If you've been keeping an eye on my wee little blog the last week or so, you will have been aware of my stance on attending LFW this season. However, when I got an email inviting me and a guest down to a Fashion Scout show of my choice and the opportunity to experience the therapeutic wonderland of the Crabtree & Evelyn #HandsOnFashion Botanical Emporium, I thought this would be a reason to take a little hiatus from my LFW sabbatical.
I decided to invite my friend Grant, who is one of those friend's who is always game for anything and willing to go completely outside of his comfort zone. We are constantly going on obscure trip and adventures, and our lives are richer because of them. After a brief wobble about what he should wear, he decided to go with his usual uniform of black, afterall, what's more chic and flattering than that, he reasoned. But he decided that putting a blazer over the top would make it look like he'd made a bit more effort in honour on the occasion and give him a slight feeling of power....I'm not sure the plimsolls are quite in-keeping with that more polished aesthetic...but perhaps he's just flippin' the fashion script or being extremely fashion forward.
Poor Grant didn't know that when he posted the picture of his strutting outside Freemason's Hall with his LFW goody bag on his socials, that his friends would be so amused they'd turn it into a meme. Not just one meme, but a conveyer belt of memes that has run for 4 days and counting....
One of the biggest changes to LFW since I started attending all those years ago, is the emphasis on street fashion - it's almost taken over from the content/clothing featured in the shows, in fact! People are savvy to this, so we now see a hive of people constantly hanging about outside the venues in either achingly chic or shocikingly out-there ensembles, hoping a street style photographer will want to capture their image.
People have mixed feelings about the rise of this phenomenom (many view it as attention seeking) but I know I do enjoy marvelling as some of the creative and otherwordly looks that gravitate to Freemasons Hall and Soho during LFW. The spectacle and pick n mix of styles is fantastic for lovers of people watching, like myself.
So let's talk about the pampering we received courtesy of Crabtree and Evelyn. Their #HandsOnFashion Botanical Emporium was stationed in the grand Hall to rejuvenate the weary hands of fashionistas who have been relentlessly tweeting, facetuning pictures and posting on instagram, in order to ensure their LFW content gets as many likes, shares and retweets as possible.
Bloggers know that this can be an incredibly fruitfull time of year in terms of getting great content and attracting new followers, so many are dogged in their approach to the week. Despite ensuring they find the time to make sure they look fabulous throughout, they don't always manage to fit in measures to ensure they feel good too.
The therapists were on hand (get it) to calm palms with an intensive conditioning massage using Crabtree & Evelyn’s iconic Hand Therapy creams. Hopefully this would go some way in staving off mobile phone induced cramping and RSI.
There were menus placed on the tables to help you pick the right scent to deliver your desired result. If I'm honest with you, I was having a nightmare of a week, so I decided that the RELAX one was the only way to go.
Grant was rather flummoxed by the decision process but decided to go for RESTORE given that he enjoys a good pommegranate.
As well as feeling soothed in the hand area we both enjoyed a good natter with our lovely massaging ladies. I used my treatment to have a good vent about the stresses of my week, while I overheard Grant having a good chat about his fish out of water LFW experience.
They started the treatment by exfoliating, getting rid of all those dry or dead skin cells. Due to the quick nature of this treatment we then wiped off the grains with a wet wipe so we could go in with the cream. My one had a Rosewater scent, which I know for many seems a tad old fashioned an aroma, but I love it's nostalgic element. Classics are classics for a reason. We really don't want to say goodbye to them and they'll always be relevent. Grant's more contempoary combination was exotic and zesty and really gave his hands a pleasant zing. He was raring to set his fingers at work on the Gif making machine houses in the Emporium.
The Botanical Emporium was based right near where a lot of the trailblazing designers were flanking their rails displaying their latest collections. It's nice that you can be pamperd one second and educating yourself on emerging talents and upcoming trends the next. Don't get your creamy mitts on their amazing creations though!
While you were there you also had the opportunity to try out all their different cream concoctions and familiarise yourself with their range of products. It's been a while since I have used any if I'm honest but I'm so pleased that I go the chance to recconect with this heritage brand and sponsor of LFW.
Here's Grant being completely oblivious about the crowd queing behind him while posing with the Gif maker.
Now for the show, which we got to view from the optimum position of the front row. I had chosen the Angel Chan show as it's one that I knew would deliver colour, eccentricity and thinking outside of the box.
Inspired by the ancient book 'Shan Hai Jing', a historic text depiciting various stories of monsters from land and sea, Angel Chen SS17 rests on the borders of Chinese Heritage and craft innovation. With direct references of the stories themselves, pieces feature iconic symbols, charactersand ceremonial embellishmen as well as original illustrated embroidery by Angel herself - which has now become a signature of the studio.
This year, though she was even more propelled by involving new and innovative techniques. She experimented with a selection of boundary pushing fabrics and new techniques and processes like dissolvable embroidery fillings which has resulted in lighter garments and a mind boggling level of intricacy.
Alongside these contemporary and revoluionary methods she set herself the task of making her looks multifunctional, in that they can be worn in many different and unusual ways, and as a result taking the concept of unisex fashion into a new and exciting realm.
The Denim was largely overszied and looked to be inspired by Street Style and urbanwear. Although in keeping with the curret trend of adding interest to denim, her patches and embellishment were cool not kitsch. I loved how the hardwearing denim was teamed with fiery but delicate silk hoodies and delicate sheer tops.
Even if the models were wearing dresses that could be described as pretty or feminine they were given edge via the models harsh and vibrant and unnatural coloured hair and by artyfully using layering techniques that married the tassled dresses with hoodies or clumpy flatform shoes.
The models strutted and haphazardly marched down the catwalk with very evident attitude. With laddered tights and limbs restricted your imagination was encouraged to run wild.
Perhaps the most gentle looks from the collection are these cream Jacquard pieces. Flared trsouers teamed with a tunic/dress which hoops round the mid thigh with flapping epaulettes and beaded neck details. This is perhaps the most overtly feminine series of designs from this seasons Angel Chen. Love the overszied pockets...they may actually be roomy enough for all my gubbins!
What Grant and I both noticed and loved about this show was the emphasis on attitude. The models weren'y gracefully gliding down the catwalk absent of expression, they looked like they were on a mission, or like they had something that they were angry or impassioned about. The music too, wasn't generic chart fodder, it was very striking and unusal and great at enhancing the unique energy of the show.
Utility, unisiex, unpredictable and unusual. Angel Chen, I hope to see you next year.