Issue No. 5 London
Editor’s Letter Minding the gap can be tricky when you’re travelling by train with two giant suitcases. Call us crazy, but we decided to launch volume two by ambitiously tackling three cities and two issues in one trip. It wasn’t until we arrived at the Shepherd’s Bush tube station that we realized the scope of the work ahead. But first, we had to get our luggage up three flights of stairs. The London Underground may be the world’s first metro system, but it’s notorious for its lack of elevators. Before we could even complain, a man seemingly came out of nowhere, helped carry our bags and pulled out his phone to map out the directions to our hotel. This was the first of many random acts of goodwill to transpire during our weeklong stay. Every time, we felt thankful – shocked, even – that strangers could be so kind. It’s the people that differentiate a good city from a great one. This especially rings true in London, where the arts and culture scene is known to embrace new and experimental ideas. Trailblazing artists and fashion designers like Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood paved the way and today, the city continues to be a hub for up-and-coming talent. London may be home to countless creative-types, but there are a select few who are changing the status quo in favour of originality. From free-thinking tattoo artist duo Expanded Eye to slow-fashion label Per/Se, we take an in-depth look at a couple teams that shine. Our goal for volume two was to make our coverage even more interactive – to encourage our readers to discover a city’s diversity and hidden charms. We invite you to travel alongside us as we bridge the gap of the Atlantic with our European city series, starting with London. Julia Eskins Co-Founder & Editor
Aleyah Solomon Co-Founder & Creative Director/Photographer
Issue No. 5
PER/se: Just One Coat
Expanded Eye: Stories on the Skin
Made in England: Fashion Designers to Watch
A West End Art Walk 48
Where to Stay 58
Behind-the-Scenes: London Fashion Week 70
Words by Julia Eskins Photos by Aleyah Solomon Contributors Amanda Bell Sydnie Bones Laura Phillips Sarah Stalder Frida Wikstrรถm A special thank you to London & Partners at visitlondon.com!
Cover: Lois Clapcott (BMA Models) wears PER/se..
A view on Piccadilly
PER/se: Just One Coat
Amidst the fast fashion tsunami, PER/se is creating a wave of its own. The London-based fashion label has elevated the “buy less, buy better” concept with a new idea: release just one coat every two months. But not just any coat – a refined outer layer designed specifically for the world’s thinkers, doers and innovators. Quality has always been important to Hardeep and Mandeep Kaur, the twins behind the ethos-driven brand. After leaving their respective careers in law and luxury jewellery PR, the sisters launched their debut label Nom de Mode. While successful, the speed of the traditional production cycle left little time for research and development. So the duo made a bold move to eschew trends, seasons and catwalks in favour of longevity. In 2016, they launched PER/se with the Nebula Coat, a pink patterned duster in a luxe textile by Danish brand Kvadrat. The label’s name is pronounced ‘per say,’ as in the Latin phrase meaning ‘by itself ’. The West London sisters trace their tactile relationship to fabric and fit back to their North Indian heritage. As children, their mother often outfitted them in tailor-made clothing, with the focus always being on quality. These days, HK and MK still dress to the nines. The twins suggest we meet at The Arts Club on Dover Street, a private members club that counts Dickens, Monet, Degas and Rodin as former members. The beautifully curated space
is one of the Kaurs’ favourite spots in Mayfair, an exclusive district known for all things luxury. “We’ve always been West London girls. I think our style has probably been influenced by the city without even realizing it,” says Mandeep. “In London, we have complete freedom as to how we dress. When you travel abroad, you realize how much people express themselves here.” Despite a few identical features, each twin has her own distinct style. While Hardeep prefers clean lines, Mandeep loves to experiment with bold colour combinations— a trait that once had her “looking like a leprechaun in different shades of green with silver shoes on.” The twins, seated across from me on a couch in the club’s upstairs lounge, laugh as they analyze each other’s personal styles. “London doesn’t have a sense of overt tribal dressing. Each person carries his or her own story. It’s ok to have things in common but you should embrace every difference you have, whether you’re Canadian, speak French or have a love of Picasso,” says Hardeep. “There is also a sense of identity linked to the things that you buy.” On paper, their previous label was a triumph: applauded at London Fashion Week and worn by celebrities like Olivia Palermo. But as conscious shoppers with discerning tastes, the sisters soon realized they wanted a brand that aligned with their core values.
“We love the idea of that final layer— it’s like an armour, a uniform, it’s the first thing anyone sees.”
