Last week I was invited on a tour along Sloane Street as part of London Craft Week.  Alongside the Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition What is Luxury? – which I sadly missed,  this #LCW15 tour sought to seek out the meaning of luxury by giving us a personal experience with brands renowned for their luxurious status.

Our first stop was Louis Vuitton where we were guided through the history of the brand, from the founder’s humble beginnings to the current designs that still reflect LV’s core values and designs.

Sloan Street Tour - Louis Vuitton

We learned how travel was at the heart of Louis Vuitton’s brand and that if something could not be transported, LV could not make it.

Sloan Street Tour - Louis Vuitton

We discussed the intricacies of Louis Vuitton’s current designs that have been borne from the original details which the brand is renowned for.

From this diamond crosshatch design which originally derived from the interior of Louis Vuitton’s first travel case … Sloan Street Tour - Louis Vuitton

… to the floral emblem that is recognised when you look closely at LV’s signature design, the concept of luxury was explored in the light of details, the quality of materials and a personalised service which LV excels at.

A walk along Sloane Street and our next stop was Fendi …
Sloane Street Tour - Fendi

… where we discussed fur coats, which Fendi is renowned for.Sloane Street Tour - Fendi

This bag also caught my eye at Fendi. Isn’t it fabulous?

Sloane Street - Fendi

Our next stop along Sloane Street was Jumeriah Carlton Tower Hotel where we stopped for a cocktail at The Rib Room’s bar.
london-jumeirah-carlton-tower

I enjoyed a Sloane Street Vespa as we listened to Penelope from Fox & Squirrel enlighten us about the history of Chelsea, which I found fascinating. I’ve lived in Chelsea all my life and there is always something new to learn about this area. The latest nugget that impressed me was that Andy Warhol used to stay at the Carlton Tower and drink his cocktails in the bar. I hadn’t realised this hotel had such a history.london-jumeirah-carlton-tower

Our final stop on the tour was Smythson and being a true stationery geek, I absolutely revelled in being here and learning about the history of this place. So far, we had discussed leather, fur, local history and now it was time to talk paper.

Sloane Street Tour - Smythson

Here, we learned about Smythson’s Panama Diary innovation. Based on the idea of the flexible nature of the Panama Hat, this notepad was revolutionary. The thin paper allowed the writer to use a fountain pen on both sides of each sheet whilst men could now carry their notepad in their breast pocket or back trouser pocket; something we take for granted, but revolutionary nonetheless.

Sloane Street Tour - Smythson

Luxury exists at Smythson again in terms of quality and like Louis Vuitton and Fendi, also with true personal service. Embossing leather cases as well as personalised stationery which Smythson offers did excite me because given I have more digital gadgets I actually know what to do with, I still revel in the quality of good paper, a beautiful notepad and something I can write in and treasure.Sloane Street Tour - SmythsonAs the tour ended and Angie and I set on our way to grab a drink nearby, I looked back at the afternoon and appreciated the chance I had to listen to the personal stories of these luxury brands.

Chelsea Girl

At the start of this year I made the conscious decision to go to the theatre more in 2015. Theatre is my first love and for one reason or another my visits slowed down over time. So a couple of months ago, I started booking tickets and as soon as I learned about Damian Lewis and John Goodman appearing in American Buffalo at Wyndham’s Theatre, I booked my ticket for the first night possible, which was last Thursday.American Buffalo at Wyndham's Theatre

Wyndham’s Theatre has been a hit and miss place to watch plays for me so I went along hoping, really hoping, this wasn’t going to be one of those ‘miss’ experiences.

After all, Damian Lewis, John Goodman? I love those guys. Plus it was a David Mamet play. Expectations were high and after watching Antigone with Juliette Binoche last month I really wanted a reason to fall back in love with the stage. So was it any good?
American Buffalo at Wyndham's Theatre
It was very good and after all I’ve just said, surprisingly good.

American Buffalo develops with the witty, sharp dialogue that you can only expect from David Mamet. The lines were slick and the characters were affecting and engaging in their own way.

