Last week, Brummell executive editor Peter Howarth moderated the first in a series of six Penthouse Conversations that will take place over the next couple of months. The main guest of the evening was a towering icon of British menswear and former editor of British GQ, Dylan Jones OBE. Joining him on the panel were two artists who live and work on the island: womenswear couturier Lulu Liu, and photographer and gallerist Sokari Higgwe of London City Island’s London Lighthouse Gallery & Studio.
All the events are taking place in a regular venue: one of two recently completed luxury penthouses on London City Island. These two spectacular apartments are the most recent parts of the innovative riverside development to be completed by developers EcoWorld Ballymore. Before they sell, London City Island is hosting the Penthouse Conversations as a way of introducing them to the world.
Invited guests were greeted with drinks and canapés on the 25th floor of Corson House, one of London City Island’s towers. Panoramic views of the capital compelling them outside, the majority of attendees then beelined for a vast balcony, which forms a horseshoe around the penthouse. Others, meanwhile, climbed a spiral staircase to a mezzanine balcony and set about exploring the property before the panel discussion commenced.
The title of the first conversation was How to Dress in the New Hybrid World. During the thought-provoking discussion, Jones and Higgwe repudiated predictions in the media that the Covid-19 pandemic would be the end of fashion. They suggested, conversely, that Londoners have survived a prescriptive, antisocial period, and are therefore dressing with more individuality and self-assuredness now than they were prior to the pandemic. Reinforcing their perspective, Liu enthused the audience with anecdotes about her post-pandemic clientele, recounting the first meetings she had with customers when the last lockdown ended. Among them were wrestlers seeking personalised garments for a wedding and a lady determined, at any cost, to commission for her church a luxurious tablecloth adorned with the embroidery in which Liu specialises. Liu identified in such customers an unprecedented commitment to showing off their true characters through the bespoke items they ordered.
Underpinning the evening, then, was the theme of that prevailing spirit of individuality Jones and Higgwe imputed to the fashion of the hybrid working age, and which Liu’s amusing tales affirmed. And it is a spirit that also characterises London City Island – its architecture and the kind of people who live, work and frequent there. While the penthouse offers a vantage point from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the London skyline, The Lockdown Room at the bottom of Corson House – named so because it was born out of the first lockdown of 2020 – hosts events, themed nights and all-day food and drink for both locals and visitors, and is emblematic of the communal atmosphere to be found in this island neighbourhood. It also provided delicious canapés for the event.
There certainly appeared to be a consensus among the guests that the Island expresses something of that world-renowned creativity that Great Britain, as Jones at one point noted, is historically known for producing. Indeed, the architecture and atmosphere of the place has inspired some of Higgwe’s moving photography.
It is perhaps because of this that many like-minded people in creative and entrepreneurial fields have already relocated to London City Island, which is fast becoming a hub of contemporary culture. The English National Ballet has made its home here since 2019, and a university is on its way. Another pull factor is the sense of a close-knit neighbourhood that EcoWorld Ballymore has created here; it is almost as if this is a village located in the capital. Notably, residency on the Island comes with membership to the City Island Arts Club, giving inhabitants exclusive access to several amenities including a concierge service, high-spec leisure and sports facilities such as an outdoor swimming pool with iconic red tiling and state-of-the-art gym, as well as an exclusive resident lounge, spa and gardens.
Adding to the cultural nature of London City Island, the remaining Penthouse Conversations will bring together experts for more thoughtful discussions of subjects including music and wine. Look out for them on London City Island’s Instagram – @londoncityislandlife and on Eventbrite. We will be making a limited number of places available for these events for Brummell readers, and will be notifying you via Brummell newsletters and social.
Find out more about London City Island londoncityisland.com.