Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Month in London

The photos show a range of outfits worn to the Vogue offices and out and about in London - all from the usual range of second hand sources. The last was a quick iPhone snap that my dad took one morning. See Fashionistable Dvora's fabulous blog for more photos of the blue denim dress.

I've been visiting London since I was little. My grandma’s home is there: a wonderland-esque time warp of a flat, complete with Saarinen furniture and original sixties bubble lamps that have been there since my dad was young. My early memories revolve around grazed shins and tree climbing; the panoramic view from the top of Primrose Hill; the occasional roar and heat of the tube. These moments reflect a much smaller London – one that I only knew in snatches. To me the city was the children's playground, the canal, the parks. 

London is now much larger and more present in my life. I visit pretty regularly, and have just returned from my longest period of time spent there. As many already know, last year I won the Vogue Talent Contest, with part of the prize being a month’s work experience at the magazine’s offices in Hanover Square. I am now back home, several hours away from the vibrant hum of the city.

While I was there, the general idea was one of needing to pack in as much as possible – of reaching out with two hands to grab everything that London could offer. Of course, it was impossible to take it all in. There’s a sense of there always being something else to do, to see, to take part in. When this feeling is harnessed, it’s exhilarating – the sheer scale of possibility contrasting with the sedate pace of my rural home, where the highlight of the day might be a visit to a car boot sale or a blustery walk past the lakes. In London there are films, restaurants, cafes, exhibitions, gigs, plays, museums – the list continues ad infinitum. And yet, the flipside of all this potential is the worry that you are somehow missing out if you're not out doing something all the time. If one is staying in the capital only temporarily then this feeling is exacerbated, with every spare moment and snatched hour spent experiencing something new, or spent feeling that one should be.

The memories that will remain, however, are the many moments of exploration and discovery – some of them shared, others alone. This was the first trip where I spent more time walking around than catching the tube. There’s nothing better than the underground for easy transport – whether the destination is Aldgate East for Brick Lane, Waterloo for the South Bank or the Royal Albert for David Bailey’s exhibition (technically the DLR, but still part of the vast network webbing London). And yet, the tube is a little like a rabbit warren – it’s easy to pop up and down stations with no real sense of where one is in the city. I had little idea that Covent Garden was so close to Trafalgar Square until I walked from one to the other with friends. With help from my A-Z, the handy maps on street corners and my phone, I managed to fill in and flesh out vast sections of London geography. I finally realised where these previously isolated places were in relation to each other, joining the dots as I paced.

There was plenty of incredible food along the way - whether it was visiting cafes on my dad’s recommendation (in pursuit of the perfect coffee) or sharing the best brunch ever with Stella in Workshop Coffee. In fact, Stella became a kind of unofficial foodie guide, introducing me to the delights of Vapiano’s pasta, Hawksmoor’s burgers and Scoop’s icecream, along with extended wanderings around the many streets, squares and corners of central London. The best meals during the month were those enjoyed with others: Peruvian food with Jennifer, shared pizzas with Merlin, outings to Lemonia with family friends, a dinner at Odette’s with my fairy godmother, dinners cooked at home for various people. A particularly special occasion though was me taking my eleven-year-old brother out to Marine Ices – a famed, family-owned Italian restaurant in Camden. It was a delight to play the role of big sister, particularly as I had hardly seen him in the preceding few weeks. He’s reached that age when conversation is a new delight, and I hope that it was the first of many sibling adventures we’ll have.

The entire trip was one of ‘firsts’: first ridiculously extravagant ice cream sundae 'lunch' at Fortnum & Mason’s; first time I stayed in my grandma’s flat by myself - with friends; first experience of proper nine-to-five work. My time at Vogue was interesting, insightful and informative, and it feels quite extraordinary at seventeen to be able to say that I was a features intern there. It was a month of real independence – another whiff of being truly grown up. I’m not quite ready to up sticks and move to London yet though. I’m enjoying the prospect of several weeks revolving around reading, writing, photography shoots, excursions, friends and family. It feels mellow after the busy pace of the capital. I’m just glad that I seized and made the most of London while I was there, and left knowing that there was plenty to return to. 

