Thursday, 26 September 2013

#ESPspotlight REVIEW: #PURE34 LONDON (DAY ONE), KENSINGTON OLYMPIA, 04 AUGUST


Full of glitz and glamour, the first of the three-day event sparkled with promise from the moment you entered the Kensington exhibition venue. Stylish guides in identical coral tunic dresses from The Pretty Dress Company, topped with wispy chignons, and a signature, cascading right tendril, warmly greeted each and every visitor, while simultaneously keeping discreet, watchful eyes on badge security.

Once the complimentary giftbags with the all-important show information had been dispensed, the frosted glass doors opened and - like Alice through the looking glass, straight into a fashionista's delight - you were transported.

My practice-run for London Fashion Week Spring / Summer 2014; someone probably should've forewarned the Stage Managers of the Womenswear, Spirit, Footwear & Accessories catwalks, of a resident stalker at each show...but since no-one did, I revisited each until my little heart was content, even momentarily setting time aside, amidst chin on the floor fashion lust, to learn some things - but alas I'm skipping ahead...

Prior to my first stage indulgence of the day, Rino & Pelle were my starting block, for suede and leather jackets of various rich shades and colourwashes that stopped you in your tracks. A mint green suede number seduced me initially, beginning a litany of surprises throughout the day. Adamant that every label exhibiting would display buying prices on par with the wealthy borough's local house prices; I was beyond shocked to find what appeared to be €48.50 on the tag, and naturally assumed either the figures meant something different in the apparently Italian language, or the conversion rates must have gone up again...

Deciding this truly was a Wonderland; I continued to marvel at the offerings from exhibitors like the deceptively named FEVER, the comfy, beach-ready Komodo, and the traffic-stopping Silvian Heach, whose variety of all-weather fashion, footwear and accessories would make a sexy little swan out of the skinniest ugly duckling

Pondering how some of the patterns, simple fabrics and lines would work flatteringly on the 'larger' sizes, that the brand's rep promised me their global stores carry; I went in search of the National Hall stage to find myself a cushy viewing spot ahead of the Spirit catwalk, scheduled to begin shortly. My first indication of how truly grand the scale of this event was, I had no clue at this point, that the event took over both of the entire National and Grand Halls in the seemingly endless space. Imagine my shock when I realised that the number of vendors and 'zones', required the (almost) equally large Gallery floor space above as well! Again I digress...For the moment, I parked up comfortably in front of the stage where the teen and young adult fashion trends of SS14 were about to be premièred, with surprisingly little obstruction, considering the number of fellow press in attendance.

A beautifully bright and sunny Sunday afternoon; the placement was perfect for the only stage with a naturally lit backdrop - the setting actually adding a youthful energy to a show jam-packed with breathtakingly beautiful designs. Kicking things off with a bang were Glamorous. The vampishly sexy label with an edge, were one of the few family-run stands that I would take a shine to by the time three days were up.



Instantly recognising some familiar faces - and signature walks - each gorgeous gal in the spotlight hit the mark with every single movement; so much so, that I literally started hearing a pretentious photographer's 'BOOM' with every pose. Giving new (better) meaning to UNK's song 'Walk It Out', a new phrase was coined in front of my very eyes - these mesmerising Hot Mamas would henceforth be known (to me), as the 'BOOM Girls'; not just for the duration of the event, but forevermore (check the facebook album below for proof with your pudding).

The Style London were up next, with an excellent variation in prints, fabrics, and materials justly befitting their name. Just when you thought you had Neon Rose pegged as a teen brand favouring prints, out comes smart, yet simple, and playful designs that would translate easily from the office to the evening with the simplest of touches

Statement block colours were complimented with strong African tribal prints and bold colours by Mia Nisbet, Moniyang London, and CM.; with Stroppy Cat bringing a beautiful touch of vintage 70s London to stripes and polka dots. Soho Tees made willing Fashion Victims of us all; when the 'BOOM Girls' gave us a show in true 90s Gap-esque style; delivering one (hundred) classic Kodak moment(s) in under 60 seconds flat. Pastels, girly florals and aztec prints on bodycon dresses were next, from nishe, and Pussycat London.



