If we were having coffee…

…what would I tell you?

I’ve always loved this type of post, both reading and writing them. Maybe I’m just a nosy fucker. If I follow your blog, it’s because I’m interested in what you have to say; I want to know the rationalisation behind what makes you…you. Are we alike? Are we different? What are your thoughts, your feelings, your experiences? Maybe I’m overthinking this, because I probably shouldn’t drink coffee. It makes me hyperactive.

I was tagged by the lovely Eleanor Duffy, and being the narcissistic nosy pup that I am, I was on it like sunburn on a drunk Scottish dude shouting “taps aff” on holiday in Magaluf.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you I’m Canadian. You’d probably already know this because it’s such an integral part of my persona and my upbringing, but I would tell you why being a Canadian is so important to me. In times of political uncertainty, when right-wing pseudo politicians somehow manage to grasp power in the US, and when Scotland’s fate hangs in the balance as we try to manoeuvre around the fallout that is the UK’s imminent departure from the EU…Canadian politics is one of the few things I can hold onto. We have a liberal government, a progressive PM, and the contrast between us and the US has never been quite so pronounced as it is now. Our Prime Minister is an advocate of LGBTQIA rights, of welcoming refugees, of environmental issues and tackling Climate Change. We have gender parity in our Cabinet. Equality actually looks like a possibility in my lifetime rather than a dim hope, and the beaver is even more proud and majestic than ever. I’m a Canadian stereotype, but I don’t care; I am a maple-syrup chugging, (vegan) poutine munching, hockey watching, liberal leftie with a Turonno accent. Oh, and nobody but Drake calls it the 6ix. Please stop making that a thing.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you I am a feminist. It’s such an ingrained part of me that it seems trite to even mention it, because I would assume that this was just a given. I am a woman, I am a human, and to believe that anything less than equality for all genders is enough seems just kinda…unnatural.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you I have recently rediscovered my love for fashion. When I was a child, my dream was to be a designer; I am a designer, but not in the field I’d imagined. I was happiest drawing 8-and-a-half-head tall models in fantastical outfits, and I made clothes for all my Barbie dolls; in fact, I rarely “played” with my dolls in the traditional sense. I’d use everything from scraps of fabric from my mum’s altered garments to balloons, so yes, I was an 8 year old with a BDSM-inspired Barbie. I wonder how my parents explained the rubber dress and bondage straps to their friends?

If we were having coffee…I would tell you about my dog. His name is Rhod, and he is the most perfect little angel, with his velvety ears and that special soft bit under his chin that tickles when I scratch it. I adopted him with my ex as a puppy, and he has been my constant companion ever since. He’s named after the Welsh comedian, by the way; the night we brought him home, my friend put a Rhod Gilbert DVD on, and that gorgeous 11-week-old pup couldn’t take his eyes off the screen as his namesake stomped back and forth across the stage in the throes of one of his famous rants. I would then show you photos of my pup, because I am that person. I’m not sorry. He’s glorious.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you I only use cruelty-free makeup. I won’t just burst out with it, but I am one of those people who has to reapply my lipstick/gloss/balm constantly as a naked lip makes me feel exposed, and my choice in colours is usually so bright you can see me from space. The topic will come up.

It’s something that is very important to me, and as a blogger with a semi-decent following on social media, it would be slightly strange if I bought from brands that don’t align with my morals and ethics. I would tell you that I feel there can be less of a grey area for me because I air my opinions so publicly on social media, so whilst I will never actually try to make someone else feel bad if they aren’t a cruelty-free blogger or still choose to use products from brands that are involved with animal testing by selling in China *coughcoughMACcoughcough*, I couldn’t  do it myself. I would feel hypocritical. I will always encourage others to try my fave cruelty-free brands, and I love supporting my fellow cruelty-free bloggers. I would tell you to check out Nadia’s blog, and Vivi’s, and Suzi’s, and Steph’s. I would tell you that if it’s Korean beauty you’re into, you should read the fabulous Fii’s post on cruelty free K-beauty brands. I will probably even give you my lipstick if you love the colour.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you about my gallery. I own an art gallery. After years of office jobs and interminable 8-5 days spent working for huge organisations (mostly in the public sector), I was a bit fed up. I always knew I’d end up in a creative career, probably because I suck at maths and chemistry makes about as much sense to me as tap lessons for a cat.

Just over a year ago, my friend Karen and I were chatting about opening a gallery and creative space for emerging artists; we were excited about starting something, but we always thought this would be something for the future. 2 years, maybe 5 years in the future. A week later we saw the perfect retail unit in an ideal location, and wound up writing a business plan over cocktails that very night. Did I ever mention I write best under pressure?

We didn’t even have a name, but I already had 2 employees and a team of incredible people working on the project, months before we opened. Flamingosaurus Rex was actually what I’d wanted to call my blog, but Karen fell in love with it for the gallery and so did I. It’s colourful, it’s memorable, and it made for a killer logo. We opened in May 2016, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

I’ve really enjoyed writing this, as I think it’s a little something different from what I usually post on my blog.

I’m tagging Emily, Sophie, Ada and Terry.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Travel Diaries: Friday in Prague

Prague is one of my favourite places to visit, and every time I come, I wish I could stay longer.

I decided to celebrate my first proper holiday in three years by booking myself into a hotel rather than an Airbnb. I love the space and freedom of having a whole apartment to myself, but I just fancied not having to wash my own towels or take out my own bins. I wanted somewhere central, within walking distance of the parts of the city I wanted to explore, and I wanted something fancy. We’re talking courtyard restaurant, massive beds, and at the very least some sort of suite. I have high expectations.

