Sweethearts, welcome back! It’s my first post writing as Marie Penrose since my name change/news announcement and although it is a little later than I intended, I’m so excited to (finally) share with you my event review and photo gallery for Stylist Live 2016.
I was invited to attend Stylist Live 2015 by my photographer and good friend, Chantelle Simpson, which you’ll know if you read my full write-up off the experience here (doesn’t feel like a whole year ago, does it?). We had a great time but were disappointed with the food and some other aspects, so I was surprised when the PR team reached out and offered me 2 VIP tickets for the 2016 event. Of course, I graciously accepted and contacted Chantelle right away, to share my excitement and ask her to join me.
My point of contact suggested Friday 14th October (it was held over 4 full days – 13th-16th), so basically, Chantelle and I dropped everything to make it happen. We’re both always so busy and our schedules hardly ever coincide, so when an opportunity like this comes up we’ll use it as the ultimate excuse to get together. Free VIP tickets, a day off work and a good few hours with my one of my favourite people in the world… it would be rude not to!
So yeah, we used the online schedule booking system (NEW: very cool, much-needed feature that ironed out all of the previous problems from last year) to secure a spot in the talks we were most interested in and arranged to meet at London Bridge at around 10am on the Friday morning.
Unrelated: but how different is London Bridge station since its been renovated!? We couldn’t find each other for a good 15mins LOL.
Anyway, once on the tube we were at the Business Design Centre within minutes. I took a few final tokes on my vape (review on that also to come soon – so much to tell you guys!) and followed Chantelle in to get our hands stamped. Chantelle had a suitcase with her, as she was travelling straight to the airport afterwards, so we offloaded our stuff at the cloakroom and were pleased to find there were no queues or charges!
We held up our stamped hands to the doormen and thanked them as they opened the double-doors and let us pass. Straight away were were greeted by two women – one handing out branded canvas bags and another dishing out vouchers for champagne.
I personally need to take a minute to take in my surroundings as I find it overwhelming and a bit disorientating when SO much is going on at once. We decided to go up a level to get an ariel view of things and see what’s what. It looked awesome – just like last year but with new boutiques, businesses, and brands.
I thought I’d totally taken in my surroundings at the time this selfie was taken, but looking at the pictures now I’m shocked by how prominent Hillary Clinton’s face is and even more shocked that I didn’t notice it at the time. I’m not about to get all political – because this isn’t that type of post – but I couldn’t help but point it out and let you know I’m NOT a fan.
Moving swiftly on… Tanya Burr was due to give a talk named something like: Living My Live Online. Chantelle had booked, I hadn’t – but that was okay because walk up spaces were available for every session and the organisation had massively improved in comparison to the events launch in 2015. There were also non-intrusive announcements, letting you know before a talk or workshop was about to begin or simply reminding you when to head over to a specific area.
Chantelle got us seats on the second row (the guests who booked online get seated first) and I joined her shortly before Tanya was introduced. I had my Snapchat ready and Chantelle had her Canon all set-up.
The first thing I noticed (besides the fact that Lisa is HEAVILY pregnant and looked truly amazing in her LBD) is how well the stage was lit this time. It was brighter and the sound was much clearer.
Tanya spoke about the invention of her channel and how it came about. She, of course, mentioned her beloved hubby Jim, good friend Zoe and sisters-in-law Nic and Sam. I’ve watched Tanya a lot in recent years but I haven’t followed her from the very beginning, so it was interesting to get an insight to her background and the dynamics of the relationships in her personal and professional life (notably how they can occasionally overlap).
I thought she came across really natural and authentic. It didn’t feel like she had been briefed or had a script prepared – she was simply honest about things – like not really watching other beauty-related YouTube channels or using special hashtags to grow her Instagram following. I would have liked her to go a bit deeper but I appreciate the way she likes to keep certain things private from the public. I particularly love the way she refused to sell her wedding pictures to any magazines.
Her dress and shoes were both items I’d like to own, though I think her hair up in a bun would’ve looked so cool with this outfit. I guess that’s just my personal preference, because I love to elongate the neck with maxi and midi dresses – especially on short people (like me).
Next we decided to charge our phones, ready for the rest of the day (and Chantelle’s flight). There was a chill-out colouring area complete with chairs and chargers. We took a seat and were soon joined by one of the Stylist Live Team – a photo researcher from the head office. Together the three of us coloured and conversed – chatting about fashion, journalism, photography and the creative industry as a whole.
It was super cool to mingle with the masterminds behind Stylist Magazine and I really felt like the festival was involving its readers, rather than simply selling and dictating to them. That’s what I love about the magazine and I think they’ve done a great job of carrying over their message to the event.
The people attending were equally as interesting; I could’ve spent hours people-watching. Almost everyone was trendy, but casual and relaxed. And if they weren’t casual, they were at least comfortable with what they were wearing.
Chantelle and I were wandering around, deciding what to do next and complementing/commenting on the outfits of passers-by when I spotted Estée Lalonde being interviewed. I’m not going to lie, it was kinda a fan girl moment. I scrambled for my phone with one hand and pinched Chantelle with the other, trying to play it down but not doing a very good job. If you didn’t know or haven’t guessed already, Estée is one of my FAVOURITE YouTubers of ALL TIME.