Bariano's orange and cream collection with gold piping marked a change in style, as we moved into gorgeous eveningwear. Flowing Grecian lines juxtaposed heavy ruching with chiffon, until The Pretty Dress Company took over the catwalk with pre-Mary Quant hemlines full of 1930s to 50s film star glamour. Chi Chi were a teenage prom girl's dream, before Forever Unique closed the show in bold blues, golds and bronzes that were sexy, and seductive in the most ladylike of Fashions...
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A short while, and several wrong turns later; the #Pure34 Pocket Guide (and Google Maps) both failed my misdirected feet. By the grace of friendly vendors, wind trajectory, and a spotlight that (arguably) resembled the North Star, I eventually found my way to the earlier-mentioned Grand Hall Stage in the nick of time for the Womenswear Catwalk.

Unlike the younger, more obvious bodies of work on the Spirit Catwalk, the more mature collections were eyecatching with an entirely different kind of allure. Split into six 'trends to watch' on the glitzier, spotlit stage, and clearly targeting the grown ups; the sophistication of 'Desert Elegance' translated into wide and flowing maxi-dresses and jumpsuits in a spectrum of beige through bold bursts of colour - both with, and without prints and large bejewelled embellishments. Think that scene in Sex & The City 2 - where the girls emerge, crescendo-high, and photoshoot-fresh from the sand dunes; atop camels all in heat-induced slo-mo - a Vogue video-centrefold brought to life. Then take out the jaded cynicism of the film, so that only the fashion remains...Now, you're cooking! Ok, let's move on....

'Post Urban Traveller' was all about textures. Stone and wood colours made oversized jackets, separates, and dresses chic in unfamiliar ways. 'Blue Nouvelle' mixed marls and tie-dyes with stripes, paisley and deeper echelons of the shade, contrasted with whites and creams. Stripes and block colours were the prevalent, sporty fad in 'Cartoon Chemicals'; with borderline neon shades making surprisingly welcome statements about the good 'ole days of the 80s, Hubba Bubba chewing gum, and your first Stabilo Highlighter 4-pack. 'Carnival' gave new meaning to 'a walk on the wild side'; with jungle prints in big, vivid shades. What should, on paper, have been too busy to the eye, stopped just short of the headache / eyesore barrier; particularly when teamed with contrasting voluminous, solid tones that kept the styles classy, and even office-wearable.

'Summer in the Shade' was the final, lingerie-laden, forecasted trend, with in-built, complimentary gym envy, courtesy of each and every 'BOOM Girl' on the strip. Black and gold went farther than Sam Sparro could ever have imagined, joining devastating forces, to leave a salivating audience in a wake littered with spending temptation...


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Dazed from my catwalk binge, I attempted to walk off my high at the mahoosive Darling exhibition stand, where every item they carried gave off the air of young English ladies at high tea - even providing the garden party backdrop. My fanciful fun was not to last however, as Javine Hylton, the only live performer at the entire event, was about to perform a brief set at the invitation of exhibitors, Ruby Rocks. It's always a good thing when an artist reminds you why you liked them in the first place. In the case of Javine, and the baggage that will automatically be associated with her to the end of her days - it was refreshing to be reminded what there was to like in the first place.

Her acoustic set compromised 'Missing You', and 'Real Things'. Call me picky, but I thought prefacing the latter with a statement like "you all know it - it was all over the radio!" Perhaps wasn't the most positive one to make. This here music fanatic was a supporter of hers, pre the murderous 'Don't Walk Away' cover (how many times and ways can I say 'LEAVE THE CLASSICS ALONE' before they hear me), and all that other stuff that shall go unmentioned; but I couldn't name, or even describe her first single if you paid me - it was that long ago...All that aside, she delivered a faultless performance that left us hankering for new material; sounded as amazing as she looked and, was surprisingly friendly in person...




Back to the stands, and a photobooth courtesy of Louche London caught my attention. After a festive chat with the 'Ladies who Louche'; I had just enough time to indulge in the dainty lace and chiffon on display at the Soma stand, where it felt like walking onto the set of Virginia Andrew's Flowers in the Attic movie, only in 3D - with costumes more delicate than the pages of that particular teen craze, could justly articulate...



And that, Dear Readers, is a wrap on Day One. Feel like you were there? If that doesn't do it, then the Event Albums surely will!

See the spectacular looks from the Spirit and Womenswear Catwalks, the stands mentioned above, and the rest of #Pure34, including Javine's performance, on the ESP Facebook Page - don't forget to 'tip' your writer with Likes and Shares galore!

Let your voice be heard in the Reader Stage - better known as the comment box below! In the meantime, Day Two is on the way...

ES ;)