September Is Here: The Best Things to Do This Month

Pin It
177 2805 Jerry Hall & Helmut Newton French Vogue 3
David Bailey, Jerry Hall & Helmut Newton, French Vogue 3 (1980s)© David Bailey

A hand-curated list of wonderful ways to spend your September, from fine dining and fantastic films, to compelling exhibits and chic cocktail spots


Photo London: September 9-12, 2021
Photography fans, rejoice! Photo London is going ahead as planned, the first IRL photography fair to take place in the past 18 months. 88 galleries from 15 countries around the globe will exhibit work at London’s Somerset House, alongside an accompanying online edition. Lauded Iranian artist Shirin Neshat will showcase her multidisciplinary project Land of Dreams, a series of stirring photographs of New Mexico residents and a two-channel film installation; Messums London will present an exhibition dedicated to the legendary Hungarian-American war photographer Robert Capa; while Imitate Modern will spotlight the work of the inimitable British portrait and fashion photographer David Bailey. And that’s just for starters.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami: When You Need Letters for Your Skin at Victoria Miro, London: September 3 – November 6, 2021
Londoners, don’t miss the chance to see the new solo exhibition from Zimbabwe-born, UK-based artist Kudzanai-Violet Hwami at Victoria Miro. Hwami’s captivating paintings merge various visual sources – from online imagery to vintage snapshots and personal photographs – to fragmented, collage-like effect. Her latest series, When You Need Letters for Your Skin, centres around the nude form and, as per the accompanying text, “considers existence in a time and space – as much digital as physical – where people are investigating their sexual, spiritual and political identity”.

Irving Penn at Cardi Gallery, Milan: September 9 – December 22, 2021
In Milan, Cardi Gallery is dedicating two floors to the work of the late, great American photographer Irving Penn. The show will examine the remarkable breadth of Penn’s output, from his acclaimed fashion photography to his elegant portraiture and exquisite still lifes. The first floor will focus solely on Penn’s work made in Italy, a country he visited often and was deeply inspired by. 

In America: A Lexicon of Fashion at The Met Fifth Avenue, New York: September 18, 2021 – September 5, 2022
In New York, fashion aficionados are gearing up for the opening of The Costume Institute’s next major exhibition: a two-part exploration of fashion in the United States. Part one – set to take place in the Anna Wintour Costume Center and titled In America: A Lexicon of Fashion – will “establish a modern vocabulary of American style”, the press release reveals, highlighting the ”expressive qualities of dress, and deeper associations with issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion”. Around 100 sartorial ensembles, from a varied array of American fashion pioneers, will be displayed in square casing, emulating the format of a patchwork quilt. Part two, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, will be unveiled in May of next year.

Noguchi at the Barbican Art Gallery, London: September 30 – January 9, 2022
There was very little that the Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi couldn’t do, his highly imaginative, multidisciplinary practice spanning sculpture, architecture, dance, design and beyond. “Everything is sculpture,” he famously said. “Any material, any idea without hindrance born into space ... ” This month, a touring retrospective of his extraordinary oeuvre lands at the Barbican, bringing together some 150 of his works, including multiple sculptures, theatre sets, playground models, and lighting and furniture designs from across the artist’s six decade-long career.

Convergent Evolutions: The Conscious of Body Work at Pace Gallery, New York: September 10 – October 23, 2021
Another New York show to bookmark is Convergent Evolutions: The Conscious of Body Work, curated by Christiana Ine-Kimba Boyle. Featuring works by 17 artists, including Anthony Akinbola, Sonia Gomes, Zhang Huan, Kylie Manning, Lucas Samaras and Kiki Smith, the exhibition will seek to investigate “how intergenerational artists have used various instruments within their practices to grant or deny viewers the agency of viewership while also surveying the body’s response to the visual plane”.

