The Photoshoot

lela london
As a so-called ‘media figure’, it was a cruel inevitability: in all likelihood, I would end up in a studio photoshoot one day.

Now, I’ve done a handful of ‘shoots’ in the past for magazine features and interviews, but have always taken solace in the fact that they were essentially recreating my own brand of street style photography. Natural light, no looking into a camera, and props/people around me to almost create an illusion of DSLRlessness.

When I worked as a stylist, studio shoots were always the most harsh and revealing, even for the most beautiful model. I swore I’d stay away as long as I could. Yet here I am pretending I’m some sort of Campbell-Delevigne.

How did it happen? The Powers That Be decided it was time to do some promo shots for myself and the blog. Shortly thereafter, Image 1st Studio pitched and the rest is history.

The Studio is located just around the corner from Farringdon station, is completely private, and – as a package – comes with the friendliest, nerve-curing studio staff you could hope for. A week or so before arriving, they sent me very clear tips, information, and genuinely made the whole experience comfortable from the get-go.

On shoot day, Doren (the MD) greeted my moral support and I at the door and took me straight through to be painted and preened by the lovely Emma.

As make-up artists go I am as picky as they come, but Emma understood exactly what I liked (less is more, with an exception for lips) and took me to personal perfection in no time at all.

Grabbing a drink on my way through to meet Luke (the photographer), we went through the outfits I’d put together, decided the shoot order and backgrounds we’d use for each look, hung everything up in said order (hello, OCD), and set straight off to set.

A whirlwind hour of blushing and prancing later, we wrapped up the shoot and I left with a disc of a billion-plus images ready to send to all my boyfriends.

Or use for professional purposes. Whatever.

Not bad, eh?

lela london
lela london
Continue reading

AW15: I Am LG’s Official #LFW Blogger!

first fashion week
Excuse the below-par photo moment, above, but I needed a totes emosh visual to accompany the following announcement: for the second season in a row, I am LG’s official London Fashion Week blogger!

Since taking my first photo at London Fashion Week (pictured above) in 2010, I’ve had to pinch myself every time I’ve ended up backstage or on a ‘#frow’. I am beyond thankful for my beloved readers (thank you!), the blog’s continual growth, and the opportunity to partner up with brands I’d champion, blog or not.

Over LFW, I will be the roving reporter – behind the scenes and front-of-house – for LG while they care for all of the designer’s garments, steaming and preening to perfection before their official Autumn/Winter 2015 debut. (LG’s latest study revealed that the average person will damage £3,969 worth of clothes in their lifetime, all due to poor washing technique – this is not a job to be taken lightly!)

Follow @lelalondon #LGatLFW on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates, starting Friday!

In Review: HKK’s Chinese New Year Menu

hkk london
Since my last trip to HKK, I have awaited an excuse to return. 15-course meals call for an occasion, to say the least.

Thankfully, the restaurant chose to celebrate Chinese New Year with a ten-course culinary journey through the country’s most influential provinces and traditions. Hello, occasion!

With eight courses and two desserts awaiting approval, my multi-continental best friend and I settled in with a glass of champagne and began a three-hour feast. As we launched to regale months of travel tales, the first dish arrived: from Suzhou (Jiangsu), marinated Duke of Berkshire pork with Osmanthus wine jelly.

Reality very rarely meets expectations, but this dish surpassed them. I had forgotten just how good the food really was. Even the next plate – a revival of the cherry wood roasted Peking duck from Beijing (Shandong) – seemed more delicate and flavourful than I remembered.

Shortly thereafter, I paused to meet my soulmate: the rhubarb margarita. I wouldn’t typically go for cocktails with a tasting menu, but I had to make an exception for HKK’s blend of Tapatio Reposado tequila, rhubarb, lime, vanilla and Falernum liqueur (finished with a vanilla and chilli rim). It is, dear reader, even better than it sounds.

Next up for consumption? The paintbrush-accompanying dim sum trilogy (from from Guangdong). Similar to the version I obsessed over during my last visit, this menu’s offerings were as moreish as they come.

Keeping things light as we worked through the middle of the menu, ‘Monk Jumps Over The Wall’ soup (from Fujian) and pan-grilled Chilean seabass in Sha Cha sauce (from Hunan) followed, leading into jasmine tea smoked poussin (from Anhui) before landing on The One: from Zhejiang, braised King soy Wagyu beef with Merlot. A heartbreaker.

Knocking another one out of the proverbial park, the savouries finished with chargrilled New Zealand scampi (from Sichuan), quite seriously securing the entire menu a 10/10 rating. Perfect portions, unusually sumptuous flavours, and a variety of techniques executed to perfection. It doesn’t get any better.

To finish? A trio of dark chocolate dumplings with yuzu and ginger infusion (a devilishly good treat), followed by a cacophony of white; sheep’s milk mousse, pandan curd and caramelised puff rice.

As we wrapped up our tales with the meal itself, I was once again making a mental note to find creative excuses to return. Clients, expect one hell of a lunch meeting coming your way.

hkk london
hkk london
Continue reading