I watched and waited while she was filming and as soon as she stopped, a mini entourage of people were quick to lead her onto her next job. I butted in as they lead her past.
“Estée!” I shouted.
Straight away she turned around and headed towards me.
“Hey” She said, in her warm Canadian voice.
“I’m a massive fan. Do you have time for a picture?” I said, in a hurry, not wanting to interrupt her schedule or annoy the small team of people waiting.
“Sure! Of course, let’s do it.” She replied calmly, as if no one was waiting at all.
My phone went up, we both smiled and I clicked the capture button twice.
“Very autumnal today.” She commented, flicking my collar in a playful way
I knew straight away it wasn’t a great picture of me but can you blame me for grinning like a chesire cat? I was simply in awe, not only of her, but the circumstances in which we were able to do this. Somehow we had found ourselves in a really private area, with internet sensations willing to take the time to selfie with us… WTF!?
“Thank you so much!” I said in my most appreciative voice.
“Is that okay?” She replied, putting her hand on my shoulder.
I nodded, not wanting to take up any more of her time or seem vain (why am I such a considerate/people-pleasing idiot?) and said…
“That’s great. Thank you so much.” (Really inventive Marie. Really.)
“Are you coming to one of my talks?” She asked.
I looked to Chantelle for confirmation and quickly replied “Yes, definitely. We’ll be there!”
“Awesome! See you guys there!” She said as she backed away to return to what looked like her management for the day.
“See you there!” Chantelle and I smiled and said, at exactly the same time.
“OMG. Did that really just happen? Awe she was so nice. Wasn’t she? The pictures were bad of me but I didn’t want to take any more. Ah, well, I wasn’t expecting that!” I could no longer contain my excitement and so bombarded Chantelle with my thoughts.
As any good friend would, she listened and laughed (even though she probably didn’t care). By this point her attention had turned to the displays and stalls. We continued on our walk and soon stumbled upon the Not On The Highstreet stand. It was beautifully decorative and seeing it all laid out that way is certain a nice way to shop. We spent some time browsing some of the individual objects and taking pictures before moving on to watch Estée in conversation.
We avoided the food area altogether, because last year it had been pretty expensive and poor quality – so much so that we took it back and went elsewhere. I knew they had probably improved this just like they had with the other minor fallbacks from the year before, but the Thai place we found in 2015 was SO good I was insistent on going back no matter what else was on offer. I had literally dreamed about the place – no joke. And no matter how many takeaways I order, nothing compares.
It was still fairly early so we gave ourselves another half hour to explore before lunch. I found some amazing mirrors that I can’t wait to check out online and order and we entered a few competitions. Neither us of are huge fans but we listened to Mel C chat with a Stylist Live host on the Chambord stage for a while.
She looks great for her age and I liked a lot of the stuff she was saying, about growing her confidence over the years and not particularly caring what critics think this time around. From what I saw, she’s promoting her individuality, away from the Spice Girls and some of the protective personas and insecurities that came with that, and that’s something I can massively respect.
Then they put her on the spot and asked her to sing, which wasn’t awful but wasn’t amazing. I’ve heard her new music since and like it, so don’t think putting her on the spot with no backing music really did her any favours. Anyhow, she’s all over the place at the moment and I really hope it works out for her. She’s a proof-point for many young women and girls with similar aspirations all around the world, and her message is more authentic than it has ever been.
Our agreed lunchtime quickly came around (HURRRAY!!) so we headed on out to Thai Square just across the road. It was surprisingly quiet, just like last time, so we got to have a catch-up without any interruptions… other than food and that’s not one I was complaining about.
We ordered a bowl of noodles each and shared some chicken satays. And I can confirm, the dishes are truly dream-worthy. I thought my mind may had been playing tricks on me and that the food wouldn’t be as delicious I remembered, but it was… I highly recommend.
A few days prior to the event I received an email from my point of contact, inviting all bloggers and their guests for a cocktail in the VIP area at 3:15, so we left lunch sooner than we probably otherwise would have. It was worth it though, as we were given our special passes, handed a cocktail, shown around the secret garden area.
Next all of the bloggers and our guests were seated in a private viewing gallery to watch the catwalk. We had about 10 minutes to swap details and get to know each other a little bit before the show started. And when it did, all of our eyes were either glued to the stage or the viewfinders of our cameras/phones.
The show was incredible but you’ll know that if you saw my Instagram Story or Snapchat. Chantelle took the shots above and I think she did an amazing job of capturing some of the best looks from the show. I liked the majority of the looks but the sportswear was what appealed to me most. They made it look glam and effortless at the same time… and most of the items were affordable and from highstreet brands.
After the show we all spread to out to explore the secret garden. So much was on offer and pretty much everything was free. I wish I’d had known earlier, as I’d have saved room for popcorn and macaroons. I did pick up a champagne and bottled sparkling peach water to take home. We chilled for a while, checking out all of the cute bits and bobs and then headed to the goodie bag tent to receive our takeaway treats. We were blown away by the amount of products and left with ear-to-ear smiles, ready for the weekend 🙂
Were you at Stylist Live this year? Which day did you go and what did you think? Share your thoughts using the comments section below!
Lots of love,