May 2013 archive

- 20 May 2013

L’Wren Scott’s Debut London Show at One Great George Street

Peter Bishop/timbismedia

The refined aura of haute couture is strutting its way into the halls of OGGS these days – whether it’s in the form of international clothing line debuts – or in the more humble guise of a trendy international writer watching OGGS evolve into a high fashion venue.

The latter has been keeping tabs on OGGS since last summer’s Olympic Games. Through my work and generally pleasant, if American demeanor, I got to know the staff and fairly well. However, as an outsider, it’s been interesting watching the ongoing evolution of OGGS. When I first encountered OGGS, it was swarming with sports writers and TV reporters covering the world’s biggest sporting event. Now, I find its hosting the famous faces of fashion.

OGGS is becoming a focal point during London Fashion Week in Westminster and throughout the year as individual designers look for a home to debut their lines. Whether it’s the February London Fashion Week or the September equivalent, OGGS serves as one of central London’s prime fashion show locations.

The specifications for a fashion show venue are very specific and potentially rare – even in a massive city like London. The space must be large enough to host hundreds of clothes-minded people.

Also, some exclusive space is needed to keep the designers and VIPs clear of the media and fans. You need enough extended floor area for a runway. You must have proper photographic lighting and the ability to dress a venue properly. And, obviously, kitchen facilities are essential to provide refreshments for the assembled, expensively-thonged throngs.

Between the Great Hall upstairs and the kitchen facilities in the basement, OGGS is a friendly home to the fashion elite. Already in February 2013, OGGS welcomed British designers Alice Temperley’s 1960s-inspired wear and Antonio Berardi’s ready to wear collection in dedicated London Fashion Week events.

The Collective agency selected OGGS for the Berardi show, while the My Beautiful City booked the Temperley event.

Fashion Foie Gras: L’Wren Scott in the Great Hall

However, the most star-studded OGGS show during February Fashion Week drew international buzz with L’Wren Scott’s London debut. An American designer and longtime companion of some British pop star (…Mick Jagger or some such…), Scott was the talk of London and the entire fashion community as she flaunted her wears alongside Jagger, fellow Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, Sally Humphreys and Bobbi Brown. OGGS again worked with My Beautiful City to sew up Scott’s show.

Now, to digress for just a moment, I tried to sell myself a bit earlier as a well-dressed fashion expert who glides into OGGS a few times of year dressed to the nines. That would certainly qualify me to report the beans out of any fashion story.

However, to be honest, no one in London, greater Europe or the entire face of the Planet Earth will mistake me for a fashion expert. Fortunately, just a little research tells me why OGGS was the perfect spot for Scott’s fashion show. She based her 2013 line on a blending of inspirations, including the work of world famous artists and an almost royal use of shimmering, golden fabrics. She featured gowns inspired by paintings of Gustav Klimt – which played perfectly strutting alongside OGGS’s carefully displayed framed paintings and massive overhead mural in The Great Hall. Scott’s golden flowing gowns glowed under the same reflections cast off the Great Hall’s generous gold leafing across its walls and ceilings.  The classic marble halls and classical Westminster architecture make OGGS a seemingly perfect host to any designer working up a collection relying on classic lines and traditional elegance.

All three fashion shows came off at OGGS without a hitch, taking place on weekends and allowing for setup and sound checks to be completed without disturbing day to day building operations.

The popular and critical success of all three shows generated more than a passing mention in the global and London-based press. Images of the models strutting through the Great Hall graced the print and virtual pages of Vogue, Style, The Guardian and The New York Times.  As important as such press is documenting the recent history of OGGS, what’s more essential is how influential these major fashion events and their related coverage are with an eye to the future. London obviously hosts two major international week long fashion events every winter and spring. There’s also a Men’s London Fashion Week in January because nothing says “handsome clothes” like gray skies, long nights and single digit temperatures. OGGS hasn’t hosted a Men’s Fashion Week event yet, but that’s sure to change.

