Fashion Utopias at Somerset House: where meets style meets fantasy

Utopia (noun): ‘an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect’ (Oxford English Dictionary). But what happens when these utopian ideas are applied to the world of fashion?

Fashion Utopias at Somerset House is the result of this combination; a showcase celebrating emerging designers’ visions of their imagined worlds. Coinciding with London Fashion Week and the Thomas More Utopia exhibition, which celebrates the 500th year anniversary of its publication, this exhibition is where art, fashion and (pure) imagination collide.

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Divided into separate rooms which each represent a country, Fashion Utopias navigates you not only across continents, but through dreamlike worlds and fantasy places. From the Czech Republic, where clothes and accessories are suspended from trees, to Guatemala, in which giant 3D clouds evoke a dream-like aura, each room creates a different and diverse utopian vision. Portugal’s ‘BLOOM’ concept used eco-friendly cork to raise the question of sustainable fashion, in contrast to the Philippines’ dresses which were made out of leather and real bullets. The Egyptian designers, meanwhile, inspired by the Tree of Life and the Lotus flower, made use of hundreds of origami lotus flowers hung from the ceiling, taking paper-crafts up a level (or two).

LEATHER

Leather and bullet dress

Admittedly, some of the pieces on display were the fashion world’s equivalent of a TATE Modern offering – aka – huh? That said, the majority of clothes, accessories, bags and especially the innovative installation and displaying of them, was pretty stunning. Technology and digital design was put to good use, the highlight being a giant moving, video-style magazine which changed display when you turned a page, thanks to high-tech code reading projectors.

The essence of Fashion Utopias was to project an imagined world of fashion, and it most definitely succeeded. The huge variety of colours, shapes, concepts and styles on offer throughout the 14 different rooms provided constant stimulation, and following the exhibition I was even more aware of the fact that fashion is essentially just another form of art. This art, however, just happens to be based on what we wear: are we all, then, living, walking masterpieces?

Is this Bond Street? How to do London 007-Style

Somerset House

I duck behind a red telephone box (alas, only taking cards these days), heart racing and blood pumping in my ears. It’s so loud it almost drowns out the never-ending and unspeakably aggressive sounding Crossrail works around the corner. This is serious stuff.

I subtly look to my right, trying to gauge whether anyone leaving the Pret next door, coffees in hand , looked like my Enemy. They didn’t – unless my enemy had morphed into a skinny-jean-wearing, beard growing Hipster. The coast was clear, and so, being short of a gun, I ensured my selfie stick was in hand ready to strike should I need to defend myself, and ran to the tube station.

This my friend, is unfortunately where the Bond Dream ends. But being in London – aka the city renowned for its prominence in the books and films  of our favourite secret agent, I felt it was apt to pay an homage of sorts to the Capital’s input into the successes of 007. Whilst in no way a comprehensive guide, your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to experience London in the style of Bond, James Bond. (Start at Hyde Park Corner, end in Covent Garden).

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  1. Walk past (but not IN, unless you have a bottomless wallet) Les Ambassadeurs Club, which is where Bond makes his first screen appearance in Dr No.
  2. See the MI6 building at Vauxhall Bridge.
  3. Have a dekko at The Old War Office Building on Whitehall which is the setting for MI6 HQ in Octopussy, License to Kill and A View to a Kill – pretty stunning.
  4. Somerset House, seen in Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies is worth a visit (and catch a free exhibition in one of their galleries whilst your at it)
  5. Sip on a Martini (shaken, not stirred, naturally). London’s Dukes Bar (St. James) is said to do the best one in the city, but if you’re after something a little cheaper, try the Vesper Martini at B@1, where Happy Hour ensures the purse is not drained.
  6. If you feel like parting with a tenner or so (a little more if not a student), The London Film Museum in Covent Garden is running an exhibition entitled ‘Bond in Motion’, the largest display of Bond vehicles ever in London.
  7. You’ll probably be quite tired by now. Have another Martini.

And that is where the Bond Dream really ends people.