"Your dresses are hung up in your wardrobe.” These were the words uttered to me by the concierge, as I stepped into the lift to the fifth floor of the W London in Leicester Square. “Please call me if you need anything.” I felt like Vivian in Pretty Woman, and the concierge was my Barney.
I wasn’t, however, fresh back from a Rodeo Drive shopping spree; the dresses in the room were only mine for the night. I was checking in suitcase-free (almost) to test-run the hotel’s latest service, Walk Out Wardrobe.
Working with the rent-a-dress website Girl Meets Dress, the hotel offers guests the opportunity to hire a dress, free of charge, from an archive of more than 4,000 pieces. Guests can choose from up to three dresses before their stay, or wait until they check in to see what’s available on the day. I went for the former.
I could try on Victoria Beckham! This-season Mary Katrantzou! A Diane von Furstenberg wrap!
However, my excitement was short-lived.
After an email consultation with a stylist a few days before my stay, I sent over 15 of my favourite options from the website, among them an asymmetrical bubblegum-pink dress by Balenciaga; a black feather-trimmed gown by Simone Rocha; and a scalloped black and red minidress by Red Valentino. None of them was available, apart from a floor-length Grecian-style gown by a brand I didn’t know – and even that was in the wrong size.
The stylist sent me back no fewer than 44 options, which were based less on my criterion (a designer brand for a fashion event) and more, it seemed, simply on what was available.
Further email exchanges went back and forth. Me: What about this Christopher Kane dress? Anything by Miu Miu? Acne… anything?
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We settled, finally, on an Isabel Marant strapless merino wool dress, the Grecian gown in the wrong size and an organza piece by fashion’s latest in-the-know high-end high-street brand, Self Portrait.
After a mini-catwalk parade in my room, some G&Ts courtesy of “Barney” and some changing of shoes (my own), I settled on the lace and organza lilac dress by Self Portrait. Though it was beautifully made and a perfect fit, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t strutting around in Balenciaga.
Though annoying for guests, it is testament to Girl Meets Dress’s wider popularity that none of my initial choices was available.
The pink Balenciaga piece retails at A$2000 (you can rent it for $210). No wonder there was nothing left, especially at the height of the wedding season.
It was fun playing dress-up for the evening but I wouldn’t rely on this service to go completely suitcase-free. To do that, you would have to be comfortable with spontaneously wearing something you would never consider buying.
My only other grumble? There was no tub in my room, meaning no bubble bath‑time listening to Prince, Viv-style.
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This article was written by Jade Conroy from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.