08 September 2011

Not-So Dedicated Follower of Fashion

Sometimes--usually when I'm trying to write about some really tedious chemistry--part of me wishes I worked in fashion PR rather than science PR. I've always been far more interested in personal style rather than fashion but surely even writing about whether honeysuckle or French rose is in this season (the answer is on the Pantone website) has to beat the dullest of organic chemistry.

Kate Spade, Covent Garden
Over the past year or so, my Google Reader repertoire has broadened to include some style bloggers who do follow fashion, hence I know that today marks the start of New York Fashion Week (it will still be on when I arrive next week) and to celebrate, many London stores have been taking part in Fashion's Night Out, sponsored by Vogue. Hundreds of stores participated offering some or all of the following: discounts; gifts with purchase; free refreshments; free beauty treatments; live music; and the chance to have a professional photo taken of yourself wearing make-up/clothes from the shop. I might not be that into fashion but I am into shopping, although this probably wasn't the best night for me as I couldn't take advantage of the free drinks due to medications and as I'm going to New York next week, I didn't really want to be tempted by discounts and freebies before then. Still, I had a great time.

I caught the tube to Covent Garden, which is fairly close to my office and contains many of my favourite shops. I started with Kate Spade, whose first European branch opened in Langley Court a few weeks ago. I have ogled their jewellery and accessories from afar for years and so it's great that they finally have a shop in London. I love this gorgeous turquoise ring but the £65 price tag was a little steep so I settled for the signature spade earrings (I prefer clubs but I guess Kate Club was less catchy). I couldn't say no when the pink bag they came in matched my outfit so perfectly. They had some really cool NYC-themed things too (like this bag) and to be honest, I love pretty much everything in their store. For FNO, Kate Spade were offering sparkling wine and macaroons. I'm really hoping I win their competition for a free shopping spree.

Just across the road are several Paul Smith stores. The men's store was serving whiskey, and the cooler-than-thou mixed store was making mojitos, which smelled great. I could at least take advantage of Ted Baker's free popcorn, although not Banana Republic's sparkling wine.

My haul: grey Zara scarf, pink Mango cardie, VO5 styling spray (free from Mango), popcorn (free from Ted Baker), self-decorated Moleskine (from Selfridges), and the lovely pink Kate Spade bag with my spade earrings.
I headed over to Piccadilly Circus and walked home via Regent Street and Oxford Street stopping often on the way. Mango may have had the best giveaway, with 20% of all purchases, and a free manicure and a free bottle of hair styling product with any purchase. I've wanted a pink cardigan for ages and so took the opportunity to nab some freebies and a discount. The nail varnish colours were all from Mavala and had been chosen to match Mango's autumn season clothes; I opted for a shimmery purple ("Marine Blue"). The only problem with having my nails done was that I couldn't try on clothes elsewhere as I was afraid of smudging them. This probably saved me some money at Anthro, who were giving away bubbly, mint-spiked sparkling water (yay!) and 20% off full-priced clothes.

H&M and TopShop didn't seem to have much going on, although the latter was hosting talks about this season's fashions at various points but I wasn't really in the mood for that. Zara was pumping out free cava and very loud music, which meant that the shop was cluttered with cooler-than-thou young things of both genders, making it hard to shop. I still bought a grey scarf with a feather pattern that I've been eyeing up for a while, even though there was no discount.

By this point, I was getting tired but I had one more stop to make: Selfridges. I skipped right through the beauty hall (I couldn't be bothered to queue up for a make-over and, in any case, most of the beauty products I like will be cheaper in New York) to the stationery section where I knew there would be a Moleskine event and indeed there was. They were giving away small, lined notebooks but only to people who decorated them using the 400 rubber stamps of words (and a few images) on offer and allowed them to be photographed. I had to wait quite a long time to get near the stamps as the girl in front of me seemed keen to decorate every page of hers and so I didn't really go for poetry. I quite like my "handwriting adventure" cover (you can't see from the photo but there is a pencil and an open Moleskine underneath the writing. I chatted in Italian to the Moleskine guys who were there and told them all about my obsession (I'm sure they've heard it all before); they also had a writer to help on the creativity front.

Inside the cover of my self-made Moleskine, plus my manicure
So, to sum up, FNO is great fun! I didn't make too many purchases and got plenty of freebies. If I went with friends, I probably would have enjoyed some of the photo opps but it seemed a bit sad to queue up by myself. Here are my favourites of the evening:
  • Best freebies: Mango
  • Best experience: Moleskine @ Selfridges
  • Best shop: Kate Spade

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