Vogue Festival @ Queen Elizabeth Hall

Last weekend much of the South Bank Centre was taken over by Vogue. The space was prepped for talks by designers, hair and make-up stylists and a Harrods catwalk. I was there on the Sunday to attend a talk and take a look around.

Among the speakers at this years festival were Naomi Campbell, Alexa Chung, Greyson Perry, Phoebe Philo, Valentino Garavani, Lily Allen and Pixie Geldof, to name but a few. At £40 a ticket for a talk and q&a session that lasted an hour, they were not cheap but for serious fashionistas no price is too high. I went along to a talk about what it’s really like to be a top fashion model. On the panel were Edie Campbell, Jourdan Dunn, Karlie Kloss and Rosie Hungtington-Whiteley. The discussion was more like an informal chat between friends at a sleepover with Karlie giving the audience a demonstration of how to walk the runway like a pro and Edie giving us her famous pose which has just been featured in Vogue Us’s Lena Dunham video.

Ticket holders to the talks were allowed admission to the foyer 30 minutes before and 60 minutes after. This however, was not really enough time to do everything on offer, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one to hang around for the longer allotted time. Here there was a vogue cinema, Burberry make up artists, manicurists and Hershesons hair stylists. However, the queues for each of these services were huge, but the end results were usually worthwhile. I waited in line for over an hour to get my nails done by OPI manicurists, which from the Vogue website, had promised to be embellished with the letters of Vogue, one for each finger. Unfortunately, when I got to the front of the line, the nail artist let me know that the Vogue letters were only available for a limited time on the previous day and that the organisers had taken the stickers off them. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased with my pastel green manicure, however I was a little disappointed that I left without the nails I was expecting. I then joined the queue for the Hershesons, where a team of hair stylists gave visitors the choice of five ultra chic new hair-dos, I went for the ‘ethereal up-do’, which was modelled by Ondria Hardin in the selection pictures. This was much faster than the nail queue and the results were beautiful. I didn’t bother getting my make up done as I was tired, however I did get a super-juice from a choice of two recipes created specially for the event by Calgary Avansino. I did want to get something to eat too, however, all of the salads and sandwiches being served at the Vogue Cafe contained some form of animal protein, so being vegan, I went hungry.

For those wanting a little retail therapy, and let’s be honest, what fashionista doesn’t?! A mini Vogue shop was on offer featuring one-of-a-kind t-shirts, water bottles, coffee cups and notepads, all with the signature VOGUE emblazoned across them. Almost as a friendly way for guests of the festivals to let their friends know that they are well-informed when it comes to fashion.

Down stairs was hosted by Harrods. Here visitors had the opportunity to pose for a mock vogue cover if they fancied sparing an extra £10 or could walk done the catwalk showing off their beauty treatments from upstairs. On this level there were also cupcakes with decorations inspired by famous designers and beauty consultants to give advice on what you should and should not have in your make up bag.

While there was a lot of beauty opportunities, I feel like there wasn’t really any fashion, which was a little disappointing for a Vogue event. Having gone to many art and fashion shows previously I was expecting a little more. There was definitely potential for this to be spectacular, but something was a lacking. That said, who doesn’t like having their hair and nails done and being followed around by fashion bloggers taking your photograph every two minutes? The Vogue Festival is definitely something to attend at least once, but whether I’ll return next year, I’m not sure.

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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