A global field guide to shopping, style and hidden gems
est. 2007

Archive: Jan 2008

  1. Why I can’t wait for Spring: Marimekko

    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.

    16-17 St Christopher's Place
    London W1U 1NZ
    Tel: 020 7486 6454

    Nearest tube: Bond Street
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

  2. London shopping: Swarovski Crystallized Cosmos and Lounge


    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 It was always the domain of Nannas and their novelty crystal mouse collections, with royal blue walls completing the outdated and entirely naff package.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.

    Swarovski Crystallized Cosmos and Lounge
    24 Great Marlborough Street
    London W1

    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours to come.

    Nearest tube: Oxford Circus

    Click here for more shops in W1.

  3. Where to buy Australian in London


    Happy Australia Day, birdies. Just before I head off to inhale a pile of lamingtons, here's where to buy the best of Australian in London.

    Check out Australian designers at:

    330 Kings Road
    London SW3 5UR

    Tel: 020 7376 4555
    Rachel Gilbert
    Cohen et Sabine
    Alannah Hill
    Alice McCall
    Anna & Boy swimwear
    Camilla & Marc
    Fleur Wood
    Leona Edmiston
    MOR cosmetics
    Vani-T tanning and body products

    MOR beauty products

    Fleur Wood

    Regent Street
    London W1B 5AH
    Tel: 020 7734 1234
    Mozi homewares (Australia’s answer to Cath Kidston)
    Ghost & Lola jewellery
    Yeojin Bae womenswear

    Harvey Nichols
    109-125 Knightsbridge
    London SW1X 7RJ
    Tel: 020 7235 5000
    Wheels & Doll Baby
    18th Amendment jeans
    Metalicus (essentials for layering)

    Sass & Bide
    Juliann lingerie and slips
    Flamingo Sands swimwear
    Jets swimwear
    Becca cosmetics (My make-up bag staples are Luminous Skin Colour foundation and Crème Blush in Wild Orchid)

    Becca Luminous Skin Colour foundation (pssst apparently Kylie's a fan)

    Mimi London
    309 Kings Road
    London SW3 5EP
    Tel: 020 7349 9699
    Collette Dinnigan

    Collette Dinnigan

    Collette Dinnigan
    26 Cale Street
    Chelsea Green
    London SW3 3QU
    Tel. 0207 589 8897

    KJ’s Laundry
    74 Marylebone Lane
    London W1U 2PU
    Carl Kapp
    Ginger & Smart

    Ginger & Smart

    23-27 South Molton Street
    London W1K 5RD
    Tel: 020 7514 0063
    Josh Goot
    Tina Kalivas
    • Michelle Jank accessories
    Sass & Bide
    Anna & Boy swimwear

    Josh Goot

    400 Oxford Street
    London W1A 1AB
    Jayson Brunsdon
    Nobody denim
    A’kin (gorgeous organic botanical beauty range) at Farmacia

    Jayson Brunsdon

    1 Kingsland Road
    London E2 8AA
    Tel: 207 613 5314
    Alice McCall
    Elke Kramer jewellery

    Alice McCall

    Elke Kramer

    Get your Aussie beauty fix at:

    Jurlique (I love the Rosewater Balancing Mist)
    ModelCo (The Lash Wand Heated Eyelash Curler is one of their bestsellers)

    Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist

    And check out Innika, an excellent Australian mineral cosmetic brand which is 100 per cent vegan.

    For essential Australian treats, like Iced Vo Vos, Violet Crumbles, Twisties, Minties, Vegemite and Tim Tams, head to:

    The Australia Shop
    27 Maiden Lane
    Covent Garden
    WC2E 7JS London
    Tel: 020 7379 0723

    Harvey Nichols also stocks a range of Australian gourmet food, including:
    Maggie Beer
    Bird in Hand olive oil
    Aunty Joan’s Gourmet Toffee
    Byron bay Cookie Company

    Head to Waitrose for:
    Anzac biscuits
    Bundaberg Ginger Beer
    Dandaragan Olive Oil

    Pick up a bottle of Aussie plonk from any Tesco or Marks & Spencer, or look for a boutique wine at:
    Aussie Wine Direct
    The Aussie Wine Company
    Australian Wines Online

    And dine out with an Australian chef at:
    Pied a Terre, tel 020 7636 1178 (Shane Osborne)
    Smiths of Smithfield, tel. 0207 236 7666 (John Torode)
    Nahm at the Halkin Hotel, tel. 020 7333 1234 (David Thompson)
    The Ledbury, tel. 0207 792 9090 (Brett Graham)
    Petersham Nurseries, tel. 020 8605 3627 (Skye Gyngell)

    Phew. I can't believe I got through all that without a Walkabout pub, can of Fosters or a flamin' galah in sight.

    p.s. try this lamington recipe from the Australian Women's Weekly (another Aussie icon).

  4. Top Bird loves … Fake food


    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?

    A Half Dozen felt Eggs with Egg Carton, US$15, from Go Buggy’s Etsy shop.

    Handmade felt lemon, US$14 from Go Buggy’s Etsy shop.

    Grilled Tofu Dinner D, US$32, from Go Buggy’s Etsy shop.

    Three peas in a pod pin, US$9, from KnitKnit’s Etsy shop.

    Itty Bitty Cupcake collector set, US$18, from Pukashell’s Etsy shop.

    Mocha cappuccino cake, US$18, from Pukashell’s Etsy shop.

    Five Scoop Hot Fudge Sundae ring, US$18, from Robin’s Jewelry Box Etsy shop.

    Sliced Valentine’s Cake pendent, US$18, from Robin’s Jewelry Box’s Etsy shop.

    Cookies and Milk ring, US$14 from Robin's Jewelry Box's Etsy shop.

    Oh, stop it!

    *Remember that most pieces on Etsy are one-offs and sell quickly, but make sure you check the seller's shop as many items are relisted.

  5. What to take home Wednesday: Jo Malone candles (belated)


    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.

    400 Oxford Street
    London W1 1AB

    Opening hours:
    Monday to Wednesday 9.30am – 8pm
    Thursday 9.30am – 9pm
    Friday and Saturday 9.30am – 8pm
    Sunday 12noon – 6pm*
    *half an hour browsing time

    Nearest tube: Bond Street
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.