A final note - in the course of the month, alongside contributing to the Vogue blog, I was very excited to have various articles published elsewhere. I had my first piece on the Guardian website, some musings on ethical fashion published on Eco-Age and two articles on my all-time favourite feminist blog The Vagenda. They can be seen here and here. For other recent work, you can see the new writing page on my blog. 

To end the link-spree, one of my favourite musicians Beth Jeans Houghton (who I talked about here) has just started a blog full of thoughts on touring, music and unexpected encounters. 


losttinafairytale said...

Love all those outfit's! And your hair is so beautifull!


SabinePsynopsis said...

What a wonderful time you had! After 10 years I'm still discovering so many unknown corners of London... You must have been one of the best dressed women to roam the streets of the city. xoxo

Closet Fashionista said...

Firstly, I am in love with all of your looks! Perfection :)

It sounds like a truly amazing month!! I would love to spend a month in London and explore it more...unfortunately that's harder for me because I live in the US. If only I was brave enough to just take off and go. London is actually a place I feel I could fit in, it's like NYC but less scary and prettier, ha ha.

And I know what you mean about not realizing how close together things are, the second time I went to London I realized that things were so much loser than I thought the first time ;)
(I love that you have a friend named Merlin ;) )

Junaluska said...

Congratulations on all of the articles! I really enjoyed the Vagenda ones. Your velvet jacket and skirt are stunning as well.

Willow said...

There are some gorgeous outfits here! The velvet two piece in the second photo, that fourth outfit is stunning, and I love the fifth - blue and yellow would have to be my favourite colour combination. And the sixth is so lovely! I cannot explain how much I love that pink blazer in the eighth photo - I want it! (A bit too much.)

A month of work experience at Vogue would have been a brilliant experience, sounds like you had a wonderful time. Ever since I was about seven I've wanted to go to London, and had a plan that when I was older to run off with a friend and live there for a year and just write about everything (and of course take lots of photos.)

Beautiful pictures, great post.


Tara said...

I'm so glad you had a good time over the course of your internship, Roz!
You are right about the potent, intensity of London and how there is a fear of one - if you procrastinate or linger for a moment too long - missing out on all the sublime sights, scenes and opportunities the city has to offer. I've lived in London my entire life, and there are still so many little nooks and crannies -not to mention renowned spots such as Marine Ices (!) - I've yet to explore.
Thank you for your lovely, insightful comments on my scolio-post and fashion vs. feminity post. The idea of regional variation in the precedence of cases had only occurred to me a few times over the course of the last two years. But, every time it's referred to, it never fails to shock and just seems to reaffirm the urgent need for funding in the area of spinal deformities.

Best Wishes,


Caroline Thornham said...

Those outfits are all fantastic, and very individual too, I can't pick a favourite! It sounds as though you had an amazing time- I always feel that same need to pack as many things in as possible when I visit London, but I find that it's incredibly exhilarating to be somewhere with such an endless array of things to do in comparison to my everyday home, which is, like yours, much quieter and more rural. xxx

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

I'd say you're spot on in capturing the feelings of London. I always felt I should be doing more than I was, and everyone I knew felt the same, however much they were already doing.

And walking (or cycling) is the best way to get to know any city.

How exciting about all the pieces you've had published. The Guardian at such a young age! (sorry, that made me sound like a grumpy old aunt). But that's really amazing, I'm sure the memories will linger and the things you have done will lead to more opportunities and adventures!

MargieF said...

I know exactly how you feel about London - I live in the country but work in London and I know I miss out on so much because I don't live here...even though I'm here every day I don't even scratch the surface of what I could do and see, it's a shame!

Vix said...

You look utterly gorgeous in each of your outfits but that yellow mini at the end is just stunning. I bet you stopped traffic.
I probably know Mumbai better than I do London. x

Mikazuki said...

I love those outfits! Sounds like you had a good time. I'd love to visit London one day; it sounds awesome.

alexandratherese said...

