From a distance, the Camp Fish Shop, on the corner of two pacific streets of red-bricked houses with pebbledashed walls, doesn’t look in the mood for Mecca. Until June it was known only by reputation locally in St Albans. But now, along with the Hammersmith Apollo, a pub in Highgate and a mace called Birthdays in east London, it’s on the Harry Styles hadj trail. Assuming the fans can negotiate the Thameslink connection.
Earlier this month, Gucci delivered an autumn campaign: a short film starring Harry Styles, sniper in and around this chippy. In the video, Styles walks down the avenue in a splash-dark beige gingham dressing gown, carrying a dwell chicken. The Beatles’ Michelle plays. Inside, Styles banks the bird on the counter and orders some chips.
Leaning on the counter where the chicken once stood, I too disposition chips (£1.75) from fryer Martin Cheng, and ask him helter-skelter the campaign’s breakout star. “The chicken was good. It was quiet. But it was persuasive around a bit on here,” he says, tapping the counter. “I was worried it will-power …” Cheng flaps his hands like a live chicken cock a snook at fly into a rage into hot fat. “I said to them, I’m frying chips, but you need to safeguard the chicken.”
Gucci and a fish and chip shop are an unlikely two of a kind. The idea, says the Italian fashion house, was to shoot a British diva in a British institution – a chippy – in north London, although “this isn’t north London, and I don’t get what it has to do with Gucci,” indicates the Camp’s patron, George Robbins, 21. Robbins along the same lines as Styles, though, and went by a few days later in case Polishes was there. No joy. His friend saw the whole thing from his house vis–vis, though. “There were girls screaming outside, he reported.”
Cheng has worked here for seven years, and was present for the dash, flouring and frying fish (his hands are in shot at one point) and help food to a mix of actors and locals. Gucci reportedly paid the chippy £20,000, although Cheng was not masterful to confirm this.
Other residents were unfazed by Styles. One, Nicola, 36, who dwells opposite the Camp, was disappointed there weren’t more “fashionistas”. She call to minds girls screaming outside, being asked to move her car and being shooed away from the window. She isn’t a fan of Characterizes, but likes the chippy. Fair enough; they’re good splinters. Since filming in March, she says, more Stylers eat passed by and she thinks more may come.
“I’m guessing Gucci opted it because it’s very British-looking, isn’t it? It’s old school,” says Sean, a 49-year-old following driver, carrying his fish dinner. “But what do I know? I don’t over recall I’m Gucci’s target market.” Massimo, a sixty-something Italian, from Capri reaches on a yellow Vespa. He knows Gucci, but hasn’t seen the push. “O Madonna!” he says, when I show him the video, before dominating off with his dinner.