When the Swedes meet the Finns, I'm a very, very happy birdy. As regular readers may already have guessed, I really love my prints. So I'm just about beside myself with anticipation for H&M's Marimekko collection for Spring 2008. If you haven’t already heard, Swedish company H&M have created a 50-piece collection using Marimekko’s patterns from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.
Apparently we can look forward to the Finnish brand’s distinctive graphic prints in “summer favourites” such as wide ‘70s dresses, tunics, skirts and shorts for women. And there will also be a few pieces for men and kids, all at ultra-affordable price points. The collection will be hitting H&M stores worldwide in April. Roll around Spring, printy please.
Marimekko prints for H&M, illustration by Moa Lindqvist Bartling.
But to satiate my immediate fix for Finnish graphic prints, I’ve been dreaming about Marimekko’s Spring 2008 womenswear line-up. Some really gorgeous pieces here, birdies.
And this season’s Marimekko kids’ range couldn’t be sweeter. Red apple and giraffe prints = too, too cute little girls' frocks.
Marimekko www.marimekko.com 16-17 St Christopher's Place London W1U 1NZ Tel: 020 7486 6454
I’ve never felt compelled to step foot in a Swarovski shop before. It was always the domain of Nannas and their novelty crystal mouse collections, with royal blue walls completing the outdated and entirely naff package. On the other hand, I’ve happily paraded about and lusted after certain designer accessories adorned with Swarovksi crystals. It’s a brand that always seemed to be at odds with itself.
But the recent unveiling of the world’s first Swarovski Crystallized Cosmos and Lounge on London’s Great Marlborough Street has put paid to any fuddy-duddy image of the past. Indeed, this new store celebrates Swarovski’s various designer collaborations, and the results are quite breathtaking. The royal blue colour scheme has been replaced with layers of reflective surfaces that catch the light in the gleaming white minimalist space.
You can’t miss the tiny clear Perspex drawers lining the walls of the ground floor, otherwise known as The Cosmos. It’s like a space-age Chinese herbalist’s den. But pull open the gliding drawers and you’ll find small clear boxes of lapis lazuli, amber and turquoise instead of dried up bits of animals and roots.
This is where the fun starts. It’s a bit like pick and mix – or an upmarket bead shop – but way sexier and with loads of designer inspiration (by way of plasma screens around the store). The emphasis here is on being creative, and if you’re a dab hand at jewellery-making, you can browse the drawers for Swarovski loose crystals, semi-precious stones and beads. A box of 50 smoked topaz pieces will set you back £4.50, and there’s also all the design components and tools you need for making jewellery, including wires, clasps and pliers.
But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, the online tools in store will support you every step of the way. The Personal Stylist program is like jewellery-making-for-dummies, as it holds your hand through the creative process. It’s actually quite detailed, as you select your “style mood”, skin tone, eye colour, face shape, etc. Otherwise the Design Studio programme will assist you in creating your own bespoke piece. Choose from a selection of designs and customise it to suit. Once you’re done, Swarovski will send your order away and after two weeks it’s ready for pick-up. The “Dream” ring, for instance, featuring a delicate crystal and leaf design, can be customised in a range of colours for £20.
There’s also a range of jewellery-making kits, including rings, bracelets and necklaces. They come in three different skill levels, which is handy if you’re just starting out and don’t want anything too fiddly. A basic skill level kit such as the turquoise linear ring kit is £19, and the topaz and gold long earrings kit is £20. The Swarovski team have really hit the nail on the head with the whole urban craft trend, with regular jewellery-making workshops starting in February.
Head upstairs to the Crystallized lounge and it’s a different change of pace, with a relaxed café/bar area and an exhibition space. The current exhibition, Crystal Temptation Shoes, features a long white table adorned with thousands of loose crystals and a designer shoe at each place setting. The line-up includes designers such as Christian Lacroix, Gina, Nicholas Kirkwood, Vivienne Westwood, and Giorgio Armani.
