Why Port Eliot Festival is a fashion favourite

Those of you who tuned into our Insta-stories over the weekend may have seen my Editor’s takeover from the depths of my home-county, Cornwall, covering the relatively lesser-known among the major UK festival circuit, Port Eliot.

Ever since I clocked the sequin-drenched looks of WGSN favourite, Michael Halpern shimmying their way around the walled-gardens of the estate on Instagram last year, I knew that (for fashion’s sake) I had to head home to check it out.

Port Eliot Festival. Photo Credit: Louise Roberts

Let’s start with the setting. Wonderfully decadent and brilliantly bizarre, this 12th Century stately home set over a 6,000-acre estate is like being thrust head-first into ‘Alice in Wonderland’. One moment you’re sipping gin cocktails in the orangery – the next, paddleboarding in an estuary, having gotten lost in the ground’s woodland maze with A-lister Teri Hatcher, (who, incidentally, has a surprising knack for survival skills). Need an escape from the rain? Head inside the house for a VR experience, or have a pitstop in the church to hear The London African Gospel Choir. Flamboyant lion characters roam the grounds, while 1950s tea ladies dispense tea and biscuits from a trolley just when you need them – in think part festival, part immersive theatre.


The Orangery, Port Eliot

The crowd is just as diverse as the location – culture-seekers can lap up some literature in the Bowling Green Tent or the Poetry Stage. Personally, I was moved to tears by Hollie McNish’s rousing commentary on motherhood, while my mother cried with laughter at Elvis McGonagall’s frank poems on Brexit. Music buffs lapped up the sounds of Gav Coombs or hype-kid Jimothy Lacoste, while a scattering of comedians from Shappi Khorsandi to Robert Webb gave frank yet funny takes on gender and race in the comedy tent. Parents can drop their kids within a woodlands creche and head to the site’s dedicated wellness area for a dip in a riverside hot-tub, or perhaps kick back to a Gong Bath or ‘Erotic Alchemy Yoga’ – I passed on the latter.  For the night owls, there’s a secret club behind a hedge, with DJ’s playing well into the crack of dawn. Cornwall’s very own Berghain (without the scary doorman).

Port Eliot: Photo Credit, Louise Roberts

Though this little Cornish gem is making quite the name for itself amongst the fashion-scene;  Tucked away in the Walled Gardens – near the oyster and prosecco stand, obviously  – The Fashion Foundation brimmed with buzzy fashion-lovers, high profile editors and a smattering of designers and icons. The Daphne Guinness gave an intimate talk on fashion and music, while Preen’s Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi showcased original pieces from their archive in a talk outlining the value of sustainability within fashion. A stage for the new and noteworthy was rife, with need-to-know names from unisex label Art School to London-based, Marta Jakubowski.

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi at Port Eliot – Photo Credit: Louise Roberts

Sold? You bet! But what to wear for one of the UK’s most eclectic festivals, I hear you cry! For those in doubt, subscribers can head over to WGSN’s Street Style section to get some inspiration from the best festival-looks over the weekend.

Head over to Port Eliot’s website to find out more and stay tuned for 2019’s lineup.

Our Womenswear Team’s Anna Ross is festival-hopping all summer long, follow her on Instagram to see what’s happening at  Helsinki’s Flow Festival next weekend.

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