What part of London do you love? For Purple online director Paula Goldstein Di Principe, it’s North London. Hampstead to be exact. The Essex native and now, NW3 dweller, loves nothing more than taking a trip around John Keats’s house, the Everyman Cinema, and Ruby Violet’s ice cream bar — all on the same day. And lucky us, we got to tag along, too. We caught up with this stylish individual to talk favourite designers (hint: J.W.Anderson), the joys of travel, and how to survive London Fashion Week.
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Photographed by Georgina Martin
How did you get started in the fashion business?
"It is a kind of strange answer, I ended up not finishing school and the only course I could find that would take me without qualifications was art college. I started art college at 16 in Essex. After a year I was bored and I really wanted to move to London and the only course I could find which I could start at 17 was at the London College of Fashion so I went again with no qualifications and somehow managed to get onto the fashion portfolio degree course and kind of fell into it by accident. I did that, got Dean selection and got put forward for a degree and finished two years of my foundation and a year of my BA and then left to join Dazed and Confused. I guess the rest is history."
J.W. Anderson top; Preen skirt; Dr Martens shoes.
What is it about London that really inspires you?
"For me London is almost like an entire world. It is like a city of villages, you can meet so many different people with so many different perspectives and nationalities. You are constantly learning and things are constantly changing. You walk a street and three weeks later you walk through it again and it has three different shops... so I feel it is a place that you can never get bored in."
Why is the Lord Palmerston pub special to you?
"It is at the end of my road which is always convenient for a pub and I feel like North London is pub land there's not really much else around there. You kind of go from one pub to the other. On saturday you can go and have hungover breakfast and a bloody mary. I've thrown my best friend's hen party in the room upstairs and that sense of going somewhere where everyone knows your name, which is a nice thing to have in a big city."
Lord Palmerston, 33 Dartmouth Park Hill, London, NW5 1HU; 0207 485 1578.
How would say living in London has influenced your personal style?
"Completely. I was definitely a weirdo at school with my personal style. I was in the cool gang but I was the strange one who liked Green Day and wore pink ripped fishnets. I permed my hair one year so it was different to everyone else's who straightened theirs but I had cool boyfriends so it gave me this preserve to be as strange and experimental as I wanted. It made me become more and more interested in personal style and pushing boundaries. I've had my hair in a million different colours and its always got an undercut. Even when I got married I made my hairdresser put in an undercut. So I think I have used the city to push boundaries with my personal style."
Who are the designers that you love best?
"I'm really passionate about London designers. Firstly, because a lot of them have become my friends over the years. People like Jonathan Anderson is doing amazing things in terms of actually having a grown-up brand for such a young designer, it's very minimalist and well-done and I think it is quite novel from someone so young. He is someone who stands out for me. Also I love to wear brands like Richard Nicoll, Simone Rocha
, and Antipodium. They are sweet and colourful and they push boundaries with what they are doing but they are not unwearable with what they are doing. For me I'd much rather wear those brands which are growing, almost like every dress counts in a way, then to be wearing the huge corporations. That being said I do love Kenzo, Celine, and I'll never say no to a pair of Miu Miu shoes but I try and make an active choice to support young, British designers where possible."
Hampstead is your manor but where else in London, do you love to shop and hang out with friends?
"I tend to shop in central London. I can shop anywhere. I can spend money like no bodies business. I can shop instantly, walk into a shop and buy ten things I don't need, in a shop I've never been to before. Liberty's
is one of my favourite stores because of the buy that they have. Bond Street is great to check out for its stores. You just have everything all together there. East London is great for vintage stores and there are places like LNCC
which is a real destination store."
There is a real North / South London divide — you're either with one side or the other. Where do you stand?
"Number one, I'm an Essex girl, so I'm north of the river by nature. It's almost bred into you. For me there is definitely an aspect that crossing the city to get back home seems like an epic thing to do. It is such big city and people find their area and get to know it very well. London is not a city where you can get to know everywhere very, very well. You have to decide where your allegiance lies and then stick to it. Otherwise you can be a little bit like a floating nomad. "
Sophie Hulme clutch; Comme des Garcons wallet.
What are the five items in your wardrobe that you can't live without?
"My Charlotte Olympia
Kitty flats, in various colours, that I wear until the soles fall off. I love high heels but I'm not very good at moving long distances in them and with my job I'm moving constantly, particularly during fashion weeks, so I'm pretty obsessed by practical shoes. I guess jeans, the staple of anyone's wardrobe, but they have to be oversize or have something off about them. I guess denim is the easiest way to express personal style as much as they are a very boring wardrobe staple but you can put your stamp on it. Shirts, I always collect silk and cotton shirts. It is my attempt to be french and chic. I'm actually pretty bad at buying wardrobe staples, I always get told off for buying crazy things like Masion Michel
hats with cat ears. I bought a Luella PVC raincoat, I literally look like a porn star Barbie in it, but I can't throw it away. My wardrobe is full of weird things that don't really go with each other. I guess another wardrobe staple is a white t-shirt I wear to try and make go with all the other erratic things to hold it all together. Finally, my other wardrobe staple would be a hat! I love the fact that a hat can really change your character."