The hotel I went for was a 2 minute walk from Old Town Square and a camel’s spit from Palladium shopping centre. Why was proximity to a mall  a selling point for me, you ask? Well if you’re as *coughcough* organised as I am and you forget to pack crucial items like tights, toothpaste, a phone charger and shampoo, you can mosey over to grab them at ten to 9 at night when you arrive.

Just joking. I’d never forget tights.

I stayed in the Grand Mark Hotel on Hybernská, and loved it. My bed was ridiculously comfortable, I had a decent sized sofa to throw my clothes on, and there was enough space to pretend I regularly do yoga in the morning. Oh, and there were insouciant headless statues guarding every floor, which is always a bonus.



Loving Hut (Nové Město)

I met a Twitter friend for lunch at Loving Hut, and filled up on a huge plate piled high with cauliflower fritters, vegan schnitzel, black bean rice, Singapore noodles, braised aubergine and a tofu curry. We chatted about how veganism has become so big in the city in the past few years; Prague now has more vegan and vegetarian restaurants than anywhere else in Europe – including Berlin!

The Prague branches of this chain are different to the one I visited last year in London; there are no menus, and food is served cafeteria-style. Your plate is weighed before you pay, and it’s some of the most reasonably priced food I’ve ever had.

World of Vegan, a plant-based health food shop, is located in the same building. I stocked up on chocolate to stash in my bedside table and a few boxes of robia popular plant-based protein similar to seitan. I also hit up the vegan cheesecake and smoothie vendor on my way out.

Loving Hut: Na Poříčí 25, Praha 1

Lego Museum (Nové Město)

Exploring a city with friends can be different from wandering around on your own. After lunch I met up with an old friend from high school and their partner for a wander around the city. Their kids wanted to go to the Lego Museum, and let’s be honest, I kinda fancied it too. This place has the largest collection in Europe of Lego models, vintage Lego from the dawn of time, a Star Wars room, and an incredible replica of the Charles Bridge that is impossible to photograph.

Lego Museum: Narodni 362/31, Praha 1

Doorways & Details

I’d say the sign of a patient friend is someone who will humour me as I stop and take photos of the most random things. Like doorways. Shop signs. A plaque. As a design nerd, my weakness is in the details, so I have a peculiar habit of stopping suddenly to admire a relief on a tobacconist’s door or an interesting archway.

 

Dancing House (Nové Město)

Every time I visit Prague, I’ll go to Frank Gehry’s “Dancing House” and just stare in awe; I even got a tattoo of it on my back a few years ago, because what says “architecture geek” more than having an actual building inked on your skin?

Gehry’s deconstructivist Nationale-Nederlanden building is more often known as the Dancing House because it resembles a pair of dancers; it stands amongst Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau structures in the surrounding neighbourhoods and was very controversial for its time. The design was a collaboration between Croatian-Czech Vlado Milunić and Canadian Frank Gehry in the 90s, and was set to be a cultural hub for the city. The construction is supported by 99 concrete panels, each a different shape and size, and must have been an absolute nightmare to build. No single beam in the entire structure is parallel to any other beam. It is incredible.

Dancing House: Jiráskovo námesti 1981/6, Praha 2

 

Kuráž (Letná)

I love independent brands and retailers, and when I was last in Prague a couple years ago, I found a wee shop tucked away in the Old Town with the most fabulous selection of local designs, from clothing to accessories and homewares. I made a point of finding this place again. The company have since moved from Benediktská to their new location in Prague 7, which is thankfully not as far out of town as I thought. It’s probably only a 15-20 minute walk from their old place.

There is a huge selection of one-of-a-kind Czech and Slovak products for those who don’t quite fancy the cheesy souvenir shops in the centre of the Old Town. There is absolutely nothing wrong with some hand-carved marionettes, but I fear the three I already own are plotting to kill me. Many of the designers and makers here also use eco-friendly, ethical and upcycled materials, from handbags made of old seatbelts to hand-made notebooks and organic cotton t-shirts. Everything here is adorable.

Kuráž: Veletržní 48, Praha 7

 

Lehka Hlava (Staré Město)

This place is clearly hippie heaven; simple beakers of fresh flowers glow under the light of mushroom lamps, and I’m pretty sure they’re of the magic variety. The art covering the walls. The smell of lingering patchouli. Chilled out wee nooks to settle into a private dinner.

 

I knew what I wanted to try as soon as I opened my menu. Tafoie gras pâté of smoked tofu, barley miso and cashews, cranberries to start, and teriyaki noodles made with batatas (a kind of white yam-like root vegetable), baked pumpkin, pepper and fresh coriander. My drink of choice? Something called a “hot threesome”, a spicy drink of fresh ginger, maple syrup and fresh lemon.

Pate, REAL pate, is not something I ever thought about veganising. I’m going to sound like the most pretentious person in the world, but that umami flavour of the real thing is something I never thought could be recreated. Just one of those things.

Apparently I was wrong. That’s not umami, it’s just barley miso. That savoury tingle to your senses, that party in your mouth? That’s umam- I mean barley miso. This actually tastes like the real deal. Only without the metallic aftertaste and tinge of regret.

So I drank my “hot threesome”, and holy crap it’s spicy! That certainly cleared the cobwebs out, maybe even decluttered and reorganised a few boxes upstairs whilst it was there. Thick, hearty, and not for the faint of heart (or afraid of ginger). I will be making these aaaall winter long.

