Photo by Carina Najia
It’s undeniable that London is the world’s biggest melting pot of diverse cultures. The capital’s ability to bring communities together is unrivalled, as anyone passing by 133-135 Bethnal Green Road during the launch party of the Beefeater x Lakwena collaboration could have seen.
Lakwena is a London-based artist known for her multi-coloured art installations, which can be found in many different cities across the globe. Lakwena describes London as dynamic, eclectic, and “unlike anywhere else in the world”. We agreed that despite its unpredictable weather, hellish rush hour and sky-high cost of living, London just has an “it” factor. It has such a unique energy, and as Lakwena put it, “if you can make it [in London] you can make it anywhere”. The city’s diversity not only allows for different communities to come together, but also encourages people to share their passions with those around them.
Lakwena credits the spirit of London to the people and communities who make up the city. In collaboration with Beefeater, she designed a limited edition label for their gin bottles, drawing her inspiration from London and the people that live here. Beefeater is London’s oldest gin distillery, having been around since 1876 — so Lakwena’s goal with this collaboration was to give the bottle a fresh, new spin. She designed a bright and colourful rainbow logo with bold letters in her signature style, representing the old meeting the new.
The pop-up party was filled with hundreds of limited-edition Beefeater x Lakwena bottles on display, an open bar with creative cocktails like Eton mess slushies, and exposed brick walls covered with large portraits of nine different artists and their biographies. These were creators and innovators that were chosen to represent the spirit of London, ranging from choreographers to baristas to DJs. One of the pictured DJs was Alice Kettle, who performed live at the event.
Alice discovered her passion for DJ-ing 10 years ago, and since then has set up Off Tracks, a community of DJs and music industry professionals who want to share their love for music with the world. A born-and-raised Londoner, the city’s electrifying music scene has always been a part of her life. When compiling her setlist for the launch party, Alice contemplated what kind of music she could use to represent the theme of ‘the old meeting the new’ herself. She selected predominantly 90s and 00s throwback hits, from No Diggity by Blackstreet to Family Affair by Mary J Blige, and remixed these classics with modern house beats to create something more current. The familiarity of the lyrics in combination with the novelty of the beats made the songs feel incredibly fresh; overall, it was a smart yet subtle nod to the theme of the evening.
All in all, the event was especially inspiring for the way it pointed attention toward the guests, who I began to notice were all artists in their own ways. From writers to photographers to content creators, we too represented the spirit of London.
Edited by Talia Andrea, Music Editor