Day 2 of Vogue Festival certainly did not dawn sunny and bright but once again, I refused to deviate from my pre-planned outfit and slipped into a highly impractical but oh-so-adorable shorts suit by Jaeger London. Having excercised uncharacteristic self-restraint at Alexandra Shulman’s soiree the night before I felt bright eyed and bushy tailed as I tottered across West London to the venue.
|I wore… Shorts Suit: Jaeger London, Bag: Mulberry, Blouse: Whistles,
Shoes: Topshop, Necklace: Anne Bowes Jewellery
First up was the fearsome, fabulous and, as we’d soon learn, funny Diane Von Furstenberg. Remember the “guest speakers” you had at school? Some boring old drone who managed to drag out their unbelievably dull life story for so long that you basically lost the will to live? Well, whilst it may have been built around the same premise, Diane’s talk – “Turning a Passion for life into a penchant for businesss” – could not have been further from that dire memory.
The Queen of the New York fashion scene had us all in raptures as she told her tale of royal marriages, international businesses, losing it all and then getting it all back again. Diane opened with the statement;
“As a young girl I did not know what I wanted to do, but I knew what kind of woman I wanted to be… Independant, a woman who pays her own bills, can go out with a man without worrying whether he’ll call…”
Given that, aged 25 Diane Von Furstenberg was making (and more importantly, selling) over 25,000 wrap dresses a week and featured on the covers of Wall Street Journal and Newsweek in 5 continents, I think it’s safe to say she achieved that dream. I could easily harp on about Diane all day but that could get boring, so here are just a few of her best bits:
“There was a certain cute, little wrap top that did very well… One day I looked at it and thought, I’ll add a skirt… And everything went crazy” – on the birth of her iconic wrap dress
“When your children are teenagers you love them but you don’t like them… So they went to boarding school and I went to Paris” – on motherhood
“My mission is about empowering women… I like to make women feel confident because if you’re confident, you’re beautiful” - on her inspiration
Next on the agenda was “Fashion Question Time” moderated by Vogue deputy editor Emily Sheffield. A panel of London’s hottest, independant designers assembled on stage to answer our queries and share their experiences. Some of the designers, like Holly Fulton and Mary Katrantzou, I know personally and it’s always both interesting and heartwarming to hear them talking about their work. Others, such as Christopher Kane and Nicholas Kirkwood, I’ve never met and the session offered a fascinating insight into the methods and personalities behind the designs I covet.
|From left: Nicholas Kirkwood, Mary Katrantzou, Christopher Kane, Roksanda Ilicic, Holly Fulton, Henry Holland
and Emily Sheffield
This was an absolute “must-attend” for aspiring designers as the six bright young things gave some invaluable advice on breaking in to the industry.
“You’ve just got to have confidence in your own convictions” – Holly Fulton on coping with critics
“You can’t just go and be a designer and not expect to have to run a company at the same time” – Nicholas Kirkwood on the business of fashion
“You need to educate yourself… That could be by working for a designer, or doing your BA… Everyone hase a different path” – Mary Katrantzou on preparing for education Vs experience
After a spot of sushi it was time to head back to the festival for the session we’d all been waiting for… Tom Ford in conversation with Alexandra Shulman. This was definitely the hottest ticket of the weekend and the theatre was packed fit to burst thanks to what can only be described as the “Ford factor”. British Vogue’s Editor in Chief opened with the words:
“How to introduce our next speaker… Would superman do?”
Her description was right on the money and an audible gasp went up around the room as the man himself took to the stage to begin his hour long seduction of the audience.
|Tom Ford in conversation with Alexandra Shulman
Besides being heartbreakingly handsome, ridiculously talented and unbelievably skilled at branding, Tom Ford is also officially the most charming man in the world. On top of this, he is also incredibly witty and in between imparting priceless pearls of wisdom, Tom and Alexandra’s banter had us all in hysterics. Here are a few of the most priceless moments from what I like to think of as the “Tom and Alex show”…
Tom: “I feel that we should be (sitting) closer than this”
Alex: “This is as close as I’m prepared to get… I don’t trust you one bit”
Alex: “You’re very open about being gay”
Tom: “I’m not gay Alex, what would make you think that?… We don’t have to put boxes around it anyway… Have you ever slept with a woman?”