These noodles! I had sweet potato noodles in Canada once and I’ve never had them since because I didn’t know what the hell I should be asking for. Silky, slithery, perfectly slurpable glass noodles. The spaghetti of the glass noodle world, nay, the bucatini. Fucking delicious.

Next I’ll be heading to Brno to spend the day with my friends Terry and Anne, eating even more delicious vegan food, and causing the pedometer on my phone to nearly burn out with overuse. Join me then for more wanderings around the Czech Republic!

 

Vegan Travel Diaries: Thursday in Prague

About 10 years ago, I landed my first design job. I wasn’t having  a great time in Edinburgh, one of my closest friends had just died, and I’d found myself flunking out of all my classes because I had zero coping mechanisms. When I was offered a chance to go to Prague for a month to overhaul someone’s newly inherited home, I basically jumped at the chance. I would have been on a plane by the end of the day if I’d known where the hell my passport was.

Since that first trip, I’ve been back  at least once every couple of years. I absolutely love the Czech Republic, and my boss is happy to send me over to work with clients there rather than go himself. My linguistic skills are questionable, but I can get by. I’m just as much in awe of the food, the architecture, the art and the friendliness of the locals as I was when I first came almost a decade ago.

Green Spirit Vegetarian Bistro (Malá Strana)

I decided to head towards Green Spirit for breakfast because I’d never really been to the Malà Strana area and fancied a walk. This is very much a neighbourhood cafe, with a chilled out low-key hippie vibe; I would love to come back in summer when the patio is open. Being a total weirdo, for me breakfast is just “anything eaten before noon”, and on Thursday morning that just happened to be a Czech take on miso soup and vegan paella.

What arrived was a warming & surprisingly hearty miso soup with whole sweet cloves of garlic and brown rice. I’m often wary of “fusion” food, which usually turns out to be a haphazard mishmash of flavours that probably shouldn’t be mixed, but somehow Czech chefs seem to have mastered the art. This interpretation of miso had distinct elements of traditional Czech broths with a nod to Asian flavours. Authentic? Maybe not, but absolutely delicious in its own right.

The vegan paella with shiitake, vegetarian tofu “chicken”, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and onions was so filling, and perfect for a (slightly) cold winter morning. The flavours were fresh, the rice was perfectly cooked, and it was the best start to my first day in the city. If you’re planning to walk all the way to the other end of Prague and back, this is exactly what you need to keep you going.

 

Green Spirit Vegetarian Bistro & Cafe: Hellichova 14, Praha 1

Church of St Nicholas (Malá Strana)

Amidst candy coloured Baroque buildings and archways at Malostranské Náměstí, tourists sit eating lunch in the the town square just under the Church of St Nicholas (Kostel svatého Mikuláše). I’m not even slightly religious, but I have a weakness for gothic arches and a good flying buttress. Grand displays of stained glass leave me weak in the knees. I can’t help it, I love a well-built dome.

The Church of St Nicholas is the most famous Baroque church in Prague, and stands below Prague Castle smack dab in the centre of the Lesser Town Square. It was consecrated in 1283 and has stood at this site since 1743; it took no less than a hundred years to build with the help of three generations of Baroque architects. Today this church is considered one of the most valuable Baroque buildings north of the Alps.

I’m not a huge fan of walking when I’m in Edinburgh, maybe because it’s cold and wet. I somehow got an urge to trek across Prague. It was worth the over 20k steps I clocked up just on my first day in the city, to see this piece of architectural history. Even if I never made it inside. 


St Nicholas Church: Malostranské náměstí, Praha 1

Moment Cafe (Vinohrady)

Almost every vegan food blogger who’s travelled to Prague has mentioned this place; the last time I was in the city for work, this was where my design clients took me for breakfast my first day. My boss loves to tell the story of how they’d made reservations at a traditional Czech restaurant the night I arrived, and when he mentioned I was vegan they panicked. I’d worked for them before when I still ate meat so they’d assumed I’d be up for a big ol’ duck-laden feast; though it wasn’t their fault at all, they felt so guilty that they basically fed me constantly at a different vegan restaurant or cafe every day that week, searching online for the best places to take me. This place was one of my favourites.

Moment just serves perfectly executed good food. Stuff that will fill you up, burgers and quesadillas and soup, fresh as fuck, but nothing overly “frilly”. There’s no unnecessary excess. When I was last here I couldn’t get enough of their bagels and robi shawarma. Robi is a plant-based protein similar to seitan that’s used in a lot of Czech vegan cooking, and dare I say it, is tastier than a lot of similar products we have in supermarkets in the UK.

I started off with the daily special “cheesy” vegetable soup. Creamy, hearty, even felt a little healthy. The pasta puttanesca I’d had my heart set on was all finished, so I went for a good ol’ mushroom burger w roasted cumin mushrooms, caramelised onion, soyannaise, lettuce and tomato. Oh and an almond cappuccino, because I’d just walked up a fucking hill. These guys make a very good coffee. I rarely drink the stuff and even I would gladly trek up that hill every day for one of theirs.



Mushrooms? Roasted? How boring, right? Not if you use witchcraft, which I’m almost positive was involved here because I’ve never had mushrooms this firm and meaty in texture. It was incredible. They had a bite to them that I’ve honestly never tasted before. And now I’m going to wreck multiple punnets of mushrooms trying to recreate this at home. I’m not sorry. Not even a little bit.

Moment is arty, bohemian, and exactly the kind of cafe I wish existed in Edinburgh. I’d be here every day. I would eat that roasted mushroom burger every single day. You can keep your dry falafel burgers and bland lentil patties, this is a thousand times better.