Damian Lewis looked like he had stepped out of Carlito’s Way, oversized sunglasses included, in his role as “Teach” Cole whilst John Goodman was well-drawn as the tender yet scheming Don Dubrow. But the biggest surprise of all was Tom Sturridge who I only mention now because when I booked my ticket I had no expectation of him at all. I’d never seen his acting anywhere so I assumed he would be at best ok. Tom Sturridge was the surprise of the evening. His acting talent was superb, flawless and very convincing as the ‘junkie’ Bob. He broke my heart every time he spoke. You could hear the years of pain that makes Bob who he is.

But American Buffalo isn’t what you expect. It’s full of laughter, heart and most of all, it explores the friendships between three unlikely comrades.

If you can get a ticket, do. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Chelsea Girl

If you have any spare time between now and 2nd May 2015, I urge you to visit the Saatchi Gallery for an exhibition that is truly full of wonder and surprise.

Hermès Wanderland is pure escapism whether you are an ardent fan of Hermès or someone who has been secretly longing for a trip down the rabbit hole ever since you picked up a copy of Alice in Wonderland.

Hermès Wanderland at Saatchi Gallery

From the moment I stepped into the exhibition I couldn’t help but be in awe of every detail in every room and on every corridor.
Hermès Wanderland at Saatchi Gallery

Even more , I’ve had to think carefully about which photos I was ready to share from the exhibition because I do think the less you know about Hermès Wanderland, the more you will get from it. But from the two photos I have selected, I hope I have conveyed another exciting concept from the exhibition, that the visitor is immersed in the art. You walk through it and you become part of it which is reflective in what is described as flânerie: “that wonderfully liberating art of urban wandering”, which is “second nature to Hermès.”Hermès Wanderland at Saatchi GalleryFor more information about Hermès Wanderland, if you can’t resist, see Saatchi Gallery’s webpage here. And one last note, the exhibition is free. Now there’s no excuse. 😉

Chelsea Girl

The eagerly anticipated Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition opens at the V&A on Saturday and already the outstanding reviews are pouring in. So it’s no wonder, in anticipation of this exhibition, Alexander McQueen’s legacy is trending around London.

On the King’s Road Proud Galleries’ exhibition, McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows By Gary Wallis, gives an intimate look at the fashion designer, a peek behind the scenes of his early shows and a look at those who were close to him.

Proud Chelsea Exhibition  McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows By Gary Wallis

The intimacy of the photographs reflect the close relationship between the photographer and fashion designer: Gary Wallis first met Alexander McQueen when they were both studying at Central Saint Martins.Proud Chelsea Exhibition  McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows By Gary Wallis

And in the space of three short years, McQueen climbed the ranks of the fashion industry. His greatest champion was Isabella Blow who also became his muse. Proud Chelsea Exhibition  McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows By Gary WallisWallis’s collaboration with McQueen spanned these years and Proud Galleries’ exhibition gives you a “personal insight into the lawless and irreverent life of Alexander McQueen, celebrating a rare moment in time, as this young Londoner became the rebel king of British fashion, pushing the boundaries of convention and reinventing the catwalk, unleashing shock and awe onto the fashion elite.”

Proud Chelsea Exhibition  McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows By Gary WallisThe photographs are beautiful to look and at times haunting. The exhibition also coincides with the launch Garry Wallis’s book, something every McQueen fan must look through.Proud Chelsea Exhibition  McQueen: Backstage – The Early Shows By Gary WallisProud Chelsea, 161 King’s Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5XP.

Chelsea Girl

The latest SACRED season has kicked off at Chelsea Theatre and on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th, this King’s Road theatre sees the return of Stacy Makishi with her world premiere of VesperTime.

Vesper Time – Stacy Makishi

What strikes me about VesperTime is the influences of Moby Dick, Hitchcock and Bjork’s album Vespertine that apparently create a striking performance where rock concert meets subversive sermon.

If you’ve read my previous reviews on productions at the Chelsea Theatre, you will have noticed that the element of surprise is very much at work when you walk through their doors. And each time you leave feeling moved.

VesperTime was developed with the support of the National Theatre Studio and commissioned by Chelsea Theatre and Colchester Arts Centre.

For more information and tickets, see Chelsea Theatre’s website.

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