Monday, May 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Pleasure or Pain? Find your niche

For me, a typical freshers week must include a customary trip to the capital. Reacquaint myself with culture, shops, art and the city as a whole. During my freshers week two years ago my main points of interest where Buckingham palace, Hyde Park and Harrods; as coming from the North I felt the need to see these English treasures. So we watched the guards change, and played with the awesome toy racing cars in Harrods toy section. Who wants a photo by a telephone or post box when you can stand next to giant teddy bear dressed as a policeman?


However, now in my third year I feel that I have “found myself”… Corny but true. Fashion and the City life have infiltrated my world and during the past two years I have fully immersed myself in what London can offer; although saying that I believe it impossible to truly experience every nook and cranny that the capital city has to offer. We are in the perfect position in Egham to explore and deepen our interests and passions, being on London’s doorstep all we have to do is board the Reading train to open the door to future possibility and knowledge.


So this freshers week, my friend and I went along to the V&A’s ‘Shoes, Pleasure & Pain’ exhibition. As a regular attendee of the V&A’s fashion events such as ‘Italian fashion’ and the ‘Wedding Dress’ exhibitions, I can recommend the museum to anyone with a flare for style and ache for comprehension of such a diverse industry. This week I found out that the Geta (platform sandal/flip flop worn by the Japanese) was originally created with the intension to show off the expensive intricate kimono. The exhibition traced the formation of the shoe from pre Tudor all the way up to the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, with a ranging focus from England to Asia. We then took a tour round an old favourite in the V&A, the Jewellery section, where we traced the origins of the cameo and tiara. With all this newfound information on accessories we took a break with a walk down Knightsbridge towards Leicester Square for some well-deserved Haagen Dazs ice cream.


I have found that in London, there are many fashion related events such as Vogue’s night out and the students design show to name some that are flaring up regularly to inspire designers, buyers, sellers and general enthusiasts. There are also the markets to explore, some of my best and most commented upon clothing have been from tiny boutiques on Camden high street that are easy to walk past and ignore. For example in spring I had time to waste whilst waiting for a friend to finish work so decided to visit Lily J in Camden when a few doors down I saw a shop called Vanilla that I had never noticed before. So unnoticed that it was closing down and it was here that I fulfilled my Hepburn ambition, finding the perfect replica of the pink dress from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ when Holly receives the letter that her brother has died and she has that ferocious breakdown.


On another avenue, music plays a large part of London. With copious amounts of venues from the underground stations to the O2 arena music floods the streets. There are also famous studios scattered around, so take a quick photo on the famous Abbey Road crossing or prowl the roads of Maida Vale Studios when Radio1 have a live longue. This is not even mentioning the market stalls and record stores where there is bound to be new riffs and polyphonic textures lurking beneath a hat, scarf or box. For a birthday present I found a rare Hendrix record, tucked away in an old box in Camden Records, for a guitar fanatic.


There has been such a range of musical experiences that London has given me. From the organisation and perfectly executed Vegetarian protest of Morrissey at the O2 last November to the chaotic, late night that was Best Coast at the Electric Ballroom back in June. Although some of the best performances are those that you don’t even have to pay for such as an amazing electro-Saxophonist soothing lyrical variations of Miles Davies and Gershwin, painting living staves on the Piccadilly line.


These are only snapshots of two elements that London has to offer. So my advice for anyone who is discovering their niche is to take advantage of Egham’s proximity and this first term get out there explore whether at a high profile organised event or just sauntering down a random street in Shoreditch; you are bound to discover and rediscover various elements of any activity or curiosity.