Elton's sale – everything must go

A slice of Britain: Fans bag the star's sunglasses and shop with the famous for some of the performer's most flamboyant suits and shirts

It is a Saturday afternoon less than two weeks before Christmas in one of London's most popular shopping areas. There must be scenarios closer to the seventh circle of Hell, but not many. So how is it that a bunch of shoppers in one corner of London's Covent Garden are positively enjoying themselves?

As harassed mothers jostle with bewildered tourists outside, shoppers inside a temporary "pop-up" shop are rifling through racks of the pop star Elton John's clothes. The stark white-washed walls and simple metal fittings of the venue – a former theatre – highlight the flamboyance of the clothes. Not that they need much emphasis.

Racks of the musician's brightly coloured, silk Versace shirts hang alongside a green boiler suit and gold leather trousers, all up for grabs as part of a week-long "Out of the Closet" sale to raise money for the Elton John Aids Foundation.

To the strains of the Elton classic "I'm still standing", 27-year-old Martin Ijaha is trying on £299 Armani shirts, in migraine- inducing colours. "I'll buy loads, I've only just arrived and I've already seen some sunglasses that I definitely want," says Mr Ijaha.

Trawling her way through a rack of shirts is an elderly lady with waist-length blue and green dreadlocks, a silver turban and a vast white fur coat; Elton's wardrobe is tame by comparison.

"When we opened, there were lots of people waiting; some of them were collectors looking for key pieces," says Simon Prytherch, the charity's fundraising director. "Quite a few people have bought the silk shirts to display in glass cases."

Fans hoping to take home one of the musician's stage outfits may be disappointed. A row of mannequins displaying Elton's stage costumes towers above the shoppers. From a green 1970s catsuit slashed to the navel, to a heavily embellished gold Versace jacket and matching patent leather trousers, these outfits are being sold in a silent two-week long auction, and are expected to sell for tens of thousands.

The most ambitious customers can place their bids at the till, but will find themselves up against stiff competition: the Victoria and Albert Museum, for one, has expressed interest in some outfits on display.

For those who don't match up to Elton's generous physique, his partner, David Furnish, has also generously provided. "I don't think I'm Elton's size," says Jonathan Beaumont, 40, a television producer from London, as he slips on a navy blue Lanvin jacket. "This must be David's."

Quite a few are not here to shop, they confess, but "to see how the other half live", or in the hope of bumping into one of Elton's famous chums. "I'm just here to have a nosy," says Julie Cooper, 50, from Leeds. "I'll buy things if I like them, not because they are his. But not at £100 for a jumper."

She is not to be disappointed. Leafing through the rails is the broadcaster (and this newspaper's Editor-at-Large) Janet Street-Porter, a patron of the charity. There is a frisson as a rumour circulates that Liz Hurley, the actress/model and close friend of the singer, is expected later. The former Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland is also slated to put in an appearance over the weekend.

Some shoppers have rummaged through Elton's wardrobe before. This is the eighth sale of the musician's clothing: five have been held in London and three in the United States. The last UK sale, in 2002, knocked out 15,000 items and raised £400,000.

"I went to the first of his clothes sales on the Fulham Road, and bought a very nice mac," says Andrew Rose, a doctor from London. "I go every time. I'm very interested in the charity, partly because I'm a doctor and know a lot about HIV. It is a difficult disease and there is a lot of work to be done."

Despite the recession and a general sense that people are spending less freely than at the previous events, the fact that all the proceeds are going to the foundation provides a credible excuse, and many shoppers seem buoyed by the idea that their hard-earned cash is going to a good cause.

And so with – fairly – clear consciences, shoppers mill around a table groaning with shoes ranging from gold winklepickers to Chanel motorbike boots and Louis Vuitton trainers. Vicarious fame and good causes notwithstanding, many are just there to bag a bargain.

Alongside the boiler suits and catsuits and leopard-print shirts are more competitively priced designer accessories, including a brown Burberry holdall for £495, and Versace sunglasses for £99.

"I've bought three pairs of shoes and a jacket – at about £99 each – but it is for a cause quite close to me," says Mr Beaumont. "A lot of high-profile people have been connected with the disease, and that has helped to raise its profile."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Chemistry Teacher

£100 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Urgently required teacher of Bi...

Geography Teacher, full time role, Gillingham School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We are urgently seeking an exper...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

**Primary Teachers Needed Urgently in Southport**

£80 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Due to an increase in dema...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London