Where in New York City can you find a slice of London? Well, this weekend, the public can experience all that the UK has to offer with a two-day pop-up shop in Soho, and last night, I got a taste of the offerings at a preview party with It-Brits like Alexa Chung, Estelle, and Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens.
British Airways and VisitBritain have teamed up to host Big British Invite, a free pop-up shop complete with a flower stall, silent rave party, fashion exhibit, afternoon tea, and more to showcase London’s current culture. At the center of it all was a giant sculpture of Parliament, Big Ben, and more made out of
cookies biscuits and chocolates. Sadly, it was roped off and I couldn’t eat it, but damn, it looked delicious.
The pop-up is a great intro to London for those who haven’t visited the city, but for me, it just brought back waves of memories of my study abroad days. I reminisced about my weekend strolls in the
parks squares, while a Carven-clad Chung waxed poetic on the city’s architecture, fashion hub, and cabbies:
“I like that there are historical buildings everywhere that remind you of how old that city is. I love all the people that live there. I think it’s a massively creative hub. In terms of fashion, it’s a fashion capital that nobody can deny. Like so much street style comes out of there. I love London cabbies because they know where they’re going, they have to take the Knowledge before they’re allowed to drive a taxi…and they’re always very friendly.”
Another thing she absolutely loves and misses about London: “A good cup of tea! [Well], a pot of tea. None of this, like, boiling hot water and shoving [in] a tea bag, no. Here, they do a weird thing where they’re just dip it in, and they’re like, ‘Here’s your tea.’”
Ugh, feel ya, girl. Estelle, on the other hand, misses her favorite drink Ribena, but feels like she’s right at home when she visits two of her favorite spots in the city: Myers of Keswick and Tea & Sympathy.
The night marked the unofficial opening of the Big British Invite, but also marked the official split of popular British girl band Girls Aloud. After ten years of churning out pop hits like “Song of the Underground,” the quintet is calling it quits. Chung, who has always been a Kimberly Walsh fan, was genuinely upset (in her words, “angered”) while Estelle, who’s on Team Cheryl, merely laughed and said: “Again? How many times they disbanded?”
While Girls Aloud disbanding might be the biggest news coming out of the UK, we’re all talking about the backlash against Beyoncé‘s ”Bow Down” here in the states. As a fellow artist, Estelle said:
“I like it. She’s a human being, and I love all the politically correct things, but I also like to see her be a real human being behind it all. Sometimes you get frustrated, or sometimes you feel like saying your shit. So I’m like, ‘Say your shit, say how you feel.’ It’s real, you know? She’s not lying; she’s not saying anything that’s out of line. I think it’s the American way to be boastful, and she should do it.”
Check out snaps of the event below, and get more info about the Big British Invite here:
this is some kind of spaceship or something.