“I’ve never shopped thinking, ‘I won’t wear this very long.’ It’s always seemed mad! I think that’s because of our upbringing. By admitting that you don’t need as much, you can be fussier. You can live more consciously. We have to fall in love with every single coat that we produce, which we do,” says Mandeep, who just so happens to be wearing one of PER/se’s creations. Testing out samples is all part of the brand’s in-depth design process. As the twins lead us on a neighbourhood tour, a woman stops Mandeep to compliment her on her coat. It appears this one has hit the mark.
Working and living close to Hyde Park, the Kaurs often start their day with a stroll by the Serpentine lake to see the swans. The 2016 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, served as the backdrop for the photo shoot for the Nebula Coat.
The duo applied their experience of working in the corporate world to their design philosophy, which specifically targets the woman on-the-go. Secret pockets and a smartphone slot support a “hands-free existence” while the wide cut allows for effortless layering.
“The Victoria and Albert Museum is a quick hit of inspiration, whether we’re inside for five minutes, an hour or half the day,” says Hardeep. “London is so various – that’s the beauty of it. You just have to look. If you’re happy to use your eyes, you’ll find it’s very vast and visually rich.”
“We love the idea of that final layer— it’s like an armour, a uniform, it’s the first thing anyone sees,” says Hardeep.
The way the twins gush about London, it’s hard not to join in and appreciate the beauty around us. They admit that even the touristic spots— Buckingham Palace and the London Eye— never get old. But most of all, it’s the city’s diversity that keeps them stimulated.
Their second piece, released in October 2016, is the Anthem Coat. The design features PER/se’s signature silhouette in a light grey neoprene textile with accents in cork fabric that was woven in Portugal. Each coat is made-to-order and shipped from their London studio. Once the next coat is released, the previous edition is no longer available. “We put so much time into each piece. Our woman is investing in the idea that just one coat, just one thought, just one action can make a difference,” says Mandeep.
Architecture’s mood altering quality has always inspired the twins, who make a game of going around town “lamenting ugly buildings” and admiring the majestic ones. They’re partial to West London for its architecture, green spaces, iconic arcades and museums.
“London let’s you experiment with your sense of style. I think it’s because it’s a melting pot of different cultures and identities,” says Mandeep. In a city that champions the unique, the different, and the pioneers who aren’t afraid to break the mould, there’s no better place to switch up the fashion cycle. Sometimes, it takes two to make just one change. ■
Mandeep and Hardeep Kaur at the Royal Arcade in Mayfair
Expanded Eye: Stories on the Skin
Jade Tomlinson and Kevin James put their arms together to connect one of their matching tattoos. They have several: fishes inked in Vietnam, a bamboo tattoo from Thailand and the Pythagoras theorem which they hand-poked on each other in a hotel room in Greece. Behind every tattoo is a story. But for the artistic pair, it’s the story that often inspires the tattoo. The London-based couple is known as Expanded Eye, a multidisciplinary artist duo that brings narratives to life on flesh, wood, paper and walls. Their stunningly expressive tattoo designs have garnered a particularly strong global following. Clients come to them with their personal stories and concepts, which are then translated into a contemporary piece of art and transferred from paper to skin. While James does the actual tattooing, the duo will often spend days illustrating side-by-side, equally working on one single design. “When we look through our old sketchbooks, we’re not even sure whose drawings are whose – that’s how much our styles have merged together,” says Tomlinson. “We put all of our energy, heart and soul into a piece. All of the work that we make has purpose, substance and meaning behind it.”
A wall of past client tattoo designs
This is the first time in years that the pair has settled in one place for longer than six months. They spent the past 10 weeks travelling around America, where they had an exhibition in Chicago, put up some street art in Portland and painted a huge a mural on a barn in California. Before that, they completed a six-month artist residency in Vienna, Austria, where they had an exhibition to raise money and awareness about the refugee crisis. It’s hard to believe they’ve only been in their North London studio for a few weeks. Full of lush plant life, repurposed wood and remnants of installations past, the space is as thoughtfully designed as their artwork. We sip coffee beneath a display of metal birds appearing to be flying out of an open cage, a fitting symbol for Expanded Eye’s pursuit of creative freedom. “There’s a huge tattoo culture across the whole of the U.K. but it’s one that we’re trying to take a step away from. We don’t want to be part of the industry and conventions,” says James. “There are so many talented artists out there creating custom work. There should be no need to go to a shop and just pick something off the wall.” James’ affinity for tattoos began when he was a teenager, while Tomlinson got her first one when she was 21. Both of them grew up on the outskirts of East London, met at a house party and went to art college together. They later spent six months with master abstract tattoo artist Loic Lavenue (aka Xoil) in Thonon-les-Bains, France. Since moving back to London, the couple has found that many neighbourhoods that were once artistic enclaves, like Shoreditch, have become unaffordable. Their new studio is located in Seven Sisters, Haringey – just footsteps from some of the city’s best Caribbean restaurants and Columbian cafes.
