What's Behind Doorway Number Two? A Designer Sample Sale
Updated: Jan 22
Walking around the streets of any major city, well any major city where fashion is a scene, you never know when you may stumble across a fabulously unbelievable designer sale. Call it luck or call it fate but I've found some really great items during random walks. Last month, on one gorgeous day, that is exactly what happened to a friend and me during one of our walks around London. One of my closest girlfriends and I often get together for longs walks and chats. The walk is for "exercise" but we will pop inside a shop for a look around or step into a cafe along the way for a beverage. We wander down the side streets of London gazing at the architecture, the Mews' (well me at least because I love a Mews) whilst passing interesting galleries and atelier's. On this fine day we lucked up and stumbled across a designer sample sale. Yes! It was definitely a gorgeous day!
Although I've lived in London for a while (Over a year presently and for 4 years in the past) I still really do not blindly know my way around London. There are certain areas I know like the back of my hand. But usually I have to rely on my trusty IPhone when I wander around randomly on my own. But my friend is London born and bred so when I walk with her I let her take the lead and she never disappoints to reveal to me streets and places I've never seen or even knew existed. On this particular fine gorgeous day we walked the streets from South Ken to Mayfair. As we walked through a maze of side streets, passing adorable cafes and shops, we passed a storefront which only had a symbol for a sign and blackened windows so you could not peek inside. I stopped in our tracks and stood there with curiosity trying to figure out what the symbol meant and wondering was this a store or a gallery. Across from that storefront (doorway 1) stood a doorman in front of another storefront (doorway two). I was so desperate with curiosity I decided to wander over to ask what was the mystery place across the street. "My dear man! Can you tell me what lies beyond the doors of that mysterious storefront across from us? What exactly does the symbol mean?" OK, seriously. No, I did not ask the question in that manner. I'm from Chicago so it kinda went more like "Excuse me! What's up with the store over there?"
Super nice the doorman for doorway 2, but he had no idea and said he's been wondering the same thing himself but has only been working this location for a few weeks and there's been no activity at doorway 1. Excuse me for a second while I sidetrack this issue - I can't believe he's been there for a couple of weeks wondering and hasn't asked someone. Men! They never seem to want to ask for directions or I guess in this case "what's that place over there?" Back on track - So since he seemed to know nothing about what I really wanted to know I asked him "So what's up with this place?" The storefront at doorway 2 he was standing guard seemed just as mysterious. Beyond the perfectly painted white door frame was a very small bright white room flooded with light from a skylight above with an all-white desk and chair. It looked like a blindingly blank white box with a staircase toward the back which could have lead to an office, gallery, workshop or anything for all we knew. When he answered "It's a designer sample sale. Would you like to come in?" It took about a nano of a second for us to reply "YES PLEASE!" So we filled out the guest book, stepped past the perfectly painted white door frame of doorway 2 and wandered up the stairs into what I could only describe as a fashionista's paradise! The Peter Pilotto Sample Sale @ The Music Room Mayfair.
When we reached the top of the stairs, my eyes widen with excitement. First I was shocked to see how many people were in the showroom. It wasn't unbearably crowded actually. It was just enough people to properly fill the room. My shock was due to the fact you didn't hear anyone until you reached the very top of the staircase and the silence signaled we were about to enter an empty room. So it went from seemingly very quiet to the sounds of music and women chattering over dresses. There I stood visually taking it all in. All the rails and rails of beautiful clothing, tables of shoes and accessories and all the colors. Oh my gosh!!! The colors and the prints were absolutely stunning. My friend was familiar with this designer. Myself? I follow fashion, but I'd never heard of Peter Pilotto so it was a surprise for me to see how color beautifully filled the showroom floor. The racks and tables were perfectly laid out like a maze designed to have a start point and endpoint. Designed to lead you through each rack so you wouldn't miss one dress, one handbag or accessory, nor a skirt or jacket. Tables laid with handbags, accessories and shoes situated so once you scanned a few racks you then changed focal point. So as I scanned the room taking it all in and thinking of a game plan I realized no need just start at the first rack. Rack one, dress one.
