Thursday, April 5, 2012

London Snapshot

I'm in London, nerds! Clear and grey and crisp here. Long cool days that hint at rain- I've been caught in one torrential downpour already. I had no umbrella so just folded my arms around myself, put my head down and kept walking. As water soaked into my hair, my wool coat, I couldn't help but smile- rain is kind of what you expect in England, isn't it? And rain through a dark night as I strode towards friends and a pub with pear cider on tap and then onto Ottolenghi in Islington with its long tables, its powderpuff boysenberry meringues, its pear soaked in orange-blossom and roquefort and candied macadamia salad... well, what can you do but smile?

I'm twenty-six now, my birthday falling in the hasty days before I got on the plane for 23 hours. And I can't help but feel somewhat grown-up and at home here. There is something both so familiar and so novel about red double decker buses, about the black cabs with their gently curved chassis, about the dirty white terraces that stand tall on either side of the road. I walked downtown amidst a flood of people yesterday- a flood. Comparable to the crowds that teem out of a football match or a concert but it was only Wednesday afternoon in Oxford Circus. I've found nook-cafés with coffee that's nice, always made by Australians or New Zealanders, and I feel momentarily parochial until I forget all that in the face of a foaming flat white. Priorities, you know. 

Guys I discovered Dover Street Market! I had heard of it, of course, and don't know what insanity prevented me from trawling its four heavenly levels last time I was here. I spent about an hour there yesterday- I tried on a Margiela bodysuit that was like liquid silk and a pair of Haider Ackermann laser-cut leather brogues- oh my word. Narrow and tapered in the toe, elegant and practical- I wanted to wear them home and the next day and the day after that and forevermore. For a moment I considered it, employed my utter ignorance of current exchange rates to almost convince myself that £670 is really not that much...? Until my certainty that it is, actually, and that getting myself into debt for a pair of shoes- divine though they unarguably are- was ridiculous. And I saw a McQueen dress with tooled leather appliquéd over handworked lace, the two so seamlessly together it was like they were growing onto each other like moss, and almost cried- it was exquisite. And a Lanvin pleated silk floorlength skirt the colour of pale pre-dawn stopped me in my tracks too. I sometimes forget the impact clothing can have- it's not about owning it (Haider shoes aside!) It's about the craftsmanship, the beauty- the quality of the objects in and of themselves. To feel those fabrics, to touch sheer and stiff transparent skirts and Comme lace wedding-esque dresses, to see the dusty painted shocking neons of Tom Binns necklaces up close, to pick up the most perfect red Céline envelope clutch- there is a neatness, a meetness of the quality of these items that floors me. It was like wandering through a beautiful museum in which you can touch and try on- and best of all, they have a bakery on the top floor! I'm making a post-Library beeline there today for carrot cake. If you're around, I'll be the one in the Bernhard Willhelm dress with the big, icing-smothered grin. 

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