My Secret London with Martina McHowat
To celebrate London Fashion Week, I asked Urban Junkies' Style Editor, Martina McHowat, to delve into her little black book for her favourite London addresses. The good news? The girl with her finger firmly on the pulse of London’s fashion scene doesn’t hold back. In fact, it’s so good, I’m posting it in two parts. Dig in to part one today…
Favourite London shops?
Maison Martin Margiela, where the shop assistants are dressed in white lab coats and the clothes are the main focus in a glassy, futuristic space – though I do miss his old Bruton Street Store, which barely had signage and was practically hidden from the untrained eye!
Liberty for the fabulous old Tudor frontage and window displays, Dover Street Market for their ever-changing designer spaces, and Partridges on the King’s Road for their American imports, which keeps me in supply of apple and cinnamon Pop Tarts every morning.
Selfridges for their underwear department, and Long Tall Sally for their pyjamas, because at 6 foot, my legs tend to get the bum end of the deal with nightwear! Sadly Long Tall Sally isn’t a favourite for any other reason, which is a shame, as I suspect it could be onto a winner with plenty of other young, tall women out there in need of well-tailored trousers and fashionable pieces.
And I love London’s constant stream of inspiring pop-up spaces; Moet’s Atelier room at Christmas, Monocle magazine’s shop, the currently installed Nowhere space in Dover Street Market; and the PPQ ‘Jackdaw Store’ at number 6, Burlington Arcade for London Fashion Week.
Best for a bargain?
Get onto sample sales; there’s some seriously good stuff out there, I’m still kicking myself for missing the Lara Bohinc sale last year – amazing gold pieces and leather wallets at a smidgen of the price.
My favourite Chloe bag is from one of their sample sales at the Music Rooms, again, less than half price. Get onto www.urbanjunkies.com and have a look in our style section; I personally trawl the rest of the web and make sure we always have an amalgamation of the most up-to-date sales, and as we’re constantly updating, we’re a step ahead of sites that only put out a listing at the beginning of every month.
Apart from us, it’s all about sites like cocosa.com – they’ve had some amazing online sales since they set up last year, stuff like Christian Lacroix, Luella, Peter Jensen and Eley Kishimoto. And definitely keep an eye out for The Outnet, Net-a-porter’s discount sister, which should go live some time in April.
Best for fashion?
I’ve just gotten into All Saints as I love their Westwood-inspired cuts and unusual draping. I’m waiting for the right time to wear my floor length Parachute Dress (unless some terrible air accident forces me to evacuate in style sometime soon, I’m thinking it might never come).
The new Liberty of London store on Sloane Street is lovely. Independents like Beyond the Valley are always fun for a browse, and The Shop at Bluebird is really cleverly set out, with great denim and first edition books.
Zoe Lem’s boutique/gallery space, My Sugarland, opened last year and stocks all kinds of new designers, cool accessories and hosts art installations on the side. And The Convenience Store is a bit secret, located in an old cobbler’s shop, but it stocks some hard-to-find labels and has ‘under the counter’ pieces for loyal customers.
Matthew Williamson’s H&M collaboration in April should be great for the summer, as I hear there’s a lot of gold peacockery and his usual boho style involved.
In a dream world, I’d be swathed head to toe in McQueen’s subversive anglophilia, Nina Ricci’s dreamlike gowns, Bottega Venetta’s draped elegance, and Chanel’s pumps, which are my guilty secret. They are seriously comfy, and as they only rarely seem to stock more than one pair in my size at one time, I snap them up and hide them in my cupboard for fear of ruining them on an actual pavement. Rubbish crunch behaviour, I know.
Best for accessories?
I’m such a magpie when it comes to anything bejewelled – my whole bedroom windowsill is covered in bits and bobs. I go everywhere. Topshop always has the most fun bits, loving their neon collections at the moment. Shanghai Tang keeps my Asian spirit happy; my Louis Vuitton Sprouse scarf is undoubtedly my most worn investment (check out the current Sprouse collaboration for some graffiti-filled fun), and I love Rowan Mersh’s weird material neck pieces and brooches.
I love Miu Miu’s shoes and bags for some fun, and Mulberry’s handbags and wallets when I need something more classic, and the only heels I can walk in with any confidence come from LK Bennett – simple black platform pumps.
Tomorrow: Part 2 with Martina's tips for London's best homewares, stationery, souvenirs and food.
For all addresses and a Wee Birdy map of Martina's secret London, click here.
Check out Martina's London Fashion Week coverage at Urban Junkies, which includes designer interviews, backstage images and a competition to win the Ultimate Swag Bag. Have a peek – some very tasty prizes, indeed. There's also loads of info about pop-up shops and places to go and hang out during fashion week.