Now when I shop I rarely, if ever, actually comb the racks going item by item by item. I'm sort of a visual shopper. If it catches my eye I'll have a look. It may be a certain color or print that will grab my attention which will cause me to go to a rack and pull out an item. Other than that I just can't be bothered looking at every item on a random rack. I know I'm probably missing out on some great stuff but to that I say "you can't miss what you don't see." But this was a special occasion. This was a sample sale so I had to take full advantage of the clothing opportunities that stood before me and examine item by item by item. So I started with rack one dress one. Since I'd never heard of Peter Pilotto I was not familiar with his designs so this felt like a clothing expedition of sorts. All I can say is I found myself in fashion heaven. His designs are so colorful and bright. I'm particularly fussy about prints but I can't think of one print that I didn't desire to own and wear. The dresses, either short or long, were amazing! The mix of colors, the textures and my personal favorite, the embellishments! The embellishments! Can we talk about the embellishments for a second? Anyone that knows me knows how much I love a bit of bling. It's my fashion fantasy to be adorned with crystals and rhinestones from head to foot all day every day. But sadly that's not the life we live in these modern times. So I save the bling for nights out on the town. But these dresses were so amazing with the mix of prints, textures and embellishments it made me fantasize about the many places I would have to plan to go just to get dressed in these amazing frocks. I was ready to blow the budget on these beautiful pieces of art just to hang in my closet. I didn't care what the size. If I had to not eat for several months to fit into the sample size 2 then food be damned!
After talking myself off the ledge and coming back to reality I decided to not let excitement take over me and pace myself. This is one of those occasions when I have to talk to myself in the third person and say, "Tracy! Tracy?! Get it together girl. DON'T do anything you are going to regret tomorrow. And Tracy?! Look at the sign over there. It says 'All sales Final!'" Well nothing snaps me out of a shopping frenzy like the words "All Sales Final." I can't even partake in that sort of foolishness. For me, those three words will kill a shopping trip in a second. But since this was a pop up lasting only one more day I didn't have the luxury of sleeping on it and had to take my time and make practical decisions. It's a sample sale so that eliminates most of the items in the decision-making process - so I thought. I was surprised at the various sizes available which didn't make it any easier to be selective. Not an easy task with the racks and racks of beautiful dresses and many tables of accessories and shoes at amazingly affordable price points in front of me. Gorgeously embellished dresses, jackets and evening gowns under £200. Somewhere even £100. The accessories were even more affordable at under £50. But the pricing that made me almost faint on-site? The shoes!! Twenty pounds! Yes, that's correct! Twenty pounds for a pair of designer shoes. When I saw the sign "All shoes £20" the delight I felt inside could only be described as "Somebody hold me up! I've got the vapors!" Sheer delight! Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a sample sale offering designer shoes at the price of £20. To add to the delight? One of the pairs of shoes I'd seen on Pinterest a while back, pinned it and stalked web pages looking for it but could never find. Imagine how excited I was when I saw this shoe sitting on a table at a random sample sale I didn't even plan on attending. So ladies, and gentlemen, never let anyone tell you "Shoe dreams can't come true." Especially at a sample sale at a price of £20. I'll take that thank you! And so I did. Along with a pair of booties and a carefully thought out and selected piece of clothing I can actually wear on several occasions in the winter months.
So after my friend and I finished perusing rail after rail and table after table of absolute gorgeousness we made our purchases and then walked down the staircase back through the small bright white room which we entered. We said a quick goodbye and thank you to someone new sitting behind the white desk on the white chair that was previously unoccupied. Passing through the threshold of the perfectly painted white doorway back onto the London streets we went, carrying our nondescript white shopping bags which held our newly purchased items we lovingly picked from the abundance of beautiful Peter Pilotto designer items. As we walked back through the maze of Mews lined side streets we giggled like teenage school girls raving about our unplanned adventure and our new purchases. There is no better feeling a woman gets than scoring new items at an unplanned sample sale. Or any sale for that matter. We ended up stopping at what I describe to be a concrete garden and taking a seat on a bench to unmask, refresh and re-hydrate. We continued to laugh in amazement how lucky we were to discover the sample sale. How much we loved our purchases. We also talked about how lucky we were to have gained entry because upon leaving we discovered it was an RSVP only event.
So it was probably not luck at all but fate that guided us pass the perfectly painted white doorway. Remember the empty white desk and chair? Yes, definitely fate we stumbled in while that seat was empty. But never fear my dears. My friend and I are now on that RSVP list. No longer will we have to randomly walk the streets of London hoping to stumble on the next designer sample sale. It will be a planned RSVP occasion. Fate has seen to it! Although we will more than likely still wander about looking to see what the next walks reveal.
P.S. If you're walking around London and notice many women carrying a bunch of nondescript white shopping bags I suggest you ask "Where exactly is the sale?"