Hitting the Streets of London

Greetings from London – a city of inspiration, excitement, and the capitol of creativity in terms of fashion!  Anyone who has met me knows that I, whole-heartedly, love London and everything about it.  Often, friends ask me why London instead of New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago? No, it is not that I dislike the United States or would ever be unhappy remaining working and living within them.  I think back to my days of college hunting and finding my perfect fit.  I knew where I was meant to be at that time because I got that comfortable feeling I was home.  For me, London offers me the same feeling of belonging, not to mention an endless array of world culture, museums, exhibits, innovative architecture, and influential street fashion!

Each time I return “home” I try and explore and see new exhibits and areas I haven’t been to before.  This trip, I crossed Tower Bridge, took a left, and headed to the Design Museum where they were featuring the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year Awards exhibit which they refer to as, “the Oscars of the design world.”  This exhibit showcased innovative and ahead-of-its-time designs from around the globe from architecture and fashion to transport, technology, furniture, and more!  It was here, standing in front of the first 3D printed haute couture shoes in the world, referred to as the, “Melonia Shoe,” designed by fashion Swedish designer, Naim Josefi, and industrial designer, Souzan Youssouf, that my appreciation for those creative minds in this world is refreshed and revived.  I think many of us go to an art gallery, look at a painting, and think, “I could do that…what’s so special about those spatters of paint on the canvas and why do they refer to the guy who did it as an artist.”  Be not mistaken, these creators take on an entirely different perspective of the world at times and convey their thoughts, feelings, and emotions into their pieces of work.  Fashion designers look into such things as ancient history, the shapes of buildings, and colors in the sky, and then create masterpieces from what they take away from it.

Floral shorts from TopShop!

TopShop Aztec Sleevless Gilet

After being inspired at the museum, I caught the tube to my other favorite location for inspiration – the streets in Westminster, Notting Hill, Chelsea, and my personal favorite, Oxford Street.  Street fashion in London blows my mind. 98% of the time I am in awe over the genius and enlivening looks Londoners can throw together and pull off.  Just about every person walking high street, passing favorite stores such as Top Shop, Zara, H&M, and Uniqlo, look like they could have just stepped off the runway.  London is the one place where you can combine a leopard print jumpsuit, striped cardigan, paisley scarf, and a pair of Keds without raising any eyebrows (except to the occasional American tourist who finds what that person is wearing as hideous while they merely sport the ever fashionable sneakers, logo t-shirt, and sports cap).  What is currently walking the streets of London everywhere are brogues!  Made popular on the runway during fashion week was Prada’s thick soled version.  This generally low heeled shoe which originated in Scotland and Ireland, then made only of un-tanned leather, now is available in canvas, leather, cotton, and lace, not to mention as many colors as one can dream about! I now, am a proud owner of a pair. Along with brogues are short shorts!  Anywhere you turn, you will be sure to spot a young girl in the shortest shorts imaginable. Forget daisy dukes because next to these, daisy dukes could be the next capri! Luckily, these are typically worn with opaque tights, eliminating (usually) the “cheeky” show of the rear!  Last but not least I can’t seem to escape prints and patterns! Spat all over garments are polka dots, tie dye, floral infusions, tribal pattern, and nautical stripes.  This seems to be the season of no rules! Mix, match, and wear with attitude.  Just don’t forget the John Lennon sunglasses, and fringed leather vest.

Christian Louboutin - Freddy studded brogues

Red leather brogues

Pink patent leather brogues

Maybe it is because I consider myself to be a risk taker in life, but I find London fashion, shown through exhibits in museums and worn by the thousands on Oxford Street daily to be exciting and remind me of what fashion is really about!  It’s about having fun, inspiring yourself & others by letting your clothing do the talking, and most importantly feeling happy and like you, when you step into your favorite floral shorts, throw on your Native American poncho, and slip your toes into those ruffled ankle socks and strappy sandals! After a short stop in Zurich, I will see you back in the states!

Animal prints everywhere!

Short shorts and personal style.

London Holiday – Day 6

Today has been one full of mixed emotions. On one hand – I’m back in London and loving every minute of it. I’ve seen my favorite places and visited with my favorite people while experiencing and walking around new locations which led to meeting new acquaintances – everything I love to do.  …On the other hand – today is my last day and in less than 24 hours, I am going to be on a flight back home. Why…why…why…couldn’t the UK just accept one more visa (mine) before changing their tier system, making it basically impossible to live there without a top profession (science, medicine, engineering basically), getting a sponsor (also incredibly difficult since they raised the fees), or marrying an EU citizen (which I’m actually totally open to! But still – not too easy when you live in the U.S. and they live, well…there). To sum it up in one word – frustrating!

Anyhow, wanting to make the most of my last day, I made sure Smoker and I woke up and got moving at a decent hour.  I received a text message from one of my old London professors having to cancel our date that night due to meetings in the early afternoon and forgetting he had an appointment later that evening. I was a bit bummed.  I love talking to Lyndon when I’m back because he seems to see a side of me that sometimes I don’t even see.  He has a different perspective on life, living, and world issues; therefore, our conversations are never lacking interesting topics nor are they ever dull.  However, things are what they are and we’ll just have to wait until my next return to catch up. On the plus side, with not meeting up with Lyndon that day, it opened up a few hours for something else!