“We really love it here because it’s real and raw. It’s great being enriched by all the cultures and having nature nearby, which really inspires our work,” says Tomlinson. “London becomes a lot smaller when you have your bike. We have an amazing canal system full of houseboats – some have been turned into pubs. With all the wildflowers, it feels like you’re in the countryside.” They’re now on the lookout for the perfect place to put up their next piece of street art, which currently lies on a drafting table. The rest of their workspace is filled with hanging illustrations of stories inked over the years. Expanded Eye is now facing more requests and copycat artists than they can keep up with. As stories from all over the world pour in, the duo has to be incredibly selective. “We recently received a story from a girl whose sister committed suicide. She wrote in the most poetic way. It gave us goose bumps every time we read it. Since posting her story online, other people have commented about how they experienced the same thing. It’s about connecting the dots. It’s about the human connection.” Be it on a California farm or the skin of the mourning, Expanded Eye is proving that meaningful art, people and places can have a ripple effect. They can inspire you to get a matching tattoo, see the world or change your perspective. That human connection lies in all of our unique stories, whether they’re sketched, eternalized or waiting in queue. ■
The London Eye seen behind the Horse Guards Building
Made in England: Fashion Designers to Watch With London’s booming fashion scene, we selected pieces from a few of the city’s designers to shoot in the East End.
Photographer/Artistic director: Aleyah Solomon Hair stylist: Sydnie Bones Make up artist: Amanda Bell Make up assistant: Frida Wikström Wardrobe stylist: Sarah Stalder Model: Lois Clapcott of BMA Models
Angelou Zhu Self-described as a minimalist and artisan, Angelou Zhu is a shining example of the ingenuity of London’s new crop of designer talent. After studying at Central Saint Martins, Zhu went on to complete his MA at the Royal College of Art, where he garnered praise for his presentation at the school’s 2016 degree show. The all-black womenswear range highlighted Zhu’s use of modern fabrications including laser-cut leather lace and architectural wool pieces assembled with eyelets. Titled A Piece of Fabric & The Body, the collection was inspired by The Second Sex, a novel by feminist thinker and existential philosopher Simone de Beauvoir.
Edeline Lee Canadian-born, London-based designer Edeline Lee established her eponymous label in 2012 after stints at Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Zac Posen. Known for her clean lines, decorative finishing and structured feminine silhouettes, Lee has received strong support from women working in arts and entertainment including Alicia Vikander, Taylor Swift and Solange Knowles. The Central Saint Martins graduate has stated that she designs for the â€œfuture lady,â€? often gravitating towards fine Italian and French silks, cashmeres and tweeds. Lee is a two-time finalist for the Samsung Fashion & Design Fund and a nominee for Breakthrough Womenswear Designer of the Year at the WGSN Fashion Futures Awards.
PA5H Blending the popular sport-lux aesthetic with urban references, PA5H has quickly garnered a cult following among trendsetters and celebrities. Creative Director Dasha Pashevkina studied at the London College Fashion and Istituto Marangoni before establishing the label in 2014. Since then, PA5H has continued to receive acclaim at London Fashion Week, building on its bold use of textiles, geometric forms and signature embellishments. The label often develops their own fabrics from materials sourced from Milan and London markets, such as Shepherds Bush and Brick Lane. The pieces are designed and produced in the heart of East London, where the brand works in collaboration with an established creative collective to combine art, fashion, video and urban styling.
A West End Art Walk With more than 400 public artworks in the City of Westminster, the central borough is one of the most sculpture-rich districts in London. Stately fountains and bronze monuments adorn the West End’s Royal Parks and squares, while several temporary installations pop up every month. The city council’s City of Sculpture project has enlivened the borough with contemporary pieces, creating a captivating mix of old and new. Outdoor displays can also frequently be seen at the Royal Academy and the Chelsea College of Arts. Combining city sights with artistic points of interest, we created a one-hour sculpture walk featuring a few of the area’s most interesting works. Follow this guide—starting at picturesque Hyde Park and ending on lively Oxford Street—for a taste of London’s vibrant outdoor arts scene.
