Fashion, feature, Food/Lifestyle, front
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Summertime at the Victoria Quarter

Last week, the Victoria Quarter invited me to an afternoon full of food, fashion and fitness to celebrate summertime at the iconic shopping haven in the heart of Leeds City Centre. Home to luxury fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Paul Smith, the VQ is the primary destination for luxury shoppers in Leeds. It has even become an architectural landmark for tourists visiting the city due to the beauty of its elaborate, Victorian arcades which truly add to the experience.

The VQ is a fashion hotspot however delicious food can also be found notably at Filmore & Union, a health-conscious restaurant located in the centre of the quarter underneath the colourful stain-glassed roof. If you’re looking for a sophisticated and nutritious pitstop to your retail therapy then Filmore & Union provides this in the bucket loads. With a natural and clean decor, the restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere. Open from 8am in the morning, the food guru brand provide a delicious breakfast menu with healthy options from protein pancakes to a Filmore style Skinny English Breakfast. Their current all day Spring/Summer menu is jam packed with gluten free, vegetarian and dairy free gastro delights with a selection of salads, bagels and sharing boards to choose from.

In the company of a lovely group of bloggers and the girls from TurnKey, we enjoyed a mouth-watering Afternoon Tea at Filmore & Union last week. The Afternoon Tea included a selection of savoury canapes served on rye bread, home made cakes served with fruit and greek yoghurt as well as a couple of their wellness elixir shots (not amazingly tasty but you can tell they’re good for your insides).

Their Afternoon Tea is served everyday, 2-5pm and offers a unique, health related dimension to a traditionally calorie-heavy afternoon treat. At £38 including a glass of Prosecco, it’s the perfect option for you and a friend to enjoy after a morning of hardcore shopping and definitely worth the money just to sit in the beautiful surroundings of the VQ alone! Their restaurants are dotted all around Yorkshire in other picturesque cities, such as Ilkley and York and they have just announced the completion of their recent crowdfunding campaign. Who knows where you will see Filmore & Union pop up next. London maybe?

Paul Smith is situated on the corner of the Cross Arcade in the Victoria Quarter in a stunning three-floor shop filled with character and interest. If you’ve visited a Paul Smith shop before you will know that they’re not your usual everyday retail experience. At the Leeds shop, the walls are covered with pieces of art from Paul’s personal collection, the original oak floors are from an old school in Sheffield and the wooden fixtures at the till area on the ground floor derive from a Victorian style pharmacy. This attention to detail is reflected in the fashion in store as well as the customer service the staff offer. We were given a tour of the whole shop by the Assistant Manager, Scott and he went into fine detail about the inspirations behind the new pre A/W womens collections, just arrived in store recently. Fashion is always a season ahead and although we’re in summer, it was really exciting to learn about some of Paul Smith’s main trends for the upcoming A/W season. His womenswear collections, Paul and Black, always involve an androgynous element with statement pieces such as oversized wool tailored coats, chunky leather brogues and buttoned up collars in luxurious fabrics, notably bold prints on silk. Although their clothes are on the pricier side, they exude quality and style and are real keepsake pieces that will last you a long time. 
Paul Smith pride themselves on giving British style a twist; their linings are always fabulously bright and eccentric and buttons are carved into a unique shape. If you ever walk past the Paul Smith shop in Leeds, it is well worth a look just to walk around with a glass of Prosecco to take in all its quirky character and a quick chat with the staff who are all so passionate and knowledgable about the brand and Paul Smith himself. I have genuinely never been in a shop that has offered such impeccable service – the staff are all superbly style savvy and genuinely want to help and give you the best experience they possibly can.

Sweaty Betty is a rather new addition to the Victoria Quarter, opening its doors last year and attracting fitness savvy customers with their fashionable and practical lifestyle collections for every activity from skiing to spin and tennis to triathlon. Their gear is technologically savvy with designs that are far more style-conscious than anything you would get in your local Sports Direct. Prints and colours are loud and exciting and I was genuinely inspired by sportswear for the first time ever. It became obvious as we entered the shop that we were entering something more than just a clothes shop. Sweaty Betty Leeds offer fitness classes to their customers for free in their studio located on the first floor. Run by local fitness gurus, Sweaty Betty integrate themselves within the community and give independent fitness experts such as mother-daughter duo Veggie Runners the opportunity to showcase their skills. I was able to take part in a Roga class – a concept created by Veggie Runners, the session includes a 2km run around the city centre with intervals of yoga exercises, giving you the opportunity to be more aware of your running body using yoga and vice versa.  
The classes are always themed. This week’s theme? Wellness. After the running/yoga session, the class was completed with a routine of relaxing yoga aimed to promote wellbeing within the body. As a yoga novice, I was pleasantly surprised as to how much fun I had. Although I wasn’t exactly Gwyneth Paltrow when it came to practising yoga (yet), I felt comfortable that I wasn’t going to stick out like a sore thumb and I could take the session at my own pace without being left attempting positions way too hard for me. If you’re interested in finding out more about Roga, you can sign up for updates here. It’s going to be the new yoga phenomenon I reckon!

Thank you to Victoria Quarter for inviting me to experience a selection of the quality brands they have to offer.

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