Moment Kavárna & Bistro: Slezská 62, Praha 2

 

Polagraph/Polaroid Love (Vinohrady)

The last time I was here, some friends told me about Polagraph/Polaroid love. You probably can’t tell from my shitty iPhone snaps but I’m really into photography. Especially retro shit. I’m a sucker for a lornographic, and don’t even get me started on instant cameras.

I used to refuse to wear a proper camera round my neck. If you have boobs, it’s massively uncomfortable, and I hate looking like a tourist! Maybe it was because polaroids seem kinda quirky, maybe it’s because I’m in a city where I’m unlikely to bump into someone I know. Or maybe I ran out of fucks to give and don’t really care if I look like a dork, because polaroid pictures make me happy. For a small deposit, Polagraph will lend you an old-school polaroid camera to take some very loud, very arty snaps as you wander around the city. It’s almost painfully hipster but so much fun.

I spent the rest of my afternoon blissfully wandering around the Old Town (Staré Město), snapping polaroid shots with my rented retro camera in one hand and my trusty iPhone in the other. Some people love to take candid shots of people, some are partial to a colourful sunset; I’m the one in the corner photographing baroque architectural details on residential streets.  I could spend days just admiring the colourful exteriors, Art Nouveau shop signage, and graceful turrets that are so characteristic of Prague.

 

Maitrea (Staré Město)

I decided to ask the concierge at my hotel for a dinner recommendation, because even if you come armed with extensive lists, sometimes it’s just nice to ask a local where they would eat.

Maitrea is located within the House of Personal Development in Prague’s Old Town, in a fluid zen space with principles of feng shui incorporated into every element of its design.  Even the tables and chairs have no sharp edges. Everything on the menu is comprehensively  labelled, so whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, or garlic and onion-free, you’ll find something to eat here.

 

I’m not usually in the habit of ordering the same dish from different restaurants on the same day, because wouldn’t life be boring if food bloggers just ate the same damned thing for every meal? It was a difficult decision but I really couldn’t resist Maitrea’s Paella a la Barcelona with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, shiitake, onion, diced “chicken”. I couldn’t help myself. I haven’t had paella in years and I just really wanted it. Twice. In one day.

A good paella has layers of flavour. No single element was overpowering, but every single bite was unique. One mouthful was sweet and tangy with morsels of sundried tomato, another savoury with pieces of marinaded tofu “chicken”. This is all real food. No processed alternatives, just skilfully treated whole foods.

For dessert I decided to try the raw strudel of apple dough with poppy seeds, plums, cashews and agave because I was feeling “adventurous”. For some, that would mean eating crickets or feasting on churros whilst skydiving, but for me it’s eating some uncooked fruit. Move over Bear Grylls, ain’t nothing more daring that munching on raw cake.

I’m not usually a fan of the raw food movement, because I often feel that just recreating a food’s aesthetic appearance isn’t *quite* enough. Raw cheesecakes rarely have the distinctive texture or taste of the real thing, and sometimes presentation isn’t the only thing that matters. Oh, and I’m a renowned salad dodger.

Here the apples were mixed with psyllium to form a “dough” and filled with the nuts, seeds and fruit. If I hadn’t known this was a raw dish, I would have thought it was a baked dessert. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill raw “cake”, and both the flavour and texture were spot on.

Maitrea: Tynska 6, Praha 1

After all that food and all the walking, I was ready for bed by 10pm. I hope y’all have enjoyed hearing about my Prague adventures as much I had eating them. I mean experiencing. Let’s be honest here, most of my life revolves around food, so why should my holidays be any different?

Tomorrow I’ll be meeting up with a Twitter friend for lunch, gazing at buildings, and hugging the Fred and Ginger. Join me then for more Prague fun times!

Not a Fashion Blogger: LFW Day 4 (Series 4/4)

As we launched ourselves at full speed towards the last day of LFW’s AW 2017 season in our carefully-selected-for-comfort mismatched velvet brogues, this rookie fashion writer was inspired, excited, and very very knackered. 

In a strange way, making an effort to dress up each day for LFW made me a bit more body positive and confident with my outfit choices. Obviously there were model-thin women and men in clothes that probably wouldn’t fit my left wrist, but there were also people of all shapes and sizes dressed in the most incredible eye-catching ensembles, and they all looked bloody fantastic. So on Day 4 of LFW I picked up a skirt and jacket combination that I would have worried made me look “too short”, and I wore the hell out of it.

Monday

9:00
We have no shows before 11am on Monday, so I made plans to meet Tajinder from Music Geek Online and Shona from The Prim Girl near Freemasons at quarter to. Did I spend that extra time in bed? Absofuckinglutely not. I stopped by the huge Oxford Street Topshop and found a jacket I loved so much I had to wear it immediately, a gorgeous Ragged Priest distressed denim beauty held together with chains. Oh, 90s me would have loved this. 2017 me loves it too. My outfit is a mishmash of Day 1’s pink and green one-of-a-kind Totty Rocks top, a black t-shirt layered on top as a vest, a midi length striped circle skirt and a pair of silver brogues. With my new denim jacket, this is probably my most interesting outfit of the weekend.



10:45
I’m just around the corner from Freemasons and somebody stops me to compliment my outfit. He’s a photographer from Edinburgh who happens to be shooting StreetStyle, and he asks to take my photo; apparently this combination of “everthing I haven’t worn yet this weekend” is working for me. I find Tajinder, we drink our coffees, take photos of each others outfits, and wait to get in to the first presentation of the day.
11:00
Lekat x Billie Jacobina. This is a fully interactive presentation, and I find one model who is probably the most photogenic person I have ever seen. I take so many photos. Some are bound to be in focus. There is so much to see here, and the combination of Lekat’s distinctive designs and Billie Jacobina’s statement prints is incredible.



