A few months ago, my sister asked if I’d be interested in going to Stylist Live with her. This self-proclaimed ‘festival of inspiration’ runs for 4 days at the Business Design Centre in Islington and, as a regular reader of Stylist – well, whenever I can get my hands on a copy at Oxford Circus tube! – this event has been on my radar from the start, but I initially wondered whether it would be worth the ticket price. After all, I work at a fashion college in central London so informative talks, inspirational catwalk shows and being surrounded by interesting places to shop is pretty much my day-to-day. However, a day out with my sister was definitely much needed so I snapped up a pair of £15 early bird tickets for the Friday, and we both started to look at the schedule of talks to work out what we’d like to see.
The big day arrived and we met up at Angel tube station, which is only a short walk away from the venue. As the doors opened at 10am, we decided to get there for the start so that we could browse before the afternoon sessions we’d reserved a space in. Upon entering, we were given a voucher for a free Chambord cocktail and, despite the early hour, decided ‘what the hell’. After all, champagne cocktails are a legitimate part of brunch on a non-work day. When we got to the Clarins stand with our cocktails in hand – notably, it had no queues this early in the day – one of the staff congratulated us on our dedication to starting the day well! So, we finished our drinks and sat down for a make up consultation. I was already planning on buying some Clarins skincare products, as mine had run out, and I’m glad I waited to get them here as the free samples I got with my purchase were pretty generous travel-size versions rather than the usual single-use size.
Next we went to browse the rest of the pampering and pop-ups section of the event space, making sure we stopped to chat to the lovely ladies on the Wolf & Whistle stand, and then we walked past some very tasty looking treats. I started to tell my sister how I had to avoid looking at cakes and pastries these days as I’ve developed an intolerance to wheat, but mid-sentence I noticed that these cakes from Pearl & Groove were all gluten free! So, of course, the next thing we did was buy a cake each and located one of the ‘grazing stations’ to sit down and take a moment to chat. The cakes were delicious, so I’m definitely going to make a point of visiting their shop on Portobello Road.
After some more browsing, a tasty lunch, another Chambord cocktail, a bra fitting at the Freya stand and stopping to get a lovely animated gif made of us at the Swarovski stand, it was finally time for the talk we’d booked. At the time I bought the tickets, I was a bit disappointed to see that our ticket only got us into one talk and one catwalk event, but it turned out that there were walk-in spaces for some of the pre-booked talks and a couple of the stages near the front entrance were not bookable so you could just show up at the time the event started. When selecting the one talk that I wanted to pre-book, I was somewhat spoiled for choice as Friday’s schedule included things like ‘How to change the world from your laptop’, ‘Turn your blog into a brand and stay authentic’ and ‘How to stop feeling tired all the time’. In the end, I went for ”Why no is your new power word’, by happiness consultant and change-maker Samantha Clarke. You might think her job description sounds a but fluffy, but Samantha really knows her stuff and is an excellent presenter who gave us some fantastic advice on how to change our lives and stop saying yes to everything.
After this, we headed to the Stylist Catwalk for our show. Having been a massive fan of The Clothes Show Live in the 1990s and being privileged enough to attend catwalk shows through my day job and this blog, I have to admit that I was somewhat blasť about this beforehand but I changed my mind pretty quickly. The show was made up of five trends that the Stylist fashion team had selected from the AW16 shows, with between 8 and 10 looks that had been styled from the high street. Not only were the looks wonderful and the clothing genuinely affordable but, just like in the fashion pages of their magazine, they’d also assembled a wonderfully diverse selection of models to show it on. Seriously, I think they had every skin tone covered! I swear that every single woman in the audience must have felt that there was something she could relate to here, which is a rare feat in fashion these days. Other magazines, take note.
Just before we left, we stopped by the Stylist Stage to catch a 20 minute interview with Melanie C – dressed in vintage Alexander McQueen! – on her new album and what it was like being a Spice Girl. She sang a little snippet from one of her new tracks and her voice is utterly amazing. It was a great end to a fantastic day, and that was only part of it because we left before the evening talks, masterclasses and workshops began.
So… was it inspiring? Most definitely. I felt like we could have got a bit more of the inspirational content if we’d organised our time a bit better – for example, taking time to look through the guide in more detail and checking the @StylistMagazine and @Stylistlive Twitter accounts for tips on what to do throughout the day – but even with no planning we really enjoyed the day. I’ll definitely be going back for Stylist Live 2017 at Kensington Olympia.