Listen to a Londoner: Ellen Burney

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Ellen Burney

Ellen Burney is a London-based fashion journalist who has written for titles including Vogue, The Guardian and The Sunday Times. She is currently on a ‘six-month city sabbatical’ and living in Rye, East Sussex with her partner and their one-year old daughter Doris.

LLO: As a former ELLE columnist, W correspondent and current contributing editor to Lula, you must know quite a few of London’s best-kept fashion secrets. Where are your favourite places to spend a day shopping away from the high streets?
EB: The staple second-hand designer shops such as Bang Bang on Goodge Street and Retro Woman in Notting Hill. For the best old rags try Beyond Retro on Cheshire Street off Brick Lane and the surrounding stalls in Spitalfields Market. For contemporary labels such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, See by Chloe and Sonia Rykiel I like Diverse on Upper Street, and for hair bows try the crate of bow-ties, visit Episode on Chalk Farm Road! For antique lockets and charm deals, charm the woman with the very long and curling yellow finger nails and tall, fancy barnet in Grays Antique Market in Mayfair.

LLO: You’ve got a love for the printed word. What are you reading now?
EB: Well, I have finally finished A Week In December by Sebastian Faulks, which I loved. In general I read slowly but surely yet with this it was a race against time to finish it before its television debut in December. I made that mistake with Money by Martin Amis, buying it long before I read it and then couldn’t touch it after the pretty dismal television screening earlier this year.

LLO: After a bad day, you’re feeling like a little retail therapy in the form of lingerie and shoes. Where are you going?
EB:
Myla. They have a classic five-pack of tulle knickers with bows for £35 but a lot of my earnings have gone on their frilly tap pants and pearl bras. The frou-frou sleepwear is forever on my wish list. For shoes, Russell & Bromley for their classic loafers which I have in burgandy to match my tipple. I like my shoes clompy rather than sexy and so Miu Miu for platform heels. French Sole for black quilted ballet pumps, a classic cliche I refuse to snap or step out of.

LLO: Where’s your favourite place in London to people watch for some street fashion inspiration?
EB: Anywhere with really mad old, well-dressed women. The type that use their walking sticks to push old bits of bin bag into the gutter while proclaiming it ‘a dirty sock.’

LLO: Top three London bloggers we should all read with our morning coffee?
EB: The Enchanted Hunters, Caroline, No, and Canned Fashion.

LLO: Tell us about an inspirational fashion moment that happened to you or someone you know in London.
EB: Well, I will always remember that the late Isabella Blow took time out to call me with advice on getting work-experience on magazines. It was 9/11 and she was in New York and so it was very, very kind of her.

LLO: You’ve written quite a lot about fashion during the credit crunch for Elle. Where’s the best place in London for some creative but cheap fashion buys when you’re skint?
EB: These aren’t necessarily creative but some good value investment buys are a good starting point. Very soft black leggings, £12 from Topshop. I find tights are an easy way to give some sort of style hint. Navy or grey rather than the predictable black. Wool makes for a nice texture as do ribbed. Falke or Wolford and there’s no point in spending little as they rip, no matter how soft you think the Boots bamboo pairs appear. But maybe that’s just the way I sit. I’ve always relied on a hair accessory or style to perk up my mood. A hair bow or cheap pink scrunchie from the chemist. Chelsea boots are a staple for me. At the moment I have a brown pair from the local ‘Country Store’ but last year’s were £22 from Portobello Market. I live and breathe Breton tops and the best fit and quality I have found are £35 from Labour & Wait on Cheshire Street. I have both red and blue. The sailor souvenir type shop in Greenwich has some great ‘sailor basics’ including heavy fishermen’s sweaters. My hairdresser Zoe Irwin keeps a bowl of accessories from her travels on dressing table and wears each day to spice up outfits, such as a Sonia Rykiel brooch worn as a hair grip.

LLO: Favourite up-and-coming London-based fashion label or designer that deserves our attention?
EB: TBA and Charles Anastase for princess-wear and the magnificant Maggie Cassidys for made-to-measure spectaculars.

LLO: I’m heading to London for one night only and want something to eat and drink away from the tourist trail. Any recommendations?
EB: The Grapes pub on Narrow Street in Limehouse for a candlelit dinner in a tiny, seafood restaurant  above the River Thames. Charles Dickens was a regular and the pub features in Our Mutual Friend. Today, Old Gandolf the Grey is the Guinness-drinking regular. If you’re still around the next day, there’s lobster bisque and rare beef sandwiches. Other traditional pubs I like include The George on Commercial Road for a piano-filled knees-up and The Golden Heart in Spitalfields. In Islington, the organic gastro-pub The Duke of Cambridge for vodka and plum juice never dissapoints. I’ve been going there for over a decade, as well as Frederick’s in Camden Passage, Islington, for fine-dining. A memory of an old gentleman and gentlewoman sitting side by side to survey the folk is a long-time fond memory.

Thanks Ellen!

Ellen’s fabulous blog Vagabondiana is highly recommended!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.


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Listen to a Londoner: Alexandra Richards

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’d like to be interviewed, email me at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk.

Alexandra Richards, 23

Alexandra works as a Buyers Admin Assistant for Topshop. She also writes a blog, Alex Does Fashion. She is 23 and lives in South London.

