June 25, 2013

A Surge of Serge DeNîmes: A Pop-Up Follow-Up

With Oliver Proudlock of the Serge DeNîmes brand  
             I first introduced Oliver Proudlock’s fashion brand, Serge DeNîmes, to my blog with an interview here. Skip ahead about one month and we have reached June 24th, the opening day for the Serge DeNîmes Head to Toe pop-up shop, located at 40 Carnaby Street. Serge DeNîmes has teamed up with FINLAY & CO., Marlborough World, Oliver Sweeney, and Love Brand & Co. to present top of the line designer gear.

             Carnaby Street is a popular pedestrian friendly shopping area that was first laid out in the late 1600s. Swinging London emerged in the 1960s and Carnaby Street was seen as the place to be during that time. Its underground music bars attracted bands such as The Who and The Rolling Stones and its fashion boutiques became associated with Mods, hippies, and dandies. While Carnaby Street has evolved since then, Serge DeNîmes can now be added to the list of brands that continue to make Carnaby Street the happening place it is today. The closest tube station to this tucked away street is Oxford Circus. Head down Regent Street towards Piccadilly Circus and hang a left on Greater Marlborough Street. Carnaby Street should then be on the right.

             The Serge DeNîmes pop-up shop caught my eye instantly and I entered a clean, white space with plenty of room to show off the brands and products in their best light. Music from the likes of ASAP Rocky and Bastille flooded the overall trendy arena. Proudlock and the shop assistants were decked out in Serge DeNîmes gear, wearing their items with sought-after effortlessness, but each adding their own personal flair. 

             A rack of Serge DeNîmes t-shirts was displayed flatteringly at the forefront of the shop, with sweatshirts and tanks scattered throughout its length. Floral and tropical designs seemed to be the adopted choices to welcome the summer. Color schemes waned from one extreme to the other - splashes of invasive brights or monochromatic black and white. Serge DeNîmes toys with the idea of femininity and masculinity, because while a woman could easily flaunt the palm-tree laden tank, so could a man.

             The summer collection captures the exoticness of going on vacation to somewhere new and fresh. The brand is youthful and nostalgic, merging elements of reverie and daydream. Proudlock’s mother, Lena, is to thank for the use of her Rio de Janeiro photographs on some of the t-shirts. The tanned bodies will have you lusting after that much-needed trip away. Serge DeNîmes allows a distortion of reality, if only for a moment. You can transport yourself to another time or another place. 

             Serge DeNîmes does not cower away from experimentation, but utilizes it to provide quirky patterns, from the all seeing eye, to crosses, to Lil’ Wayne! Minimalistic yet versatile, the brand is composed of pieces meant to be thrown on or just as easily paired with dressier ensembles. Above all, the brand makes a statement and forces the wearer to take charge of that statement. For the attention shy, beware that you will be noticed while sporting Serge DeNîmes. Tanks were even framed on the shop’s walls as if to say, “Look at me!” Beanies, hats, and jewelry were also added into the mix to make for a good blend of chic street wear.

             Quirky handmade wooden sunglasses from London-based FINLAY & CO. dominated the back corner. I was drawn to their edginess, raw appeal, and sheer unusualness. The brand only launched in Summer 2012, but their simply designed frames and classic designs should guarantee them a poolside spot in the hot summer months to come. Just the accessory to top off any purchase in the shop, it would take severe restraint to not be tempted.

             Marlborough World, known since 1972 for its leather goods, injected satchels, totes, and bucket bags into the shop. Proudlock’s style blog seen here incorporates one of Marlborough’s World’s weekend bags in a muted black and yellow paisley print. Glossy snakeskin, dainty rose, and classic camel were just a few of the featured exteriors to amp up the surrounding outfits.  

             Proudlock worked alongside shoe brand, Oliver Sweeney, to design urban chukka boots and hi-top trainers in leopard print and suede. I overheard Proudlock pointing out one of his designs to a customer, a worthy addition to the footwear line. Established in 1989, Oliver Sweeney promises quality and comfort without ever foregoing style.

             Love Brand & Co., a beachwear and swimwear label, devotes its cause to elephant conservation. London designer and entrepreneur Oliver Tomalin launched the brand in 2011 and aims to help elephants in their natural habitats. Five percent of Love Brand & Co.’s sales go toward elephant conservation. The brand’s logo incorporates two elephants facing one another, their trunks and front feet forming a heart. Shorts in punchy, eclectic colors and pastel drenched polo shirts easily complemented Serge DeNîmes tanks and tees. 

             Collaborations with the selected brands were hardly accidental. Sharing bold and inspired visions, all of the brands connected and cleverly meshed together to create an aesthetically pleasing display of talented workmanship and pure determination. By the time you’re done sifting through the brands, you are indeed able to, and rather stylishly might I add, dress yourself from head to toe. 

