Volumes of knock-off Cath Kidston provide further evidence that the one-woman chintz revolution will soon be capsized by chavs
Who needs a map when you can just follow the maxi dress mafia from the Tube? No England match is stopping these mums from bagging a sarong for a fiver. My mind’s in two camps today. I’m excited to see what the “fashion theatre” show will be like and eager to check out a few new labels like Blacksmith, but not so sure about the knife-point subscription offers to More magazine that I’ve been warned about. I’m also decidedly unsure about anything presented by Jeff Brazier.
So I keep quiet, swig my high-brow Hildon water and follow the sweaty throng of floral prints. Today is going to be very much a look-and-learn low profile affair.
Upon entering the air-conditioned warehouse I am immediately jumped upon by a girl promoting Corona and their shifty sounding ‘Save The Beach’ project. I unwillingly take a free canvas bag, write down my old email address, try to fashion my face into the word WHATEVER, and move on to find myself affronted by another clipboard crow. A theme has begun.
I am at first taken aback by the volumes of knock-off Cath Kidston, providing further evidence that the one-woman chintz revolution is about to be completely capsized by chavs. But we knew that already. Statement vests, polka dot patent and sequined shoulder pads are the other predictable suits du jour. Pre-faded Disney sweaters are nowhere to be seen, finally.
Lots of teenage girls scrambling over Jade Jagger’s “my turn to pretend I can save the world” tees, teenage girls queuing up to get inside Paul’s Boutique and taking photos of Superdry on their pink iPhones. Waxed Corona boys skip about in briefs, playing ball on their specially made artificial beach, their whitened teeth reflecting onto the wall like disco balls in provincial gay bars, I'm starting to enjoy myself now, can you tell? Top Clothes Show tip - wine. As warned, there are subscription stalls for More, She, Cosmo and all the other not-quite-Glamour middle band mags. Still, £1 for More and I get a free carrier bag? Why not. I watch a hair demonstration and cannot decide whether to laugh or cry at the comments that girl's gonna get in the playground tomorrow.
4.15 and it’s time to take my seat in the fashion theatre, built into what looks like a disused car park. But before we can gape at male models we have to watch Jeff Brazier award a prize to someone, rattling on about Pepe Jeans and Benefit. This is followed by a performance from “up and coming” boy band The Wanted. With elementary dance moves and zero facial conviction they chimp about to their first and hopefully last single which is unbelievably titled “All Time Low”. They finish on the line "Look into our eyes - None of us are gay - 1,2,3 - you're back in the room."
The fashion theatre show starts with an oriental-themed pseudo-feminist Kill Bill thing, followed by a bubblegum beat mix of Blondie’s Call Me, and some ASOS animal suits appear. Teenage girls are in jaw-cramping awe. There’s a street clothing dance routine which is quite fun, leading into a Rihanna ‘Rude Boy’ section with brilliantly oversized red chain links. Glittery American football shoulder pads are whored out as novel (teenage girls haven't seen Party Monster).
A few thousand chequered shirts, chintz and Chippendales later, the show reaches its most sophisticated moment, set with surprising beauty to La Vie En Rose. The music throughout the show flicks cleverly between the two target audiences, mothers and daughters, Bryan Ferry one minute, Lily Allen the next.
The fashion theatre is fun, funky and does its job at watering down catwalk trends and padding out high fashion with Butlins grins. Regrettably only one male model is attractive, but at least the stylists know this and put him in some good outfits, including corsets.
The best stalls were Never Fully Dressed with their nice pearl and seashell details, Manhattan Chic and Tatty Devine for their futuristic pendants, Blacksmith for their unusual chic monolithic garments and Limb who exhibited some great comic strip and vintage car themed summer dresses. I also loved the acoustic rivalry in Earl's Court between the motherly applause of the Style Stage and the booming boos and hisses from the bored boyfriends who assembled themselves around a TV set in one corner to watch the England match. The last, England, match.
On my way out I am given a goodie bag which contains a melted Kit Kat Senses, some Head & Shoulders, a Tampax, a breakfast bar and some estranged Scandinavian mints.
An afternoon well spent.