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Dress Like The Neighbourhood
East London Fashion, Music Festivals and Sour Oranges
This could have been a story about All Point East, the legendary Vicky Park music festival I attended for the first time the other day, despite having lived just round the corner for years now.
I could have told you all about the vibez and the crowd, I could have written scathing reviews of all the different acts or compiled a listicle of the best portaloos from cleanest to the one in which you’re most likely to catch tuberculosis.
But here’s the twist: this is not a story about music. It’s a story about fashion - and East London, and how years spent on this patch of the city have fundamentally changed my perception of what looks good on me and what doesn’t, despite what my South London nemeses will whisper about it in each other’s ears when I leave the table to go for a wee. East London made me beautiful.
Fast forward to Friday morning, Day 1 of All Point East. Four hours before the event was scheduled to start, I opened my wardrobe only to realise I did not have a suitable outfit for the occasion. “Molly;” I told myself, “you in danger, girl.”
So I began to panic: oh god, no, what are people going to think? That I’m past my peak? That I am yesterday’s news? That papi simply don’t got it anymore? I had to do something about it - and I had to do it fast.
So I turned the chore into a game. I just thought about that little game I play whenever I go to the farmers market and buy an odd-looking ingredient I’ve never used before and then build a whole meal around it. Same thing, but with oversized flannel shirts instead of celeriac roots and cured banana skins.
Picture this. It’s 11am and I have two hours and a half to come up with something. I have not had my morning pee. The pressure is real (and yes, I’m talking about my bladder). I grab my bus card, hop on the 277 Bus to Hackney Central and get off just before Amhurst Rd, the centre of convergence of all the dirtiest-sickest-dustiest charity shops in East London.
The challenge is to find ONE charity shop item that will serve as a starting point to build a full festival-friendly attire made up of a mix of items from my wardrobe, other charity shops and TK Max. Hell, I’ll even go to H&M if I have to. Whatever it takes.
I am the creative director of this whole operation, but i must remind myself to respect one very important condition: whatever I end up wearing MUST go well with the shoes, a pair of Vans in Aura Shift (£35) which I already had in my collection waiting to be used for this occasion, since they’re painted in the same color(s) palette as the festival’s logo.
Don’t act surprised - we’re talking about the guy who matches his surgical masks with his socks here - my OCDs are well documented at this point, so nothing to see here.
Now, an easy option at this stage would be to find one of those ugly-ass hippie tie dye psychedelic t-shirts but - against all odds - I choose subtlety today.
I turn the corner and walk into one of my favorite, most-underrated Charity Shops in Hackney, a Scope by the Big Tesco on Morning Lane. I am immediately drawn to this pink top (£4.99) with the words OVER printed on it. I touch it, it’s perfect. So here’s item zero, ladies and gentleman: A beautiful long sleeved t-shit by Danish brand Soulland. Very trendy and very east, but still too plain for my taste.
We’re still missing the shock factor - so my quest continues. I keep in mind that the English summer was basically over two weeks ago, so whatever shock element I’ll end up incorporating into my outfit, it had better be warm, too.
The Gods of synthetic fabric answer my call and there it is, staring at me from the furthermost corners of the shop, partially hidden by a pile of junk: an electric blue fleece jacket (£4.99) that seems to be calling my name. And when fleece calls, I follow.
Here we are: pastel shoes that throw to the bold pink of my top, complemented by the liveliness of the blue of my fleece jacket. The transition from pastel to fluo is seamless, and the vibe, finally, begins to take shape: Stranger Things meets Space Jam meets your first babysitter? If there ever was a man that could pull off this look, well, he’s writing this newsletter right now!
I look at the outfit, rejoice at the sight of what I see: a promising ensemble with great unlocked potential. So what’s the key? Accessories, baby. Get in, loser, we’re going to TK Max.
And there it is, a yellow fanny pack from Champions ($7.99) that’s brighter than the sun. Did somebody say sun? Only one way to deal with that problem: shades. Yellow, fluo radioactive plastic shades.
I think I understood the assignment. All Point East is an iconic festival - but most importantly, it’s an East London tradition. And I honoured it in the only way I knew how to: by dressing like the neighbourhood.
Second-hand shops are key: recycled fashions are given a second, arguably better life in the hands of people with little money but a good eye for what looks good, right here, right now. And it’s a way to honour the people who decide what a city looks like by collectively being their authentic selves, painting a Kaleidoscope of colours and shapes that can only really be appreciated sitting on a bench on Regent Canal, watching the cool people walking up and down, dressed like the neighbourhood we love so much.
WHAT I WATCHED
Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes
The life and crimes of the Denis Nielsen, a serial killer convicted of murdering at least 15 young men in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Narrated by Nilsen himself through tapes he recorded while in jail, the documentary tells the story of how an anonymous civil servant became the most infamous killer of his generation. Chilling.
WHAT I ATE
Roast Orange, Garlic and Thyme Chicken
This recipe from the book Weekly Provisions by Kim Duke. It’s impressive-looking and takes no more effort than a standard chicken dinner. The orange is the standout star in this dish, however, so make sure you buy ones that are juicy and charged with flavour. It’s a delicate aroma and it needs to be present in significant quantities for it to be noticed, so make sure you work that juice and zest in! I opted for a side of roast potatoes, asparagus and tenderstem broccoli, but feel free to use whatever vegetable your heart is calling for. Enjoy!
WHAT I LISTENED TO
I Wish I Missed My Ex
One of the standout acts from Friday night at All Point East. Mahalia, a British-Jamaican singer who knows how to make the crowd go wild by introducing each song by telling the story of the people and situations that inspired them, making her music all-the-more relatable. Think of her as a friend who tells you the truth when you less want to hear it.