Ahead of London Fashion Week Men’s 2020, Wrong Weather offers you an extensive guide to the districts of London which still are considered to be the ever-evolving, trendy, eclectic vanguards of shopping, culture and gourmet experiences - Mayfair, Soho and Covent Garden.
Here, independent avant-garde boutiques, vintage emporiums, prestigious galleries in mansions and cutting-edge art hubs, exquisite restaurants and food halls serving cuisines from all of the world and much more are all within the short reach. There is hardly any other more exciting time to visit, explore and enjoy London in fullest than the Fashion Week.
Regarded as one of the best department stores in the world, Selfridges on Oxford Street needs no introduction. The grand, beaux-arts style building, which opened in 1909, now boasts a few floors dedicated to clothing, high-glam beauty hall, sprawling shoe and accessories galleries, technology display room, restaurants and bars, food hall, cinema, spa and much more - it is the ultimate destination for shopping, the unrivaled go-to store for hot-off-the-catwalk fashion.
After spending a good few hours dazzled by the Selfridges’ assortment, we recommend hiding away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street in a quieter neighbourhood of Mayfair. Start with Mercato Mayfair - a classy new street food hall inside a former 200 year-old St. Mark's church on North Audley Street. There are two levels of international food stalls, delis and cocktail bars, a rooftop terrace, and the vaulted crypt basement, which encloses an authentic wine cellar with fresh cuts and world cheeses and a micro-brewery.
Not far, on Brook Street, the fragrance specialist diptyque and japanese genius of futuristic design, Issey Miyake, have their flagship boutiques. Around the corner is Bond Street, which has been an iconic shopping destination housing the most prestigious brands and jewellery houses, and Mount Street - one of London’s most fashionable destinations with its chic mix of niche, luxury fashion and beauty brands, art and antiques dealers and exclusive restaurants. It is home to some of the world’s most prestigious brands including Celine, Linda Farrow and Balenciaga. A short stroll away you can find a haven for the leading avant-garde designers, Conduit Street. Here, Yohji Yamamoto, Y-3, MM6 Maison Margiela and Vivienne Westwood stores co-exist side-by-side. Or perhaps you might want to check Layers on Albemarle Street - the store known for almost a decade for championing the coolest names in fashion and concentrating the attention on the new “artisans”.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac©
If you wish to have a culturally gratifying interruption from shopping, Mayfair can satisfy your art cravings too. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac at Ely House, a five-floor listed mansion in Mayfair, represents over 60 artists and showcases the careers of some of the most influential of them, such as Value Export, Robert Rauschenberg, Erwin Wurm, Daniel Richter, Sturtevant, Lee Bul, Ilya & Emilia Kabakov and other.
Sprueth Magers has expanded from its roots in Cologne, Germany, to become an international gallery dedicated to exhibiting the very best in groundbreaking modern and contemporary art. The gallery regularly broadens its program with up-and-coming artists such as Cyprien Gaillard, Pamela Rosenkranz, Alexandre Singh and Ryan Trecartin, while continuing to represent well-established and most prominent artists such as Thomas Demand, Sterling Ruby, Kara Walker, Frank Stella, Bernd & Hilla Becher and Otto Piene.
Nearby you can find another international art powerhouse, David Zwirner. Since opening its doors in 1993 in New Work, it has been home to innovative, singular, and pioneering exhibitions across a variety of media and genres. Among the few artists in its roster are Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Michaël Borremans, Marlene Dumas, Oscar Murillo, Thomas Ruff and Rose Wylie.
Simon Lee Gallery©
Mayfair is also home to Simon Lee Gallery on Berkeley Street. Founded in 2002, the gallery represents artists of diverse generations whose practices range from sculpture and painting to video and photography and who share a broad interest in an exploration of the conceptual. Some artists in its list include Donna Huanca, Ran Huang, Daido Moriyama, Josephine Pryde and Toby Ziegler.
Hauser & Wirth’s exhibition programme is one of the most spectacular in London and previously included the shows of work by Louise Bourgeois, Pipilotti Rist, Lygia Pape, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Pierre Hyughe and Berlinde De Bruyckere. The gallery outpost on Saville Row is also home to a library, archive and a shop that offers an ample collection of monographs, artists’ books, historic exhibition catalogues – as well as a curated selection of artist collaborations and beautifully-crafted products from international and local makers.
