Melbourne transplant Clea Irving has settled into the London scene as a curator at art, music, and dining complex Sketch, while also serving as an agent for a number emerging product designers. Besides reveling in the art and design scenes around town, the self-described kiki-enthusiast and disco dancer ventures from her Russell Square neighborhood to soak up all the city has to offer every chance she gets. Here, her prime picks for the perfect time in London in the morning, late at night, and on weekends out or in.
Best clothing store:
Dover Street Market for all your exterior needs and Coco de Mer for those a little more close to the skin. The former is a god-like collection of fashion cum art, Comme des Garcon’s concept store—racks of established brands like Junya Watanabe, Givenchy, Lanvin, and of course, Comme, as well as a curated selection of new locals—Yang Li, Simone Rocha and the like. Designer sneakers downstairs, Rose Bakery upstairs.
Coco de Mer’s website displays the line “For Lovers, Adventurers & Dreamers” – I might leave it at that.
Top 3 meals in the city:
1. My hidden gem is Kiraku in Ealing—certainly worth the travel. Best excellently priced sushi and sashimi this side of Kyoto.
2. Koya for Udon. “Wednesday’s Specials: Fermented coco de paimpole beans (natto), girolles and onsen egg; grilled carrot tempura and honey comb.” Enough said.
3. Borough Market for fresh, seasonal, local produce and French cheese. Visit on weekdays to avoid the crowds, and in the morning to get the best and freshest.
My ultimate weekend would include:
I’d start with an early-morning session with Emma Henry at TriYoga followed by café and gossips with the boys and ladies at Caravan. West end play at Royal Court Theatre—with new works by Dennis Kelly, Caryl Churchill, and the like—or home-cooked dinner with friends. Who goes out on the weekend these days anyway?
That said, twice a month is Rhythm Section—brilliant beats with Bradley Zero and co. in Peckham’s seamier streets and five stars for all-vinyl, good old-fashioned fun. Sundays mornings always start with flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market and fried eggs with sage at Leila’s Shop. Sunday nights at sketch – sign up for life drawing classes in the Parlour or disco greats after dark.
Weekends are also for getting out of London. Great new exhibitions at Hepworth Wakefield’s new Calder space, or a walk around Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum is also a favourite of mine—the displays of extraordinary ethnographic objects are all placed exactly as they were upon the Museum’s opening in 1884.
Best place in the city to drink coffee/tea and people watch:
Cafe Boheme—if you don’t see one famous artist, two trannies and three London youths “expressing themselves,” you’re not watching hard enough. A perfect place for a double espresso before noon, and a negroni thereafter. Sit street-side and enjoy.