Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fashion Forward 5 Hours Ahead: London, UK

My favorite picture I took, Picadilly Circus

This past week, Reana (my sister), Ashley and I treated ourselves to a trip abroad. In addition to fashion; we are head over heels for traveling. Experiencing different cultures and seeing how these unfamiliar places intertwine fashion into their daily lives is fascinating. As mentioned in our previous post, we traveled to London, Spain, and Ibiza. The first leg of our trip was London. We took a nerve wrecking 8 hour flight to London, if we weren't all flying together I don't know if I could have taken this flight alone. It's pretty Ironic that we travel more than a dozen times a year, but I despise airports and flying! Oh the things we would do in the name of fashion, but we did so knowing London would not be a disappoint . As soon as we left the airport, we were taken aback by the ornate architecture, smell of international cuisines lingering in the air, the British vernacular,  and the equally spectacular street fashion.  Lucky for us, we were able to cut down some of the costs of the trip because we had a friend, Kim our gracious host, that lived in Hammersmith. It's about a 15 to 20 minute train ride into London City. Anywho, Kim's gorgeous London flat was centrally located in a very trendy, but homey neighborhood. Her flat oozed London life and style; from its openness to detail with century old accents and modernist twists. Columns trimmed the front entrance and was held steady with brick and mortar. The flat was reminiscent of the brownstones back home in Richmond.  We felt overwhelmed with hospitality to have so many comforts of home while away on vacation. After we soaked this all in, we settled for a bit and then jump started our clocks 5 hours ahead. We filled up our oyster card (travel pass) for the week and we jumped into shopping gear.

The Town of Hammersmith-Kim's neck of the neighborhood

Jeri in front of Kim's place

Ashley in front of Kim's place

First, we managed to make it to a sample sale in the Brick lane area. The racks were overflowing with Marc Jacobs, BCBG, French Connection, Asos, Topshop, and more local designers. We made a few amazing purchases here (a haul will come soon). We also made our way to a Vintage kilo sale. We paid our £1 entry and was handed a giant plastic bag to stuff as many clothes in as possible. At the end, they would weigh it and charged £15 per kilo. That would have been a once in a lifetime deal, if we could find something that wasn't hideous. No purchase necessary in creepy ville. Here clothing selections weren't what i expected so we left empty handed , but I knew there was more to come. Back on the train we went, this time headed for Oxford Street. We knew our dear friend Oxford would not disappoint. Ashley and I tactfully ran to Primark, an affordable retail phenomenon, while Reana and Kim lagged behind in amazement of how quickly we moved through 4 lanes of heavy traffic to get to this store. "keep your eyes on the prize" was a quote that popped in my head :-). Other stores such as Zara, Topshop, Superdrug and Mango were in arms reach. H& M was like a 7-11 in the states, they were on every corner. I'm not going to lie, it became very redundant, but surprisingly, we only caught eye of one forever21. Needless to say, we monopolized our time in downtown London and avoided H&M when we could.Our iron deficiency started to kick in so we headed towards a local food market. The smell of curry chicken and hot chili peppers lured us in from the street. Behind the food booths were rows of exquisite, hand crafted and independent jewelry and clothing dealers. There were some amazing merchants here with equally as amazing prices.


Sample Sale

Brick Lane

Sri Lankan food from the Brick Lane Market

Oxford Street

 After the power hour or four of shopping, we were off for a spot of tea. We were lured in by street sign to a place called Le Deux Salons, located smack dab in the heart of Picadilly Circus. Afternoon Tea and scones? Don't mind if I do! At £9.50 we couldn't pass this place up! We were pleasantly greated by the staff and seated st a round table to give us plenty of elbow room to conquer this endeavor. First came the scones! Now, these scones were not like scones found in Starbucks or in local state supermarkets. These freshly baked and served to perfection biscuits were prepared along with fresh preserves and an added cream spread, called clottled cream. Clotted cream may be the most underrated food of all time.In addition, we were served small desserts along with watercress sandwiches tastefully washed down with Green, Chai, and White teas. We sat there tea in hand, pinky to the sky, and "shot the shit", like ladies of course.

Where we stopped for Tea
Tea and Scones

 Thus far, we experienced so much of London, but there was so much more that we wanted to partake Im.We took a tour around the town to see a few of the local landmarks. We were able to take site of the center stone of British architecture known as Buckingham Palace, the clock tower (Big Ben),Westminster Abby, which was at one point the monarchs principle residence. So as expected, we were paparazzi for about 3 hours. Too bad we couldn't go inside. The food was note-worthy, and the shopping was epic! It felt amazing to be exposed to the industry of British fashion. From the higher-end designers to the high street stores, London left us wanting more. Not to exclude, being footsteps from Britain royalty, the culture, and neo-classical architecture. London was a country that couldn't be explored in one visit, but we departed with to our next adventure with a consensus that another visit is well needed.

This post was written by Ashley Reynolds and Jeri Muhammad, and photos taken by Ashley Reynolds

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