Situated in the heart of the Kensington Garden and the Royal Geographical Society, this year’s Vogue Festival was as grand as ever, and a perfect way of celebrating 100 years of an iconic fashion magazine.
Prior to the festival, I had purchased tickets for both days in order to witness talks from Grace Coddington and Dolce & Gabbana. Day 1 began with Grace Coddington’s talk with British Vogue Fashion Director Lucinda Chambers. In her interview, Grace revealed personal insights into living a life in the fashion industry. Essentially, Grace is renowned for her contribution to American Vogue as creative director, and gained true appreciation following the release of The September Issue. Grace’s innovative ideas for editorials have been the origin of iconic masterpieces of photography in Vogue, an idea which Chambers strongly focused on in the interview. On relationships with photographers, Grace emphasised that ‘a photographer has to understand your language, and you have to understand his.’ She conveyed her belief that ‘if you have the best ingredients, you’re going to create a great picture.’ I was pleased that Grace talked about her Alice in Wonderland Vogue Editorial, as it is quite simply iconic. Her funny nature was present as she talked about the process of the editorial, and making designers specific characters from the book. The room enjoyed a harmonious laugh as she remarked: ‘Karl [Lagerfeld] didn’t want to be the White Rabbit; he wanted to be himself.’ Interestingly, she informed her audience that she resulted in photographing Lagerfeld separately, then working him into one of the grand photographs. Certainly an interesting insight!
What I found most interesting in Coddington’s interview was her opinions on the ever-changing nature of the fashion industry. When asked about the role of the celebrity model today, particularly Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, Coddington subtly conveyed her preferred opinion of traditional ways. She voiced her opinion that ‘these days you don’t have much time to develop a real relationship with a model’ and that ‘now this whole thing is based on how many [followers] you have on Instagram, and not on the person. That’s a world I don’t know.’ Grace as a character represents tradition, for which I admire her. She certainly met my expectations in her interview with Chambers. As a highly significant and influential fashion figure, she honoured all traditions that are still apparent in the industry, and emphasised the notion that one should not conform to trends; it is instead ‘more interesting to do something different.’ I was also lucky enough to meet Grace at her book signing, in which she signed my copy of her memoir. Grace is one of the figures who I admire most in fashion, so I was extremely grateful to witness her interview and personally express my appreciation towards her!
In contrast to Coddington’s talk about a life in Vogue, Dolce & Gabbana’s talk instead focused on their personal way with fashion, in particular their created concept of ‘Alta Moda’. The pair explained that they view ‘Alta Moda’ as ‘the pure Italian language’ and when purchasing a piece from this, one is ‘buying into the sense of Italy.’ It was an interesting subject for discussion, due to the fact that the concept is only applicable to their brand. Domenico and Stefano illustrated a clear adoration for their country when talking, and made it apparent that Italy is the origin of all of their creations. Stefano in particular expressed that they ‘love to explain Italian style – it’s not just a dress; it’s the way that you live, move your hands, and enjoy your life. People love it.’ (&) ‘Alta Moda is pure culture, and pure honesty.’ Domenico discussed the idea of couture in relation to this, explaining that they continually choose not to show in Paris ‘as [they] don’t believe in the couture show. Couture is very intimate, it is so close, and becomes like a club over the weekend.’ I found these ideas both interesting and admirable; it gives Dolce & Gabbana a quality that most other fashion brands lack; true patriotism and nationalism.
The pair were continuously witty and entertaining, making their interview extremely fun for all who were witnessing it. There was a strong focus on their legacy, and what would become of Dolce & Gabbana after their deaths. Unlike renowned fashion houses like Dior and Balenciaga, Domenico and Stefano expressed how they did not wish for any type of successor. Stefano was more verbal in conveying this; he honestly expressed that ‘when someone dies, someone takes over, then someone takes over again. The brand will therefore never be the same as each successor is unique. When we die, Dolce & Gabbana will be no more; we do not wish for it to lose it’s soul.’ For a brand so focused on the Italian essence and soul that is apparent in any piece of their clothing, I couldn’t help but admire them for having this opinion. In fact, when thinking about it, I completely agreed with with it.
Other speakers at the festival ranged from top British designers such as Christopher Kane and Jenny Packham, to global creative directors, most notably Alessandro Michele and Peter Dundas. Aside from talks which occurred in the Royal Geographical Society, attendees of the festival also gained access to the central hub: ‘Vogue World’, located just two minutes away in Kensington Gore. Inside ‘Vogue World’ was the Vogue shop, Vogue Café, a chance for one to feature on their very own Vogue Cover, Style Clinics with British Vogue Editors, and much more.
I was lucky enough to attend a complimentary fashion illustration class with the iconic David Downton and Erin O’Connor. This was in fact my favourite part of the festival; not only was the class informative and intimate as it was a room of less than twenty people, but it was also the perfect opportunity to talk to two leading figures in the industry who are completely devoted to what they do. Erin was as elegant as ever, whilst David sat down with each individual to advise them on their particular illustration. He helped me in particular with drawing faces, as it is something I’ve always found most difficult. So I certainly learned from the master himself! I asked Erin what it was like to be a part of the Alexander McQueen 2001 ‘VOSS’ show, as I’ve always thought of it being one of the most iconic shows in fashion history. She explained that it was a major highlight of her career, as it was so far from the typical runway show that models were usually part of. Instead, she felt truly engrossed in what she was wearing and was able to visually portray this to the audience. Yet she also told me that it was a great challenge, as she not only had to model, but act, and embody characteristics one would have from being trapped in an asylum. It is certainly the show that I applaud her most for! Erin also told me that she had an intimate relationship with McQueen himself, and was honoured to be his muse in many of his shows. After having a chance to reflect on the Vogue Festival, and this class, I’m in shock that I had the opportunity to have such a conversation with such a renowned model! Many thanks to British Vogue for this.
Now, moving on from my personal highlights of the festival, here are my photographs! I was originally going to do two separate posts for each day, but decided it best to simply collate everything together, as many of my photos blended well with one another.
So I’ve included some photos of my outfits, events that I attended, and my favourite ‘street style’ looks of the weekend!
Were any of you lucky enough to attend the Vogue 100 Festival in London? Let me know if you did, and your opinions on this post in the comments box below!
Until next time,