             Proudlock was down-to-earth and approachable, a walking embodiment of the brand’s laid-back cool vibe. Mingling with the customers, he made a point to greet, socialize with, and say goodbye to practically everyone. For someone so well established, he was still incredibly thankful for the turnout of the shop. It was evident that some people were compelled to visit the shop just to snap a quick photo with Proudlock, but they ended up staying for Serge DeNîmes. That being said, some people entered the shop purely for the sake of what it had to offer and Proudlock’s presence was merely an added bonus. The shop saw a constant flow of people, but as they filtered in and out, the shop easily upheld its exclusivity. 

             As I left, I congratulated Proudlock on his accomplishments and wished him the best with the shop. After doing so, I couldn’t help but think that he resonated the air of someone that people gravitate towards and just want to hang out with. Made in Chelsea fame aside, Proudlock is making a name for himself away from the reality television series through his passion for clothes and eye for style. I think it’s this ease with himself and where he wants to go that makes him and his brand so charming. 

             Before I paid a visit to the shop, I received a package. It contained my black Serge DeNîmes tank emblazoned with the words “SO SERGE.” It wasn’t until later, however, that I held a new sense of appreciation for what that phrase and Serge DeNîmes truly represents. 
             The Serge DeNîmes Head to Toe pop-up shop is open 10:00 until 19:00 Monday through Saturday and 11:00 until 18:00 on Sunday from now until July 20th. 

             Visit the official Serge DeNîmes website here and Oliver Proudlock’s website here. For the FINLAY & CO. online shop and additional stockists, see here. For Marlborough World’s designs, see here. Discover what Oliver Sweeney has to offer here. To learn more about Love Brand & Co.’s vision and clothing, see here.

June 14, 2013

The Lesser-Known South West End

             The lure of the West End is a strong one, but it sometimes can overshadow the pull of smaller, but just as grand, theatres and their respective productions. Before hitting the West End, many performances actually start out in less hyped venues. All I need to do is travel into town from my university in order to reach Frank Matcham’s creation, Richmond Theatre. In other words, I’m spoiled! Opened in 1899 as the Theatre Royal and Opera House, Richmond Theatre was renovated in 1991 and is now run by The Ambassador Theatre Group Limited. It puts on more than 40 shows for 49 weeks per year, offering a versatile selection of drama, opera, musicals, dance, and family entertainment.

             Richmond Theatre’s interior is illuminated with silky reds, classical creams, and exuberant golds. An embellished “R” rests haughtily on the stage’s curtains, overlooking the assembled crowd of eager theatre patrons. I became one such theatre patron to attend the viewings of The Woman in Black in March and just recently, The Governess. Both can be considered psychological thrillers that unnervingly command the stage and scream for their building suspense to be appreciated on a personal level.

The Woman in Black at Richmond Theatre

             My mom came to visit me for the weekend, and on a whim, we decided to pick up some theatre tickets. After drinking our afternoon tea, it was as simple as waltzing into the theatre, choosing what show we wanted to watch, and paying for our tickets. My mom and I had no prior knowledge of The Governess,but the chances of choosing a bad show are slim to none, so a little spontaneity often pays off. On the evening of the performance, we ate at my favorite Italian restaurant in Richmond, Pizzeria Rustica. Since the restaurant is situated relatively close to the theatre, they offer a 20 percent discount off the bill for theatregoers. I never need an excuse to plunge into spaghetti bolognese, but the gratuitous deal gave me even more reason! It wasn’t hard to guess where most of the people in the restaurant were headed afterwards. Everyone was abuzz with chatter of the theatre and dressed smartly in suit jackets and breezy summer dresses. 

             Patrick Hamilton’s, The Governess, centers on a story of the Drew household’s missing baby. What seems like an innocent misunderstanding quickly turns into a living hell as the scramble to find the child becomes fruitless. Starring Peter Bowles as Detective Inspector Rough and Jenny Seagrove as Ethel Fry (the Governess), this whodunit has the audience suspecting everyone of the crime. Seagrove delivers an intense and maniacal performance as she starts to unravel near the play’s end. The play is not without its comedic elements sprinkled throughout, attributing Detective Inspector Rough as their main source. He remarks that if Mr. George Drew (Colin Buchanan) is an “irresistible force,” then he is an “immovable object,” in keeping with the paradox. One family’s secrets burst out into the open and we as an audience are brought along for the ride as mere voyeurs. The play comes in at no more than an hour and a half long, making it a delightful evening out regardless of the day of the week.

             The glitz and glam of London can put stars in your eyes, but when you wipe those stars from your eyes, every nook and cranny of London has something special to bring to the table. All you have to do is look, look and explore. Richmond Theatre has many coming attractions and part of their appeal lies in the fact that they only run for a few days each until they are replaced with new performances. To snap up your tickets and look at show listings, see here.