How would you describe your personal style right now?
"My personal style I guess is quite childish in a way [laughs]. I like my fashion to be playful and fun. I have to fall in love with items, I don't necessarily plan how things will look in my wardrobe. I like things that make me happy. I'm like a magpie…ooh shiny things. I must have that pink shiny turban."
As an Online Director for Purple, you travel constantly. What are the favourite places you have visited recently?
"My favourite fashion week I've ever visited was Istanbul fashion week. It is actually my favourite city, it is so beautiful and the fashion that is produced there as it really is 'East meets West' just like the city. I like the idea of that fusion and I like emerging markets. It's not showy in the way that other emerging markets can be. I guess New York is THE fashion week for me in terms of being fun and there is a great energy. Milan is beautiful and you get lots of pasta. Paris you're usually exhausted but the shows are the best in the world in terms of calibre of what they put into those shows. It's a performance. London is still probably my favourite city in terms of new talent. You're always discovering something new."What is it about Keats House that appeals to you?
"It's the romantic in me. The vision of…feeling like you are in a place where so much poetry was created and actually it was kind of a time of freedom, in the way the Romantic poets lived was way beyond their generation. They were anarchists of their time. There is something quite poetic and peaceful about being there. For me it is the perfect place to go to write and think."
John Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, London, NW3 2RR; 0207 332 3868.
Who are the emerging designers that you have your eye on this upcoming season?
"There's Isa Arfen she is amazing. Agi and Sam
are really exciting and new. Phoebe English
is also doing really beautiful stuff too."
Marni top; MiH denim cut-offs; Oliver Peoples sunglasses; Tabio Socks; Stuart Weitzman boots; Diane von Furstenberg handbag.
What do you like to bring back from your travels around the globe?
"As I said I'm a magpie so I collect weird trinkets, postcards, cheap beads, and strange little animals from the airport. In our bathroom, we have shelves which my husband has dedicated to my tat and its a shrine to all the weird stuff I've collected all over the world. There's sphinxes from Egypt and metal elephants from India."
What is the craziest thing in your wardrobe?
"I guess for me, in terms of buying it, it would have to be a Valentino Privé dress which I fell in love with in Dover Street Market
. It was about £8,000 when I first saw it. It keep on going down in the sale and it kept being there and then one day I walked in and it was still there, still expensive but it came into the range of being feasible. I thought this would never happen again and I'd never be able to own something like this so I had to buy it. It is hand sewn layers of grey silk that look like feathers and fall all over the skirt of the ball gown. It's a dream item. I'm still waiting for someone to throw a ball for me so I can wear it."
You've just launched a website Voyage d'Etude — what motivated that?
"There were a couple of reasons. One, I was on holiday with some friends in Italy, friends who are peers in the industry, and we all went to a coffee shop in Luca, Tuscany, one morning and one of us asked why there were city walls. I said, 'to keep out someone'…we realised we didn't know the answer to this question and a lot of others. Thinking that we were informed, editorial, journalistic like-minded people, we just didn't have the answers. So we started talking about the fact that online there wasn't a space to talk about travel for people like us. A website where we could hear about travel and different countries. That started the ball rolling. I love my job at Purple, it is amazing, but sometimes when you work within a strict remit about what your brand there are things editorially that I wanted to talk about that wasn't right for my other work. Then I went to visit my mum and I found this scrapbook which I made when I was seven or eight when I went to Scotland, inside there was a drawing of a haggis and a description of what sort of animal it was (my fact checking wasn't so great back then), a postcard of a castle, and a picture of how I'd redecorate if I lived there. All these amazing collections of objects. I started thinking about how we don't collect anymore. How we've lost that childish sense of collecting for collecting sake, of finding beauty in inanimate stupid objects and how with Instagram, as much good as it is, we are always hunting for a perfect moment, we're lining up our perfect moment, we're stopping our perfect moment to capture it. But when you collect something it is accidental things which come along with you on the journey. It's not stopping the journey to collect those objects. They are things that happen as part of the adventure. I started thinking about the idea of scrap booking and over lunch with a friend, who had been working for Baccarat, she had been in their amazing archives and was showing me photographs and one of them was of this beautiful chest. It was named 'Voyage d'Etude' and was covered in maps. I thought that is it. It is a study trip, a scrapbook of an adventure that you've taken somewhere and you've learnt something from it."
What are your hopes for it? What can we expect over the next couple of months?
