London: Tim Walker’s Fashion Fairytale

Yesterday morning, I had a breakfast date with Mulberry and Tim Walker to celebrate the launch of Tim’s Story Teller exhibition at Somerset House. It has been a whirlwind of a week (in a wonderful way), and I couldn’t think of a lovelier way to start a busy day in Parliament than by escaping into the fantasy worlds of my favourite English brand and my favourite photographer.

For those not immediately familiar with his work (though I’m certain you all will have seen his work within the covers of Vogue), Tim is a fashion photographer unlike any other. Unsatisfied by the easy aesthetic appeal of a beautiful girl in a beautiful dress, Tim creates fantastical fairytales driven by the most elaborate narratives. Imagine if your wildest childhood daydreams of gargantuan dolls and animated woodland creatures became a reality, throw in a sprinkling of couture, and you’re on the right page.

If you find yourself in London between now and January, I can’t recommend a visit to the exhibition enough. I don’t want to give everything away, suffice to say the exhibition is a showcase of many of Tim’s most beautiful portraits and editorials, all brought to life by many of his most extravagant props (of the grandest proportions) that will make you squeal with delight. I had only intended to stop by the exhibition for the briefest period (given the fact I was meant to be in about six places at once), but I was so caught up in the view of the world as seen through Tim’s extraordinary lens that, like Alice in her Wonderland, I fell down that rabbit hole and wasn’t sure when I wanted to return to reality.

Eventually, return to reality I did. I bid one last ‘cheerio’ to the human-sized bumble bee playing a double bass (obviously) and skipped back to Westminster, inspired by Tim to keep that lens through which I view the world permanently rose-tinted.

I’d love to hear about any wonderful exhibitions you’ve been visiting lately!

Love, Miss B xx

Story Teller, the exhibition is supported by Mulberry and is on at Somerset House, London from today until 27th January 2013 (daily between 10:00-18:00) and admission is free. Somerset House will also be screening a number of classic films, curated by Tim, throughout the duration of the exhibition. The Story Teller book is available on Amazon here.

 

Bluebells & Vintage at Columbia Rd Flower Market

Regular readers may remember this post I did for my 29th birthday on the 30 things I want to do before I turn 30. One of the points was to spend a weekend a month properly exploring London (I’ve lived here 3.5 years now and I still feel there are entire areas I’m yet to get to know) and more specifically, to make a trip East to the Columbia Road Flower Market which had been on my ‘To Do’ list since I first arrived here.

After seeing the post, some fashion friends emailed to say they wanted to help me work through my list and do this one with me (London exploration combined with a girl date is a big win in my book), so into the diary it went. Hurray!And so one Sunday a few weeks back, we all met at the foot of Columbia Road for a day of boutique-rummaging, eating and flower-buying. Undeterred by the rain, we wove our way up the length of the flower market, pausing to smell giant bunches of roses and giggle at the cockney cries of “10 for a fiver!” and “hello, gorgeous!”. We ducked into all the darling little boutiques (thankfully, this entire stretch is unblemished by boring chain stores so everything still feels unique and special) to buy stationery (at Supernice), sweets (at Suck and Chew, which felt like a magical retro sweet emporium) and vintage teacups (at Vintage Heaven), and hunted for the best coffee and poached eggs for brunch (at Campania Gastronomia, in case you were wondering).

Afterwards, I met another friend for more treasure-hunting (in between scumptious plum jam donuts at Lily Vanilli and cooing over papercut art at Rob Ryan’s Ryantown), before heading over to Brick Lane for hot bagels with cream cheese (thereby ticking off another item on my London list).

It really was the perfect London day, and it reminded me just how fun it is to play tourist in our own city. Wearing: Lover dress (from The Outnet), Whistles leather jacket, Mulberry ‘Lily’ bag (seen here), Michael Kors watch (similar style here), Mimco cuff (old), Jersey Pearl pearls.

So tell me, how you play tourist in your corner of the world?

Love, Miss B xx

Columbia Road Flower Market is on every Sunday, rain or shine (though the shops, cafes and boutiques are open every day). Arrive early for the best selection of flowers, or pick up a bargain (as in, 10 giant bunches of flowers for £5!) in the afternoon when the stallholders want to go home. Nearest tube: Old Street.