11:30
Pret again. I am on my second coffee of the day. Normally by this point the villagers would have been warned and the hatches would be battened, but somehow the combination of LFW exhaustion and caffeine seems to work for me.
12:00
Queuing again. I am so over queues. So over it. The woman behind us is a rep from Forward PR, and asks me if I know Rebekah Roy as I am also Canadian. I excitedly say yes, yes I actually do. This is the first time in my life I have been able to do this.
12:40
David Ferreira “Freakball”. Visually one of the most incredible shows I have ever seen, and we leave a little stunned and disoriented. It is like nothing we have ever seen before. Everything is a celebration of the extraordinary; models didn’t just walk down the catwalk, they created a theatrical display. The finale outfit of layered tulle was unbelievable. I am literally speechless; I can say this with conviction because it takes me half a coconut-milk-latte before I can form coherent sentences again.


Photos courtesy of PlusMinus Magazine

1:00
Pret, for phone charging and coffee-drinking.
2:30
Harry Xu. I have wised up and stood at the iron gates to get a decent view, because I’m short and people have large heads. When we come back out we’re straight back into another queue for our next show, and I get asked twice to be photographed for StreetStyle snaps because I look so colourful. The top I am wearing is going to be all over Instagram, apparently.
3:30
Irynvigre. This is such an interesting concept, with artificial humanoids representing the dawn of a post-apocolyptic world. The deconstructed shapes and use of a desaturated palette go perfectly together.
4:15
We make our way into the John Herrera “Agila” presentation, to the beat of a performance art piece with live drumming. The collection is so powerful; I love the structured, exaggerated silhouettes, and the digitally printed textiles were gorgeous.  I make notes on my phone with key words like “tribal”, “warrior women”, “animalistic” and “the designer who you wear when you need to power dress”. I am clearly getting faster at typing.



4:40
Barrus. I approach this one differently because I knew this will be our last show of LFW, and I also know that someone else has claimed it, so I get to enjoy it just as a spectator. The collection is full of jewel-toned colours, embellished fabrics, and unabashedly feminine shapes.
5:00
Pret, one last time.
6:00
Hungry, exhausted, and confused that it is actually over. We head to Costa to recharge our phones out of habit, though we don’t really need to. It’s hard to switch off. We talk abut our favourites, which ones we want to write up, and which shows left us underwhelmed. We laugh about those infernal queues.
8:00
We decide to go for a meal together at Mildreds in Soho, followed by a drink in a wee pub. This would have been the time to party, but we know we will be saying goodbye to the folk we’d spent every waking moment with submerged in fashion for four days. I’m looking forward to a long lie in tomorrow, but I’m also sad it it’s over. If I’m honest, I didn’t think I would come out of the experience having made new friends; I was convinced I would be the only non-fashion blogger in the group, and it was absolutely wonderful to be proved wrong.

I may not be a fashion blogger, but this experience of LFW as a journalist really made me remember what I love about fashion. I hope y’all have enjoyed my play-by-play Fashion Week Diaries, and you can check out my articles about LFW over at PlusMinus.

Not a Fashion Blogger: LFW Day 3 (Series 3/4)

Fashion Week brings up all sorts of existential questions. If no one takes a photo of your outfit, did you really wear it? Is the average length of a queue the same as the median length of a piece of string? Do things start to relax by Sunday at LFW, or do they just get more surreal?  In some respects, by Day 3 we’d all settled into a routine – we knew what shows we were going to, we were well aware that if one designer ran late we might miss the next, and we’d started to recognise people in the queue. All my tickets were organised by time and I already had an idea which ones I was most excited about.

I could find my way to Freemasons with my eyes closed by Sunday, so if you enjoy irony, it was fitting that my first show was somewhere else.

Sunday

9:00
Woo hoo! A lie in! I actually had some work to do for my day job, so decided to forgo the blow dry today and get some shit done. I manage an hour of productivity before I realise I have run out of clothes; I’d packed some fairly boring stuff in a rush and now nothing I had looked ok. I settle on a striped dress and my frock coat from Totty Rocks. The coat looks awesome. Everything else looks like I dressed in my sleep. I am not feeling my outfit today, and my handbag strap broke the day before so I have to carry a tote bag. I throw on a cropped sweatshirt from Boom Done, which saves it, but I hate my dress. I can’t stop thinking about how much I hate my dress. Why do I even own this piece of shit? I try to cover it up with as many layers as I can possibly muster and hope for the best.
11:30
My first journey on the Tube this weekend! Yay! Oh wait, I don’t like the Tube…
NOON
Shona from The Prim Girl and I can’t find each other outside Kings Cross, which is slightly embarrassing as I claimed I knew my way around the area. I was at DesignJunction at Granary Square for LDF last year, so at least I had a vague idea where we are headed. Vague. The Central St Martins campus is more difficult to navigate than I’d realised.
12:30
I get handed a bottle of apple juice. More on this later.
12:35
The show is about to start. Someone points out that I have somehow spilled my bottle of juice all over the floor, which is a disaster because this is also the catwalk; the models will be walking right over my fucking puddle of apple juice. Crap crap crap. Shona helpfully videos the whole thing.
12:40
Jamie Wei Huang. I’ve already requested to write this one up, so I’m thankful that I love it; the 80s inspired aesthetic, the collegiate stripes, that sports luxe vibe. I feel a bit conspicuous taking notes as the models are so close, and besides, I’m watching out for my trip hazard. By the time the show closes and I haven’t inadvertently maimed anyone with my clumsiness, I finally let out a huge sigh of relief.