Brothers, David Breuer-Weil
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, Bjarke Ingels Hyde Park covers an area of over 350 acres, making it one of the largest green spaces in central London. Full of monuments, manicured gardens, swans and pockets of tranquility, it’s no surprise the city’s artists and designers flock to the park for some natural inspiration. One of the highlights is the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, an ever-changing structure built by a different architect every year. Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels was commissioned to design the 2016 pavilion, a mountainous installation made of interlocking fibreglass bricks. Ingels’ firm, BIG, imagined the pavilion as a solid wall that has been “unzipped” to create a functional space inside. The interior is used as a café and events space, and hosts the gallery’s Park Nights program. Modular, sculptural and oh-so photogenic, the pavilion has quickly become a favourite among London’s art lovers.
Horse at Water, Nic Fiddian-Green It’s difficult to miss the 27-foot tall, six tonne bronze horse head in Marble Arch. The monolithic sculpture is by Nic Fiddian-Green, a British artist who specializes in making lifelike models of horse heads. The sculptor’s foray into the niche subject matter began upon a visit to the British Museum, where he found a carving of a horse’s head to be particularly inspiring. His large-scale Horse at Water piece was commissioned for Sir Anthony and Lady Carole Bamford. Upon viewing the completed work, they requested an even bigger version. As a result, the sculpture was temporarily installed at Marble Arch in June 2009 and has been there ever since.
Brothers, David Breuer-Weil Directly across from Horse at Water is David Breuer-Weilâ€™s new monumental sculpture entitled Brothers. The work, which depicts two siblings joining minds, is a symbol of human connectivity and resolution. Interestingly, the figures form a human arch, making the sculptures location at Marble Arch all the more significant. BreuerWeil says the sculpture suggests the idea that each person has the capacity for two elements, good and evil, and when you communicate with others, you see a reflection of your own humanity. The piece was commissioned in 2016 for the Westminster City Councilâ€™s City of Sculpture program.
Winged Figure, Barbara Hepworth Subtle yet captivating, Barbara Hepworth’s Winged Figure sculpture has been a mainstay on the corner of Oxford and Holles street since 1963. Fixed to the side of the John Lewis department store, the work resembles the shape of a boat and features two asymmetric wings linked together by rods. In 1961, John Lewis asked Hepworth and six other artists to propose designs to decorate the new store. The artists were asked to express “the idea of common ownership and common interests in a partnership of thousands of workers.” While all of the initial designs were rejected, Hepworth was asked to present a second proposal. The British artist submitted an enlargement of her 1957 sculpture, Winged Figure I, which was accepted. With the amount of foot traffic along Oxford Street, it is estimated that the sculpture is seen by approximately 200 million people each year.
ROOM, Antony Gormley If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to sleep in a sculpture, just head to Antony Gormley’s inhabitable ROOM creation at The Beaumont hotel. The stainless steel exterior represents a crouching cuboid figure, while the interior forms a functional bedroom of a hotel suite. Inside, the oak-clad space is dark and cave-like, allowing the guest to enter a meditative state and withdrawal from the busy outside world. The rest of the suite follows The Beaumont’s more conventional style, which has an Art Deco feel. The hotels’ owners approached the British sculptor to meet The City of West Minister’s requirement that all new buildings feature a piece of public art. The result exceeded their expectations and the sculpture is now intrinsic to The Beaumont’s façade and appeal.
A view of Big Ben
Where To Stay From the East End to central London, we scoped out a few of the cityâ€™s best neighbourhoods, hotels and must-visit spots.
‘We Love To Create’ in Bricklane boutique ‘Ragyard’
Street art, start-ups and hipster beards abound, Shoreditch is one of the city’s best areas for getting a taste of trendy yet edgy East London without straying too far. While the area has been gentrified in recent years, it still has retained much of its East End grit and remains a hub for arts and culture, lively nightlife and shopping.
CitizenM Shoreditch Aiming to offer stylish yet affordable stays in central London, Dutch chain CitizenM is redefining the London hotel scene with its new set of design-focused properties. The Shoreditch Village location, one of three newly opened CitizenMs in the city, matches the neighbourhood’s creative vibe with highly Instagrammable communal spaces. The CitizenM group, which opened its first hotel in Amsterdam in 2008, has challenged the hospitality industry by doing away with traditional features like check-in desks and mini bars. Instead, CitizenM boasts art-filled lounges and compact yet hi-tech rooms featuring king-size beds, rain showers and iPad minis that control everything from room temperature to mood lighting. Don’t miss: Shoreditch’s vibrant street art near Brick Lane, the eclectic Spitalfields Market, the world’s first pop-up mall at Boxpark, independent cinema at Richmix and boutiques on Redchurch Street.
