A major city 80 miles south-west of Warsaw, Lodz (pronounced “wooj”) has a rich textile history dating back to Poland’s Industrial Revolution. Today, the city’s fashion credentials hold their own against the style powerhouses of London, Paris, Milan and New York, making it an alternative choice for a chic weekend break.
I am sitting beside a man dressed as a kind of glam-rock soldier, and his suited-and-somehow-booted Jack Russell, next to a catwalk. We’re watching the main show at FashionPhilosophy – Poland’s largest fashion event – with a few hundred nonchalantly cross-legged attendees, who occasionally raise their eyebrows at the hottest threads drifting by. If looks could kill, then theirs would inflict collateral damage. On the other hand, mine might give you a Chinese burn – or, at best, an irritating flick of your ear. And I’ve made a special effort tonight.
Since 2009, FashionPhilosophy has been held periodically in Lodz – pronounced “wooj” – a major city 80 miles south-west of Warsaw. With a rich textile history dating back to Poland’s industrial revolution and the boom of clothing manufacturing in the 1870s, Lodz’s fashion credentials hold their own against the style powerhouses of London, Paris, Milan and New York.
Today Lodz is a cultural hotbed not only for fashionistas, but for all kinds of creative people. Artists come here to fill the walls of buildings with brilliantly bizarre murals, film-makers fulfil their dreams at the world-renowned National Film School, and writers, musicians and designers exchange numbers in the trendy cafés, bars and studios of Off Piotrkowska.
Nowhere else are these historic and artistic connections better physicalised than at andel’s Hotel Lodz – a 19th-century red-brick structure that, having once been a thriving weaving mill, is now enjoying its second heyday as a spectacular modern guesthouse.
I stagger through its sliding doors to be greeted by a hypnotic patchwork of baby blues and yellows that creeps around the circular carpets and ceilings. Purple spotlights shimmer off cast-iron beams, from which original artwork hangs to be admired by men with soul patches and beautiful women. They soon disappear into elevators that ascend into the open-brick walls. Air’s Moon Safari plays through invisible speakers. This is just the foyer.
In the expansive sofa area to my right, parties of old friends giddily discuss tomorrow morning’s plans, while a mother decides she’s going to try scallops for the first time in the restaurant – which is also decorated with visual art. Upstairs, a family relaxes in the low-lit pool, and, on the very top floor, a couple gaze over the twinkling lights of Lodz’s sodium nightlife.
It’s a different kind of luxury here. One that blends elements of past and present, classic and contemporary, industrial and artistic. Against all this award-winning aesthetica, my request of the available receptionist seems pathetically mundane. My room card got lost in a mist of flashing lights, boots and wine at the FashionPhilosophy event, so I need it replacing. She doesn’t roll her eyes, or frown, which is nice.
Wizz Air operates the London Luton – Warsaw Chopin route with 3 daily flights with fares starting from GBP 25.99*. Bookings on wizzair.com. *(one way, including all taxes, non-optional charges and one small cabin bag)
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