The café has a surprisingly extensive menu, including breakfast, lunch, bar snacks and a traditional afternoon tea for £19.75 (£25 with champers). Crystal-encrusted bottles of Moet line the shelves, and there are a couple of computer terminals to contemplate your creative designs. With comfy lounge seating and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s a rare oasis of tranquility just off Regent Street.
I can’t stop staring at these fake food items on Etsy. I don’t know if it’s the kawaii, clever, crafty or kitsch factor that’s grabbed me … perhaps a bit of all? Or maybe it's the fact that I would have snaffled the whole lot for my Barbie and Sindy dolls when I was a seven. (And *gasp* maybe Barbie would have put on some weight!)
Feast your eyes on this lovely line-up, including felt eggs, crocheted cakes, knitted peas and polymer clay dessert jewellery (surely a tween delight). Fascinating, no?
Parma Violets Tea, Sweet Almond Macaroon Tea and Eau de Cologne Tea are this week's new covetable candles on the block from Jo Malone's deluxe Tea Collection. The Parma Violets Tea candle, my (no-brainer) favourite, makes a lovely London souvenir that will fill your home with the delicate fragrance of this retro and quaintly English sweet.
£80 for a deluxe 400g candle, available exclusively at Selfridges from 15 February.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think there's nothing lovelier than a posy of fresh violets. I spied this box of them at Liberty's flower shop this afternoon, where they are selling wee posies for £1.50 each or four for £5.
I quite like the idea of holding a posy under my nose next time I'm wedged between buttock and armpit on the Tube, just like the judges at the Old Bailey did in ye olden days (to ward against ye foul stench of various crim types). But a bunch of four with a collar of green leaves in a clear round glass vase would look just dandy as well.
I ummed and ahhhed about writing this post, fully aware of joining the gazillion-strong force of online commentators discussing this young Australian actor’s tragic death. I’m also not loving the judgmental and speculative vibe that’s going down right now.
But the truth is that I’m sad he’s gone. Sad for his family and friends.
He was a brilliant actor and I was so looking forward to watching him grow older in future roles. Can you imagine what he would have been like at say 50 or 60? Such a great loss.
I’ve always been a fan of Melbourne-based designer Beci Orpin’s label Princess Tina (she of quirky and cool sterling silver jewellery pieces) and I really dig her fun approach to fashion. One of my favourite necklaces is her sterling silver raincloud, which never fails to attract comments whenever I wear it. And how cool are her happy/sad teeth accessories?
So I pounced on her latest look-book when it arrived in my inbox last week, and I couldn’t help but notice the recurring cat motifs throughout her collection. And a quick look around revealed that there’s more than a passing interest in kittens at the moment. Take, for instance, the leading image for Topshop’s new S/S 08 collection:
Kute kitty, indeed! Now, I must confess at this stage that whilst I’m firmly in the “dog camp” when it comes to the dog/cat divide, I do have a few feline friends (shout out to Toby in Sydney, Kubie in Melbourne, and Oscar in the flat downstairs). But enough of that purring. Take a look at some other fab feline finds:
Top row, from left to right: 1. Summer Cats, Scratching Post EP. I know, I never (and shouldn’t!) write about music, but how could I resist two of the cutest album covers around? Twee album art aside, this Melbourne band is seriously good if you’re into sweet sunshine-y indie pop. (And I am.) Former Earthmen lead singer Scott Steven’s soaring vocals deliver a tasty treat not to be missed. Check them out on their myspace page now. 2. Cat print tee, £16, from Topshop. 3. Pink and brown cat kitchen tea towel, US$14, from PataPri’s Etsy shop. (Ack, this just sold-out, but check back again in a few days and it might be up again.)
Continuing with the Dover Street Market love-in this week, make haste and take home a limited edition wallet by Commes des Garcons and New York artist Kaws. Created for DSM's Christmas 2007 "Sparkling Party" theme, you can find t-shirts, bags and more wallets by this cool collaboration at the box-office inside the lobby at Dover Street Market.
Available online and in-store at DSM until 24 January.
It’s easy to feel intimidated walking into Dover Street Market, arguably London’s number one cutting-edge shopping destination. When I first arrived in London last year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but gathered it was something along the lines of Colette in Paris. So far, so (very) good.