Friends of Dorothy presents David Hoyle x Lee Baxter: Until October 3, 2021
Manchester readers, be sure to catch an exciting show of new visual artworks by the acclaimed avant-garde performance artist David Hoyle and fêted photographer and digital artist Lee Baxter, hosted by Friends of Dorothy. Featuring “highly political” pieces made during lockdown, the exhibition touches upon themes of life, love, death and disco and can only be visited by private appointment – so get booking!

Fashion Photography of the 90s at Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf: September 15, 2021 – September 9, 2022
Claudia Schiffer has turned her hand to curation for a new show at the Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf, featuring a brilliant collection of 90s fashion photography. Expect to see Claudia, Naomi, Cindy, Tyra, Christy et al blazing the original supermodel trail through the multifarious lenses of photography icons like Arthur Elgort, Corinne Day, Ellen von Unwerth, Herb Ritts, Juergen Teller and Karl Lagerfeld.

No. 43, Curated by Atelier LK, at 43 Malvern Road, London: September 3 – October 3, 2021
A special exhibition from interior design studio Atelier LK is plunging visitors into an immersive art and design experience at the former home of artist and dancer Ron Hitchins in London Fields. Founded by Lisa Jones and Ruby Kean, Atelier LK has invited a number of emerging and leading contemporary artists and designers (think: Oliver Chanarin, Christabel MacGreevy, Fred Rigby, EJR Barnes and Wayne Pate) to create pieces in response to the space, which will soon be on display alongside a small collection of Hitchin’s own work and a curation of 20th century furniture and objects from the studio. Booking by appointment only.

Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel at The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia: September 26 – January 9, 2022
At the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, an inspiring new retrospective examines the life and work of the French artist Suzanne Valadon, whose early occupation as a life model gave way to her own successful career in painting – no small feat in the male-dominated art world of the early 20th century. Valadon was the first self-taught woman to exhibit at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, the exhibition text explains, and her output was just as radical as her lifestyle choices, tackling themes of female desire, and the conflicts of marriage and motherhood.

Yoko Ono: MEND PIECE for London at Whitechapel Gallery: Until January 2, 2022
In her 1966 solo exhibition at Indica Gallery in London, Yoko Ono famously presented visitors with an array of unfinished paintings and objects, inviting them to complete the works themselves. 55 years on, the Japanese artist is revisiting the piece in a new iteration titled MEND PIECE for London, now on display at Whitechapel Gallery. Drawing on the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, “the art of repairing broken pottery using lacquer mixed with precious metals such as gold and silver”, participants are provided with broken ceramic vessels to mend, and are encouraged by Ono to “think of mending the world at the same time”.

Benjamin Spiers at Saatchi Yates, London: September 9 – November 1, 2021
A forthcoming show at London’s Saatchi Yates gallery will see British figurative painter Benjamin Spiers apply his signature merging of painterly styles (spanning surrealism, abstraction and cubism) to a series of fantastical new portraits. “His subjects are seemingly at ease with their outlandish and grotesque countenances,” the gallery describes, “their bulging necks, twisted limbs, and vibrant eyes beckon the viewer into the deranged magical world where they reside”.


This month’s new film releases are set to delight – from Liesl Tommy’s new Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect, which traces the American chanteuse’s extraordinary journey from the church choir to international stardom, to Leos Carax’s uncanny new feature Annette. A romantic musical with a Sparks brothers soundtrack, it’s a (rather heady) chance to see Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard play all-singing, star-crossed lovers.

Electrifying Irish thriller Wildfire by Cathy Brad hones in on two sisters, raised on the turbulent Irish border and reunited after a period of separation, who take on the task of unearthing their mother’s secret past. Then there’s Herself from English director Phyllida Lloyd, the moving story of a determined young mother who runs away from her abusive husband to start a new life in a society where all odds are seemingly stacked against her.