1:00
We take a walk through Covent Garden and Neal Street from the Tube station, and spot a pop up that Shona has been wanting to visit called Reformation. We spend our “lunch” trying on dresses instead of eating, because, well, fashion. I instantly fall in love with everything in the store and their ethos of ethical, sustainable production. We run out of time to eat. Oops.
3:30
Pam Hogg. The queue for this one is a total shitstorm, and though everyone in the queue has tickets, almost no one gets in but VIPs. We are cold, hungry and tired. We make friends with some lovely folk in the queue who are equally cold, hungry and tired.
4:30
Cimone. We have high hopes for this, especially as this is one of our last shows for the evening. It does not disappoint. The exaggerated proportions, the sculptural aesthetic, and the styling of hair and makeup were all spot on.


5:00
Pret again. I remember they do soup. Soup and coffee, soup and coffee. At some point I buy a pair of shoes because my feet are killing me. We have a few hours spare, so we wander back to the queue of queues to say hi to some of the other writers with PlusMinus waiting on a 6:30pm show. At 7:15 they still aren’t in, so we go for another coffee. By the time we come back 20 minutes later, the doors have been locked because they’ve “made up” the lost time, and we’ve missed our last show. A strange ending to a strange day.
7:30
Wander home confused. I briefly consider going out for a few drinks, but then remember tomorrow is the last day of LFW and I want to be bright eyed and bushy tailed, not feeling like something the squirrel dragged in. I start writing up my favourite shows for the magazine and manage to get three done before I pass out face first in my bed. At some point I can hear my neighbour yell at some drunk guys downstairs, but I am way too tired to get up. Oh the glamour. 

I hope y’all are enjoying my slightly unconventional Fashion Week Diaries, and you can check out some of my sartorial commentary over at PlusMinus.

Not a Fashion Blogger: LFW Day 2 (Series 2/4)

You might know that I was at LFW with Plus Minus Magazine a few weeks ago, because it’s been pretty much my main talking point ever since. Yes, I am a one trick pony. If you’ve been following this series – or just read yesterday’s post – then you’ll have a bit of an insight into how clueless I was coming into this. I’m not a fashion blogger. I don’t dress like a fashion blogger. My “look” is a little maniacal 80s cartoon baddie meets Rainbow Brite, a little vintage Jem & the Holograms.

I’ve never been the type of person to let a little thing like having absolutely no idea what I’m doing stop me, which is maybe how I started blogging. I have a strange habit of jumping into situations head first, and it’s led to some of the best things in my life. Adopting a dog. Changing career. Opening an art gallery.  I’ve wanted to go to LFW for so long, so when the opportunity came along, it really didn’t matter that I wasn’t sure how to dress or what I would write. Sometimes you just need to wing it.

Saturday

8:00
Wake up, shower, go through all the physical tickets and e-tickets in a futile attempt at planning out the day’s schedule.
8:17
Give up.
9:00
Head to Topshop to get a blow-dry, because the other 51 weekends of the year I don’t even stye my hair. I am wearing a reasonably acceptable outfit of a short sleeved knit top with sequinned panels,  plain black skater skirt, Topshop distressed denim jacket with organza sleeves, and a pair of LOM “festival” leggings with rainbow pompoms down the sides. My shoes today – black patent-effect brogues – are a pair; left and right look eerily similar.
10:00
Meet Jen from Jennifer Durrans: Outside the Box at the Felicities media lounge in the ME hotel. At least I got the hotel right today; I am so flustered that when a waitress asks if I’d like a coffee, I say yes. I don’t drink coffee. It makes me hyperactive and annoying. I suck down that coffee in 3 seconds flat.
10:15
Walk/jog with Jen and Ben from Ben Pechey to Freemasons. See, I’m already shortening it, so I am clearly on the ball and more in the know than yesterday. Rookie? Nah, this is my second day! Such. A. Pro.
10:30
Start queuing. It’s still a novelty at this point, because although I *have* experienced the occasional queue before, this was a queue for a show! A fashion show! At Fashion Week! The excitement is palpable, my shoes are still comfortable, and that coffee is really going straight to my head now.
11:10
Mimi Tran “Fluorescence”. I’ve now realised that shows never start precisely on time, but am very chuffed we’re second row for this one and we actually have a decent view. 3 minutes in and I’ve already decided that I want to write this one up, so I surreptitiously take a few notes on my phone. These are largely incomprehensible, but I use the words “flower power” and “girl power soundtrack” so this looks promising. I probably look like I am checking my text messages.

Photos courtesy of PlusMinus Magazine

11:30
We rush to grab seats at CECI by Cecelia Chang, which is thankfully just upstairs. There is a copy of what I figure must be a press release on each chair, which tells us the theme is “Stateless Vagabonds”.
NOON
Grooming Room. Did you know the press have a dedicated room where they can get their hair and nails done, or a cheeky wee massage? Neither did I. This place is like a Green Room for journos, but as my experience of GRs has been musicians smoking cigarettes and eating bananas in a club’s back room, this is a definite step up. We hang out there for an hour so we can sort out which shows we want to go to in the afternoon; Jen gets her hair done and I get some fake eyelashes. Canapés whizz past, but my stomach continues to grumble because there is nothing veggie or vegan. Breakfast bars are no longer filling the void and I fear the rumblings might drown out the music at the next show on my list. Fuck. I need to eat something. Coffee is a crap breakfast.



