Intimate fashion gatherings are becoming more popular. As a freelance stylist much of my work is done on my own. I know several other freelancers who’ve joined membership clubs such as Soho house so that they’re not always working alone. There’s a need for fashion discourse face to face.
Over the past few years there have been a few events creating fashion discourse, for example there is Imran Amed’s Business of Fashion, London Fashion Network and Fashion Business Club. I recently attended the first salon evening by Pamflet.
Luella Bartley was the main guest and she read passages from her book ‘Luella’s Guide to English Style’. After the reading we took a break to enjoy some honey cake and wine, and then we reconvened to talk about Rosamond Lehmann’s seminal coming of age novel, Invitation to the Waltz. Although it was a small intimate gathering there were quite a few well-known attendees including Katie Grand, Murray Healy, Fleur Britten, Jessica Bumpus, Aimee Farrell and Leisa Barnett. After the gathering I had the opportunity to ask Pamflet’s Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangou a few questions.
What are your salon evenings all about?
A-M: The idea for the salon came from an informal book club we started with some friends and friends of friends last summer. Our monthly-ish meetings ended up being 20% book discussion 30% cava and 50% gossip and chat about careers/feminism/fashion. We wanted to find a way to open up the event to our wider Pamflet gang: friends we’d made through zine-making and the blog and Twitter and work contacts. We were used to hosting crazy launches for the zine, but wanted to do a different kind of party - one which was more about talking than drinking! The salon is a kind of showcase for everything Pamflet - music, fashion, books, London - and a friendly space for young women in the media, publishing, blogging and fashion to meet and share ideas and experiences. We invited guests at the first salon to all read the same book (kindly donated by Virago) beforehand which made a fun icebreaker topic for everyone.
Can you tell me a bit more about Pamflet?
A-M: We’ve been friends since the early 00s and both always wanted to write. Pamflet started life in 2005 as a traditional, photocopied and stapled zine in which we wrote about what we wore, celebrity, style and culture. We produced 11 issues (the last was launched in November) before deciding to focus on the blog. As Pamflet we’ve hosted parties, DJed and written for various publications about everything from porn for girls to the problem with shoes! Our content focus is girl-made culture and style.
What is your fashion background?
P: I started out as fashion assistant at the Sunday Telegraph magazine, before going on to be editor of Glamour.com and I’ve written for Vogue.com, Glam.com and more recently I’ve been writing about menswear for thestyleking.co.uk. With Pamflet we’ve always tried to reconcile our love of clothes and dressing up with our feminist principles - not always an easy task! I contributed to a Radio 4 debate which pitted fashion against feminism and we have also written for the Guardian (on unlikely style icons) and Elle Collections on the topic ‘Can fashion be feminist?’ (the short answer: of course!)
Do you think there is a need in the fashion world to have more intimate events?
P: The internet has been the most fantastic thing for fashion, democratising it and allowing everyone to participate and share their ideas and enthusiasm, but what is particularly nice is when you can combine that online fashion scene with small, intimate gatherings in real life. Being able to discuss and debate about fashion face-to-face with real enthusiasts can be a great experience. I really love the idea of ‘big’ names appearing at intimate events and meeting their fans and followers; Luella Bartley reading from her book, Luella’s Guide to English Style, at the Pamflet Salon was a very special event and I think she enjoyed meeting her public as much as they were thrilled to meet her! Human-scale events like this, coupled with the fantastic reach of the internet - where you can communicate and connect with bloggers all over the world, and watch catwalk shows in real time (Burberry are fantastic pioneers of this) - is the ideal mix for me.
Who can we expect to see at your next events?
A-M: We have a Pamflet salon guest wishlist of authors, musicians and performers and we’re just starting to think about scheduling our next couple of events. Luella was a dream first guest of honour - a brilliant writer and creative who’s also very funny and whose background inspirations come from rock’n’roll, punk and a love of English eccentricity - all things we’re fans of too! We’re already talking to Kate Nash about a special music panel later in the year and she’s exactly the kind of girl we’re looking for.
The next salon session is Wednesday June 1st. For more information contact Pamflet firstname.lastname@example.org.