Don’t miss The Man Who Sold His Skin, Kaouther Ben Hania’s singular drama about a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, who offers up his back as a canvas to a rising tattoo artist, capturing the attention of hungry art collectors along the way. Irish filmmakers Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor direct Rose Plays Julie, a searing, slow-burn thriller about an inscrutable young woman who sets out to find her biological mother.

While Sweetheart, the soulful, funny debut feature from Marley Morrison, zooms in on a painfully awkward teenage girl who falls for a lifeguard on a family holiday. Another excellent coming-of-age drama comes courtesy of Gagarine, by Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh, which follows a space-loving teenager living in a soon-to-be-demolished housing estate in France.

September’s must-watch documentaries, meanwhile, include Sam Hobkinson’s compelling Netflix documentary Misha and the Wolves, untangling the twisted tale of a woman’s fraudelent memoir of surviving the Holocaust. Andreas Koefoed takes a deep dive into the history of the world’s most expensive painting, Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, in The Lost Leonardo, painting a vivid picture of the art industry’s most eccentric characters along the way. Last but not least there’s The Story of Looking by Mark Cousins, a powerful, deeply personal film that sees the celebrated director and historian prepare himself for surgery to restore his eyesight.

Food & Drink

Be sure to visit the newly opened Design District Canteen in the Greenwich Peninsula, an amazing new building by Spanish architects Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano, which offers a modern take on the European square. Inside its airy glass structure, independent food operators and culinary entrepreneurs Eat Lah, Ehla, Guasa, Sugo, Raastawala and Toasted occupy six vibrant stalls, delivering a truly unique street food experience for the architecturally inclined.

In Mayfair, BiBi, a new restaurant offering delicious contemporary Indian cuisine, will open its doors on September 9. Headed up by Chet Sharma, its playful menu draws on the esteemed chef’s south Asian roots and passion for Indian cultures, influenced by everything from street carts to roadside cafés. Highlights include gondhoraj scallop with scallop roe chaat masala; chalk stream trout jhal muri and dagad phool lamb rump.

For those in search of Indian-inspired cocktails, meanwhile, Kricket’s Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell are launching their debut bar, SOMA, in Soho on September 2. Taking its name from the Hindu moon god, the destination promises to “serve up drinks influenced by the Indian subcontinent into the small hours”. These include the Gooseberry Chaat Margarita (made with tequila, triple sec, homemade gooseberry cordial and a touch of chaat masala) and the savoury Pickled Mooli Martini (comprising vodka, dry vermouth, lightly pickled mooli and fennel oil).

Borough Market’s favourite bakery and wine bar Flor has launched a new set lunch, featuring two courses paired with a glass of wine for £20 and available from Wednesday through Sunday. Channelling the atmosphere of laid-back European wine bars, dishes range from salmorejo (a cold tomato and bread soup) to braised mutton and pickled mustard, to a sumptuous vegetable banh xeo, courtesy of Flor’s ongoing collaboration with various British biodynamic farms.

In Covent Garden, Soho restaurant Fatt Pundit has just opened its second site bringing its mouth-watering brand of Indo-Chinese to London’s West End. With the aim of continuing to tell the story of Indo-Chinese cuisine – “a melting pot of cultures found within India’s Chinese immigrant community” – the new spot will carry over former favourites from the original location, while placing an array of fresh new dishes front and centre. These include crunchy soft-shell crab with spice and curry leaf flavoured yoghurt; saffron butter prawns in a coconut malabar sauce; and honey chilli duck with steamed pancakes and crunchy jersey royals in a chilli and garlic reduction.

Finally, the Beaumont hotel in Mayfair has just reopened, marking the return of its restaurant The Colony Grill with a new head chef (Ben Boeynaems), and the inauguration of its chic new bar, Le Magritte. Boeynaems will be putting his own spin on classic transatlantic fare fresh from the grill, including shellfish, steak and more, while the 1920s New York-inspired bar will specialise in bourbons, American whiskies and refined cocktails, alongside a tempting oyster and caviar menu. Bottoms up!