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Head out on the Catwalk at London Fashion Week

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The second week in September sees haute couture hit the London streets on London Fashion Week. Bringing together top designers, emerging new talent and buyers for some of the most cutting edge high-street brands, what goes on the catwalk in London is likely to hit the shops a few weeks later.

For those who follow or set the trends in fashion, London Fashion Week is an absolute must. Held twice a year, the Spring Summer collections showcased in September are likely to influence what we will all be wearing come next year’s warmer weather.

This September’s Fashion Week is the last before the event officially turns 30. Although the event may be now entering middle age, it’s unlikely that the fashions that are presented will become any less youthful and cutting edge. Always evolving, last year saw the first menswear collections and this year is expected to bring yet more innovations.

Virtual fashion

At the leading edge of technology, London Fashion Week was the first of the four big fashion events in the world to offer fashion aficionados the opportunity to follow proceedings digitally. All the designers are given the chance to broadcast their collections on the London Fashion Week’s official video stream to reach those who are unable to make their shows.

With the growth of social media, there is an increasing buzz online around the event in the run-up to the week itself. Using the London Fashion Week website and following along on Twitter and Facebook, designers are now able to gauge reactions to their collections much more broadly than they would previously have been able to access.

Venue for events

The vast majority of the timetabled events for London Fashion Week take place at the grand and imposing Somerset House on The Strand in Central London. The former mansion house plays host to many of the catwalk shows, and with a large marquee erected in the grounds The Strand becomes the hub of most of the activity surrounding London Fashion Week.

london somerset house

London’s Somerset House – a dramatic backdrop for London Fashion Week

As a home for the arts, Somerset House lends a real air of gravitas to the proceedings of London Fashion Week. In terms of profile, the recognition of fashion and design as a discipline of art is one area where London has embraced textiles and fashion design as part of the fine artistic establishment.

Spring Summer 2014

The collections shown in London from the 13-17 September will be the basis of those offered in Spring Summer 2014. The programme of events is due to be released shortly and will be keenly followed by fashionistas, the fashion press and high street brands seeking inspiration for their own collections in the coming seasons.

fashion week accessories clothing

Fashion Week focuses on accessories as well as clothing

The collections will feature a whole range of items ranging from ready to wear clothing through to jewellery, shoes, bags and other accessories. As we look towards the summer months next year, we can expect to see trends emerging for swimwear too, as designers bring the looks that will grace the beaches in summer 2014.

Well-known names such as Burberry, John Rocha and Manolo Blahnik will rub shoulders with less well-known and up-and-coming designers in the catwalk shows throughout the course of the week. Bringing fresh ideas in their collections, new and emerging designers help to keep the industry thriving and pushing the boundaries of style and creativity.

Conclusion

London Fashion Week will bring some extremely well-known names in the world of international couture to the city to celebrate the launch of Spring Summer collections for next year. As ever, the world’s fashion press will be in attendance to pick up tips on what we will all be sporting in Spring and Summer of next year.

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 and 2

1-2-3-4 Shoreditch Music Festival

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September sees some of the hippest new bands from the UK and across the globe take to the stages of the sixth annual 1-2-3-4 Festival in Shoreditch Park. Branded as an experience for “stylish bands, stylish fans and stylish sounds,” the festival promises a wide range of music the like of which you are unlikely to hear anywhere else.

Bringing together dozens of new bands, never-before-heard combinations of members from the well-beloved groups of the coolest kind and a few one-offs that will never be heard from again, the festival sees independent bands and free spirits congregating on the small but perfectly formed former blitz site in fashionable East London.

The Location

Set in Shoreditch Park, the festival has an intimate feel. One of the smaller open public spaces in London, the park covers an area of former terraced houses that were destroyed by the German bombings of London during World War II.

shoreditch park

Shoreditch Park

The surrounding area is achingly cool, with music shops, bars and clothing stores that ooze cutting edge chic and are invariably full of beautiful people going about the business of being hip. The festival is something of a sentinel event in the hipster calendar and sees Shoreditch descended upon by bands and their fans to enjoy the music and the atmosphere of the area.

The Festival

The festival itself is an eclectic mix of artists spanning three stages in the small space afforded by Shoreditch Park. The plethora of new and previously unheard-of acts jostle for space on the stages with the better-known likes of Lovefoxxx and Patrick Wolf who have wooed the crowds and kept those seeking better known names interested through the unknowns.

buzzcocks 2012 festival

You’ll find a few big names, such as the Buzzcocks at 2012’s festival

In addition to the festival itself, Shoreditch gives itself over to festival fever for the duration of 1-2-3-4 and many of the well-known bars and pubs have given themselves over to supplying after-party venues for festival-goers and bands looking for somewhere to continue the fun.

