A dispatch from our favorite fashion capital
Words by ANDREW BARKER
Los Angeles may be the city that’s got the fashion world in a frenzy, but London hasn’t lost any ground. Critics and couture fans alike are flocking to the V&A museum’s (vam.ac.uk) concurrent “Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up” (through Nov. 4) and “Fashioned From Nature” (through Jan. 27) exhibitions, the latter featuring works by Madame Grès and Stella McCartney, and the former, the artist’s corsets, self-portraits, and even her half-used nail polish. From there, they are hailing an Uber to the new permanent home of the Design Museum in Kensington (designmuseum.org) to ogle minimalist architect John Pawson’s biggest commission to date (the architect and his firm are behind the design of the new interior of the museum) and the Azzedine Alaïa retrospective (through Oct. 7) inside it, which the late couturier conceived and co-curated before his passing. But coming up in time for London Fashion Week in early 2019 will be the big one: “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” (Feb. 2-July 14) at the V&A. “You only have to look at the streets to see that London is fashion-obsessed,” says Edward Behrens, editor of V&A Magazine. “When you combine that with the expertise of some of our great museums and the energy of the world’s best fashion schools, it’s no wonder London is the home of blockbuster fashion exhibitions so rich in learning.”
STAY The Bloomsbury neighborhood is fast becoming the best-located hub in London for easy access to both the hip East End and happening West End. Cozy up in a corner suite at The Principal London (phcompany.com), where you can gaze over Russell Square from your bathtub. Along with the Russell Sage Studio and Principal team, designer Tara Bernerd—an alumna of Philippe Starck—and her studio have taken this tired 19th-century landmark property (formerly Hotel Russell) and polished its hulking pink marble stairs and mosaic floors to restore it to full grandeur. There’s a choice of three eateries on-site, including The Palm Court for classic afternoon tea and Neptune restaurant for rising star Brett Redman’s fancy spin on seafood.
DINE Lina Stores’ new restaurant (linastores.co.uk) turns out small but perfectly formed plates of pasta as good as any you’ll find in Florence, Italy (burrata schiaffoni, anyone?). Together with Catalan joint Rambla (ramblalondon.com), which serves spinach croquetas, flaming chorizo and Cava wines, they are leading something of a revival for well-priced, top-tier food in Soho. Over in the East, in Shoreditch, grill-focused restaurant Brat (bratrestaurant.com)—where the whole turbot is the star of the menu—is the reservation to snag right now.
SHOP The Alaïa exhibition has dovetailed nicely with a new Bond Street store (alaia.fr). The 6,000-square-foot boutique is the French house’s first flagship outside of Paris. And later this year, at the Burberry (burberry.com) flagship on Regent Street—the biggest Burberry outpost in the world—shop the highly anticipated collaboration between the Riccardo Tisci-helmed British label and Vivienne Westwood.