Sadie Coles HQ©
Close by is Sadie Coles HQ, the gallery which was at the forefront of the Young British Artists movement and still continues to showcase some of the most startling talent. Here you can catch the shows by the Turner Prize winner Helen Marten and “conceptual entrepreneur” Martine Syms, or lost yourself in the site-specific virtual worlds by Lawrence Lek, as well as check the new work by Urs Fischer, Matthew Barney or Sarah Lucas.
It’s worth taking a break from the shopping spree and gallery hopping at the café-filled courtyard of Kingly Court, right in the epicentre of Carnaby Street. Whether it's Tel Aviv-inspired alfresco dining at The Good Egg, a steaming portion of Tonkotsu ramen from Shoryu, Peruvian BBQ, ceviche and pisco cocktails served in a bright environment of Señor Ceviche, or the health-conscious seasonal choices from The Detox Kitchen - the place can satisfy almost any preference and appetite.
If you’re looking for something fancier and upscale, consider Yotam Ottolenghi's all-day brasserie Nopi. The menu changes according to the seasons and celebrates bold flavours, broadly based on Mediterranean, Middle-eastern and Asian ingredients, using lots of herbs and spices. The vegetarians have plenty of interesting choices at Nopi. The restaurant also offers a notably expansive and intriguing wine and cocktail list. For the best of Spanish cooking and hospitality, stop at Sabor located on charming Heddon street. The richest flavours of the Andalusian tapas bars, asadors of Castile, including the star dish, Segovian Suckling Pig, and the seafood specialities of Galicia, such as octopus, are fused here to the greatest delight.
No visit to London would be complete without exploring Soho. Some of London’s most interesting boutiques, established record stores, beauty, vintage, jewellery and haberdashery shops can be found along Berwick Street and Carnaby Street. Machine-A is an independent concept boutique boasting an eclectic mix of brands, both establish and up-and-coming, such as JW Anderson, Maison Margiela, Per Götesson and 1017 ALYX 9SM. Despite only opening in October 2018, END. quickly established itself as one of London’s urban menswear standouts, which built its reputation on an expertly curated collection of luxury fashion, emerging designers and exclusive sport & streetwear by the brands including OFF-WHITE, Thom Browne, Acne Studios and VISVIM. Liberty London on Great Marlborough Street known for its mock Tudor façade, has a rich history spanning more than 140 years. The department store praised for a wide-ranging cosmetics and fragrances collections, as well as for the assortment of accessories, textiles, an in-store florist and a stationery shop.
The Photographer’s Gallery©
In the same vicinity you can find The Photographer’s Gallery, the first public gallery in the UK dedicated to the medium. Over the years it has introduced such international photographers as Juergen Teller, Sebastião Salgado, Andreas Gursky and Taryn Simon to British audiences, whilst championing the work of home based practitioners including Martin Parr, Nick Knight and Corinne Day.
Cutter & Squidge©
Some of the most tempting dessert parlours are too located in Soho and Chinatown. Grab a matcha-powered bubble tea with hand-made honey tapioca at Kissaten. Or head to Cutter & Squidge to luxuriate in quintessential British classics, afternoon tea, featuring rose and pistachio shortbread, chocolate cake truffles made with salted caramel, and their signature bake, the ‘biskie’ - a combination of biscuit, cookie and cake with a buttercream and fruit filling.
A similarly luscious, yet less traditional sweet experience can be found at Mamasons Dirty Ice cream, offering homemade Filipino desserts, which include Queso aka cheese, Black coconut ice cream, or their hit, Ube-filled bilog, a pandesal milk bun filled with purple yam ice cream, dusted with a sugar coating and lightly toasted.
Another place worth mentioning is XU Teahouse & Restaurant. Nestled in between Chinatown and Soho, XU is reminiscent of the Taiwanese social clubs and luxury dining rooms of the 1930s, offering a unique journey into Taiwanese culture and cuisine, from its finest delicacies, inventive cocktails and high-grade teas through to its relaxing interiors.
