On & Around the Street

Meet Poet Ella Frears

Ella Frears (image: Etienne Gilfillan)

To celebrate the reopening of Sloane Street’s luxury boutiques, we commissioned London-based poet Ella Frears to write a They Speak To Her, a poem that encapsulates the joy and freedom of in-person shopping for things that aren’t remotely essential.

It’s a tribute to the thrilling feeling that a new storyline in one’s life can begin with a purchase made in-store. An experience that simply can’t be replicated when you checkout online. Read it (and get the spine tingles) here.

Ella, whose debut collection, Shine, Darling (2020), was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Both Cartier and Jo Malone London have recognised her talents and her work has been published in the LRB, Poetry London, The Guardian, The Telegraph, and the Moth among others.

We asked her about what she was most looking forward to about lockdown restrictions lifting and the things that kept her sane during the months of confinement.

What got you through lockdown?
Quite early on my partner turned the garage into a little gym, which was genius. We’d do Peloton classes in there (I became deeply attached to Emma Lovewell and Cody Rigsby). I also did Zoom dance classes with Topaz White and a group of local women. I watched a lot of TV (The Sopranos, Succession, I May Destroy You); I had candle-lit baths (Diptyque); I watched a lot of skincare and makeup tutorials on Instagram; I compulsively Googled houses for sale in Italy; I called my friends.

What was the thing you missed most about in-person shopping for inessential items?
I missed the immediacy of seeing something and being able to find out then and there if it suits me. Also part of the excitement for me comes from the textures, fabrics, weight of garments, which you can’t really get a sense of from a photo on a website.

What is the first non-essential thing you will buy when you are able to?
A pair of Malone Souliers heels.

What was your dining-out food fantasy?
I love going out for dinner – for the atmosphere as much as the food. I fantasied about a long, softly lit and boozy dinner at Fischer’s in Marylebone.

What was your worst lockdown habit?
It was lockdown – anything goes.

Any new lockdown skills?
I was really determined to learn how to do the splits… I did not achieve that goal. I sharpened my liquid eyeliner skills, though. And I’ve been (slowly) learning Italian.

Any DIY beauty/grooming fails/wins?
I’ve had bleach-blonde hair since I was 17. I wasn’t prepared to let it grow out, so with strict instructions from my hairdresser Bryce Patrick, my partner and I coloured my hair. Last month was the sixth time we’ve done it – I think we’re getting pretty good. That’s not to say, however, that I’m not really looking forward to my salon appointment on Monday.

What will you miss about lockdown?
Nothing. Good riddance!

Which Sloane Street boutique did you want to make a beeline for when stores reopened?
It’ll be so great to have a wander – look at all the new shapes, colours, trends. I’m ready to be seduced!