Between us, I have always considered myself to be much less ‘into fashion’ than Mo. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the insane beauty of Elie Saab couture or Armani Prive, but I don’t consider myself to be a major follower of trends.
A few months ago, I was down in London indulging in a few days of restaurant exploring. My visit happened to coincide with the Vogue 100 exhibit which was showing at the National Portrait Gallery to mark 100 years of the iconic British Vogue. My best friend’s husband had been and raved about how amazing it was, so she and I decided we would visit to see what all the fuss was about. Even as a non-fashionista, it was incredible. However, I was wracked with serious guilt throughout the entire exhibit as all I could think of was how much Mo would have loved this. He forgave me (eventually).
So, when I heard it was coming up to Manchester, I was super excited. We could finally go together! Manchester didn’t get the McQueen exhibit (which we really should have and I’m still put out about), but at least we were getting to see the Vogue exhibit up north.
So one quiet Sunday afternoon, along we went to the Manchester Art Gallery. Unlike London, the exhibit was absolutely free in Manchester. And having seen them both, I was pretty sure they were identical. I couldn’t see that they had left anything major out for the northern showing – thankfully – as it was perfect the way it was.
The exhibit was not just a celebration of British Vogue, but a celebration of some of the most incredible and iconic fashion photographs and photographers of the last 100 years. We saw breathtaking photos by Patrick Demarchelier, Mario Testino, Lord Snowdon and many many more… Adorning the walls were the likes of Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, and the woman, who in Mo’s eyes embodies supermodel like no other, the incomparable panther of the catwalk and fellow Brit, Ms Naomi Campbell.
The exhibit also showcased the evolution of Vogue. How it started off as a society magazine, educating ladies on social etiquette (stop and take time to read them as they are hilarious!), as well as breaking stories about the latest trends emanating from the greatest couturiers in Paris, such as Christian Dior, and showed how it has grown in to a tour de force powerhouse of pop culture, setting the trends that filter down from couture to high street.
As a non-fashionista, I loved it. Mo wanted to take everything home to adorn the walls of our tiny house, but alas, all we came away with was the coffee table book – which is stunning in it’s own right. All in all, it was a fabulous exhibit, shown in 2 fabulous cities.
With this new interest developing, I found myself being invited to the launch of the newly redone Contemporary studio fashion floor on the 3rd level of Selfridges Exchange Square. Mo almost fell off his chair when I told him! (more in shock that I was being invited to something quite trendy rather than that we were invited).
Manchester has always been a pretty fashionable city. Visiting family and friends often comment on the unique identity and persona of the people and there even is a thriving sub-culture of fashion embodied and epitomised by the iconic Affleck’s Palace, which has attracted many A-List celebrities over the years, including the Mother Monster herself, Lady Gaga.
The 3rd floor is not Affleck’s Palace by any means (not that there is anything wrong with Afflecks – I still haven’t been and I’m dying to explore!) But Selfridges is obviously a different vibe altogether. They have opened up the space beautifully on this floor and decided to stock some amazing new (and some already well-established) designers.
We arrived by night when the store was closed to customers. The speakers were blasting out ‘I Feel For You’ by Chaka Khan and Mo was already in his element. 80s music AND Selfridges – I could not have asked for a more Mo-friendly night. There was something amazing about going through the store after hours, the only lights switched on were strategically placed over gorgeous, gleaming displays – highlighting the beauty of the treasures they were illuminating. As we glided up the escalators, the music got louder and when we reached the top, it was like a private, clandestine party.
Greeted by waiters holding cocktails with sparklers, we went over to another bar area and were given Nespresso afogatos (without alcohol obviously). We spent a good hour and a half taking in the atmosphere and looking at the various new collections on display, being free to try on whatever I wanted which I did. I now have my eye on a gorgeous faux fur coat by Claudie Pierlot – though I could have bought her entire range. Mo & Co, Claudie Pierrot and Self-Portrait were among some of the new designers that I discovered that night. The staff were as friendly and as helpful as always, but we were hungry and dinner was calling. So, we left the private party with the music still ringing in our ears.
This definitely hasn’t turned me into a fashion forward being or anything, I’m afraid there’ll be no OOTD’s from me anytime soon.
But it has reminded me how interesting and fun couture actually is. Enjoyed myself so much I’ve booked Mo and I in to catch Vivienne Westwood next week at the Royal Exchange!!! Can’t wait!
FYI – the VOGUE 100 exhibit is on at the Manchester Art Gallery until 30th October, and don’t forget, it’s free!
Do you share my views on fashion? Love the glitz and the glam but are still happy to spend life wearing jean, a tee and a hoodie? (as its getting cold)