1:30
Alex S Yu. A sportswear/sports luxe presentation back at Freemasons, which I manage to catch the last half hour of. I am really impressed with the use of colour and his play with volume, so I take a hundred photos. Someone strikes up a conversation with me because she remembered my mismatched shoes from yesterday.



2:00
Fashion DNA: Pakistan. I can’t see over the hat of the person sitting in front of me, so my photos are fairly useless for this one. I’m digging the music though; my head-bobbing is probably annoying the hell out of the person sitting behind me.
3:00
I drag Char from Memoirs & Musings to Pho with me because I swear if I don’t eat something soon, I will either go batshit or pass out. We wait around for ages and realise that I won’t have time to wolf down my food, so I ask for my order in a takeaway container. I am the only person shovelling cold rice noodles into my mouth waiting to get into a fashion show, and I am totally ok with this. When we get to the queue there are a few others from PlusMinus already waiting, so we sidled in with them. I tell the girl standing behind us I love her outfit, and I take my second every StreetStyle picture; she is dressed head to toe in pink, with pink PVC boots and hair the colour of Barbie’s dream house.

3:40
Malan Breton “Fantôme”. This is my favourite so far, and I take so many notes on my phone that at least half of them actually make sense; I adore the androgynous shapes, the precision tailoring, the textures, the colours, the interpretation of the kilt in modern menswear. Everything in this collection is right up my street. I am so in love with this show that I message the group chat as we are leaving the hall to let them know I want to claim this one for one of my write-ups.

4:00
Pret. This is the first of many visits to the Pret-a-manger near Freemasons, which is probably one of the things that kept us fed and caffeinated all weekend. I have begun to forget what hot food tastes like, but have developed a taste for coffee.
4:30
It’s getting cold outside, so I go on a hunt for a jumper with Shona from The Prim Girl and Jen. We accidentally come across a shop I’d spotted earlier that day, called Boom Done. Not only do I find loads of stuff to covet, but it’s also a brand new ethical fashion company. I buy 3 jumpers. I also make a mental note to write a blog post about these guys because I love the concept so much.
6:00
We realise that the next show we have tickets for isn’t until 7:30, so decide to have a drink. Every bar within staggering distance of Freemasons is absolutely mobbed though, so we find somewhere that looks like a time capsule from the 80s. We have time for one drink. We quickly give up on drinking. Are we the only people at LFW who aren’t partying? Am I old now? Am I having an existential crisis?
7:00
Aaaand we’re in the queue again. The fun of queueing has well and truly worn off.
7:40
Han Wen. He plays with silhouettes in a way that reminds me of both medieval garb and samurai, with a touch of fetish-gear thrown in for good measure. I am so tired and delirious at this point that I do an impromptu voiceover for Shona’s video of the show. I am likely talking utter nonsense.
8:00
We decide to go for a drink somewhere with the criteria being “anywhere warm and not filled with assholes”. This turns out to be a random pisco bar, and we finally learn what “pisco” is. It’s not too bad. I walk Shona to the tube and grab myself a vegan lasagne at Mister Lasagne on my way home; it is the first warm thing I’ve eaten since I left Edinburgh. Yikes. By the time I’ve climbed the stairs to the flat, I’ve uploaded all my photos to Instagram and checked my messages, but I am too tired to actual respond to any of them.
10:00
Sleep, blissful sleep.

Join me again tomorrow for Part 3 of the my LFW Diaries, with more shows, more coffee, and even less sleep. If you want to read about the shows I loved this season, check out the pieces I’ve written for PlusMinus.

Not a Fashion Blogger: Tales of a LFW Rookie Day 1 (Series 1/4)

A few weeks ago, I found myself on a train to London. At least once every few months I make that same five hour trip for work, to visit friends, or to eat my way across the city with dogged determination. This was different. This was the one thing I’d brought up in conversation with every friend, acquaintance and cab driver since I got the news. I was going to London Fashion Week.

It started with a post on a Facebook group back in January; PlusMinus Magazine were looking for writers to cover LFW, and I thought I’d try to land one of the places. I genuinely did not expect to be picked. My blog is tiny, I’m a relative newbie, and most importantly, I am NOT A FASHION BLOGGER. I have written a grand whopping total of three outfit posts in the two years since I started blogging, and in one of them I dressed up like a unicorn and made Long Suffering Employee of the Year Rhory take photos of me prancing around my gallery. I am not dignified. I don’t embody casual elegance. My aesthetic is more what the result of My Little Pony’s one-night-stand with a Victorian sailor in a box of Crayolas would look like.

I’ve always wanted to go to LFW. Every year I arrive in London just days after the Spring-Summer collections wrap up in September; the super trendy fashion set are packing up their suitcases and moving out to make way for the geekier, technical design crew. Architects and interior designers, industrial and product designers; those of us who spend our days looking at walls and rooms, and things in rooms, descend upon London just as the LFW designers, stylists, MUAs, PR people, journalists, magazine editors and bloggers prepare to ship out.

Thanks to PlusMinus, this year I was given one of the few spots to attend LFW with them. I’d always said that I wouldn’t go down to London just to “soak up” the atmosphere or wait for someone to snap pics of me for StreetStyle. I’m so damned happy I finally got to realise the dream. I was going to LFW – as a writer.

It was a weekend of firsts for me; first LFW, first time in a press lounge, first stay in an Airbnb above a sex shop…I set out on Thursday afternoon, kissed my dog and flatmate goodbye, and braved the big city lights with confusion on my face and a suitcase full of hopefully fashion-forward clothing.

