Last weekend Mr V and I were invited by the other V and her mother visiting from Spain to afternoon tea at the Wolseley. I don't often go to posh afternoon teas in London though from following other bloggers, it seems to be all the rage these days. I've been made aware of a myriad of places in the capital where one can pay an extortionate amount to drink exotic tea blends poured from silver teapots, eat scones with jam and clotted cream, nibble crustless cucumber sandwiches, admire pretty pastries all carefully arranged on silver plated afternoon tea stands, marvel at how it is all brought to you via discreet silver table service in an extraordinarily beautiful setting and eat and drink it all off the finest bone china.
The Wolseley is certainly a stunning dining hall however I regret that you'll have to do with my link to the venue to see for yourself as we made the mistake of politely enquiring if we could take photos and were very politely refused. Being polite people we politely acceded as one does in these sorts of polite society situations. So you'll have to imagine the sheen of the silver teapots, the clink of silverware against china, the cake caddies, the glistening red berries on the tartlets, the fluffy pink and yellow sponge cake and the bright green pistachio macaroons.
It did make me wonder about how other bloggers who happily snap and blog with abandon about their posh tea/dining experiences throughout blog land manage it. Do they just sneak the SLR out when the staff aren't looking? I'm not so blog obsessed as to bother with a major stealth operation with the Nikon to get the perfect shot of macaroons and cupcakes arranged just so for the sake of enlivening up a blog post. We were really just after cheesy commemorative touristy shots of a group of people who hadn't seen each other for a while in a vaguely well known London venue - is that now not permitted either? What's going on? Even before the invention of blogs and facebook I was always quite snap happy because I like having mementos of what I've done, who I've been with and what I've seen.
I do wonder what is behind the "put-away-the-camera" policy of some places (I had the same thing at the Royal Exchange earlier this year.) While there are rumours that some well known London sites remain paranoid about terrorism or keeping pesky paparazzi from pestering their clients (the likes of Kate Moss are known to turn up at the Wolseley), I have a sneaking suspicion that prior to the internet, digital photography and the explosion of social media, nobody would have batted an eyelid if we'd taken photos in most of these places.
While the individual may feel that a digital camera and the internet means that the ease of sharing their experiences in a very public arena with accompanying visuals and honest reviews is a good thing, it wouldn't surprise me if many companies are viewing this phenomena as a massive loss of control of their public relations machinery and their ability to present themselves in the best light possible. So consequently they are scrambling to somehow regain some control.
This is not about courting the free marketing avenues available on the internet via the chattering on social media channels, it is about being visible on the internet on your terms - which is also ironically, an issue fashion and lifestyle bloggers are well aware of and often discuss to the point of hand wringing - for an excellent exploration of what I'm talking about see The Dashing Eccentric's excellent post here.
So these days although the camera might be in the bag when I'm out and about it seems I can't rely on being able to take photos in the most innocuous of social situations even for my own personal memoirs, let alone for a blog, without having to consider beforehand whether it is politically correct to take a photo or not.
What I can rely on however, is that the fashionable other V and her equally stylish mum will turn up immaculately dressed for high tea and I can meet up with them wearing a great dress in the knowledge that I will be in good company. And they didn't disappoint with Señora V in elegant draped grey jersey and Señorita V in a glamorous faux leopard fur coat and a sequin embellished cocktail number. But again we couldn't get photos (Nikon battery also turned out to be flat), so you'll just have to imagine! There is no dress code at the Wolseley but I thought why not dress up anyway? I do enough slobbing around on Sundays to let a rare opportunity to don a show stopper pass me by.
I took the opportunity to debut this Ruben's print dress by Vivienne Westwood which I first saw in Selfridges and swooned over. Then I saw the price tag and ran away. Luckily for me, some online retailer that shall remain nameless obliviously stuck it on their website at a clearly erroneous and massive discount. On noticing this I can tell you I have never whipped the credit card out so fast! Me thinks the first digit was wrong - quite, quite wrong in fact- totally misread by whoever adds the prices to the website - oh thank you, thank you, thank you, whoever you are! I wasn't the only one who noticed either, it sold out overnight.
I have been a big fan of Vivienne Westwood for decades but her designs are not for the shy and retiring who want to blend into the background. You also have to be proud to be all woman because her designs are all about accentuating womanly curves, or lending you some if you're lacking! I discovered yesterday however, that the painting from which the print is sourced is actually of the "Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus" by Rubens. Not exactly the most PC of prints then. Got to wonder about the internal workings of Dame Vivienne Westwood's mind sometimes! However non PC, wearing a reproduction of an iconic work of art on a dress is a quite a statement of intent to be visible so I am linking up to this week's Visible Monday over at Patti's blog Not Yet Dead Style. Head on over to see the other participants statements of visibility.
For the record we actually had a lovely time taking high tea and I would certainly repeat the experience - though perhaps I'll pass on the Afternoon Blend next time.
Friday Rubens Print Dress: Vivienne Westwood Anglomania; Draped cardigan: Akiabara; Gold satin and perspex wedges: Prada via Ebay; Necklace: Bijoux Brigette