Royal Academy of Arts©
A few minutes walk from the gleaming Piccadilly Circus up to Green Park, you will come across Royal Academy of Arts, renowned for putting big shows, whether they are about ancient sculpture, or display modern-day masterpieces by Antony Gormley, Phyllida Barlow & Ai WeiWei. A much anticipated retrospective Marina Abramović coming to the RAA in September 2020. Opposite the RAA, is the official grocer to the Queen and an ultimately English store, Fortnum & Mason. It has been selling the most indulgent food, exquisite hampers, luggage, fragrances and homewares since 1707.
Dover Street Market©
Not far is Dover Street Market is a multi-level retail space and edgy concept store, filled with eclectic installation-like spaces and special pop-ups. Developed by Rei Kawakubo and her husband, Adrian Joffe, DSM is known for its courage to take risks and to present the brands, both established and young, in dynamic, unconventional ways, pushing the boundaries of offline shopping. The concept emporium on Haymarket houses all of Comme des Garçons lines as well as a variety of other designers such as Vetements, Sacai, Craig Green, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Balenciaga, Undercover and many more. On the top floor you can also find a homeware store Labour and Wait and café by Rose Bakery.
The Institute of Contemporary Arts©
Another cultural centre pivotal to London art scene located on The Mall, just off Trafalgar Square. The Institute of Contemporary Arts keeps on supporting radical art and culture through a vibrant programme of exhibitions, films, events, talks and debates. Over the decades, the ICA has staged numerous groundbreaking exhibitions, among those the first institutional exhibitions by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tacita Dean, Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger, Gabriel Orozco, Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman, as well as early exhibitions by Robert Mapplethorpe, Steve McQueen, Gerhard Richter, Tino Sehgal, Hito Steyerl and Luc Tuymans. It presented a number of historical performances by Laurie Anderson, Einstürzende Neubauten and Yoko Ono, and legendary concerts by The Clash, Throbbing Gristle, David Bowie, as well as The Stone Roses and The Beastie Boys. The Cinema at ICA continues to be a major voice in introducing independent film and artists’ moving image.
The programme includes the screenings by both the pioneering filmmakers such as Chantal Akerman, Kenneth Anger, Derek Jarman, Isaac Julien, Abbas Kiarostami, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Joshua Oppenheimer and Laura Poitras as well as by the new generation of talent. A sleek, lofty, minimal space of Rochelle Canteen at ICA is a wonderful place to enjoy the best of unfussy, seasonal British food paired with fine cocktails.
Along with being home to London Fashion Week Men’s, London Photo & London Design Biennale, the iconic Somerset House on Strand also hosts a broad range of events and activities, turning an Ice Rink in the winter and open-air cinema in summer. Over the last decade, the palace’s ambitious cultural programme included the exhibitions dedicated to Guy Bourdin, Maison Martin Margiela, Bjork, Isabella Blow, Dazed & Confused. Somerset House is also an experimental hub and workspace, connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences, and commissioning audio-visual work by the cutting-edge creatives. The events taking place in the New Wing frequently traverse the boundaries and confront the established patterns through the celebration of contemporary electronic, dance underground and avant-garde music by the likes of Mykki Blanco, NAKED, Beatrice Dillon, Puce Mary, Karen Gwyer, Lotic and many others.
Further up stands a brutalist gem, 180 Strand, which tempts the crowds with its freshest, sexiest and best contemporary art and fashion events in the city. Past blockbusters include ‘The Infinite Mix’, ‘Strange Days: Memories of the Future’ plus, most recently, Transformer: A Rebirth of Wonder, curated by Jefferson Hack, and ‘Other Spaces / United Visual Artists’. The shows at 180 Strand are always at the forefront, frequently in a multi-sensorial configuration of immersive video and sound installations.
Arcade Food Theatre©
To wrap up the day, or a weekend in the central part of London, head in the direction of Centre Point on Tottenham Court Road for a late night drink or a dinner. There, Arcade Food Theatre, a unique destination featuring seven restaurants, three bars, coffee & pastries and late night music in a design-led, market-inspired setting, opened its doors recently. The food options, among which the freshest pasta by Lina Stores, Turkish pide by Oklava, justifiably famed katsu pork sando from TATA Eatery, or elegantly delicious Japanese/Peruvian ‘Nikkei’ style food, are many and all of them are appetizing enough to try.