Friday, September 4, 2009

London: Liberty, Le Labo and INSAland

This morning I'm heading to the Liberty department store in Oxford Circus to visit the Prints Charming exhibition and buy some new perfume. I saw the amazing window displays for Prints Charming the first day I was here and was captivated by their amazing fabrics. I was also captivated by Liberty's amazing range of perfumes.
Prints Charming is an exhibition of the legendary Liberty Fabrics. I snuck a few photos - I wasn't sure if you were allowed to click. They had the limited edition Liberty Blazers on display - so jealous of anyone who got their dirty mitts on a pair of those. Apparently they sold out within an hour of going on sale earlier this year. I do have the Liberty Dunks though...I was also smitten with this chair. I'd almost empty my suitcase if I thought it'd fit inside.
It's not something I talk about a lot, but I'm a bit of a perfume buff. Ever since I was given to book 'Perfume' in about 1995, I've been very aware of scent. Back then, I wore Dolce and Gabbana Red, and slowly I became more and more interested in fragrances. Over the years I've gone through phases of fragrance - from Angel to YSL Nu to Alexander McQueen Kingdom. I love Comme des Garçons fragrances gone through many a bottle. I generally go for heavy, head scents and have recently been wearing a Donna Karan fragrance called Signature. Unfortunately I ran out while I was in Berlin and I've been feeling really naked without a signature scent. Liberty stock an amazing range of premium fragrances, starting somewhere around Prada, Comme des Garçons, Fracas etc and ending with bespoke fragrances like Le Labo (you wont find a bottle of Britney Spears Stinkerbelle at Liberty). So I decided to treat myself to a bottle of Le Labo Amberette. The concept with Le Labo is that the perfume is made while you wait to give you the freshest fragrance possible. Like most things, perfume has a life span, the length of which depends on the quality of the ingredients used. Le Labo is also nice because the bottle label is customised just for you. Being the massive amber head I am, Amberette was the obvious choice (it's the only amber fragrance Le Labo make). Although, it is made of amber seeds, so it's quite a bit softer than I would normally wear. It smells like pear and amber.

And now it's time to meet INSA. And I'm so fucking late. Getting to the South East was a lot harder and more time consuming that I expected. Once I got to London Bridge station, the station attendant to me I had to get a bus or an overland train (which was the instructions INSA gave me). But I was running so late I go a cab, which isn't much quicker anyway. I made it in the nick of time and met INSA at the station. We introduced ourselves and with formalities out of the way, he took me to his studio (which kind of reminded me of the Hibernian). He told me he generally doesn't have visitors to his studio, which makes me feel extremely privileged. He has a collection of sneakers hanging on the power lines outside his studio. Although there was a lot of paint around, his studio is incredibly tidy compared to others I've seen. Everything seems to have it's own place. And there are lots of little INSA artifacts - Munny's, Nike ID boxes, INSA Heels, leg canvases, latex, a red stained glass INSA heel, bejeweled spray cans and a tiny pink chair.

Without giving too much away, we got talking and as it turns out his work is a lot different to they way I interpreted it. I was expecting some pervy foot fetish type, who might ogle my pretty black toe nails. But I found INSA to be quite contradictory to his work. All tits and ass you might think - but really, his work focuses on the difference between fantasy and reality. He told me people to this day still think he must be female because he paints high heels. Someone like Fafi or Claw. Either that or a pervy dude who like feet and big boobs. He likes the contradiction.

I asked him to paint me an original piece. I'm not exactly sure what it will be (because I asked him to make that decision for me) but I've got an idea of the size and colours. I really wanted a red heel, and when he told me that his heel throw ups were originally red, I didn't mind asking for red so much.

It was a real thrill to get to meet INSA in the flesh and find out more about who he really is. Like his lady lighter collection. I like that he likes collecting - I was beginning to feel like my hoarding tendencies were borderline obsessive. And in reality collecting nudie lighters is way funnier than collecting sneakers. All in all it really drilled home that I've made the right decision to only buy/consume things that I have some meaningful attachment to. Getting to know him a little makes having one of his pieces all the more special. I can't wait to see my very own INSA! He also gave some stickers and stuff :)While I was at the studio, Mookie and Ki Ki were ringing me. Eventually, once I'd left, I got to speak to the drunken duo (Sherlock you Southern Cross pulling piker - where the heck were you?!) to wish Mooks a very happy birthday and merry Swarm day. Apparently Swarm is belting tonight and I really wish I could have been there. But I'm there in spirit.

What a rad day! Off to check out Fabric tonight.

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