Sunday, 29 March 2009
This weekend we did two 'fashion' things, rather belatedly, in London. On Friday night we headed over to The Prada Double Club in Islington (yes, it still exists - a reference, we suppose, that applies both to the club - it's a 'pop up' venue that opened before Christmas and will close in May - and to Islington, that quintessential hip area of the 90s which is otherwise totally off our radar these days), which is a restaurant/bar/club that is designed by contempary artist Carsten Höller and is sponsored by the Fondazione Prada, Miuccia's art establishment. And if you thought it couldn't get any more hip, you should know that the concept (in terms of decor, food, drinks, and music) is half Congolese, half Western (undoubtedly a very 'profound' concept thought up by Höller, who is better known for installing giant slides in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern), the restaurant and bar is run by Mourad Mazouz (owner of other trendy venues like Sketch and Momo* in London and Le 404/Andy Whaloo in Paris), and the club night on Fridays is run by Richard Mortimer, organiser of the infamous London fashion night Boombox and, more lately, Ponystep (a night that was in London, ended with the New Year's Eve Party where Gareth Pugh DJ-ed, our report here, and has now moved to Paris).
Considering all that, we went with high expectations. We'd even checked the party pictures uploaded on their website from previous friday nights (which incidentally - if you can stomach any more 'hip' references - are taken by Alistair Allen, the coolest party photographer in London, whose site, DirtyDirtyDancing.com, documented the scene at the aforementioned Boombox and Ponystep nights), and it looked like the cool/creative/odd East London scene were Double Club converts in these difficult post-Ponystep days. So you can imagine our surprise when the overriding scene last friday was people old enough to be our parents dancing shamelessly (shamefully?) on the dance floor, many with shoes cast aside to allow for maximum moves. They seemed mostly to be people who had eaten in the restaurant and were then reliving their youth on the dancefloor, and indeed why shouldn't they, it's just the impression we got is that in previous weeks later on the scene got a little younger (we stayed until about 2am, and with the exception of a few people things didn't improve much).
It later transpired that the problem was that Ponystep was on in Paris this weekend, meaning that most of the crowd we'd hoped would be there had deferred there by Eurostar. It's a shame, because the venue was fun (despite its pretentious concept) and it would have been so much fun with the 'right' crowd. We might try returning another friday night, but it also looked like a cool place for a daytime meal/cocktails (although vodka + mixer = £5.65, only made somewhat more excusable because of the fact that 50% of profits go to a Congolese women's charity). Oh, and we saw someone who we're at least 90% sure was Lisa "I dated George Clooney" Snowdon, host of Britain's Next Top Model... an odd night overall, not too bad really, but not quite what we had expected/hoped for.
We also finally got round to visiting Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones at the Victoria & Albert Museum, which was a hugely enjoyable exhibition of hats both designed by Stephen Jones himself and hats by other designers and from the past chosen by him to be displayed. Centred around a mock-up of Jones' workshop, the exhibition consisted pretty much solely of amazing hats which made it very fun to look around, and elicited plenty of gasps and 'wow's from us. There were hats from the 18th Century, Dior Haute Couture by John Galliano hats, Dior New Look era hats, hats from 1960s Balenciaga, spectacular hats by Jones himself of course... unfortunately the V&A do not allow photography and they refuse to sell good postcards so we can hardly give you a feel for the exhibition, but it is really good and if you're in London we definitely recommend you go. It's on until 31st May 2009, see more information here.
Luckily Diane Pernet, of A Shaded View, took some pictures on the opening night:
These photos really don't convey what a fabulous exhibition it is, but you can see in the top picture Hussein Chalayan's wooden 'pod' hat from 1999, and an amazing vintage Balenciaga spiral cream coloured hat. In the bottom image, the hat with the attached dead fox and bird is from a Galliano Dior Haute couture collection from around 2000 (can't remember exactly).. we'd LOVE to see how it looked on the runway, and indeed what the rest of the collection looked like, if we could find pictures... Our only criticism of the exhibition is that it would have benefited from some photos of people wearing some of the hats included because we were very curious to see how some of the designs, particularly the more radical ones, would look other than on a plastic stand.
Interesting video interview with the wonderful Stephen Jones (as well as his own amazing brand -here, he's worked with designers including Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano for Dior, Comme des Garçons, and Marc Jacobs):
* Do any Londoners remember the 'pop up' branch of Momo that used to be in Selfridges in women's Superbrands (now replaced with a stupid mozarella bar)? We used to love it SO much, there was something so fun about sitting on awkward little stools in a 'trendy' mock-up Moroccan souk café, right in front of the glossy mini-stores of Balenciaga, Marni, Stella McCartney... it was the best spot for people-watching and because it was pre smoking ban days there was this rather fabulous Moroccan style tent full of cushions where people could smoke Sisha..