Category Archives: Events

Chocolate Unwrapped in Mayfair

Sampling some of the world’s finest chocolate in Mayfair sounded like a glorious way to spend a Sunday afternoon, so I headed down to the May Fair Hotel for Chocolate Unwrapped, the first show dedicated solely to delicious cocoa goodness.  It was like entering Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir, with an intoxicating scent of chocolate and tables laden with exquisite morsels and pretty, shiny wrappers – I was in heaven!

chocolate festival

Part of the UK’s Chocolate Week, Chocolate Uncovered featured exhibits from 25 of the country’s most respected and innovative chocolatiers and talks from Rococo founder Chantal Coady, the MD of Hotel Chocolat and Visit Mexico.  Samples were unlimited and plentiful and aside from atempting a full-on sugar coma, you could peruse dessert cookery books from Foyles and admire the incredible chocolate sculptures by renowned artists and chocolatiers.

I adored Rococo’s fragrant earl grey and rose scented chocolate bars, Paul Wayne Gregory’s salted caramels, Pacari’s cocoa nibs and Paul A. Young’s gooey ultimate chocolate fudge brownies.

Chocolate dress

Being the geek that I am, I had to make it an educational trip, so I attended the talk given by Visit Mexico and the co-founder of the authenic Mexican restaurant Mestizo, on the history of chocolate and its importance in Mexican cuisine.

I discovered that cocoa was drunk by the ancient civilisations of Central America, including the Aztec and Maya communities from as early as 2000BC.  It was taken back to the court of Spain in 1527AD and eventually reached England in the 1650s and, like gin, was used for medicinal purposes.

But the main part of the talk was the celebratory role that chocolate plays in Mexican culture – chocolate skulls are exchanged like Valentine’s roses on the Day of the Dead and mole (pronounced ‘molay’) is laboriously prepared for weddings, funerals and religious holidays.

mole

Mole is an aromatic sauce that usually accompanies different kinds of meat and is created using a blend of onion, garlic, tomatilla, dried chilli, nuts, seeds, spices and of course, chocolate.  There are many different kinds of mole originating from various regions in Mexico, all with different colours and flavours.

We sampled the brown Mole Poblano, slow-roasted with chicken and it was one of the most complex, flavoursome sauces I’ve ever tasted.  It reminds me a lot of my favourite Iranian dish, Fesen Joon – a textured sauce made from ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses and served with chicken.

Chocolate Unwrapped’s chocolatiers will be hosting a series of talks, tasting sessions and demonstrations around London for Chocolate Week.  There will be also chocolate-themed afternoon teas and set menus at selected restaurants as part of London Restaurant Festival.

Chocolate Week runs from 12-18 October and events will be held at venues across London.  Check out  www.chocolate-week.co.uk for more details.

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Romeo Pires Spring/Summer 10 @ LFW

Romeo Pires’ Spring/Summer 10 show kicked off with cosmos and mojitos, which is always better than queuing in the rain.  This is design duo Nicholas Humphrey and Sergio Pires’ second collection at LFW and they picked up where they left off last season with their signature art-inspired graphic prints.

Romeo Pires

The collection featured diaphanous silk collared shirt dresses and jumpsuits, beginning with monochrome and graduating into colour-bursting prints. featuring checker flags, apples

The monochrome pieces showed a more feminine, dreamy take on a tuxedo and skeleton prints were also featured. 

Romeo Pires

 The second part of the collection saw graphic colour prints emblazoned with checkerboards, apples, Roy Lichtenstein-inspired tableaux, mystical swirls and geometric blocks.

Romeo Pires 

 The majority of the collection was created using silk and includes sheer blouses, tailored shorts and beautifully draped jumpsuits.  A perfectly wearable and cohesive Spring/Summer collection if ever there was!

 

Steve J and Yoni P Presentation @LFW

Everyone at London Fashion Week seemed to be clutching an invitation to Steve J and Yoni P’s ‘Puppet Theatre’ presentation and even the great Diane Pernet popped in to check out the duo’s new collection. 

Their innovative presentation, held in the Korean Cultural Centre, was inspired by the Eastern European marionette culture (I’ve witnessed it in Prague and it’s terrifying).  The atmospheric ‘puppet theatre’ was full of lifeless but cheekily well-endowed puppets sporting strategically place fruits and solitary pieces hung on rails,  illuminated by light and shadows.

Steve J and Yoni P

As for the new collection, there were ‘let’s go boating’ soft tailored jackets, structured dresses with two-tone lapels and detailing, pretty 50s-inspired underwear as outerwear, screen printed tees and khaki shorts for guys. 