This weekend I will be for the first time ever posting every single day. When I originally started writing this post, I didn’t realise HOW MUCH actually happened. Far too much to fit into one single blog post. So let’s start from the beginning…

Friday

8:00
Wake up, shower, try on every outfit (I brought 6) I packed & desperately hate them all. I tuck and untuck my shirt a dozen times before I deem my look acceptable to leave the flat; getting dressed for LFW is tiring. Bespoke Totty Rocks pink and green colour-block top, black high waisted skater skirt, black opaques, and a pair of Irregular Choice velvet brogues that are a mismatched pair. Yes, my left and right shoe do not look the same. I am a fashion rebel. Right paw is pink, left paw is blue, and this is all the sartorial statement the world will be getting from me today. My jacket is probably one of the more “fashiony” items I own, a Pinko velvet biker with embroidery across the back. I’m still not sure what it says
10:30
Turn up to the wrong fucking hotel to meet the rest of the PlusMinus team. Get taxi across town, frantically texting the group chat the whole way
10:45
Arrive at the Felicities press lounge at the ME hotel. We’re given our tickets for the day and before I can remember everyone’s names, we’ve dispersed
11:30-1:30
Oxo Tower Bargehouse. I don’t know what I’m doing. Can people tell I don’t know what I’m doing? We have tickets for Leon Lloyd London and Boo Pala; they are stylistically on opposite ends of the spectrum but equally gorgeous. I don’t want to leave Leon Lloyd. Everything about that collection was technically and visually beautiful, and I can’t stop staring at the impeccable use of draping on one of the jackets. Boo Pala, on the other hand, was edgy as fuck, and the models were so cool. So. Much. Fashion.



1:30
Head to Bermondsey because I forgot to pack shoes for going out and last minute ordered a pair online. This isn’t a shop, it’s a warehouse; this is how desperate I was for these shoes
2:30
Nip back to my Airbnb to drop off the shoes. Yes, it took that taxi an hour to get from the Oxo Tower to Soho via Bermondsey; either I have no idea how far things are in London, or that driver was having a laugh at my expense
2:30-2:34
Eat half of some sort of grilled vegetable flatbread picked up from the deli next door. Contemplate my outfit, decide it looks shit. Leave anyways
2:35
Head back to Oxo Tower. Wander around near the entrance, check schedule twice. Nope, I was right the first time – there isn’t another show on that I have tickets for until 4pm. What a chilled day. I wonder if the rest of the weekend will be so relaxed? (Spoiler alert: it was not). Sip green tea for an hour in the Caffe Nero opposite the Oxo Tower Bargehouse
with Char from Memoirs & Musings
4:00
Peter Issep. Menswear. Two incredible looking lassies approach me & ask for a photo; I think they want me to take their pic. Apparently not. I stand awkwardly as they take snaps of my outfit. The show starts about 5 minutes later; it’s somewhere between a show and a presentation, and it takes me a minute to adjust to getting my photographs. I give up 2 models in and start videoing instead
4:30
Stand around. Is there another show? I mean, we’re in a room that looks like a presentation might occur soon, but these people could just be hanging out, checking their emails and looking way cooler than me
4:32 
Get a text from PlusMinus; the Mark Fast show starts at 5:30. We get a taxi to Freemasons Hall
4:50
Start queuing for Mark Fast. My first queue of LFW! How exciting! (Spoiler alert: queues are not exciting). There’s a man in an incredible coat in front of us, so I take my first ever StreetStyle photo; only I don’t realise that’s what this is called. I am way too shy to do this on the regular



5:40
We get let into the Mark Fast show. This is the first time I’ve been inside the Freemasons Hall, and my first fashion show at LFW. I honestly don’t know where to look; the design geek in me is admiring the wrought iron gates, stained glass detailing and the decorative pillars
5:50
The show starts. We don’t have seats for this one, so we’re standing as close to those damned iron gates as we can get. Everything is stunning. Bright statement oranges, reds and fuchsias on knits embellished with fringing, feathers and chiffon. I’m so glad this is my first proper show, because it’s just so damned pretty


Photos courtesy of PlusMinus Magazine

6:30 

We all stagger out of the venue a little shellshocked. It’s completely dark outside
7:00
Head back to my Airbnb to charge my phone and change into those pesky shoes I trekked all the way around London to pick up. I decide to change my top too, so I’ve now got on a red and black polka dotted blouse with a giant bow. I also simultaneously realise i hate the word “blouse”. All my photos from the day get uploaded to Instagram
8:00
Grooming Room Launch Party at Century Club, which is thankfully (for my wee feet in their new shoes) 5 minutes away from the flat. We’re handed a free cocktail on arrival, which I am convinced contains Blue Bols. I eye it with suspicion. Turns out the glass is just blue, and I am an idiot. At some point during the night I go outside for a bit of fresh air, and meet a fellow Canadian.  She turns out to be Rebekah Roy, the awesome stylist for David Ferreira’s “Freakball”. I am also introduced to David and Pedro; David is wearing an incredible zebra print coat. I feel like a total Fashion Week newbie and am still a little dazzled by the whole situation.  I end up leaving the party at 11pm, which is early for me, but I am exhausted. I crawl home, feet in pain, only slightly drunk.

Join me tomorrow for Part 2 of the Chronicles of a Fashionably Clueless Blogger at LFW! In the meantime, have a read of the pieces I’ve written for PlusMinus so far. It’s been so exciting to see my words in print, in an actual magazine!