I would imagine that, at Vogue, it's pretty hard to be the most well-dressed person in the office but I'm almost certain you managed it Roz! Lovely to hear such glad tidings of your internship - it is an incredible achievement to have worked at Vogue for a month at 17! I've dipped my toes into the journalism whirlpool this summer and I've loved every minute too. I really relate to the way you describe the London feeling of there always somewhere else to be - I've experienced it even at the theatre, arguably one of the most quintessential London destinations, yet at the moment of the curtain going up I've found myself thinking "is there another show, a better show, a more anticipated show that I should be at instead?" I think the best thing is just to soak up as much as possible and enjoy simply being in such an exhilarating environment. I've been twice this summer and both visits were wonderful in their own way, yet I don't feel an inclination to make a beeline there as soon as A Levels are up at all. Hope you have a lovely rest of summer Roz and get to relax a bit after running around London all month! Alexandra xx

Jeane M. said...

Wow I'm loving all those outfits. Got some great ideas in here. Got my eye on your blog now.

Jean at said...

I'm bookmarking this post so that when I come to London for the first time, you can be my unofficial tour guide. Sounds like a glorious time!! I was enchanted with the sound of your grandmother's flat as well.

You look perfect in all your various "city" outfits, although I confess I miss the bucolic romance of your country ensembles.

Either way, though, a joy.

Comtesse de ferveur said...

Congratulations on what must have been a wonderful month getting to know the city better. It's definitely one of the most extraordinary cities in the world! A lifetime of things to see; when I lived there, to avoid being overwhelmed, I just really relished what I actually did and saved other places to see and things to do for future return visits - am slowly and pleasurably ticking them off! Your outfits are stunning, and what a fabulous picture of you outside Vogue House!

Natasha Gregson said...

Love this!! I especially love the outfit with the brown floral skirt


kiss me quick said...

wow, you look so pretty and inspiring ^^ There's something timeless about your looks.

just lovely!


This is LN said...

Perfect ! I love this look & your blog is great ! Following you now, would love for you to check out my blog and follow back if you like it !

Clara Turbay said...

You got style and good taste.

Ladies Holiday said...

You are an incredible young woman and I so enjoy everything you share here. I write for a women's lifestyle blog and we were recently nominated for the Sunshine Award, I wanted to share the love by nominating you as well! Please check it out here

There is no obligation to participate, but if nothing else I wanted to tell you, I love your blog! Keep on being amazing :)

and the gals at Ladies Holiday

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

Lucky you! It must've been a wonderful visit to London.
Your summer style choices are chic and charming.

Hope Adela Pasztor said...

I'm so proud of you, Roz! You are turning into quite the accomplished young lady. I look forward to the day when I can say "I knew her before she was famous!" =)

Kelly-Marie said...

Congratulations lady! You really are so talented and i'm glad it is being recognized, you are most definitely going on to great things.
I'm glad you enjoyed the city, it is such a special place. I have been living here for 7 years now and that feeling of 'missing out' never goes away. I'm beginning to feel my roots in the countryside calling my name again. Sometimes the stress of trying to keep up all the time gets very tiring.
I think you have the right idea about waiting a while until you make London your home, like you said it's not going anywhere and you will enjoy it more when the time is right.

The Foolish Aesthete said...

I'm so glad you posted about your experience at Vogue. And it sounds like you have been writing non-stop outside as well. Congratulations! I can relate to Hope Adela's comment, wondering what will happen when you are too busy and famous to converse with us in our little blog worlds. I am so truly happy for you!

That feeling you express of wanting to seize every opportunity and discover every nook and cranny of London is exactly how I felt about it -- and New York, and Washington DC and San Francisco and all the cities I have ever lived in. We were talking with some friends this summer who were saying, oh, at some point, one just needs to live in one place and settle down and just visit places. My husband and I answered, but why? There is so much to see and do in one's lifetime. And neither one of us wants to just be a traveling tourist, seeing only the surface. And so, we keep picking ourselves up and moving to new cities, searching for new experiences. As I've told a mutual blogger friend of ours, Jill, I think we should just move in with a gypsy caravan!

I will check out your other pieces of writing now -- J xxx

Fashionistable said...

A month in London. It was great to catch up with you a little when you were here. And it fun to see what some of your other outfits were for your time in town. Also well done with all your other writing assignments too. Xxxx