LETTER FROM…London

Grace Carroll, a regular contributor to The Style Notebook, is a Toronto fashion writer who moved to London to “conquer the fashion world” and live with her rock star BF.

My flat has become the crash pad of choice for friends and family making pit stops in London-town this summer. Just days after my brother finally packed up and headed to Florence, my dear friend Brian Cleaver shows up on my doorstep.

A Toronto native who is now a full-time New Yorker, Brian is an exciting young photographer who glamorously crossed the pond for the weekend to celebrate his friend’s Marie Antoinette-themed B-day bash in Kent. As the spectacular soiree is not until Saturday night, I’ve got exactly one day to play host and show him a good time in the big smoke.

Brian meets me after work in Shoreditch and I drag him along to my meeting at Blackall Studios, a great gallery space just a couple of blocks away. Angel McKenzie, a former reality TV Big Brother star, is inside taking down her artworks that had been on display over the past week.

I was familiar with her show, thanks to the personal tour she gave me during the opening the weekend before. “It’s all about nudes, nudity and for me it’s what the future will look like—we’re all going to walk naked because of heat (…) and global warming” she tells me. With her use of bright colours and use of neon fur trim to frame her canvases, I find her work quite humorous although it’s hard to tell if that’s the intended reaction.

The artist above, and one of her canvases below.

Post-meeting, we stroll over to Cafe 1001 on Brick Lane, a great open concept café and bar with a massive BBQ and park benches out front. We grab drinks, and soon find ourselves sharing a picnic table with a few rowdy but friendly Americans who are thoroughly impressed by Brian’s old-school Polaroid camera.

Later on we Black Cab-it up to one of my favourite bars in east London, the Dalston Superstore. If you remember what The Social on Queen St. West in Toronto was like a few years ago, or enjoy Pianos in New York’s Lower East Side, you can get an idea of what this place is like. A two-story bar with DJs spinning actual records, the Superstore is always buzzing.

A few double gin and tonics later, I decide we should check out the LOVEBOX festival after-party over in Hackney. Taking place in a warehouse in what seems like the middle of nowhere, we track down the entrance by following the booming bass and party-goers. The inside is pitch black apart from the illuminated bars and neon light show.

The crowd is going crazy for the deep house the DJs are spinning and the air is thick and moist from body heat. The party reminds me of the great after-hour parties that used to take place in the warehouses along Carlaw Avenue in Toronto’s sleepy east side. Brian tugs at my arm and whispers into my ear that this is exactly the party he dreamed of coming to in London. Success!

Below, a couple more pics, including this one of friend and photographer, Brian Cleaver.

Read more from our stylish adventurers in our Letter From section!

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