LLO: Tell us a bit about your blog, Alex Does Fashion.
AR:
 I love fashion, have always worked in fashion and have always wanted to write a blog. And then when my previous job took me to a remote area of Coventry for 6 months, I had not much else to do in the evenings! That’s when I started writing it; it helped me escape and now it’s my baby. Alex Does Fashion is about fashion, art and life from my perspective – because it’s my blog! Plus, I get a bit fed up of all the millions of narcissistic fashion blogs consisting only of thousands pictures of the blogger in outfits, or countless street style photos. Alex Does Fashion is all about what inspires and interests me, and hopefully inspires and interests others.

LLO: As a born and bred Londoner, talk us through some of the best and worst fashion trends that have hit the city in your lifetime.
AR:
Oh goodness. So many. The one that first sprang to mine was definitely when flat winkle pickers came back as the “pointy shoe” in 2003. When I was 15 I had a white pair with a horrendous silver clasp – not a good look. I also once wore them with black tights…enough said.

LLO: Where is your place to show up in the capital on a Saturday night after buying the perfect new outfit?
AR:
I’d say at the moment I’m definitely more of a bar girl than a club girl, and as a South Londoner, of course I absolutely love going out in Clapham. Tapas and sangria outside on the deck at Carmen Bar de Tapas, happy hour cocktails at Rinky Dinks, more cocktails at the gorgeous art deco Loft bar and dancing in Aqqum. And then of course a good ol’ night time cheeseburger and chips in McDonalds at 4am!

LLO: Where can we find London’s best vintage or retro offerings?
AR:
There’s no doubt about it – Brick Lane is still number 1 for vintage in my opinion. There are countless stores to choose from, but my favourite are Hunky Dory vintage which has fantastically elaborate pieces – and the guys who work there are so friendly and lovely, and I love the Boy London store, housing what’s left of the amazing 80s line, with the fantastically eccentric owner as well as the crazy £1-5 bed sale in the basement (literally a 3ft mound of clothes on a bed). And of course, you can’t forget the humungous Beyond Retro.

Away from East London, one of my favourites is Retromania in Pimlico. It’s almost a costume store and they carry fantastic designer collections. For my birthday, my friends bought me an amazing huge black and white furry angora cardigan from there; and they have a fantastic rail outside which changes every week, where I picked up a great hounds tooth men’s jacket for £1! Perfect for guilt free shopping.

LLO: Which London-based living fashion icon do you most admire and why?
AR:  
I don’t really have a fashion icon – I can admire and be inspired by everything and anyone, especially normal people with normal lives.

LLO: After living in NYC for a bit, how does fashion in London compare to the styles in the Big Apple?
AR:
Like London style, fashion in New York you couldn’t even begin to encapsulate in one sentence. There are so many neighbourhoods, and so many different types of people. Although one thing I did notice that there are a lot more vintage stores and small boutiques scattered about, and many New Yorkers do look to London as the most directional fashion city. One thing about New Yorkers though, is that everyone looks a lot more put together. Everything in New York inspires me – from the people, the bars, the buildings and the New Yorkers’ incessant style. I  truly and absolutely heart New York.

LLO: Favourite London-based designers?
AR: 
I love Mark Fast, Issa, Marios Schwab, David Koma, Holly Fulton – and of course, Vivienne Westwood.

Thanks Alexandra!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

Listen to a Londoner: Charikleia Karagiorgou

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview post with people who live (or have lived for a while) in London. If you fit the bill and want to be interviewed, give me a shout at littlelondonobservationist@hotmail.co.uk. Always looking for new volunteers. 

Charikleia Karagiorgou, 25

Lia thinks that living in London can be either a blessing or a nightmare. For her, it’s been a great experience so far, giving her the chance to meet people of various backgrounds and therefore expand her horizons.

LLO: How long have you lived in London?
CK:
I have been living in London since September 2008.

LLO: Where are you from originally if not London?
CK:
I am from Karditsa (it means ‘heart’) and it is located in Central Greece.

LLO: Best thing about London?
CK:
The fashion and the gigs.

LLO: Worst thing about London?
CK:
The tube when it’s packed because I run out of oxygen and space!

LLO: North, south, east or west?
CK:
North cause I live there.

LLO: Best restaurant?
CK:
Rules!

LLO: Best shop?
CK:
Beyond Retro, close to Carnaby Street.

LLO: Best place to escape the city?
CK:
It is IN the city-St. James’ Park

LLO: 2012 Olympics – stay or go?
CK:
Would like to stay and be a volunteer, or better  – a reporter.

LLO: How do you spend your time on the tube?
CK:
Noticing peoples’ outfits! 

LLO: Best place to catch a gig?
CK:
The Brixton Academy

LLO: Best local band?
CK:
 The Stayaways! ;D

LLO: Favourite book, song or film about London?
CK:
London Calling – The Clash

LLO: Best place to spend a Sunday afternoon?
CK:
 Having a cup of coffee at the Somerset House.

LLO: Best museum or gallery?
CK:
 The Tate

LLO: Favourite market?
CK:
 Portobello

LLO: Best London magazine, newspaper or website?
CK:
 Stylist, Shortlist and The Guardian

LLO: If you were to dress up as one of the tube station names for a costume party, which would you be?
CK:
 Liverpool Street – My favourite English team.

LLO: Best time of year in London?
CK:
Whenever it’s sunny!

LLO: First place to take a visitor?
CK:
A long walk along the river.

LLO: Favourite place to be on a Saturday night?
CK:
Camden

LLO: Best and worst things about tourists?
CK:
Good for the economy, bad for the tube (too much noise, too crowded!)

LLO: Boris is…
CK:
…still the Mayor

LLO: What would you change about the city if you had the power to do so?
CK:
 I would bring some sun from Greece!

Thanks Lia!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.

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