But with "market" in the title, I was initially thinking on a linear level, as opposed to an uber-department store with six floors dedicated to fashion, design and art. And with terms like "avant-garde", "groundbreaking" and "edgy" bandied about in the press over the past three years, I was half-excited and half-scared, fearing six floors of pretension and a f***-off attitude to boot.*
Emerging from the lift onto the fourth floor, I was immediately struck by a few things. Firstly, a vintage anatomy plaster model of a foetus in utero, the kind of thing you’d find in a university science lab from the fifties; secondly, my beloved Labour and Wait’s counter of traditional homewares (think balls of twine, sturdy gardening tools and French stripey tops); and finally, a rack of Commes des Garcon’s PLAY line, mixed in with designers such as Commuun, Toga Archives, and Veronique Branquinho. All this and the comforting homely aroma of freshly baked scones pervading from the Rose Bakery in the corner of the room (more on this in another post). It’s kinda crazy and cool and I love it.
But let’s turn down the “crazy” dial for the moment, after all, there is serious fashion to consider. Dover Street Market is the brainchild of Commes des Garcon’s Rei Kawakubo, and it features well over 50 designers, with numerous exclusive collaborations and all 14 CdG lines.
Kawakubo challenges traditional concepts of merchandising by mixing top designers such as Dior, Galliano and Alaïa, with lesser-known labels sourced from all over the world. Menswear merges with womenswear, and unexpected suprises (like the voodoo-vibed World Archives stall and Emma Hawkins’ Victorian collection of taxidermy, animal skeletons and vintage plaster anatomy models) keep shoppers engaged and excited. And by inviting the various designers to curate and regularly update their own space, Kawakubo breathes new life into fashion retail.
Personal highlights include Very Lustre’s ultra-modern diamond jewellery; Boudicca’s velvet-draped birdcage dressing room, complete with mirror and bell; Parisien Didier Ludot’s ultimate LBD range, and Cameron Silver’s “Decades” stall (a little piece of Melrose in Mayfair, where I spied heart-stopping premium vintage pieces by Azzedine Alaïa, Missoni and YSL couture). I was also enamoured by Japanese label Sacai’s simple and relaxed knitwear, as well as Sacai Luck’s ultra-femme lingerie line featuring pretty camisoles and shorts in cashmere and silk.
On each visit to DSM, I've found it increasingly difficult to walk past the range of Pierre Hardy shoes without drooling all over the wares, and it was nice to see Australian designer Michelle Jank’s eclectic one-off neckpieces. And the one-off creations by London’s premier milliner Stephen Jones’ for DSM are always fun and fanciable (I loved the adorable A/W 2007 "Chic!" berets). I could go on and on … each stall is worthy of an individual post, so you can expect additional posts and updates on DSM in the future.
In the meantime, don’t miss Alber Elbaz for Lanvin’s shambolic installation on level three, featuring a collapsed mannequin, a chaise longe, scattered articles of clothing and shoes and a bottle of champagne (perhaps a day-five London Fashion Week survivor, non?). But it’s not there for much longer, as the store closes for its bi-annual "Tachiagari" on 24 January, where all the stock and installations are refreshed over a two-day period.
Another reason to hotfoot it to DSM before the 24 January deadline is the post-Christmas sale, where most stock is currently reduced by 40 per cent storewide. Look out for top designers such as Lanvin (in particular, the black cigarette pants and dresses), Marios Schwab (fab LBDs), Boudicca and Atelier One. Also, keep an eye out for CdG’s vinyl bags in black, white and red on the fourth floor, as well as the highly covetable patent leather shoppers in black, white and red. There’s also 30 per cent off Alaïa, 40 per cent off Cutler and Gross’ vintage glasses for DSM, and 50 per cent off Olivia Morris shoes.
*Mind you, I'm also the neurotic-shopper type who feels compelled to act in an overly demonstrative "hey-I'm-not-a-potential-shoplifter" manner around security guards in premium designer brand stores.