V&A Victoria and Albert Museum

Probably my favourite of London’s many ‘must-see’ type museums, the V&A is a place I visit when I’m having a ‘why the fuck do I live in this over-priced, over-populated, misery-inducing shit weasel of a city that I don’t even like?’ moment (and, as regular readers will know, there are many of those to be had). The knowledge that I can jump on a bus and within the hour be surrounded by some of the world’s most precious artwork, for free, is a sure-fire way of reminding me of the benefits of big city life.

As a dual art and fashion obsessive, to me, the V&A is Mecca, the Promised Land, my ‘Happy Place’ (alongside Monkey World and Liberty’s fabric remnants corner). Endless rooms filled with more treasure than is possible for the human brain to adequately process should leave a person culturally drained, and yet I always leave excited, full of ideas for things to make and do and learn more about. And that seems to be the key to running a successful museum: plenty to inspire, but not so much as to overwhelm.

And that segues nicely into what I really want to talk about:

The Gift Shop.

A thing of such brilliance, it revives even this jaded pro-shopper.

As a professional buyer (or, at least, I would be if someone were to, you know, actually employ me), I am bored and disinterested in practically every shop I go into. The recession has spawned a stale homogeneity amongst the average UK shop that is equal parts frustrating and depressing; in short, everything looks the fucking same. Do not lie to me, retail giant: I know you made millions of pounds of profit for your shareholders this year; I read Retail Weekly. You can afford to push the boat out and try something different (you can also afford to hire more staff and treat the ones you do have better, but that’s another rant, for another time). You owe it to your brand and its customers to produce items that incite intrigue, joy, lust at a time when everyone is playing it safe lest they spook the already cautious shopper. In the wise words of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “GIVE ME SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT!”

Or something to that effect.

Anyway, as I was saying before I distracted myself: The V&A gift shop. There are but a handful of items in there that I would not happily find house-room for. I mean, look at this:

Who wouldn’t want to eat their dinner while taking a perch on this chair (admittedly, your dinner will consist of 1 packet of Tesco Value 8p noodles, as you’ll be broke as fuck from spending £1500 on a chair, but still…)?

Or pop their little pudding in one of these pinnies?

And what sort of person wouldn’t appreciate an assortment of V&A print ceramic buttons?!

No-one worth knowing is who.

What’s more, they have recently launched their online sale. I feel an ‘it’s my money, and anyway it was half price so it doesn’t count’ moment coming along.

 

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Nein, danke.

The fashion powers-that-be have decided that SS12 is all about ‘Sports-Luxe’ (translation: your gym kit, except with an extra zero added to the price tag, and accessorised with spike heels), dangerously flammable materials, neon, obnoxiously loud prints and the return of the baseball cap(!!!).

Officially, it’s referencing the Olympics.

Unofficially, it’s referencing England circa 2004:


 

Anna Wintour does not approve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

bring on the neon though…

Having a laugh with Lanvin

To those outside of the industry, fashion, and particularly high-end fashion, can seem exclusive and intimidating. Too often designers take the joy out of seeing the new season collections by taking it all so seriously, shrouding their work in mystery by disallowing photo releases, or setting prices that ensure only the real elite have access to their craft.

I truly believe that fashion should be enjoyed. We may not all be able to afford to buy into it, but with many designers now taking advantage of social networking sites and inviting bloggers to their shows, those of us who may never get to sit front row can still participate.

While Lanvin is not an affordable brand by any stretch of the imagination, their collaboration with H&M sparked a high-street frenzy, striking terror into the hearts of sales assistants and security guards alike. I had my eye on this beauty, but the combination of the shop-floor scenes of massacre and the £150 price tag kept it firmly in my dreams.

While we can only live in hope that there will one day be another collection, Mr Elbaz has come up trumps with his latest ad campaign. Injecting a bit of fun and frivolity into the mix with a rather tongue-in-cheek video presentation, even the usually pouty and po-faced models have got into the spirit. A lovely way to round off the mania of the spring/summer fashion weeks, and a reminder of what we have to look forward to this season.

 

 

Bang Bang

If you’ve a champagne taste but lager budget, Bang Bang on Goodge Street might just be the answer to your prayers. Selling second-hand designer clothing and accessories, alongside carefully selected vintage and quality high-street wares, Bang Bang markets itself as an eco-friendly way to indulge the materialistic (and, ahem, the less well-off) consumer in us all.

The turnover is constant, and the buyers have a real knack for selecting items that echo current trends. While at college very close-by, the obsessive compulsive in me used to pop in at least weekly to have a good root around and make sure I didn’t miss anything special. In the past year I’ve found a Topshop Unique dress with the original tags still intact for £50, several beautiful Reiss shirts for around £20 a pop and another brand new Zara skirt for a mere £8. I could have bought much more, the selection of designer shoes calls to me every time I visit, but bearing in mind my budget is more White Lightning than lager, I have been forced to restrain myself.

The main point of this post is not just to gush about one of my favourite London haunts, but to give a shout out to the woman who has recently sold her entire Vivienne Westwood collection to the store. You have selflessly enabled the fashionista in those of us who are less privileged, and for that I salute you.

If you’re a size 10 or 12, and you like a bit of asymmetry: GO, GO, GO!

Bang Bang:

21 Goodge Street and 9 Berwick Street, W1.

http://bangbangexchange.tumblr.com/