A Walk on the Bright Side

On the third Thursday of every month, a quirky corner of London’s East End becomes a riot of colour. Taking part in the Colour Walk are an eclectic collection of friends and like-minds who simply love dressing up – and the brighter the better it seems. Costumes can be elegant, fun, sometimes outrageous, but always eye-catching. Colour walkers incorporate ancient threads, vintage jewellery, found objects, sequins and even balloons into a dizzying array of truly out-there fashions.

Florent, never knowingly underdressed, at the Colour Walk @Meetmrlondoner

Everyone is welcome at the event in the Old Spitalfields Market. The whole thing is very inclusive with people of all creeds and colours and from all walks of life. There’s no judgement, there are no rules: there’s not even a membership. You just turn up if you fancy it. The mood is always one of joyful good humour and celebration.

Each Colour Walk culminates with a group photo at 2pm. This usually attracts a determined but friendly bunch of photographers keen to capture the moment. Their numbers are often added to by bemused tourists and local office workers – looking to grab their own record of a surprising and delightful event. And then there’s a chance to explore the market or retire to a local pub for a well-earned drink and to start the process of posting the most arresting pictures on to Instagram.

Marisa Méndez does it in style @meetmrlondoner

Marisa Méndez, an artist from Madrid and always resplendent in bright but expertly- judged colour, says: “This is my happy place. I can come here to express myself among an amazing and surprising group of people.”

The event has a wonderfully spontaneous feel to it. But appearances can be deceptive. Its genesis is in fact the result of determined planning and forethought. It’s the brainchild of artist, curator and collector Sue Kreitzman, known to her friends as The Queen of Colour. Hailing from Washington Heights in New York and now 83 years-old, Sue is always impeccably dressed in bright and stylish hues offset by a wonderful head of white hair. Sue loves the Old Spitalfields Market. She particularly wanted to promote the flea market, held here every Thursday, where Londoners and people from across the globe descend to hunt out rare treasures, vintage clothing and antique curios. “I was here – six years ago – on the very first day the flea market opened and I’ve been here every single Thursday since.”

Sue Kreitzman (left) and her fellow colour walkers @meetmrlondoner

Having grabbed a bargain, market shoppers can celebrate with a pint in a traditional East End pub like Dirty Dicks or a sophisticated lunch of fusion food at Ottolenghi. And there’s plenty of history to explore too, with the nearby church of Christ Church Spitalfields, built by Nicholas Hawksmoor between 1714 and 1729. But if ecclesiastical architecture isn’t your bag, the streets around Brick Lane are a hub of style and design, thronging with a hip crowd of creatives and fashionistas. And this is also the place to see the latest in cutting-edge street art by the likes of Dreph, Invader and Stikman.

Marisa Méndez and Mr Londoner share a moment @meetmrlondoner

Old Spitalfields Market is open every day. Artists sell their own wares on a Friday and the Style Market – for bang-up-to-date fashion finds – is held every Saturday. The flea market is held every Thursday, from 10am.

The next colour walks at Old Spitalfields Market are on 16 February, 16 March and 20 April – from 1pm – and thereafter on the third Thursday of every month.

About the Author

Antony Robbins, AKA Mr Londoner, is a writer, broadcaster and former director of the Museum of London. He combines the contemporary with the past and runs a series of bespoke webinars and tours on a variety of  subjects that range from fashion to architecture, from climate change, art/street art and London at war to how the city will emerge post-pandemic. Check out his profile here and follow him on Twitter and Instagram