go to. Try getting that level of service in a standard high street store. Go on, I dare you. In the meantime, drop in for your very own styling session with the girls, and be sure to check out the truffles, biscuits and soap if you fancy treating yourself.

Lots of love,

Amelia