If you’re looking for pop princesses and kings of the mainstream, you’re unlikely to find them at this festival. Arguably the least commercial festival in a swelling tide of corporate-sponsored music events, 1-2-3-4 is quirky and off-the-wall. Don’t let the fact that you’re unlikely to have heard of many – if indeed any – of the acts billed put you off. If you want high-profile, there are plenty of other events that will cater for your tastes in radio-friendly hits. 1-2-3-4 is more the place to go to see and be seen, and hear some new sounds that could enchant you.

The after-show

But what comes after the show, you may ask yourself. The after-show, of course! Once the festival has finished, several venues in and around Shoreditch are offering post-festival parties for bands, fans and revellers to continue the festivities long after the licence for the festival itself has run out.

Beach Blanket Babylon are hosting an after-show Pussy Riot benefit night dedicated to freeing the Russian feminist punks incarcerated after their protest at a Moscow cathedral. Catch, Powerlunches and Translate, all on Kingsland Road, are offering the chance to see a number of the bands from the festival take on DJ sets for late-night partying while Hysteria and The Old Blue Last on Great Eastern Street have band sets and DJ spots from performers featuring on the festival bill.

Conclusion

As one of the smallest and least commercial festivals in London, 1234 Festival has a cult following and is likely to grow more with this year’s offering. The festival itself, followed by its many after-show parties, guarantee a great day and a long night with some of the coolest emerging and up-and-coming bands all in one place.

Image Credits: Wikipedia and Jon Hatchman

The best of London on a budget

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If you’re planning a trip to the big city but you don’t have stacks of cash to spend, there are plenty of ways you can maximise the bang for your buck and make sure you get the most out of your trip. While it may seem that visiting London is inevitably expensive, there are lots of ways you can economise without skimping on the experience. This makes a budget break possible, or even gives you the chance to splurge on a special treat during your visit.

Take a look through our guide and get the best of London for a fraction of the price.

Free events

London is surprisingly awash with free events and there are lots of things you can see and do that won’t cost you a penny out of your budget for your break. From museums to markets, cabaret to walking tours, there’s plenty to keep you occupied without needing to open your wallet.

Across London, you will find some of the most cutting edge modern art on display for visitors to tour the exhibits and get a feel for what’s hot in the art world. The White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey, frequent hosts to modern art darlings Gilbert and George have a regular programme of interesting and thought-provoking artwork and is free to visit. The current exhibition by painter Julie Mehretu is a set of pieces infused with political commentary and brings the Arab Spring into the heart of London.

white cube gallery

Bermondsey’s White Cube Gallery

In the wake of the recent Chelsea Flower Show, the Chelsea Fringe Festival will take over Battersea Power Station in the first week of June with such eclectic activities as knit your own vegetable classes and a two-day gin bar in a botanical garden. There are plenty of activities for all the family set against the breath-taking backdrop of the Art Deco power station, which is only rarely open to visitors.

Cheap eats

One of the main drains on the purse when visiting London is the cost of eating out for every meal. However, savvy travellers know where to go to get their budget nosh and make sure they are saving their cash for more interesting things.

London’s plentiful markets have lots to offer in the way of affordable fare for visitors to the city. You can often grab a bacon sandwich for a couple of quid and eat it on the hoof as you see what you wanted to see. However, if you’re looking for something a little more refined, you don’t have to pay that much more. Fizrovia’s tempting Honey and Co. café is an Israeli-run eatery offering Middle Eastern food at very reasonable prices. Brunch of baked eggs or sabich – a pitta with roasted vegetables, egg and tahini – will set you back around £6.50 in very pleasant surroundings.

chinatown

Chinatown is a great place for cheap, tasty food

If you’re saving yourself for dinner, there are plenty of ways to dine inexpensively in the city. One way is to check the website Top Table and find the restaurants that are offering reduced price deals. Around Chinatown you could opt for an authentic Cantonese all you can eat buffet for less than £15 per head and get the experience of great Chinese food at a fraction of the price.

Getting around

The cost of getting around London can mount up when you take into account each of the individual fares to get you from A to B using buses and Tubes. However, places are much more walkable than most people realise. Get a good street map of London and walk to what you want to see instead of getting public transport. You’ll never know what you might see along the way.

Another inexpensive way of getting around is using the cycle hire scheme. The blue bikes, parked at docking stations around the city, are £2 to access for 24 hours and the first 30 minutes of any release is free. There are lots of well-signposted cycle-ways to keep you out of traffic too.

Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to maximise your enjoyment of London while minimising the cost. Make a few canny savings and your break could be more affordable than you thought.

 

Image Credits: Epha3 Lab and az1172

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