I can't believe it's already London Fashion Week again. It feels like it's been creeping up on me for ages, and it seemed like I had loads of time to get myself together but suddenly it's next weekend and I still have about four posts that need to be up before then, plus college work and a mad panic to organise my schedule (which as you can imagine is all over the place like I am). It feels weird that I'm actually going to be there a little more officially this time, as last time I decided to go the day before (and ended up on a crazy last minute charity shop crawl trying to find some things to wear). It's one of those things you just have to experience at least once - the street style is of course incredible, and everyone just seems so talkative and upbeat...and you are sure to get photographed for something (it feels a little like an anonymous red carpet...you don't have to be anyone, just wear something eye-catching and you will get photographed. And, the moment one starts, the rest follow, leaving you surrounded by a gaggle of happy-snappers and a few onlookers trying to work out whether you are famous or not). Obviously, it's not for everyone, but it's quite nice to be surrounded by it all just for a day or so, and then be able to come home and put some sweatpants on and watch the aftermath in the following week's magazines.
This outfit was from the SMUG x Betty and Walter event that I went to in Camden Passage in Islington. If you have been reading this blog for a while you will probably have already noticed that I adore Camden Passage, and so had been to SMUG a few times previously which made me even more excited to go there for the evening. It was ridiculously cold for August (typical England) and so I opted for my tartan dress from a vintage fair in Oxford, tights from H&M, a top from Uniqlo, belt from Beyond Retro and coat from River Island. I remember being anxious that such a bold colour for a winter coat would make it hard to wear, but unfortunately I have now become so used to (and obsessed with) it's yellow hue that I am seriously struggling to imagine ever having a coat in any other colour. The bag is from People Tree.
I spent the morning trawling through the various record and fabric shops in Berwick Street (just off of Oxford Street) before catching the bus through to Islington. I had been to SMUG before (usually to buy Frankie magazine and to sigh over all of the pretty stationary) but had never spent very long there, or been down or upstairs. Upon arrival I instantly knew I was going to have a great evening - everyone was lovely, although it was hard not to be distracted by all of the gorgeous products and displays on sale.
SMUG itself is a kooky lifestyle store in the heart of Camden Passage, run by it's founder Lizzie Evans, selling an eclectic mix of homeware, stationary and vintage furniture and kitchenware. It has close links to designers such as Donna Wilson and Thornback & Peel, and holds creative workshop events upstairs led by designer makers such as Origami-est and Ladybird Likes. There is now even a café downstairs, selling local cakes, cookies and pastries alongside Lizzie's homemade granola, salad of the day and cream tea with homemade jams. As you can therefore imagine, it is pretty much my idea of heaven. Real, local independent shops are so hard to find nowadays, and so it is so lovely to find a little haven like SMUG, that not only supports and showcases up and coming design and creative talent, but provides you with a place to explore, relax and forget you are in the busy centre of Islington and instead somewhere calm and serene (and very aesthetically pleasing!)
The real reason we were there was actually to see the new Betty and Walter A/W14 collection. The brand, run by British textile designer Lisa Levis, creates beautifully made and wonderfully designed printed bags, purses and other useful items, all inspired by Lisa's own Aunt Betty and Uncle Walter. Each piece is made for purpose, with functionality being key to the designs. For example, the purses and makeup bags have a separate zip-up compartment for things like cotton buds or loose change, and the wash bags come in a size perfect to fit whole bottles of shampoo and shower gel and keep them upright. It's the small details like these that really separate high-quality investments like Betty and Walter pieces from their average high-street counterparts, although the hand-drawn prints definitely also play a huge role in making the brand what it is. All made in a very 50s feeling, durable material, the prints and patterns are all designed and created by Lisa, and range from the beautifully feminine 'Mabel,' created from layering images of hand-painted watercolour flowers to the funky graphic 'Allotment,' which was created using paper cut-outs, and really has a sort of character. I definitely was won over and have come up with a 'need' for pretty much the entire collection.
We all were then guided upstairs where we had an origami 'folding patterns' workshop with the lovely Esther Thorpe of Origami-est, who showed us how to make paper garlands using paper printed with the new Betty and Walter patterns. It took a little bit of practice, but was a lovely way to get to know the other ladies and also get to take home a little handmade something to remember the event.
I had a really lovely evening, met some really lovely people and even got my own gorgeous Betty and Walter bag, which has become my new go-to handbag and looks gorgeous in my little workroom when not in use. Thankyou so much to Rebekah, Amy, Lizzie and Lisa for a lovely evening, and to all of the lovely ladies for making it so nice!
Also, in other news, I have updated my Etsy with loads of new pieces, and am doing a little discount of 20% off if you enter the code LFW14 at the checkout...it's for a limited time, so please take a look if you want to! Thanks!