Fortunately, designers work yearlong and often roll out their lines or smaller additions to their lines outside the boundaries of either London Fashion Weeks. OGGS stands at attention for those busy fashionistas, as well.

Peter Bishop/timbismedia

This year’s successful events at OGGS should keep the major designers and their elite ensembles returning to Westminster year-round. I’m sure the in-house staff will be flirting with every designer they can find. The question is whether folks around the building will snag a few free samples and begin dressing all “pret a porter.”

I’ll find out the answer to that the next time I visit.

As a writer, John Scott Lewinski travels the world, writing for more than 30 national magazines and online news sites – including Crave Online, The Hollywood Reporter, Wired Magazine,, Hemispheres, Via, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American, CNET, Popular Science, and ABC News Online. While covering the 2012 Summer Olympics for multiple outlets, he enjoyed getting know the history and people brining OGGS to life. Whenever worn brings him back to London, he stops by Westminster to check up on the evolution of what was his London Media Center.

- 16 May 2013

My Chilli Con Carne and Bevil’s Lunch Club

Photograph by Izabela Bartusik (Food and Beverage Supervisor at One Great George Street)

Life is full of interesting people and it is just wonderful to get off the treadmill of life in London and take time to chat with them. Shelley Coleman from our catering team recently had the chance to sit down with a character from Railway Engineering. Here is the resulting guest blog post from her, which I trust you will enjoy reading.

Hello, I am Shelley. I found that George exudes enjoyment for life and the friendships that he has made. He is a retired railway engineering consultant, and I talked to him during his regular Thursday lunch club in our informal Café Bar at One Great George Street.

The birth and founders of the Thursday lunch club

The club was set up to form a meeting point for friends from many walks of life. It was set up in 1923 by Lord Reith who was the first Director General of the BBC, Kenneth Cantile (advisory engineer to the Chinese National Railway) and Bevil Rudd. Bevil was a colourful, interesting character and an Olympic athlete after whom the club was named. Alan Beckett was a recent eminent Civil Engineer member who designed the floating pontoon roadway which was crucial to the success of the Mulberry harbour that was used in the Normandy Landings.

George’s five loves of the Café Bar and One Great George Street

  1. Accessibility: I struggle with arthritis and I wish I had a magic wand to get rid of it. The Westminster location is convenient and the venue has good accessible features.
  2. The service: The catering staff are always very helpful and bring my meal to me without being asked.
  3. Chilli con carne: My favourite dish is the home made Chilli con carne. I know it is 100% beef. The Chef is good and I am told he spends a lot of time sourcing quality ingredients.
  4. Chatting to friends: It is a highlight of my week as I meet my friends here. We have the chance to discuss many things including engineering and how to cure the ills of the world. The latter is the bigger challenge.
  5. Banquette seating: The seating is very comfortable and convenient making easier to have a group discussion. As you can tell from the photos, we try to squeeze as many Bevil’s club members around one table as we possibly can!

The lunch club in 2005 prior to the instillation of new banquette seating.

 George Carpenter gets up a head of steam….

Photograph by Izabela Bartusik (Food and Beverage Supervisor at One Great George Street)

 George has had a fascinating career in Railway Engineering and has a deep passion for the age of steam railways. One of the engineering challenges in his life time was working on a high powered coal-burning turbine-electric locomotive to haul heavy coal trains from the Powder Riven Basin in Wyoming where 200 million of tons of coal are mined each year, the largest source of coal in the U.S.A

The final word from George:

“Engineering is a fascinating career and I enjoy reminiscing about the age of steam and discussing modern developments.  The power of steam still the principal means of electrical power generation in many countries including China. I will keep returning to One Great George Street for Thursday lunch hoping that Chili Con Carne is on the menu for as long as I can (I am now 89!).”

Bon Appétit George and to everyone else that enjoys the food at OGGSVenue
Shelley Coleman