London Fields

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”

– Samuel Johnson

After walking past Soho Square for, in all probability, the thousandth time, it suddenly occurred to me that no matter how long I live in London and strive to know it intimately, it will always be not quite what I thought it was. The British capital’s ability to remain a trove for new, quirky discoveries makes it one of the most exciting cities in the world. Beneath the beautiful architecture, luxurious shopping and gourmet delights, are heaps of unashamed quirks of fashion, art and space. Returning to London after my five months in America was as emotional as being reunited with a resoled pair of beloved six inch heels. Here is my tour of “The Big Smoke”…

First, the stylish stuff. From Bond Street to the Barbican, and the Victoria & Albert to Vogue House, London is a hotbed for the sleekest of the sartorial and questionably Tate-housed prized art.

Somerset 4    Somerset House 3

Somerset House. Home to the beautiful Courtauld Gallery, London Fashion Week and several stylish exhibitions in the depths of its white, neoclassical walls. The best on show at the moment is Blumenfeld Studio: New York, 1941–1960 which documents the 1940s/50s Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar photographer, Erwin Blumenfeld.

Westminster lamps      Westminster 2

Borough of Westminster. The aristocratic witness of a good deal of pleasant aesthetics despite stuffy, political associations. Previously a palace, the Banqueting House is a regal oasis of calm in contrast to the tourist rugby scrum that blights No. 10 across the road.

Fashion Translation Spring / Summer 2013

– Romantic

Romantic - Sass & BideRomatic - Giambattista ValliRomantic - John Galliano

Sass & Bide                                     Giambattista Valli                              John Galliano

Next, the culture. Though London becomes a Ritz for all things international, it is still so exceedingly British. As the spiritual home of the privileged Sloane and ‘Keep and Calm and Carry On” merchandise, finding one’s own nation charmingly quaint is not hard, as I dodge twenty Mulberry-toters, twelve King’s Road blow drys and two pairs of hipster creepers.

Buckingham Flags       Chelsea House

Wandering through some of the capital’s most exclusive postcodes is the best way to spot centuries-defying British traditions and tastes. Few places are more grand than the Mall (left), and home over the years to more titles, money and exclusivity than Mayfair, Chelsea, Pimlico (right) and South Kensington.

  Busaba

However, it is not British, but foreign cuisine that the capital serves best. Busaba Eathai remains one of my favourite restaurants.

Fashion Translation Spring / Summer 2013

Heritage

Heritage - ChanelHeritage - D&GHeritage - Vivienne Westwood

            Chanel                                                  Dolce & Gabbana                                   Vivienne Westwood

Thirdly, things to see. London’s landmarks make it one of the most recognizable locations on the planet. See them once by all means, but thereafter mix it up a bit – look at them from a different angle, at night or in isolation.

Victoria Monument       St Paul's 3

Only visit Buckingham Palace at night – you will be virtually the only person there and the car lights on the Mall from the Victoria Monument (left) are one of the most beautiful sights in London. St Paul’s Cathedral (right) should likewise be avoided until early evening – relax around its sides rather than at the swarming front steps. Don’t ever pay to go on the London Eye (below). If you want to see the London landscape for less expense and at your leisure climb up Primrose Hill or have drinks up the Shard.

London Eye 2

Fashion Translation Spring / Summer 2013

 Architectural

Architectural - FendiArchitectural - Maria GrechvogelArchitectural - Giles Deacon

          Fendi                                Maria Grachvogel                                          Giles Deacon

After that, pop down to Shoreditch High Street, nip across to Dalston, and don’t miss out Southbank or Notting Hill’s Portobello Road for the wacky and wonderful that London has to offer. However the city’s cultural quirks  deign often to be the obvious bleached haired, Dazed & Confused-reading kind…

Blue Tree 2      Euston

Stroll through the city’s neighbourhoods and you will stumble upon treasures like this (left) near One New Change, and look upwards once in a while to see something you hadn’t noticed before, as I did at Euston Station (right).

