The London Lowdown

For hot happenings during London Fashion Week, here's your London lowdown.


Leigh Bowery cohort Matthew Glamorre returned to the London club scene at the start of February with his Saturday evening night art happening C-R-U-X (Zero One Gallery, Hopkins Street, W1) – part gig, part speakeasy, part TV studio, part improvised performance art; it’s like J.G Ballard meets the Wizard of Oz and takes place on the 16th and 23rd of February and March. Go – it’s inventive, fabulous fun. As was the first appearance of Dalston club kids Vogue Fabrics at the ICA (The Mall, London SW1; enq 020-7930 3647). They hosted a Thursday night performance and party extravaganza at the end of January with “alternative drag”, grinding guitars, “bat pigs”, Holly Johnson, Mark Moore and Jeffrey Hinton. The wall-sized Juergen Teller photograph of a naked Vivienne Westwood with her legs spread, on show in the main ICA gallery, was quite the talking point (Teller’s exhibition continues until 17th). On the same night as Vogue Fabrics, over at the shiny new Burberry flagship on Regent Street, Jake “I’m not manufactured, for reals guv” Bugg played a live gig to an invite-only crowd including Amber Le Bon, Jack Whitehall and Cara Delevingne. The theatre-shaped Burberry store – originally a grand cinema back in the day – is a surprisingly fantastic live music venue.


And so, to supper… Balthazar (4-6 Russell Street, London WC2; enq via has, of course, been the talk of the town ever since celebrity British New Yorker restaurateur Keith McNally announced he was planning to bring his SoHo remix of a classic Paris brasserie to London. It has finally opened for London Fashion Week, and we’ll be first in line for oysters and a flute of fizz at the bar. The New York branch is still hot as hell, after all these years –Victoria Beckham lunched there en famille right after her Manhattan show last week, causing a mob scene outside.


We devoured the Persian-fluffy Grace Coddington memoir over Christmas, particularly the chapters about her marriage and high times with aesthete and restaurateur Mr Chow, back in the 1960s. His eponymous Chinese-with-Italian-attitude mothership restaurant (151 Knightsbridge, London SW1; enq 020-7589 7347) – and location of Grace’s wedding reception in 1969 – had a huge 45th anniversary relaunch this month. Sir Terence Conran, Suzy Menkes and Julien MacDonald were among the guests at the reopening.

A brand new high-fashion foodie hangout this winter is new wave American steakhouse STK (336-337 The Strand, London WC2; enq 002-7395 3450), at the Foster & Partners designed ME by Meliá Hotel, right across the street from the London Fashion Week tents at Somerset House. Pam Hogg, Sadie Frost and Melissa Odabash are among the ladies who’ve lunched so far. With Hawksmoor and Mash already battling it out to be king of the steak restaurants, and Neil Rankin of Pitt Cue taking over from Ben Spalding in the kitchen at the John Salt in N1, one wonders how much more red meat London can take.

The capital’s bar scene seems to have gone into novelty nonsense overdrive at the moment, with one cocktail joint asking you to bring your own booze (we kid you not), and another offering “experimental crepes and cocktails”. Ho hum. When we heard of the launch of Attendant this month – the “espresso bar in an abandoned toilet” - (27a Foley Street, London W1, enq – our eyes rolled, but actually it’s a great idea: the original Victorian ceramics and fittings are architectural gems, and the team are very serious indeed about the beans they’re roasting. With the art world colonising the area (including Fred Mann, who moved his Fred gallery from Shoreditch to 17 Riding House Street last year, and recently showed a retrospective of the work of hatmakers Bernstock and Speirs), and the Riding House Café around the corner, Fitzrovia is one of London’s buzziest areas right now. Catch the Fitzoriva Lates ( event on the last Thursday of every month, when the galleries stay open and get social all evening.

Shoreditch House closed its rooftop at the end of January and is giving it a makeover, expanding the “secret garden” and poolside area in time for spring, while over in W11, the Electric House reopened after the fire that gutted it last year. It’s great to have the club upstairs back, and we love breakfast downstairs at the non-members Electric Diner (191 Portobello Road, London W11; enq 020-7908 9696). Those huge red leather booths just cry out for eggs benedict and rounds of Bloody Marys. Jonathan Downey’s East Room suffered a more fatal blaze than the Electric’s, when a tealight caused £40mn worth of damage back in 2010. It was a write- off. Downey is opening a new venue, Rotary (70 City Road, EC1Y 2BJ), in what was an old live music venue, later this month. More details on the 500 capacity space – which will be furnished in the same 1950s-1970s vintage/thrift/retro-modern style as the East Room – as soon as we've checked it out. There’ll be a member’s lounge, wine room and a public ground floor bar and diner. We can’t wait.

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