I’ll admit, upon making plans to go to London, I didn’t know what to expect of the city, or the people for that matter. I wondered would they be stiff-necked, haughty, curt, or snobby towards Americans. But after meeting up with old and new friends, those suspicions were quickly put to rest! My friends made sure we had everything we needed, took us around town and would not let us pay for anything! We were indeed treated like one of their own. Often pleasantly saluted as Madame, I felt like royalty, high-society; like a queen!
In retrospect, this seemed to be the theme from the very beginning of the trip, having been upgraded to first class and pampered thoroughly throughout our 6 hour Delta Airlines flight. The attendants were very gracious and above outstanding! It was as if God were saying, I got you! It was one of those times in life when it feels like Heaven’s window opens up and favor pours down on you! Sometimes life can be difficult, so when you are blessed unexpectedly you appreciate it all the more! So, I humbly sat on my throne and allowed myself to be pampered like the queen I am!
I love London! It is meticiously clean, picturesque, and quite idyllic! The backdrop is a mixture of 17th century Georgian architecture and 21st century cosmopolitan flair; with its Stucco art work, cobblestone streets, antiquated cab cars to its diversity, hip coffee houses, and high-end stores that line Oxford Street. The people are very stylish in more of a modern, romantic way. The women dress very feminine, while some gents remind me of old Hollywood: dapper with suit, tie and brimmed hats. The culture as a whole however, is a melange of old class meets new contemporary.
Another queen was also in town: Alexander McQueen! The exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert Museum, archives McQueen’s 18 year contribution to fashion. The exhibit showcased in New York at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011 to rave reviews, but I wasn’t able to see it then. It was rumored McQueen was an atheist, I wanted to see the exhibit to really delve the person behind the art. I love studying and examining humanity, researching the history of and delving the soul behind the exterior; how did one become the person he or she is, is very intriguing to me. I had seen some of McQueen’s fashion, but not in its entirety. McQueen’s work is a mash up of period pieces, avant-garde, couture, patriotism and goth. McQueen is of Scottish descent, but was born in London. He often used his art as a political platform; with collections aptly titled Highland Rape (autumn/winter 1995–96) and Widows of Culloden (autumn/winter 2006–07). Both explore Scotland’s turbulent political history. Highland Rape was based on the 18th century Jacobite Risings and the 19th century Highland Clearances. It was the first collection to introduce McQueen tartan, which are designs that pay homage to his native Scotland. The dichotomy of light and dark in his work is surprising at best; designs ranging from skulls and bones, to his juxtaposition of religious imagery. What I do love about McQueen is that his work is a very honest representation of humanity as it explores the duality of the frail human soul. He said it best when he said: “I oscillate between life and death, happiness and sadness, good and evil.” I am most attracted to his feminine designs, particularly his period pieces; capturing a time when women’s fashion was most elegant, feminine, and dainty; with cinched waists and chiffon skirts. I also like his dried flower dresses, and androgynous tailored pieces. I am not a fan of McQueen’s darker side of his work: head masks, goth designs, leather and chains. I admit, it is a bit much for me being a Christian.
“People find my things sometimes aggressive. But I don’t see it as aggressive. I see it as romantic, dealing with a dark side of personality.”
Nonetheless, I really admire McQueen’s artistry: from the cut of his designs to his over-the-top runway shows to his extreme range as a designer. The conflicted human nature that we all struggle with within ourselves, tells its story of the precarious dance between light and darkness through his work. McQueen was a dark soul, I’ve come to learn, through seeing the extent of his body of work at the exhibition. It’s quite intriguing that a mind can conceive such feminine and elegant pieces such as those designed for Princess Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, then go to the opposite extreme with very dark, torture chamber, insane asylum designs as those that were on display at the exhibit. There was a war raging in him between good and evil; and sadly evil won when McQueen took his own life in 2010. To be highly esteemed in his career, an indomitable artist, and an icon in the fashion community–McQueen won 4 British designer of the year awards and international designer of the year award 2003–and to end his life is such a travesty. The mind can’t logically understand it, but the spirit realm can: it takes no prisoners! Either you’re on God’s side or on the side of darkness; you can’t serve both! Beloved that’s why I write this blog to emphasize having a personal relationship with God and putting Him first in your life. You can attain fame, fortune, and material things, but without God it is meaningless. The human soul was created to serve God. Period. He is the only thing that will satisfy the lustful cravings of the flesh. But humans go from one pursuit to another trying to fill a void in their soul that only God can.
In continuation, no royalty goes about their day without proper tea time! I always knew there was an inner Brit in me, I love my tea time and High Tea at The Wallace Collection Museum was just what I needed after an early start! My childhood imaginary friends and tea time dates came to life as I sat at a table with friends; each with individual tea pots, enjoying crumpets at early noon! The Wallace Collection Museum is a five-star museum, that also houses a restaurant with reservation seating.
More, we visited River Thames, the Serpentine River and Gallery, Princess Diana’s memorial site, Hyde Park; which is considered one of London’s Royal Parks, the City of Westminster, South Kensington and the Victoria area. And, quite fitting for a queen, we visited Buckingham Palace. We didn’t go in, as we were told it wasn’t open for visiting this time of year, but I admired its royalty from afar! I love London’s architecture, it has an old Europe feel. The Georgian buildings derive from the Georgian era when the buildings of that period were named after specific kings who reigned at the time: George I, George II, George, III, and George IV. The Prince Albert Monument has quite an astonishing view; with its high pointed structure and gold statues. Its grandeur is reminiscent of a mini castle! Prince Albert married Queen Victoria, his first cousin, in 1840 and was a staunch proponent of the abolition of slavery. The Victorian era is a period that derived from Queen Victoria’s namesake during her reign from 1837-1901.
Later in the evening we strolled down to Chelsea and Soho, which are parts of town that are synonymous in New York and London. London’s Soho is a replica of New York’s Times Square with its high energy, bright lights, tourists, restaurants and bars, and souvenir stores like Hershey’s M&M’s store.
Continuing, a trip to the UK without church or London theater would not be proper would it! We attended Sunday services at the beautifully Byzantine designed Westminster Cathedral. Its breathtaking architecture was replete with Jesus fixtures, stunning religious artwork, and literature of the church’s long history in the UK. Although I was not born when the Beatles were at their peak, I got to live vicariously through the live stage version of Let It Be at the Garrett theatre. I admit, I am a reformed hippie, and just vibing along with “all we need is love, let it be, come together, imagine, and I wanna hold your hand,” was just the antidote I needed to go back out into the world and spread peace and love!
I also learned some of the King’s speech while I was there! The Brit’s call their underground subway the tube; in which a lovely British speaker reminds you to: mind the gap, before stepping onto or off a train. Their elevator is called a lift. And men are informally referred to as Blokes.
In conclusion, I really like London! The city is very cosmopolitan, it’s easy to get around on foot without having to pay for cabs, and the people are very welcoming and friendly; each time we asked for directions, strangers were more than gracious in helping us. This queen will definitely be going back to London to hob nob among royalty!
Check back soon… pics to come!