Steve J and Yoni P

The show was set up as a ‘still life’ with models staring ahead and draped over chairs, serenaded by harpist Serafina Steer.  Many of the models had branch markings ‘tattooed’ on their arms and faces and some had their fluffy angel hair and hands tainted with red dye.

You really need to see it to understand, so check out a clip of the Puppet Theatre presentation…

Video by brightonART

Their Autumn/Winter 09 collection is also worth a look – it’s full of cosy tartan smocks, Aztec print cardies and purple day dresses.   Stockists: My Sugarland and supersweet.

Fred Butler’s new head candy at LFW

My first hint that London Fashion Week was just a few hundred metres away as I left Charing Cross station was spotting a pretty girl with an even prettier (and NEW collection) Fred Butler kaleidoscopic head piece complete with a shiny present bow. 

Our paths separated at Waterloo Bridge, as I crossed over the river to Blow Presents… at Royal Festival Hall, but I was excied to know that there was more Fred Butler goodness to be found at the exhibition.

Fred Butler

Fred has single handedly revived the stale old craft of origami and fabric yoyos and each season creates vibrant, avant-garde and sculptural accessories that are surprisingly wearable.    The origami hat and cape in irridescent white remind me of a kind of East End snow queen and the colour-bursting kaleidoscopic neck ruff is so spectacular, it feels like something out of a dream.

Fred Butler

The bright origami ‘scarf’ (for want of a better word) snakes itself around the body and also incorporates the snow queen material. It makes me think of my crazy patchwork quilt by designer Kaffe Fassett (which Fred will undoubted know), handmade by my very talented mum.  I’ll post a pic soon, so you can see how important the craft element is in Fred’s work.

Featured here are the larger collection leaders, but there are also a range of exquisite head pieces and no doubt some necklaces for you to add on your Christmas list – I know I will be!

Fred Butler accessories are stocked at Kabiri and the Autumn/Winter 09 collection can be viewed on her website.

Kabiri – 37 Marylebone High St / 18 The Market, The Piazza, Covent Garden / Selfridges concession store

Vauxhall Fashion Scout at LFW 09

I wish I’d got to see more Vauxhall Fashion Scout shows this season – I did catch Bryce d’Anice Aime and Romeo Pires – but sadly you can’t be everywhere at once. 

The Bryce show was absolutely packed with people even standing on the ledges to get a better view.  I loved the kind of hush-hush, secret society vibe of the Freemasons Hall – such an interesting venue!

Bryce d'Anice Aime

 Bryce’s Spring/Summer 10 collection combined chic, 50s Parisian style with a contemporary ‘London body-con’ look and futuristic detailing.  This season’s woman has grown up and is a sophisticated bombshell with a whole lot of attitude.

  Bryce d'Anice Aime

The collection was divided into 3 different styles – he kicked off with sheer structured dresses, a panelled bodysuit adorned with some fierce Lady Gaga-esque fabric spikes, all in a palette of black and gold-spun beige.  The next look was a lot softer and more playful with two-tone dresses featuring a gorgeous bold circle print.  They still had the obligatory statement shoulders and the spikes ran through the collection.  The last instalment focused on the black body-con dressand skirt suit in stretch satin with beautifully draped red chiffon. There were also flashes of glittering pillarbox red on the skirts and leggings.

Thanks to Fashion Mongers for use of Bryce d’Anice Aime catwalk images.

New Designers at London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 10

It’s all GO at London Fashion Week and I’ve made it my mission to check out all of the best new off-schedule designers that are soon to be the next Marios, Emilio or Louise – Gray or Goldin, both pretty fab in my opinion!

I missed the ioannisdimitrousis show on the first day, as I was still working away – freelances can’t make such outrageous demands, y’know.  But from what I’ve seen, his Spring/Summer 10 collection, he has continued his fishnet knits and added disc sequins, flower embellishments and contrasting panels, aka stripes.  But he has really embraced the spirit of Spring with his fresh take on monochrome and delicate silver and the collection features cropped tuxedo jackets, romantic button-down skirts, checked shirts and modified summer dresses.  There’s something Chanel Cruise collection about this dress – I love it! 

ioannis

So, my first show of the season was Blow PR’s catwalk show at Royal Festival Hall.  Blow always pick up on the most imaginative emerging designers and I was just dying to see Charlie Le Mindu’s hair sculptures in ‘real life’.

First up was a quick guest appearance from Joe, of Blue Peter fame (I’m sorry, I don’t know who he is) modelling… some clothes – best ask someone else about that one.

Charlie Le Mindu opened the show with an amazing Eiffel tower headpiece and from there we had hair-covered giant lips (think a Lulu Guinness purse after a blowdry), a plaited hair burka, hair-covered sunglasses and .  There was even a tufty fringe of hair on the amazing Tuk for Charlie Le Mindu brothel creeps!  Kap Bambino were responsible for the amazing soundtrack and I know that L7 was definitely played, but I forget what else, as I was so astounded by the models.

