After a week in the new job, and an evening of eating the ultimate yellow dinner (mac and cheese, mashed potato and cauliflower cheese – mmm, Sunday), it’s time to talk shoes, and a seriously awesome photography exhibition.
Specifically, the new Upper Street shop, which I had a look at on Wednesday ahead of its official opening later this month. It’s incredibly fit. It’s also nice and central: behind Oxford Street at 85 Mortimer Street. If you’ve not heard of Upper Street, they offer a design your own shoe service in sizes 33 to 44 with four widths. Whatever shoes you want but can’t find, you can probably make here.
So the shop. Having gone through weeks of traumatic choice when I was getting Twee Flat decorated – I finally settled on a colour only to have H point out years later that it was exactly the same red as my parents’ dining room – I am easily impressed by decorating. The Upper Street shop is pure decor porn: lovely deep blue-violet on the landing walls; stairs lined by shoes in soft swatches of pink; beautiful wallpaper, lovely lights and seating. You know how you feel when you look in a mag and your heart twists slightly because your flat isn’t that? That.
Oh God, the shoes. Should probably also mention the shoes. Later this month the Upper Street website is relaunching – “Think Net a Porter basically, but with shoe design,” was the description – and along with the new layout comes a bunch of new styles.
The cone heels (also seen top) are new for AW14, as are a series of gorgeous, shimmery Art Deco fabrics. All that glitters is hot. You can also get V-shaped tips for your shoes, and a wider range of patent colours.
The branding on the shoes has been beefed up: underneath, you’ll find a gold metal badge, and prettier, glamorous labelling inside. This is a sample pair of wedding shoes, lovely blue lining and a sweet message too.
After I’d had a look in the shop, I went to the launch of 100 Leading Ladies. If you’re at a loose end – and even if you’re not – head to Somerset House to see inspiring, wonderfully photographed exhibition before it closes on 26 October. The portrait photographer Nancy Honey has chosen 100 influential senior women in Britain, and as a way to inspire the hell out of you it succeeds on all levels.
It rang a few bells before I went, all of which chimed when I saw my ex-Times colleage Hattie Garlick: this was the project she had started working on three years ago, and now it’s finally here! Hattie interviewed each subject for the accompanying book: from Averil Mansfield, the first female professor of surgery in Britain, to Helen Storey, the beautifully glamorous artist who looks exactly how I imagine my writing buddy Elizabeth to look in a few decades.
As a bonus to what was already a stunning evening (it’s a bit grim when you realise this is the only time in 32 years that you have been surrounded by this many inspiring women. My all-girls primary school and that time I got high in the French woods does not count). I bumped into a feast of ex-colleagues, some of whom I’d worked with when I first started, and a number of whom left before I did. It was a wonderfully cheering evening filled with gossip and prosecco, and the excitement of seeing one of our number produce some truly outstanding work. Well done Hattie!
No, seriously: go now. Especially if you know any young women who need a boost: it’s wonderful.
The new Upper Street shop and website opens towards the end of October at 85 Mortimer Street (www.upperstreet.com)