Being Romanian, I admit that I have a dose of fatalism in me. Hence, I couldn’t stop thinking that in 2020, right after I booked a flight to London, the pandemic started.
Now, in 2022, right after I booked another flight to London, the war started. Where? Next door
Also, I don’t know if it’s me or just another unfortunate coincidence, yet with every visit, I make to London, a very close friend of mine receives bad news. One thing is for sure, next time I will move my visiting period to September since March turned out to be so fatidical. Or to June, since the Royal Ascot race has been on my plate for a couple of years already.
Till then, let me tell and show you what I did, saw, and wore on the occasion of this visit.
Since March turned out to be so fatidical I will move my visiting period to London for September. Till then let me tell & show what I did, saw & wear with the occasion of this visit.
“A bad day in London is still a better day than a good day anywhere else.”
As in 2020 (see here), I spent 3 days in London as:
Day 1 on a Friday: Design Museum for the Amy: Beyond the Stage exhibition; Portobello Market; Dinner at the Italian restaurant in Portobello.
Day 2 on a Saturday: London Tour bus and boat cruise on the Thames; walk by the Tower of London and London Bridge; cocktails at the Walkie Talkie Building; (extremely) late pizza dinner in the Kensington area. Plus a bonus on the day (see below).
Day 3 on a Sunday: a morning walk from Harrods to Hyde Park; full English breakfast in Hyde Park; brief attendance at the Buckingham Palace guards’ change; Camden Market; late sushi dinner in bed… exhausted.
2:15 PM was the exact time I was supposed to set foot into the Amy: Beyond the Stage exhibition. Punctuality failed me again. I was 45 minutes late and was lucky enough to still be accepted. Don’t be like me!
As an etiquette and manners advocate, I failed miserably.
Once inside, for a brief moment of roughly an hour, I felt I had entered her world. Visually and aurally, the exhibition’s four parts took visitors on a journey through her life, from her earliest years to the last. In the end, a brief hologram performance brought you even closer to Amy Winehouse, the artist.
Often using cultural references in my work as an image creator, besides the genius of her music, the style of composition is what interests me the most. In fact, my towering beehive echoed hairstyle was inspired by Amy’s hairdo. I chose, however, to go for Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2012 approach. His tribute collection to the unique Amy Winehouse
She was a collage of styles, an almanack of references.
On Camden Street, the place where she developed her career, she was inspired by women with multiple piercings who dyed their hair black and wore hair bands, retro dresses and heels. Amy was talented at creating her own looks by fusing well-known fashion trends with unconventional ones. Her architectural beehive and eyeliner harkened back to the 1960s girl groups she listened to while crafting the lyrics for her album Back to Black (2006). Ronnie Spector (August 1943–January 2022), the lead singer of The Ronettes, was a particular inspiration. The beehive was accompanied by a growing set of tattoos and a more contemporary wardrobe. She had morphed into a unique, punk-inflected pop singer. Young Latina and American women have worn edgy and classic styles since the Second World War (1939–1945). The gingham prints, leather jackets, and tattoos were like those styles.
The early 1950s British Teddy Boy subculture was referenced in the 2010 capsule collection she created for Fred Perry, which included polo shirts, pencil skirts, and chinos with the legs pulled up.
“I’ve always had my own style. I’ve always been different. I don’t like to wear anything that anyone else is wearing because it is very important for me to make a statement. “
We ended the day with a trip to Portobello Market, delighted by the vintage treasures from cameras to jewellery to shoes, garments of designer labels and not only, from old suitcases to huge metal typewriters and everything in between, followed by dinner at an Italian restaurant on Portobello Street, where I indulged in a plate of pasta that nearly sated my appetite—a fitting close to a sumptuous day in London.
The Thames River cruise and the London sightseeing bus were excellent choices. We were able to visit a great number of the city’s most famous attractions, which would have required far more time if we hadn’t planned beforehand. A walk by the London Bridge and Tower of London gave me a unique opportunity to meet a member of the Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, the Tower of London, and members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary, popularly known as the Beefeaters, who are the ceremonial guards of the Tower of London. By “unique opportunity,” I really mean they are not a common presence outside the gates. In fact, on this occasion, I was the only one who took a picture because it happened to be right next to the gate at the closing time.
Did you know that Beefeaters are also safeguarding the British crown jewels?
At 20:44, we were rewarded with a panoramic view of London and some great cocktails at the Walkie-Talkie Building. Whether you are alone or with a group of friends, taking a stroll in London’s City, the Walkie Talkie Building is one of the best ways to relax and enjoy the beautiful sunset.
We ended this day with an (extremely) late pizza dinner in the Kensington area, where our hotel was. It was not my intention to eat mainly Italian on this trip to London, but it seems that these kinds of situations can’t be avoided sometimes.
The bonus of the day was that we assisted not one but two marriage proposals, and we cheered for them with all our hearts.
The day started with a morning walk from Harrods to Hyde Park; a full English breakfast in Hyde Park, followed by a brief attendance at the Buckingham Palace guards’ change parade (although we decided to leave due to the overcrowding). The next activity is to go to Trafalgar Square, followed by Camden Market, which takes up the whole afternoon.
The Camden area was a thriving cultural hub and home to London’s punk and indie subcultures that attracted an eclectic mix of people, ranging from goths to hipsters to families. Referring back to the beginning of my trip, Amy Winehouse moved to a top-floor apartment in the Camden area in 2002. This is where Amy comes to embrace vintage shops, market stalls, record stores, music venues, and the street fashion that will shape her future style. Amy became Amy’s muse and the site for self-expression; in return, Amy became an icon of Camden.
In the present day, when graffiti-covered markets and abandoned warehouses are juxtaposed with trendy designer shops and new music venues, I did not leave empty-handed. I bought some contemporary art and some old vinyl records. Still, most importantly, I came across some very creative people who have turned Camden into an environment that fits their fashion, art, and music tastes.
A late sushi dinner in bed—exhausted—closed our day and the trip to London.
To conclude the 2022 London visit, I’m confident I ticked all the boxes for this trip. Checkmarks next to the museum and cultural experiences, shopping, having fun and hanging out with friends, and gaining new information (about oneself or about general topics). My trip was uneventful, and to my astonishment, the weather was perfect the whole time!
I'm assessing fashion and iconic characters through the lens of cultural theory, with a focus on symbolism, art, and anthropological references. Making connections between diverse things and thinking extensively about a particular topic is what my reflections entail.
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