Hampstead 2     Hampstead Lauren

London is effectively constituted of a series of interconnected villages with their own unique, vibrant feels – Soho, Fitzrovia, Waterloo, London Bridge, Bloomsbury – and some feel more like their rural counterparts than others. Hampstead in North London is quintessentially English, complete with endearingly obvious street names (above) and rural lanes (below).

Hampstead

Fashion Translation Spring / Summer 2013

– Art Student

Art Student - Jean Paul GaultierArt Student - Vivienne WestwoodArt Student - Henry Holland 2

Jean Paul Gaultier                               Vivienne Westwood                             Henry Holland

Next, where to watch the world go by. Few cities can claim more leafy-ness than London. Reacquaint with your inner tree-climbing self at one of the royal parks or numerous green spaces – however, beware that the one you choose can say a lot about you…

Serpentine 2      Hyde Park Ducks

Serpentine Swan      Serpentine 3

Hyde Park is so humongous you can very easily never find your way out. Walk around the Serpentine lake and pop in at the Italian Gardens to see the baby ducklings (top right). Visitor Type: Non-descript.

Hampstead Heath       James Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath proves a romantic haven – the sort of place where you would be inspired enough to pen a novel, or simply do nothing like my boyfriend James (right). Visitor Type: Wealthy Bohemians.

Parliament Hill              Vauxhall Park

See glorious views of urban London in a rural setting from Parliament Hill (left), or people-watch in Vauxhall Park (right). Vistor Type for Both: Hipster

Fashion Translation Spring / Summer 2013

– Green Palette 

Green - Carlos MieleGreen - DiorGreen - Emilia Wickstead

Carlos Miele                                         Dior                                            Emilia Wickstead

    Finally, as not just a national, but international centre for luxury, London’s rich offerings deserve some respect. The list is endless – Bond Street, the Ritz, King’s Road, Burlington Arcade, Fortnum & Mason – but more accessible than you think. Put on some red lipstick and an LBD, who’s to know…

Savoy 2        Pimlico

The Savoy                                                          Pimlico

However, sometimes it is the old luxury which stands out…

Manion House 2       St Paul's

Mansion House                                                            St Paul’s Cathedral

         Somerset House        Somerset James

Somerset House

Fashion Translation Spring / Summer 2013

– Opulence

Opulence - Giambattista ValliOpulence - Roberto CavalliOpulence - Valentino

Giambattista Valli                       Roberto Cavalli                               Valentino  

During my week in London it was unexpectedly, but rather wonderfully, as high up the thermometer as Jerusalem. Therefore outfits to withstand a less than shaded Southbank and sweaty Victoria line were a necessity. Here is how I survived the double figure degrees…

Hampstead Purse

Fluro Croc Phone Purse by Topshop

Vauxhall Outfit LaurenLauren Westminster

Both: Blue Skirt (H&M), Black Suede & Leather Bag (Primark), Jeweled Sandals (Primark)

Left: Black & Gold Necklace (Pull & Bear), White Sheer Top (Primark)

Right: White Lace Camisole (Vintage), Aztec Print Bandeau (Forever 21), Tortoiseshell Sunglasses (Primark) 

 Vauxhall Raybans

Tortoiseshell Ray-Ban Wayfarers

St Tropezclinique-super-city-block-oil-free-face-protector-spf-40

St Tropez Gradual Tan                     Clinique City Block

Lauren London

Coral Dress (A Portobello Road boutique), Tan Shoe Boots (ebay.co.uk), Black Suede & Leather Bag (Primark), Tan Skinny Belt (Primark), Gold Necklace (Vintage) 

Dior FoundationBarry M hot pink

Dior Flawless Perfection Foundation (SPF 25)                Barry M Hot Pink Nail Polish

Hampstead Glasses

Round Tortoiseshell Sunglasses (Primark)

The best thing about London is, mind you, the people. Deal with the London heat avec Pimms and good company, surely…

Vieri and Luke

   My friends Vieri Capretta and Luke Boneham looking good in the heat at Somerset House.

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