Charlie Le Mindu

Next up was Gemma Slack with her superheroine-inspired second collection of badass leather, proper studs and metal armour plates.  Cones play a massive part in the collection, from Gaultier-style cone bra tops (complete with pierced nipples) and circular skirts to a futurist metal e-collar and oriental hats.

Like the Motley Crue soundtrack would suggest, her vision comes from 80s hair-metal girls and fetishised comic book characters.  Gemma’s girl is unapologetically sexual and powerful and of course has an incredible cutaway bikini for lounging ’round the pool on Sunset Strip…jealous, moi?

Gemma spent two years as an apprentice to Gareth Pugh and it’s clear that the experience has made her into a bit of a perfectionist, creating really well-formed, striking pieces.  I could go on about her for ages, but I’ll move on…

.Gemma Slack

 Up next was Lina Osterman with a sophisticated, gothic and well-tailored collection.  It was her first catwalk show since graduating from Central St Martins and it also showcased her new jewellery collection featuring chunky silver rings and dirty metal chains.

Like many Swedish designers, Lina is more interested in design than colour and used a palette of black, navy and a momentary flash of white.  The collection features cropped blazers, belted coats, skin-tight jeans with studded knee-pad details.  Lina has developed a darker edge from the simple deconstruction aesthetic of her first label Pudel and the faces half covered with net and bowl cuts (styling by Robbie Spencer) add a subdued goth rock element.

Lina Ostram

Iris Van Herpen finished the show with an exquisite, fluid and complex collection.  Iris explores the movement of the human body, focusing on waves and radiations surrounding it.  She interprets how these lines may appear through the incredible manipulation of leather and ponders a future where we can actually see them.

This would explain the great energy of the pieces, from endless spirals and almost tribal marks to uniformly abbrasive ‘metal shavings’.  Iris also referenced Burmese ornamental neck rings, metal animal skulls and the concept of waves attacking and protecting the body.  The beige and gold dress was breathtakingly detailed and the oil-slick black pieces really expressed Iris’ rather fearful vision of the future.

 Iris Van Herpen

So, after such a great and varied show, I went to check out what was going on at Blow PR Presents…Juniors downstairs.  The kids were having a blast, getting their hair and make-up done, putting together their own outfits even crazier than those in the East End and being snapped by We Are Photogirls.  Future fashionistas in the making, for sure!

Later on, I hit the exhibition, drank some Chambord and champagne in the media lounge and caught up with some of the ELLEuk.com girls of past and present taking street style pics and making good use of the Toni & Guy Blow-Out Bar.

Next stop, Steve J and Yoni P presentation followed by the Bryce d’Anice Aime show…more to follow!

Fashion folk and spottings: V.V Brown, Diane Pernet, Kate Nash, Paloma Faith, Katie Jane Garside, Caryn Franklin, Brix Smith-Start, Portia Freeman, Michael Tempranillo, Dani Stahl, Johnny Make-up, Jameela Jamil, Tommy Ton,  Angela Buttolph.

All images (expect ioannisdimitrousis) by Neily Alimohamadi/cheriecity

Carnival time!

The UK summer may be coming to end, but the Notting Hill Carnival brought one last glorious day of sun-drenched partying.  Westbourne Grove’s bijou designer shops were boarded up for the bank holiday weekend as hundreds of thousands of people joined in the second biggest street festival in the world.

Carnival swan

Notting Hill Carnival was formed in 1959 by the Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean community and has seen up to two million visitors since.

Sunday is known as the ‘family day’, but on the Bank Holiday Monday, the streets of Notting Hill are filled with the best soundsystems, barbeques and of course the procession.  The food is usually pretty good and generously sized, with most of the stalls selling jerk chicken with rice and peas and fried plaintains, coconuts and barbequed corn.

Tips for the best time at carnival:

Notting Hill residents make a killing at carnival by selling cans of beer from an icebox and charging anything up to £5 to use their bathroom.  So to avoid mild exploitation from these million pound townhouse Delboys, chill your supermarket-bought cans and locate the nearest portaloos – if you can do it at Bestival, you can do it in the city!

Scour the net to find out about all the parties and afterparties, as some require signing up or a flyer invite.  Liquid Nation had a brilliant recession-busting party this year that had a flat rate of £2.50 for entry, drinks (including cocktails) and BBQ. 

Don’t try to plan too much, as you find something interesting on the way round or can’t get through the crowds in time.  If you’re meeting up with friends, avoid trying to find each other on the small streets around Talbot Road – go for the larger areas around Chepstow Road.