If there was one event I’d encourage you to attend in London, it would be the Chap Olympiad. It takes place every year in July, in the beautiful and elegant Bedford Square: which I am told is the only fully Georgian square in London. Whether you are a Londoner, or visiting the city, you will absolutely love this quiet masterpiece of an event.
I believe this year was the 13th year of the festival, organised by Gustav Temple who is the founder of the Chap magazine, which details itself as ” a journal for the modern gentleman” http://thechap.co.uk/2018/07/05/fashion-at-the-chap-olympiad/ The magazines, also were sold on the day, come out quarterly and offer simply beautiful fashion articles and advice for the distinguished modern gent. I certainly recommend taking a look. Subscriptions would be a novel and special gift for a friend, partner or father who has an interest in finer male fashion and dandy wear. People who attend the Chap event range from general vintage and period enthusiasts, to those who wear such garments on a regular and even daily basis, and some of them look as though they’ve been styled directly from the magazine itself.
Bedford Square itself is a small and charming area, and absolutely perfect for an event of this kind. In the heat, the green is shaded by several leafy trees of which bunting adorns. Period music is played from speakers around the green, and the format changes slightly every year, but this year a jazz band played later on in the day and regaled us all in the sunshine.
The day itself is split into several fantastically silly games (eg, “Not playing tennis”) and attempts at breaking world records (eg,”how many people can smoke from a pipe in 1 minute”) and as well as being a celebration of such beautiful fashion, it’s also a sheer celebration of English eccentricity. A compere introduces and leads the day, and rounds the partaking ladies and gents up. There is normally a central stage and this year was the first year without it, but I’m not sure this changed the overall feeling of the festival too dramatically. Changes are as good as a rest they say!
Certainly many of the attendees like to take part in the fun of these Olympiad games. But the absolute essence of the day is the sipping of Pimms and G&T’s and just people watching; marvelling at some of the absolute glorious individuals who come in what is mostly early 20th century regalia. Arrive early and you can grab yourself a table for yourself and friends, or bring a picnic blanket, spread out on the grass and just take in the visual feast surrounding you. It really is just lovely.
This year I went alone, and took part in “working” behind the scenes on a stall selling the Chap merchandise. Beautiful pocket square, cravats, magazine subscriptions, lapels and cufflinks. I had always meant to return to the event since first attending in 2014 but July has been quite busy the last few years and returning had become more and more difficult. This time, the idea of working was also a perfect way to return! I don’t mind attending events alone, but this is certainly one you’d get more out of by attending with special friends.
I got chatting to many wonderful attendees who had come over from the US, Canada and the continent and specifically timed their visits to attend this event. All spoke of being starved of events like this at home, and really appreciating the vintage scene in London and the Chap event itself. Some of the gentlemen who attended the stall tipped their hats when saying hello to me which was just lovely! I was even lucky enough to be treated to a few G&T’s on the stall (and ended up a little squiffy!) It just made me feel so wonderfully happy to be in London and enjoy the special events we have here. My team of fellow stewards were lovely chaps and ladies. And the Chap founder and organiser of this event Gustav Temple is the epitome of being a true gent and made the event very special.
The Chap takes place around the 14th July every year- do not forget it! Tickets were £25 this year and well worth the price. If you are looking for a special occasion for yourself and a loved one, or perhaps with a larger group of friends, mark this one in the diary; and make sure you give yourself enough time to find an outfit!
Super thanks to Gustav, Hayley, Marcus, Paul, Jimmy Keck (visiting from Providence Rhode Island, US!) and all the others who made the day so wonderful.