Alex: “Now you see why I don’t trust him!”
Tom: “Are you wearing my foundation?”
Alex: “No, Chanel’s”
Tom: “I was reading your book..”
Tom: “I don’t carry a cellphone”
Alex: “You don’t need to, you’re like the Queen… Someone else carries it for you”
Tom: “The gloves are off now!”
Love Ella. X
As anyone who has been reading my tweets will be painfully aware, this weekend I was lucky enough to attend the first EVER Vogue fashion festival as a guest of British Vogue. When the world foremost sartorial bible hosts a 2 day bonanza featuring some of the biggest names in the industry you expect it to be good but boy, they really did deliver. After what can only be described as a truly awful week (weather wise), day one of #VogueFest 2012 dawned sunny and bright. Frankly it could have been snowing for all I cared as I’d borrowed a DIVINE lace dress from Temperley’s Pre Fall 2012 collection and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to wear it!
|The Royal Geographical society, Kensington
My journey to the Royal Geographical Society, Vogue Fest’s location, was less than stylish. Not only did my 6 inch platforms and slinky cocktail number attract some seriously scathing stares on the tube (in fairness, it wasn’t even 9am yet) but I also managed to spill my - venti, skinny, extra hot, triple shot - Starbucks latte all over my trench coat. However all stain-related anxiety vanished the second I arrived as first talk of the day featured none other than the wonderful, Christopher Bailey. Now you’ve all heard me wax lyrical about Burberry on many occasions. Chances are, I wouldn’t be quite so barmy about the brand if Bailey hadn’t taken over back in 2008 and orchestrated it’s now legendary revival. I could quite happily bang on about the loveable Yorkshireman all day but this was only talk number one and we’ve still got a fair bit to get through. Instead here are a few of my favourite quotes from the nicest man in fashion…
“It was this incredibly beautiful diamond that had been ground into the dust” – on Burberry before he took over
“I’ve tried to understand the philosophy of what the company’s built on and then insert my own nuances” – on his work at Burberry
“There’s something very romantic about rain… It’s the core of our business” – on the inspiring qualities of British weather
“It’s important to stay connected… we even have an internal social media site called “Burberry chat” – on running a business with over 9000 employees worldwide
I think it’s safe to say that we all left wishing Christopher could be our best friend. Not that there was a great deal of time to dwell on this as one speedy cigarette later we were back inside the theatre for talk number two, “My Fashion Life”. The second Vogue’s Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers uttered the words “whoever said that shopping can’t make you happy was just plain wrong“, I knew this was going to be a good one. We were treated to the tales of how Lucinda herself, Matthew Williamson, Chief Merchant for Harrods, Marigay McKee and Casting Director, Russel Marsh came to cultivate their enviable careers. This talk was an absolute gem for anyone hoping to break into the industry, offering invaluable insight into how some of the most respected figures in fashion made their mark.
|From left: Russel Marsh, Marigay McKee, Matthew Williamson & Lucinda Chambers
Here are a few little known facts and snippets of advice from session…
Remember Emma Watson‘s first UK Vogue cover back in 2010? Well, the actress was meant to be wearing priceless couture but disaster struck when all the frocks got pinched on the Eurostar. Instead Lucinda Chambers had to improvise borrowing bits and pieces from her staff!
Growing up in industrial Manchester in the 70′s, Matthew Williamson was inspired by how his mother dressed. Aged seven, he asked for a sewing machine for Christmas.
As Chief Merchant for Harrods, Marigay McKeeis not only blonde, beautiful and sickeningly well dressed but she’s also one the the most influential figures in the luxury market. Apparently the glamazon was something of a late bloomer who was neither fashionable nor clever at school. By the end of the talk I had a major girl crush on Marigay who was not only impressive but seriously amusing. My favourite quote from the formidable fashionista had to be…
“Everybody in this business has a grounding act, for Christopher (Bailey) it’s Yorkshire, for Matthew (Williamson) it’s his mum, for me it’s my two teenagers… The other day I was off out to a party and my son turned to me and said, “Mummy, do you really think those boots are age appropriate?”
