My picks from Vogue Festival and Photo London 2016

Vogue Festival 2015 -cover wall

Next weekend is set to be jam-packed with activity from a double whammy of Vogue Festival and Photo London. Vogue Festival in partnership with Harrods, is in its fifth year now and I think the line-up for next weekend is its best ever. I guess that’s to be expected though, when it’s also a celebration of 100 years of British Vogue. I’m particularly excited about the interviews with Grace Coddington, Juergen Teller and Gucci’s Allesandro Michele, all unique creatives who aren’t overexposed as media personalities.

Kim Kardashian West will obviously be a huge crowd-puller. Along with Charlotte Tilbury, she’ll be talking about the transformative power of make-up – they both famously admit that their husbands never see them without it. Personally, I’m not sure what more there is to know about KK but hey, it’s certain to guarantee global front-page exposure and that’s never to be sniffed at.

Panel-wise, there’s Fashion’s Big Debate: Being A Designer Now, The Allure Of Paris Cool (with Isabel Marant and Caroline de Maigret) and Your Social Media: What’s Real Now. Sasha Wilkins aka Liberty London Girl is on the last one so I’m expecting some honest discourse on definining digital identity and the growth of the influencer industry. (This post by The Fashion Law on influencer transparency is worth a read. I can’t say I agree with it and I’m hoping it will be discussed.)

Vogue Festival 2015 cover wall

Now the data bit. According to Vogue, the average Vogue Festival attendee is 27, female and working, with 21% classifying themselves as entrepreneurs, founders or self employed and 32% attending because they want to work in fashion. Unsurprisingly then, the ‘super-tutorials’ and expert masterclasses are extremely popular and fast to sell out. The deep-diving, round table masterclasses give you access to the best in the biz, for example, The Art Of Video: Conquering YouTube with Vogue’s Jaime Perlman which teaches how to think cinematically, write a treatment and drive web traffic. Meanwhile, the Hair Heroes super-tutorial has the likes of Sam McKnight discussing and demo-ing high fashion hair techniques.

As well as a technical class, the masterclasses offer entertainment and storytelling, plus potential networking opportunities. Most high profile fashion practitioners now have a strong social media presence so you never know, if they’re suitably impressed, you might get some air time on one or more of their social channels. At 12.45pm on Saturday 21st May, fashion illustrator David Downton will be holding a fashion illustration class in the Vogue World space, with Erin O’Connor as his model. Possibly even more beneficial than having Downton correct your brushstroke, is to get a shoutout on his Instagram. This is a free class with the cost of a ticket to one of the other events, but there are only 50 first-come-first-served places so be prepared to queue.
Erin O'Connor by David Downton

While I used to think £40-£60 for a one-hour talk or masterclass was quite steep, you’re getting so much more for your money now if you can squeeze in a Vogue styling session or two, a beauty once-over (this year make-up is from the Bobbi Brown and Tom Ford teams, hair from Kerastase and fragrance from Jo Malone London), a bit of customising, a book signing and – of course – a Vogue cover photo shoot. But do bring some extra pocket money for the exclusive merch shop, which this year is really quite extensive. Just for starters, there’s a J. Crew Vogue sweatshirt, Bella Freud matches, an exclusive sleep mask and the chicest ‘Vogue 100’ Caran d’Ache pencil set….
Bobbi Brown Vogue Festival 2015
Bella Freud Matches
Caran d'Ache Vogue pencils
Vogue festival customised tee
J Crew Sweatshirt vogue festival
Yolke Vogue Eyemask

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, from Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd May, Photo London is back at Somerset House for the second year with 80 international photography galleries exhibiting. There’s a new film component this year, with special screenings of films about and by photographers, including Finding Vivien Meier, Bill Cunningham New York, and Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures.

On the talks schedule, there’s Nick Knight, Mary McCartney, Garry Fabian Miller and Martin Parr to look forward to. For me though, it’s all about Massimo Vitali on 20th May, who will be discussing the performative aspect of picture taking. For his famous beach studies, he rigs up a viewing platform to observe his subjects from a distance, with fascinating, voyeuristic results.
Massimo Vitali Cabo Frio
Massimo Vitali photography
Massimo Vitali Diptych Ros Dawn

There’s lots more of course, including plenty of photo-related happenings across London. Off Print London, the photo book fair will be taking place at Tate Modern, and don’t forget, the Vogue 100 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery finishes on Sunday 22nd May. Get ready to clone yourself…

Vogue Festival in association with Harrods is from 21st-22nd May 2016 at The Royal Geographical Society and Vogue World, Kensington Gardens, London
Photo London is from 19th-22nd May 2016 at Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

WORDS: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl
IMAGES: Disneyrollergirl; Vogue; Massimo Vitali; David Downton image, unknown