Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fonthill Road

Oh, the joy of Fonthill Road, best-kept secret of the wily bargain-hunting ladies of North London. In a panic because I don't have a frock for the Madrid wedding this weekend - well - I thought I had a perfectly serviceable cotton number until J revealed to me yesterday that it is a very posh society do - I peered into my bank account and despaired. Fabulous frocks are all very well, but weddings - and I have two this year to go to plus two hen weekends - are so flipping expensive. It's not just the frock, but the shoes, hat, bag, jewellery, flights/train tickets, hotel, present and all the rest of it. The average couple spends £1400 a year on attending weddings, apparently. Ouch.

So off to Fonthill Road I ran. Fonthill Road is just behind Finsbury Park train station and off Seven Sisters Road, and is a street where all sorts of bizarrely-named shops sell factory-outlet frocks to the trade and general public at ridiculously low prices. By frocks, I mean, proper frocks. And hats and jewellery and fascinators and handbags and shoes. It's all very international. The outfits come from Italy, Turkey, France, Spain and India (mostly) and there are no changing rooms, so you have to try them on whilst hiding amongst racks of clothes which are all still done up in plastic wrappers. Cypriot and Turkish ladies zip you up, suggest what size will fit better and are ruthless in their criticism and fulsome in their praise if something works ( 'Darliiing! It makes your hips look tiny!' 'No! Too much breasts!..this is better'....wrench...) . It's cash only, and you're welcome to haggle.

They are not exactly the sort of outfits one would wear to the supermarket (although they do have some cheap and cheerful cotton sun-dresses and skirts) but if you can pick your way through the OTT mother-of-the-bride pastel and sequinned numbers, there are steals to be had. I picked up a black with white embroidery corseted strapless fifties style dress with net petticoat for £45, and a crystal necklace and earrings, fascinator and sequinned clutch bag for £50, all in. Then a seventies-style cotton maxi dress for £10 and a waisted linen dress with poppies printed on it for another tenner. Teenage girls were out in force trying on tulle and chiffon princess dresses for their school proms, and two West Indian ladies were picking up suits and hats to wear to church. There were a few budget-conscious brides and bridesmaids rummaging as well.

Some of the dresses are just stunning; elaborate one shouldered full-length creations, with sequins and feathers and beading and embroidery and matching shrugs and shawls... I'm not quite sure where they can be worn - there's a distinct lack of a formal ball-scene in Finsbury Park and débutantes are in a minority in Hackney - but at prices like that it's Prince Charming's loss.

P.S: I will get back to political blogging shortly. I am officially on holiday at the moment so frivolity is what you get. Well, we all need a break sometimes.

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Blogger Autolycus said...

And why not? You go and fascinate the heck out of them!

June 25, 2008 8:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just so long as you give political detritus of this country a kicking when you return to work....

The Anon

June 25, 2008 10:13 pm  
Blogger Genette said...

a street where all sorts of bizarrely-named shops sell factory-outlet frocks

My favourite is FFUK -


June 26, 2008 10:34 am  
Blogger seth said...

hi rachel,

in ny,the area of manhattan known as "the lower east side" used to be the clothing and apparel discount mecca.Alas it is but a fraction of its former self. Now everything is either "superstores" or "big box" stores in the US- I know in the UK theres Tesla and TK Maxx-aka TJ Maxx in the US.

sounds like you are having a fun holiday-while some of us have to work :(


June 26, 2008 5:56 pm  
Blogger DAVE BONES said...

That is so funny reading about Fonthill rd, exactly as you describe! I went on a clothes making course down there. Lots of made up bleached blonde assistants. Its one of those London streets, like Ridley rd market etc which when you look at them could be anywhere in the world. Have fun at your wedding..

June 28, 2008 9:04 am  
Blogger Cookiemouse said...

Bring on the frivolity, but only if you post the pictures of your outfit so we can all share your fun. Enjoy your break, Rachel. You deserve it.

June 28, 2008 12:09 pm  
Blogger Not a sheep said...

My thoughts will be with you tomorrow; anniversaries like this must be hard to bear.

July 06, 2008 6:18 pm  
Anonymous AndrewM said...

What 'not a sheep' said.

Stay strong.

July 07, 2008 12:46 pm  

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