"It's really a growing work in progress. The most interesting things so far are the stories. People are starting to share stories with people they know. So many amazing adventures. I've just got in contact with the girl who's won the Mongol Derby
to write a story about that. My friend Josef Valentino
has made one where he went on a quest around the world to visit all of the Gagosian galleries
as part of an art project to win a Damien Hirst and he won. He sent me a scrap book from every city. People who have amazing scrap books and collections, like an illustrator called Mr Bingo
who collects postcards and sends hate mail. He's making a scrap book for me. I just want to collect stories, be they sad, be they political or absolute fantasy fun stories. My friend Tatiana Cotliar
has written about the world of candy, sitting next to Ariana Delawari
, an amazing multi-media artist who went back to Afghanistan to record her album. I really want it to be a scrapbook of human life and human experience."
What are your survival tips for Fashion Month?
"Never go out on the first night, it goes steadily down hill from there. Whilst during New York fashion week we tend to eat macrobiotic food the entire time, at least for lunch, as your attacking your body with so many things. Candice Lake
who is an amazing fashion blogger and photographer has just sent me her version of a fashion week survival breakfast. It looks very complicated but I am going to replicate it. It's got lots of chia seeds and oatmeal in it. I honestly believe it is just about looking after yourself from the inside out."Ashish dress; Acne shoes [not seen].
What is it about the Everyman cinema that you love?
"London, luckily, has lots of independent cinemas but the Everyman cinemas is one of the few independent cinema groups left. They show a lot of smaller films which don't have that much distribution or are created by younger directors. It is also a treat to go there. It is so expensive to go to the cinema nowadays but to spend a tiny bit more money and have an arm chair to snuggle up on with someone and have table service, it makes it a real night out."Everyman Cinema, 5 Holly Bush Vale, Hampstead, NW3 6TX.
Can you talk us through what you've got going on with your hair right now?
"My hair is an ongoing process. I've had the same hairdresser at Vidal Sassoon since I was 16 years-old and so she's gone with me from having frost pink hair to now everyone is being very confused that I have actually have long hair. My concession with her is my undercut and I usually have a little blunt, short fringe. My favourite thing about hair is colour. I love to experiment with colour. I'm the one who asks my colourist, 'can we make a rainbow?" and he says, 'no but you can have purple and orange.' Or we'll go pink but it is always an experiment. Sometimes things work out which I wasn't expecting to work. There was a moment with green hair that I thought was going to be hideous but even Paris Hilton told me I had 'great bangs'. So [laughs] I guess for me, hair is something you can play with, I'm not too precious about it."
It's penny sweets a-go-go at the Everyman cinema.
A glimpse inside the screening room, just before the lights begin to dim....
What's up next on your travel hot list?
"I'd really like to go to Mexico and South America generally is a place I'd like to explore and travel across and see Brazil and Bolivia. I'm hoping those are next on my list. I also want to go back to LA this year. It is a strange city and I've never really got on with it but people say it is changing and it has got a new atmosphere and a lot of my friends are moving to the West Coast so I'm interested to go back and see how that has changed."
The amazing Ruby Violet ice cream parlour — what do you love about it?
"Tufnell Park is very close to my house and the area around the station isn't necessarily that nice but a few new independent businesses have started cropping up. I was walking past one day and spotted this ice cream shop and I had to pop in. It has some of the best ice cream I've ever tasted, even in Italy. Also they are a small business and I think it is important to support your village and support local businesses that are trying to survive in your community."Acne dress; Stella McCartney necklace; Bulgari handbag; Urban Outfitters sandals.
Ruby Violet, 118 Fortess Road, London, NW5 2HL; 0207 609 0444.
This ice cream parlour serves some of the most exotic flavours we've ever tasted. Think greengage and sour cream, liqourice and blackcurrant ripple, and chocolate rosemary to name just a few.
How did you find your place in the city? You are very much a North Londoner.
"When I first moved to London, I lived in Maida Vale with a boyfriend and I thought all of London was like that. White stucco houses and Kate Moss lived down the road. As a student I lived on Great Portland Street which was an amazing experience to be living and staying in central London. From that I could never adjust to living out East, which is where people expect you to live in if you work in fashion. When I first moved in with the person who is now my husband we started going out from central London to see how far we could go in terms of touching distance and I was strangely snobby about wanting to live near trees and a big park. So we moved to Highbury and then up the hill to Kentish Town which at the time was considered an odd area but it was a stones throw from Hampstead. From there we moved up the hill even further. It is just an area I'm drawn to and I have a natural group of friends there."
It is actually pretty hard to look this cool with ice cream slowly melting all over your hands. Seriously, we take our hats off to Paula for being such a sport.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
"That is so hard. I guess for me, putting Purple's site live was a very big moment for me. I was very young when I started and it is was something that I worked continuously on and the fact that it went live and people didn't hate it was an incredible thing for me. What Olivier has done with the magazine is incredible and it is has a lot of integrity and it is scary to take that and reformat it into a new platform without the entire world disagreeing with what you've done to their precious child."
Yes, Paula's Bulgari bag really does deserve its very own seat.
Is this the largest ice cream you've ever seen?
It's official: Ruby Violet's ice cream is finger-licking good.