Next up was Nigella Lawson but by this point I was so hungry myself, the idea of listening to someone talk about food whilst my stomache rumbled was more than I could bear. Instead I braved the rain (an unwelcome but inevitable development) and hot footed it to the nearest itsu. One Omega 3 Salmon Supreme later I was back in the theatre awaiting the first talk of the afternoon: Alexandra Shulman in coversation with Dolce and Gabbanna. Their English may not have been exactly perfect but with the help of 3 beautiful videos, countless emphatic gestures and one interpreter, Stefano and Domenico melted every heart in the audience with their Italian charm. In between all the gesticulating and sharp suiting the boys gave us an inspiring insight into their life, work and relationship.
“We know we are rich, we know we are famous, but this is not why we do it… We do this because we love it.” - on being fashion designers
“We are still in love, but now in love in a different way… We have a level of understanding and tolerance” – on their relationship
“We believe in the younger generation, we need them” – on the future of Italian fashion
|Dolce & Gabbana in conversation with Alexandra Shulman
The inimitable Italian design duo exited the stage to rapturous applause, leaving me just enough time to leg it to the nearest Starbucks before my final talk of the afternoon: “Does fashion have an age limit?” With a panel comprised of Mary “Queen of shops” Portas, Laura Bailey, Edie Campbell, Pixie Geldof and Anne Robinson, I suspected (and hoped) this session might be a lively one… Well, I certainly wasn’t disappointed. What ensued was a spirited discussion of age, media, gender politics and fashion, covering everything from mother/daughter style dynamics to the great size zero debate. In my opinion, Anne Robinson was the real star of the show, offering up honest, intelligent and often hilarious insights throughout. My favourite “Anne” moments included:
“A Parisian can go to a point-to-point in a dress and heels and we’d all feel that we’d dressed innappropriately”- Anne on French style
“The issue isn’t age, it’s size… I wouldn’t be presenting Watchdog if I was huge, I have to go hungry” – Anne on the trials of being a female TV presenter
“I think sticking needles in your face is just not the way forward… No offense Anne” – A very rude member of the audience
|From left: Pixie Geldof, Anne Robinson, Edie Campbell, Laura Bailey, Mary Portas & Lisa Armstrong
Having been studiously ignoring a nasty cold all week – “start of term flu” perhaps? – I had to skip the next session and head out in search of painkillers and a hot drink instead. With an invitation only evening discussion and cocktail party still to attend, my day was far from over yet!
Love Ella. X
Still can’t decide whether or not to buy a ticket to the first ever Vogue Festival? Well then firstly, what’s wrong with you!? It’s a two day fash-a-thon featuring everyone from Tom Ford to Rachel Zoe, how could you not want to go? And secondly, here’s a little something that might just help seal the deal… The lovely folk over at Mulberry have designed a limited edition t-shirt to commemorate this most fabulous of events.
Super cute and significantly less bank breaking than their beautiful bags – a purse friendly £15 – this adorable little number just screams out to be teamed with denim cut-offs, the new Mulberry Harriet and worn all Summer long. However Mulberry’s designer tee can only be purchased at the Vogue Festival so if you haven’t got your ticket yet I suggest, no COMMAND you to do it now!Plus, a percentage of every sale will go to The Royal Marsden Hospital and if that’s not a reason to splurge then frankly, I don’t know what is.
Love Ella. X
I’ve long since come to realise that try as I might, I’m just not a festival kinda girl. I’d love to be one of those carefree Kate Moss-a-likes who are just as comfortable, not to mention just as stylish, in a campsite as they are on Kensington High Street. Now I have absolutely nothing against vintage denim shorts, biker boots and Barbour jackets. It’s more the whole lack of washing/toilet facilities, central heating and chilled Pinot Grigio. One highly unpleasent weekend at Reading confirmed that I’m not, and never, ever will be a happy camper and I vowed never to attempt attending a festival again… that is, until now.
A couple of months ago the world’s foremost fashion bible (AKA Vogue… Duh) announced that this April they would be holding their first annual festival. Anything hosted by Vogue is bound to be fash-tastic but it wasn’t until I received the line-up this morning that I realised quite how unmissable this event would be. Think Christopher Bailey in conversation with Alexandra Shulman, Dolce & Gabbanna, Stella McCartney, Lucinda Chambers… And that’s only day 1! With everyone from Tom Ford to Christopher Kane to Natalia Vodianova making an appearence you can bet your pastel pop-socks I’ll be sitting front row centre. There are still a few tickets available so click here to order yours today.
Love Ella. X