Wednesday, November 5, 2014

London Highlights! Part I

My London re-cap is so long overdue that I can hardly believe it!

I've been home for 3 weeks and I'm still going through notes and papers and photos from the trip. But my good friend from Sweet Nothings NYC just posted her London recap, so I no longer have any excuse at all...  So onwards!

No trip would be complete without a panorama of Big Ben!

Of course my business trip was primarily centered around, well, business.  But that's not to say that I didn't do anything else while visiting London.  Aside from the typical afternoon tea (which I tried to make time for every day - this girl loves scones!), I did enjoy quite a bit of tourist sites as well.  From The Tower of London to Westminster Abbey to Hyde Park...  And I was lucky enough to catch shows at The Globe Theatre (A Comedy of Errors) and The Queen's Theatre (Les Miserables), which were both smashing successes!

Westminster Abbey was definitely one of the highlights - especially because I was able to sneak a photo of the Effigy Corset on display!

My main focus was, of course, lingerie, so I hit all of the big players.  Carine Gilson, Myla, Harrods, Selfridge's, Rigby & Peller, What Katie Did, La Perla, Petits Bisous, Liberty, Agent Provocateur...  For the department stores, I'll admit that I was a bit carried away and quickly turned from lingerie to designer vintage, macarons, or the fromagerie!

But the lingerie boutiques really stole my heart away.  Petits Bisous won me over in particular, not only because they carry lingerie by my darling friend Leanna's brand Harlow and Fox, but also because of the attention to detail and decor in the store.  I somehow missed snapping a photo, but the entire downstairs is styled as a turquoise boudoir, complete with gilded mirrors, cushy dressing room armchairs, and velvet curtains with luxuriously dangling tassels.  It really stole my heart away!

New designs at the Carine Gilson boutique

Of these picks, Carine Gilson was (not surprisingly) my favorite.  The sales associate spent an extraordinarily long time talking with us, showing us special details, and telling us behind-the-scenes stories.  The entire space exuded calm and luxury, from the gilded racks to serene fitting room.  (And I do mean room - it was practically the entire downstairs, at least 200 square feet!)  Fit for a bride or a princess, every piece of Carine Gilson's work is truly decadent.  From near-invisible hems to the tiniest stitching I've ever seen on lace applique, her designs are the only lingerie that I would actually call couture.

I spent a good deal of time on my trip with two British friends, and I shouldn't leave them out of it!  Leanna Williams of Harlow and Fox hosted me for a good portion of the trip (though I can't imagine how she found the time!), and accompanied me throughout my adventures in London and Brighton.  We even enjoyed a "typical English day" of pouring rain, a walk along the seaside, and a pub quiz over some local beer!  (We didn't even lose the quiz - we got second to last place, which won us a bag of Cadbury chocolates!)  She tirelessly followed me along to a quick run through the British Library to find the Magna Carta and Shakespeare's First Folio, attended some truly awful independent theater and a midnight drive out of Gatwick Airport, and even found vegetarian fish and chips for me.  (Turns out they make the "fish" part with cheese!)

Karolina Laskowska also hosted me for a pizza dinner with her family (how cute!) and a personal peek at her vast vintage lingerie collection.  (She's been instagramming it a lot lately if vintage skivvies interest you!)  We popped into the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone, enjoyed a bit of fabric shopping, and even visited her top-secret antique lace dealer.  I pretty much died on the spot.  During this time, Karolina has also been organizing a Lingerie Secret Santa for independent designers like ourselves - so you'll be hearing more about that shortly.

There will soon be a Part II and a Part III to this recap of my London trip, in which I will show you all of the photos from museums.  Get ready for a huge feature on The Victoria and Albert Museum in particular!

A wonderfully relaxing view from the Prime Meridian Line in Greenwich

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