This time tomorrow I’ll be neatly placing a beautifully packed small bag* into the boot of a car and zooming down the 303 (insert Kula Shaker song reference here) to the idyllic corner of this green and pleasant land that is the Port Eliot Festival. This annual event started out as a literary affair, but expanded to include a flower show, music, grub and, thrillingly, the Wardrobe Department.
Entry at the flower show last year (no, I have no idea either)
This wonderful space is where you’ll find Britain’s fashionable folk letting their hair down, sticking some flowers in it and getting their faces painted. It’s like London Fashion Week gone wild in the country and there are some seriously BIG names wandering about the hay bales – I’m talking Barbara Hulanicki, Stephen Jones, Louise Gray and our ultimate girl-crush, Luella Bartley.
And the reason I’ll be there? Well in addition to casually stalking my style heroes I’ll also be co-hosting a pop-up literary salon in the Sipsmith Gin tent with my Pamflet co-founder, Anna-Marie. We had our first Port Eliot adventure last summer and foolishly they asked us back, so we’re taking the Great British Party as our theme and looking at it through a fashionable and literary lense.
Port Eliot is all about BOOKS
Topics up for discussion including the Bright Young Things and their high jinks, balls and banquets, festivals, proms and house parties (with Penguin editor Rose Gardner) and party girls (think Rihanna, Tara Palmer-Tompkinson and Tallulah Bankhead) with Hannah Rothschild, author of The Baroness – a biography of her great aunt, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter who had a passionate affair with the great jazz musician Thelonious Monk.
I’ll be taking lots of pictures of eccentric and stylish festival goers and will report back on our adventures next week.
My hat by Each Piece Unique
But the question is: WHAT DO I WEAR? Last year I optimistically packed lots of pretty sun dresses, then ended up having to borrow Anna-Marie’s emergency tights as I thought I was going to freeze to death when balmy evening rapidly became sub-zero night. For the opening night party up at the Downton-tastic 'big house' I wore a '50s pink lace dress from the amazing Vintage Emporium** off Brick Lane, on day two it was a pink (sense a theme here?) COS number and on day three I sported an original '70s polka-dotted Laura Ashley frock 'borrowed' from my mum.
We SHALL go to the ball! In our vintage finery at Port Eliot last summer
And here’s me, bloodied but unbowed on the last day in a fabulous top hat that was made by the very talented Tammi Willis of Each Piece Unique, with an old rose-printed H&M dress, the aforementioned emergency tights, pink socks that were a Christmas gift from my ma-in-law and Boden wellies. Did I mention the hat has a tiny solar panel which, when the watery sunlight breaks through the clouds, sends a dragonfly spinning manically round?
* What, you don't believe me? Just you wait for my OCD packing guide...
** This is the BEST place for vintage - they have pristine Victorian nightgowns, silk Edwardian top hats and an amazing range of '50s frocks in immaculate condition.
There are still some tickets available (£150 for the weekend, from £35 for the day) so why not buy one and come hang out with me in the Wardrobe Department! (Oh and bring spare tights, I might be cold.)
I'm packing tonight and need some help: what are your festival essentials - do you go for style over comfort or vice versa? Is there a way to combine both or do you rely on our old friend BOOZE to keep you warm? Help meeee!