When I tell people that I’ve bought my first house in Seven Sisters up in N15, you often get a sort of blank slash “Ewwww…” expression. They either don’t know the area or they don’t find the place “on-point”, to borrow an annoying fashion cliche. If I’m 100% honest, it wasn’t our first choice location in London, but I listened to the pearls of wisdom extolled on programmes like Location Location Location and got on that dreaded property ladder with an open and pragmatic mind. It’s a whole house. It’s mine. I’m happy. End of.
Wearing Bernstock Speirs cap, Miu Miu anorak, Dior coat, J Brand jeans
The Independent newspaper and its fashion editor Alex Fury gave me the opportunity to confront N15 head on in extreme fashion (literally…) by asking me to read test some of this season’s trends in the harsh reality of what is an impoverished and also decidedly un-chi-chi area in London. It’s not a wholly new experience as I’ve never really lived in London postcodes that were were particularly FASH-ON and in fact the contrast suits me most of the time. So what, if the local newsagent raises his eyebrows at the amount of layers/neon/marabou/sequins I have on or if the dry cleaner gets exasperated with the complexity of the fabrics and silhouettes of my clothes.
That said lest we forget, down the road from where I live, were where the riots happened in the summer of 2011, that some people can draw parallels with what is currently going on in Ferguson in the States. I can talk about existing in a bubble all I want but being mindful and respectful of my local community is also paramount. Case in point, it felt awkward to tell a lady down my road that the shoes I was wearing were by Dolce & Gabanna and that she could buy them on Old Bond Street, knowing full well that she didn’t understand the concept of shopping on that street (actually she didn’t know where it was full stop). It’s never going to feel all that right to stand by the bus stop in over £5,000 worth of clobber on my back, with Romanian and Bulgarian men nearby, waiting to get low paid day labour jobs from builders driving by Wickes.
Social awareness aside, there was also the matter of personal comfort to take into consideration. These outfits were extremes in most cases. The most “me” of outfits made me feel at ease such as Christopher Kane’s sporty nylon and neon and my take on “normcore” facilitated by Dior’s lace-up coat and Miu Miu brocade anorak. Dolce & Gabanna took me a little out of my comfort zone as I donned a pristine total look that was very “lady”. Although a jet black stone encrusted medieval snood is definitely one piece of armour I’d like to take on.
Wearing whole outfit by Dolce & Gabanna
The combination of Tom Ford’s sequinned American football jersey dress, his velvet stiletto cowboy boots and Jeremy Scott’s Moschino McD’s drinks bag with McDonald’s Green Lanes in the background however was just terrifying. The honking horns, the wolf whistles and the LOLs at the fact that I looked like I was some crazy fan of McDonald’s as I had a drink in one hand and the bag in the other were all vaguely do-able. What was mortifying though was when a woman walked by me as I was walking back to the car and very loudly said to her friend “What a slut! What is she wearing?!” I was initially perplexed. Long sleeved sequinned dress and boots with just my knees showing. What exactly was slutty about it? Then I thought she had probably sensed my unease. Like I was a nervous prostitute turning tricks at McDonald’s. Then I got indignant. Slut-shaming on any level is never right. In theory, I should be able to walk out in a lacy bra and super short shorts and not invite that kind of language. The reality though is that she knew I was frontin’. I was teetering in the spindly heels and yanking the dress down constantly. Not to justify her comment but I wasn’t “working it” as it were. If I did, perhaps I would have earned a bit more respect. Tom Ford, it ain’t your dress, it’s the girl. And the fact that this garment won’t really ever be seen round this part of town.
Wearing Tom Ford dress and boots, Moschino bag. All photographs by Teri Pengilley.
Read the full feature here on the Independent. N15 has now officially become the litmus test of hardcore fashion trends. Also apologies if this feels like a rehash of a post. I’m on the go in Tokyo with my family, trying desperately to please my hyper critical parents and keep a gaggle of sisters entertained. Normal service to resume soon when… fashion week starts…