Vogue Festival 2012: Day 1

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!

Ella Catliff at Vogue Festival 2012
I wore… Dress: Alice by Temperley, Shoes: Topshop,
Necklace: Anne Bowes Jewellery
Vogue Festival 2012
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.

Vogue Festival 2012
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 at Vogue Festival 2012
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

Vogue Festival 2012
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

6 Thoughts on Vogue Festival 2012: Day 1

  1. alexandra says:

    you look so beautiful in this dress!

  2. Becky says:

    It sounds like you had an incredible time. I'm so jealous!

    That dress is really beautiful on you.



  3. Andrea says:

    amazing post & i love your dress..so pretty!

  4. Ella Catliff says:

    Thank you:) Sadly it has to go back to the Temperley press office this week although I'm very tempted to “lose” it! X

  5. Hannah Jane says:

    I want morree!!! Sounds like a fabulous time you had there. The last discussion (/debate?) sounds very interesting. And you were looking lovely in your Temperley, Ella. X

  6. joshylola says:

    Great dress!

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