This morning there was nothing I wanted to do less than go outside. It’s been rainy and miserable in London all week and I’ve very much enjoyed being all toasty inside! But, needs must, and with post to post I braved it into the foul grey….
Packages dutifully recorded and posted, I rewarded myself with a flat white from Loves on Gravel Lane. I’ve been wanting to try the little cafe for ages, but it’s not open at the weekends so opportunities have been few. It was busy with the City lunchers but my coffee was served quickly and to perfection.
And next, a drop off at the charity shop (been having a sort out!) before wandering along to Old Spitalfields… I’ve been hearing about the Alternative Fashion Week going on there and so dropped in just in time to catch the daily runway show. Presented by Alternative Arts, the event runs until Saturday with a show every day at 1:15pm and a fashion market featuring some of the designers from 11am to 5pm. It’s free to get in too.
The aim of the event is to showcase the most original and creative collections by a fresh crop of new designers, promoting new talent to the press and fashion industry. It’s an international event, with over 80 designers from all over the UK and the world, as well as showcasing new models too. There’s certainly an emphasis on environmental awareness and ethical sourcing, but each collection was perfectly unique (and artfully soundtracked by the amazing The Mannequins, playing live)….. I’ve found it difficult choosing a few favourites to chat about!…..
Kensington and Chelsea college kicked off with their sculptural red dress collection, with rocky music and plenty of tatooed models. But my attention was really grabbed by George Strood, next up with a ‘Make do and mend’ collection of 40s inspired hand knits. The band beatifully backed the nest-haired models with a 40s swing track, proving their diversity fast. But Strood’s designs were not overshadowed, and the show had me hankering after the pieces on the his market stall afterwards.
Francisco Sanchez-Canete followed with a mixture of tribal prints and clashing neon orange and blue, accompanied by a drum and bass number. But it was Rasha Swais’ play-fighting models that really got my interest next, with gorgeously cut tartan and tweed menswear in vivid reds.
Rebecca Cochrane’s collection was perhaps the most readily wearable of all those shown, with unisex shaping, drop waists and thick soled plimsoles and boots. Charlotte Smith’s Espionage Collection up next though was very much my thing, taking inspiration from women at work during World War Two, with jet printed leggings and blouses, high waisted and beautifully tailored trousers, red star patches and an awesome jumpsuit printed with “Allie” and “Enemy”.
Chloe Watson showed a witty collection devoted to penguins, with prints onto silk and over-sized fur accessories, before the University of Derby’s third years provided a cobalt blue finale whilst The Mannequins played a great rendition of Blue Monday. The hour the show took up flashed by, and I came out keen to see more (and to hear more from the wonderful band).
Virtuously bypassing the free ice cream being handed out, I took a wander around the adjacent fashion market, finding some lovely designers to chat to. Lucky Dame’s ‘Couture Latex’ designs were an instant eye catcher, as were Katherine Tuck’s quirky prints.
Having exhausted one market, there was still plenty to see in the market hall next door. I know I harp on about Old Spitalfields Market, but it really is a brilliant place for treasure hunting. We made it to the last ‘Antique Vintage Flea Market’ held at the weekend (it’s there every Thursday from 07:30 to 5pm, plus every last Saturday of the month) but the range of stalls and contents today was far better. It was also much quieter, so I had a really good chance to chat to stall holders, and have a proper root through some of the treasures. I found two stalls crammed with old bits of jewellery at a pound a piece (I bought over a dozen old brooches and huge earrings to use as charms and for some bridal head dresses I’m planning) and another with a stack of old keys, from which I bought some Victorian and Georgian ones to make into jewellery. Oh, and because our next collecting task is for lots of mis-matched vintage cutlery (we already have a brilliant set of random glasses and china) the huge stall full of old cutlery caught my eye and will certainly see me return.
By the time I’d made it round all the stalls, I realised it was far past lunch time and I was ready for a large cup of tea, so it was homeward bound from there. And it didn’t even occur to me to mind that, once I’d stepped out from under the roof of Old Spitalfields, it had started drizzling again….. I was too full of the joys of pottering about my neighbourhood to care!