 

London Beauty: Taylor Taylor Hair Salon

I’m often asked where my favourite salon in London is and, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t wanted to publicly disclose my secret for fear that everyone would go and then I would never be able to get an appointment. But seeing as 1) that’s just plain selfish of me; and 2) every A-lister in London now seems to go there, it really is only fair that I share.

In the interests of full disclosure, I first discovered Taylor Taylor back in 2010 when they invited me along to try a Brazillian Blowdry for Liberty London Girl (though I’ve paid for every visit since). Then, I had been trying for two years since moving to England to find a hairdresser I ‘clicked with’ (every girl knows the relationship with a good hair stylist is practically sacred), but to no avail.I was basically hooked on Taylor Taylor the moment I walked through the door (all Parisian flea market chic furniture and giant crystal chandeliers and free-flowing rose and lychee martinis), but it was, of course, the service that made me sure.

My hair is not, in its natural (ie. unstyled) state, perfect or well-behaved by any stretch. But after every single visit, it is infinitely more shiny and disciplined and flattering (they know, even when I don’t, just when I need a few more highlights or an extra inch chopped off). And the best part is that even though Taylor Taylor is super and fabulous and pretty, it is cheaper than most of those horrid hair salon chains (which means more money for flowers and shoes, yay!).

So there, I’ll share (just because I love you all). If you’re in London, do pay them a visit for a little primping and preening. I promise you won’t regret it!

Is there any other beauty product or treatment you want to hear my recommendation on? Do let me know, and I’ll try my best to oblige.

Love, Miss B xx

Taylor Taylor: Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London (ph: 0207 377 2737)

One day in Autumn

I’m forever being asked how I manage to juggle my double life of politics vs fashion.  So after a few lovely readers asked me to do a post on ‘a day in my life’, I thought I’d show you how (it’s all about cramming meetings and events into my lunchbreaks and evenings). I start my day in Cambridge, where, as usual, I’m running late. I race out the door, put a happy playlist on my ipod (Phoenix and Marvin Gaye and 60s French pop tunes) and hop on my Pashley and cycle over the river and past the Hogwarts-esque colleges towards the station to get the train to Kings Cross. When I arrive at the other end, there are glorious blue skies over Westminster. I head into my office (no matter how often I go there, I can’t help but be awestruck by the sight of Parliament’s gilded ceilings and history-drenched corridors. I check my emails, answer some press calls and do a few hours work to the soundtrack of division bells and Big Ben chiming overhead.

At lunch, I hop on the tube to Bond St to meet a friend and go and say hello to Lulu Guinness (whom I adore) at her press day. It looks like a sweet shop inside; there is a tea party and a sea of practically edible bags all around the room just threatening to undo my savings (I practically squeal at a blush pink perspex lips clutch). We play a quick game of dress-ups with our favourite bags for Lulu’s camera, but then it’s time for me to dash back to the office.

It is such a gorgeous day in London that I decide to walk back instead, so make my past the lions in Trafalgar Square to Piccadilly. I’m powerless against the sight of the golden Laduree cave glinting in the sun at the corner of Burlington Arcade, so pop in for a sugary fix (for later). I skip past the Ritz and make my way through Green Park (where, to my glee, there are giant piles of autumn leaves just waiting to be jumped in), past the usual gathering of tourist at Buckingham Palace, and through St James’ Park. Apparently the squirrels of Westminster have impeccable taste, for three of them actually run up my legs to sniff the macarons swinging from my arm (ever seen a squirrel swinging from a rope of pearls? I promise you it’s as funny as it sounds!).

It’s back to Parliament where I lock myself in my office to get some important work done (orange blossom macarons at my desk make the afternoon a little easier). I pop to the Terrace (not open to the public, but it boasts the most spectacular view of London over the Thames) for a cup of tea on my way out, then head for a meeting nearby. Afterwards, I hop on a bus to my happy place, Liberty, to restock my perfume, chocolate and stationary supplies. I make a quick stop by a fashion event at Oasis around the corner (I pick up a gorgeous necklace whilst there), and instantly feel like a happy child at the sight of the fairy floss machine on the way out (which was my supper. My dentist would not be impressed). I head for the tube (I’m sure I looked rather special walking through Oxford Circus with my stick of fairy floss), go back to Kings Cross, and collapse on the 10:00 train back to Cambridge with a fresh copy of Vogue.

I’d love to know your secrets for juggling various commitments and interests?

Love, Miss B xx