To Tower Hill tube stop we went!  I love this stop because as you walk out, you get the most gorgeous view of the Tower of London and as you continue on, a beautiful sight of Tower Bridge (which many people actually think is London Bridge…which it is not. They are different.) and the Thames.  We walked halfway down the bridge and found out the path was closed on the one side so we would have to cross the street. Well, to do that we needed to walk all the way back to the beginning of the bridge, then cross.  I’m not a person to do the unnecessary, especially when time is on the line! So I threw a leg over the fencing dividing the street from the pathway and waited for Smoker to do the same.  Bless this girl – I throw a lot at her and she does it without complaint (most of the time).  As she is a very short woman, with short legs, it was much more difficult and amusing, especially to me, to see her try to hop the fence as I had.  I may or may not have gotten the stink eye from her while she was doing this, haha.  She’s also trekked around all of London with me for the past few days, walking fast, and hitting the pavement hard.  The last two nights of my stay, Smoker actually let me sleep in her bed because she prefered the couch where she could elevate her poor feet.  I laughed at this and loved the idea seeing as I was scrunched on the couch anyways!

Well, she made it…alive.  We crossed the bridge and instead of turning right towards the rest of bustling London, we took a left and headed a few blocks down to the Design Museum.  Lyndon has suggested to me a couple of years ago, I go visit this museum, seeing as I was a fashion major who appreciated the arts.  Smoker and I paid just a few pounds to get in which is pretty uncommon, as most museums in London are free to enter.  We walked up what seemed like 200 steps and finally made it to the 1st floor where the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year exhibit was held.  So many fascinating things were to been seen!  The exhibit showed everything from architecture to fashion, to furniture and more.  Some of my favorites included a Lanvin dress and Jil Sander jacket, wall art from tiles, and the Melonia shoe.  The Lanvin dress was from the spring/summer 2011 collection and the Jil Sander jacket was designed for Uniqlo for autumn/winter 2010.  Both of these designers are geniuses in what they create and I was glad to actually see some of these pieces up close instead of photographs on a runway.  The wall art from tiles automatically grabbed my attention because of the colors and shape the tiles were placed.  It was part of the Blueware Collection in the United Kingdom and used a process that captured direct impressions of botanical specimens on ceramics using light and photosensitive chemicals – similar to blueprinting.  But what striked me as being the most unique was the Melonia Shoe which is the first 3D-printed haute couture shoe in the world!  These are used to develop a new vision for shoe production where customers would come visit a shop, their foot would be scanned, and then an individual, personally tailored pair of shoes could be produced for you.   Even better – the shoes were inspired by the ecologic concept of ‘no material waste’.  The homogenous nylon material is easy to recycle, creating a manufacturing and dispoal loop. Sign me up! I’m all about recycle and reuse!

Lanvin - spring/summer '11

Blueware collection

The Melonia Shoe

A uniquely "spun" chair at the exhibit - which was really comfortable!

We left the Design Museum starving, figuring we would pick up a bite on the way to our next stop, the Hunterian Museum, wherever we saw somewhere.  We passed a cute little cafe, Teapod, which look decent so we stepped in and grabbed a bite.  It was perfect for what we wanted.  One of my favorite meals is a jacket potato with beans, and that’s what I ordered! Absolutely delicious and I hadn’t had it yet that trip so it was great timing!  We continued our walk along the Queen’s walk that runs parallel to the Thames.  The weather was great – sunny skies and a decent temperature. Still not warm enough to go sans jacket, but again, I’ll take that instead of cloudy and rainy any day!

Beautiful day with Tower Bridge in the background.

We caught the London Bridge tube to Holborn and find our way to the Hunterian Museum, only to find out it was closed Sundays and Mondays – which I knew, considering I had written down the museum schedule in my moleskin, but didn’t seem to pay attention to that part when planning my last day! Bummer. Again…oh well, something to do next trip!  As we were walking, I discovered that Smoker hadn’t been to Harrod’s yet! Baffled, I insisted we go so she could see the grandiose of the greatest department store in the world.  You can literally get lost within Harrod’s and even I need a store map each time I walk in to guide me to the next room.  We walked around a bit seeing what they had to offer but not really planning to purchase anything. I still had to spring back to the shop at Spitalfield’s market to pick up Brendan’s birthday card before heading to his place that night.

We returned to Spitalfield’s but sadly, the shop was closed – so I had to make do with a second card we found at another shop close by.  I had a particular card in mind for Brendan and I actually think the second card we found was the better choice. Everything happens for a reason. Done deal – purchased.  We didn’t have much time to waste because I was planning on returning to my favorite pub on Edgeware Rd. (where I happened to stay during my long visit last summer & met most of my worldly friends), the Green Man, to meet up with and see old mates, Rauls and Rachel.  Rauls is a crazy Latvian who woes the ladies with his natural charm and good looks, not to mention his adorable broken english talk, that at times makes me squint in concentration as to what he’s saying.  All around, Raulsy (as I like to call him) is hilarious and can make anyone laugh with his good and bad jokes.  Rachel is originally from Scotland and now lives in London, working, trying to climb the ladder like myself, within the fashion world.  She is a textile designer and works at an office in Camden designing pieces that can be seen at various stores like M&S on Oxford St.  This girl is seriously talented and easily has a huge career ahead of her.  I love catching up with her because she truly understand what I’m talking about when we discuss designers and areas of business.  Can’t wait for the next get-together!

Finally, I headed to Brendo’s around 9 back in Chelsea.  His flat is amazing.  He and his mates rent the top 2 levels of a house while she has the bottom 2.  The upstairs living room is wall-to-wall filled with books and very reminiscent of a library, which I secretly love!  I gave Bren his witty card I made him and a couple of Ben’s cookies, which have to possibly be some of the best ever made (besides mine 🙂 ).  Smoker, Andrew, Bren, and I finished watching a movie and then switched to the comedian, Jim Jeffries, who was hysterical.  I always have a good time with Brendan and really didn’t want to leave that night, wanting just one more day, like always…

For Brendan: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia 🙂