The gates at Buckingham Palace
West End The West End is the place to be if youâ€™re looking for the quintessential London experience (think classic telephone booths, scenic parks and a slew of major landmarks.) The wide geographic area is roughly defined as central London and encompasses exclusive Mayfair, bustling Oxford Street and nightlife-rich Leicester Square and Covent Garden.
COMO Metropolitan London The COMO Metropolitan London never ceases to reinvent itself, ensuring it remains as a magnet for artists and tastemakers. In the 1990s, the Met Bar was frequented by the likes of Kate Moss, Oasis and the Spice Girls. Even decades later, it still caters to movers and shakers in the fashion and entertainment worlds. The hotel was recently revitalized, adding a contemporary yet serene vibe to the lobby, lounges and guestrooms. A zen influence is felt throughout: ranging from the yoga mats and orchids in the bedrooms to the Shambala Spa and Nobu, the hotelâ€™s Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant.
Amba Hotel Marble Arch Overlooking Oxford Street, Amba Hotel Marble Arch is situated in the heart of one of London’s most vivacious neighbourhoods. The hotel features sleek and contemporary décor, which contrasts the retro exterior: a stunning Art Deco building. With 700 rooms, the property is so vast that it takes up a whole block. Yet, the top-notch service ensures for a very personalized experience from check-in to check-out. Steps away from the tube and some of the city’s most impressive green spaces, the hotel is well located for those seeking a mix of city life and nature. Don’t miss: A walk though the area’s Royal Parks, shopping on Oxford Street, architecture gazing in Mayfair and a chance to catch some of London’s most iconic landmarks including Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. 65
Colourful homes in Notting Hill
Shepherd’s Bush The district of Shepherd’s Bush has a rich history. In fact, the neighbourhood can be found in records dating back to 704, the Iron Age. Though the origin of its name remains a mystery, it’s of popular belief that it used to be a place where shepherds would rest on their way to Spitalfields Market in the city. It was also the site of the 1908 Olympics. Today, it’s an up-and-coming neighbourhood that often attracts musicians and concert-goers who wish to stay near the city’s music venues. Slightly off-the-beaten path, it’s also an ideal place to stay if you’re keen to explore a non-touristy side of London. 66
K West Hotel & Spa Housed in the former BBC Building Kensington House, K West has played host to rock ‘n’ roll royalty including David Bowie, The Kinks and Bob Marley. Since becoming a hotel and undergoing a stunning interior redesign in 2014, the property has continued to strike a chord with musicians due to its proximity to recording studios and venues like O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. The hotel’s music-inspired design seamlessly blends with a relaxing ambiance that is felt throughout the common areas, Studio Bar and luxurious K Suites. Don’t miss: A visit to nearby Portobello Road in picturesque Notting Hill, street food and fabrics at Shepherd’s Bush Market, one of London’s oldest movie theatres, Electric Cinema, and restaurants specializing in cuisine from all over the world. 67
Tower Bridge, as seen from the Thames River
Tower Bridge Distinguished by its unique mix of historic and modern architecture, the Tower Bridge area is evolving to be a vibrant pocket of the city. The district’s skyline is dominated by The Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe, while the Borough Market (the UK’s oldest food market) and Tower of London remain as markers of the city’s past. With the river and Bankside nearby, the neighbourhood is home to some of the most scenic views in London.
CitizenM Tower of London With airy communal areas filled with large-scale art installations and 370 guestrooms, the Tower of London location is CitizenM’s largest property to date. Like its sister hotel in Shoreditch, the interior is designed to appeal to a creative set. In the process, CitizenM worked with local and international artists to create installations to inspire and stimulate. British pop artist Julian Opie was commissioned to do the hotel’s exterior, while dozens of conceptual sculptures, photographs and paintings can be viewed in the lobby and lounges. While checking in, don’t forget to look up at the overhanging lighting installation by Dutch artist duo Studio Drift. Don’t miss: The historical Tower of London, a quiet stroll around St. Katharine Docks, a high-speed cruise down the river with Thames Rockets, an incredible view of the city from Sky Garden and a taste of the Victorian era’s warehouse district of Shad Thames.
Behind-the-Scenes: London Fashion Week
A look at London Fashion Weekâ€™s spring/summer 2017 season, including backstage at On/Off and collections by Edeline Lee and PA5H.
Top: Queen Victoria Memorial; Bottom: London Eye from Buckingham Palace; Right: London rooftops