Frog Clutch, Sheer Rose Top, and Twinning Blue Dress – Key Fashion Moments at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Party


LONDON – The 256th edition of the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts kicked off Wednesday night with its annual preview party inviting London’s elites for the chance to call dibs on around 1,700 pieces of art from a wide array of artists with just a 30 percent deposit.

Dame Kristin Scott Thomas; “Ab Fab” lead Jennifer Saunders; “James Bond” star Lashana Lynch, and Archie Madekwe, who plays Farleigh Start, a cousin of Jacob Elordi’s role in “Saltburn,” were among some of the well-dressed guests perusing the works at this year’s event, the world’s largest open submission contemporary art show which has been held every year without interruption since 1769.

Kristin Scott Thomas, Lashana Lynch, and Archie Madekwe at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Party

Corutesy of the Royal Academy of Arts

It was a night where fashion met art. There were many great looks in the academy.

Presenter Laura Jackson donned a sheer romantic look with roses in between layers from Simone Rocha’s spring 2024 collection. Songwriter Nia Archives sported one of Chopova Lowena’s signature pleated skirts. Novelist Zadie Smith was attracting attention with her frog clutch from JW Anderson.

Foday Dumbuya, founder of the fashion label Labrum and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design last year, was there to see his first artwork on public display. Numbered 1,666 in the catalogue, Dumbuya presented a textile collage of fabric, stamps and passport motfis with an asking price of 3,000 pounds.

“I was inspired by my mother’s old passport. The journey of migration and travel to places that we’ve been. I wanted to fuse that into the textiles we use in our shows. Quilt them together and frame that. It’s a showcase of what a call a journey of colors,” said Dumbuya, who hosted a running club with members of the London fashion community during the June edition of London Fashion Week.

This summer, Dumbuya said he will spend most of his time Paris for the Olympics. In addition to working on a secret project, the designer said he will be cheering for his homeland Sierra Leone in the arenas.

Foday Dumbuya attends the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Preview Party 2024 at The Royal Academy

Foday Dumbuya attends the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Preview Party 2024 at The Royal Academy

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Fashion deisgner Priya Ahluwalia, who sits on the party committee this year, said she felt inspired, and really loved the “top notch” catering.

“I find art events, especially in comparison to fashion, really interesting because you actually get people from all walks of life. There’s a lot more individuality, which I really enjoy. People watching is actually probably one of the best bits of it,” said Ahluwalia.

Before planning a launch event for her upcoming collboration to be unveiled during London Fashion Week in September, Ahluwalia said she will hit Ibiza for the 12th time this summer.

“There’s so much you can do. You can have a really big party. You can go to a remote beach and be the only person there. The food is great. The people are lovely. The sea is so blue. I think it’s just one of those places that actually has genuinely a bit of everything,” she added.

Priya Ahluwalia attends Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition Preview Party 2024

Priya Ahluwalia attends Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition Preview Party 2024

Darren Gerrish/WireImage for Royal Academy

Menswear designer Steve O Smith, who dressed Eddie Redmayne in a Cy Twombly-inspired emsemble at the Met Gala, came to the party with artist Alex Margo Arden, a current student at the Royal Academy of Art, to get inspired and soak up all the creativity.

Smith said he won’t have much time to relax this summer, as he will need to finish the new collection before his Newgen debut in September. But later in the year, the designer said he is planning to visit Taiwan and meet his partner’s parents for the first time.

As the night came to an end, guests gathered in the courtyard to enjoy a rousing performance by emerging singer Sekou.

According to presenter and summer party cochair Clara Amfo – who had a twinning moment at the party wirth fashion editor Susan Bender Whitfield as both wore the same blue dress – Sekou is an “incredible artist” from Leicester, and the youngest nominee for the Brits Rising Star Award in history.



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