What better way to encourage Spring along, than over a randomly sunny afternoon spent surrounded by heavenly blooms, a gaggle of gorgeous gals and a feast to celebrate Aerin Beauty's new fragrance. Fashion Me Now’s Lucy Williams (below) recently invited me to one of my favourite restaurants, Petersham Nurseries, where over the most delicious of lunches, I was introduced to ‘Mediterranean Honeysuckle.’ With hints of jasmine, grapefruit, Italian bergamot, lily of the valley and mandarin oil, to name just a few, the scent evokes sun-drenched afternoons whiled away on the beach, and alongside the spoiling Prosecco jelly, we all felt quite transported... even if only for an indulgent couple of hours! Thank you Lucy!
London in 2014 looks set to be brim-full of excellent restaurant openings, exhibitions, theatre, and of course, fashion, making this a VERY Happy New Year indeed!
A big year lies ahead for restaurateurs Russell Norman and Richard Beatty as firstly, they re-open Polpetto after their 2-year residency above the legendary French House ended. We can now once more enjoy the romantic, characterful restaurant from January when Chef Florence Knight and her team move to their new home at 11 Berwick Street. The restaurant will seat a hungry 70 (opposed to only 23 like before!) and it will feature an aperitivo bar and open kitchen serving Venetian tapas. The group will also be opening a second Polpo restaurant in Notting Hill early in the year, with the 100-cover restaurant set to be the largest of their portfolio. All Norman and Beaty’s restaurants operate a strict no-booking policy but they are certainly worth the wait!
After her shock departure from Michelin starred Petersham Nursaries Café last year, chef Skye Gyngell is set to open her own London restaurant early in 2014, in partnership withHeckfield Place in Hampshire. Excitingly for South Londoners, Gordon Ramsey’s London House opens in a former coal warehouse in Battersea Square this February.
With Head Chef Anna Kelly promising a modern European menu using local British and artisan ingredients, there will be separate bar serving bespoke cocktails, London brewed beers and a lengthy wine list. No Kitchen Nightmares expected here!
If this all sounds a little too fancy pants, and you’re looking for more of a quick fix, the first UK branch of the American shrimp chain Bubba Gump opens in Piccadilly Circus this year. The restaurant is based on the characters in the epic film Forrest Gump and you can expect (in the words of Bubba…) “pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. with garlic… shrimps with mayonnaise… shrimps with…”
There are two particular exhibitions I am looking forward to in 2014 and they couldn’t be more different. The history geek in me is so excited to visit the British Museum in March to explore the ‘Vikings: Life and Legend’ exhibition (BOOK HERE), the first of its kind in London for more than 30 years. Expect artifacts dating between the late 8th Century - early 11th Century, including a life-size replica of a Viking Ship, using some original timbers. Alternatively, the V&A will be hosting ‘The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014’ (BOOK HERE) sponsored by Bulgari. A beautifully detailed insight into the history of Italian fashion will have every London fashionista rushing to buy tickets, desperate to see the stupendo contributions from Georgio Armani, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Missoni, Prada, Valentino and Versace…. Swoon!
There will be a series of exciting theatrical offerings in London this year, with Fame and Miss Saigon both returning to the West End. Simon Callow and Felicity Kendal (LOVE them!) will star in Michael Morpurgo’s ‘The Butterfly Lion’ and the wonderful Stephen Fry is to play Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ (one of my all time favourite plays!) I hear (stage) whispers that 2014 will also see Will Young starring in 'Cabaret' with musical adaptations of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, ‘Bridget Jones’, and ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ soon to be announced... My jazz hands can barely contain their excitement (*sits on hands).
The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will also open in early January at the Shakespeares Globe after much anticipation. The totally unique, Jacobean theatre will provide both indoor and outdoor playing space and as such will host a wide variety of events throughout the year. With a handmade oak structure, pit seating and performances lit by hundreds of candles, this venue is going to be magical.
Get ready to feel utterly spoilt with some WOW new store openings in the capital in 2014.
Karl Lagerfeld is to open a flagship store on Regent Street this March for his self-titled Karl Lagerfeld label. The shop will be his largest European to date (2700 sq ft!!) filled with (probably all monochrome) ready-to-wear collections and accessories. iPads will be integrated into the display racks so you can watch digital footage showcasing the collections, and the fitting rooms will come equipped with photo booths… Just YES.
Mayfair’s Mount Street will also be welcoming two new shops this January; Scottish designer Christopher Kane, adored by Alexa Chung and her merry band of cool cats, will be opening a flagship store as will dreamy dress creator Roksanda Ilincic.
I was met by a 12ft stilt walking girly ghoul, carved pumpkins, flame throwing and tarot card reading followed by fantastic performances from Les Enfant Terribles. The fantastic troop of actors frighteningly interacted with their anxious audiences in the dimly, chandelier lit rooms around Petersham House (opened for us to explore at our own peril.) I screached when a meat hacking, psychotic crazy, in blood soaked bandages, jumped out at me from a cellar wielding an axe...
Luckily, a deliciously decadent feast by Petersham Nurseries Michelin Star Chef Skye Gyngell soon calmed me down (wouldn’t everyone find rice pudding covered in drops of blood-red, raspberry compote relaxing?!)
Dancing with my fellow revellers to music by Tankus The Heng followed and I found myself at one point, toffee apple in hand, bopping along with an extremely dapper baboon in a velvet jacket, vintage fur stole and top hat… Hell-a fun night!