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

Archive: Feb 2010

  1. Best of London shopping: Bernstock Speirs*

    2 Comments

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    There is something seductive about a milliner's boutique and the
    allure of dozens of different hat styles that promise to transform your look. And at
    Bernstock Speirs’ bijou boutique on Brick Lane, it’s hard to resist
    playing dress-ups with their endearingly quirky range of around 40
    different hat styles for men and women.

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    The
    talented duo behind the brand, Paul Bernstock and Thelma Speirs, have
    been stalwarts of the London fashion and club scenes since the ‘80s. In
    fact, their very first creation was that iconic open-brimmed hat for Kylie on her eponymous debut album in 1988. 

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    These days, traditional
    and wearable styles are given the signature Bernstock Speirs twist,
    with an unexpected and eclectic use of materials.

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    Take, for instance,
    their classic black trilby, which has been updated with a slash of
    orange around the base (£97), or their fabulous range of winter beanies with netted veiling and pom-poms (£45). Definitely worth a trip up Brick Lane.

    Bernstock Speirs
    234 Brick Lane
    London E2 7EB
    Tel. 020 7739 7385
    Nearest tube: Liverpool Street
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours:
    Tuesday to Friday 11am – 6pm
    Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm

    For more shops in East London, click here.

    * Please bear with me – I'm flying back to my Sydney nest so I'm digging into the Wee Birdy archives for a couple of weeks. Normal posting (and ace new London shops) will resume shortly. xx

  2. Best of London shopping: G Baldwin & Co*

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    Cross
    the threshold of this unassuming South-East London shop and you’ll
    catch a whiff of the old-fashioned herbal remedies that made it
    London’s leading apothecary in its Victorian heyday. 

    Old Shop 1965

    And
    whilst they no longer peddle bottles of the extremely popular Touch
    & Go (for “Warts, Corns and Hard Skin”), you can still purchase a
    refreshing pint of Sarsaparilla for 30p.

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    In
    1969, G Baldwin and Co moved from 77 Walworth Road to its present
    location at number 171, but the shop retains much of its charm and
    original features including a long counter, apothecary wooden drawers
    and glass jars.

    Old Shop 77 Walworth Road 1964

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    Today
    the family business is divided into two stores: an excellent health
    food shop on one side, and the traditional herbalist next door. I was
    given a sneak-peek behind the scenes, and discovered the fragrant oils
    room where all of the bottling is done on-site, as well as a thriving
    mail-order business.

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    Part
    of the attraction of Baldwin’s these days is its affordable range of
    essential oils, natural products and aromatherapy products. I swear by
    their organic Rosehip Oil,
    a total steal at £7.99, which I use as an inexpensive glow-giving face
    serum at night. Rosehip oil can be found as an ingredient in many major
    beauty brands' more expensive anti-ageing products, due to its high
    levels of anti-oxidants and collagen-boosting Vitamin A. It's also
    excellent for healing blemishes and acne scars.

    I also love their range of old-fashioned amber bottles and jars, which come in a variety of sizes that would look gorgeous lined up on your bathroom shelf (in manner of Aesop chic). In fact, Baldwin’s is an excellent source for all sorts of crafty DIY beauty ingredients, including bulk packages of dead sea bath salts and silicone soap-making moulds.

    Each visit reveals interesting new finds (Stuff in a Tub icecream; English honey cappings; Dr Bronner's soap) and budget buys (luxury handmade soap for £2.89) – making Baldwin's one of London’s true hidden shopping gems.

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    G Baldwin & Co
    171/173 Walworth Road
    London SE17 1RW
    Tel. 020 7703 5550
    Nearest tube/rail: Elephant & Castle
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours:
    Monday to Saturday 9am – 5.30pm

    For more shops in South East London, click here.

    * Please bear with me - I'm flying back to my Sydney nest so I'm digging into the Wee Birdy archives for a couple of weeks. Normal posting (and ace new London shops) will resume shortly. xx

  3. Best of London shopping: Melt*

    9 Comments

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    I
    couldn’t resist poking my head inside the doors of Melt Chocolates in
    Notting Hill, just in time for Easter. As you can imagine, it’s a hive
    of activity at the moment, with all chocolate handmade on site in the
    small kitchen out the back. And with their recently opened concession
    in Selfridges, demand has never been greater.

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    The
    kitchen is headed by Chika Watanabe, who conjures up sheer chocolate
    heaven in the manner of award-winning Maldon sea-salted caramels,
    peanut butter and raspberry jam truffles, and exquisite single-origin hot chocolate dipping blocks.

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    For Easter, there’s a delightful bunny mug designed by Lisa Jones with a milk chocolate egg (£17.50), traditional paper eggs filled with Swiss milk chocolate drops (£8.50) and egg cups with milk chocolate eggs (£9.50). Click here to see the full Easter line-up.

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    Melted

    If
    you’ve left your Easter shopping ‘til the last minute, resist the calls
    of the supermarket aisle (and bad-quality, sugar-laden chocolate) and
    head over to Selfridges instead. Right now you can hand-pick your own
    selection of fresh chocolates and watch as Melt’s chocolatiers seal
    them inside a hand-finished egg. Fun and yum!

    Melt
    59 Ledbury Road
    London W11 2AA
    Nearest Tube: Notting Hill Gate
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours:
    Monday to Saturday 9am-6pm
    Sunday 11am-4pm

    For more chocolates and sweets in London, click here.

    * Please bear with me – I'm flying back to my Sydney nest so I'm digging into the Wee Birdy archives for a couple of weeks. Normal posting (and ace new London shops) will resume shortly. xx

  4. Best of London shopping: Lapin & Me*

    3 Comments

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    For those who may have missed my story in Time Out,
    here are some more pics from my latest fave shop in London, Lapin &
    Me. The newest arrival to the independent shopping haven that is
    Columbia Road (well, it's actually just around the corner on Ezra
    Street, but near enough), Lapin & Me stocks a fanciful and French-y
    range of limited-edition dolls, design-led products, stationery,
    homewares and children's clothes.

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    Wee
    Birdy is also super-chuffed to have served a tiny role in the creation
    of the real bricks-n-mortar shop. Apparently owner Madeleine James was
    inspired by the Columbia Road Christmas Wednesdays post last year, and started looking around the area for the perfect premises.

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    On
    my shopping wishlist is the hand-stitched "one-eyed" doll (see top pic,
    £36), Nathalie Lete's illustrated "Parisian shopper", and a Fatina doll brooch (£21). There are also glass jars on the main counter brimming with the most delightful pocket-money goodies, like Alain Gree labels (£3.50), vintage stork & baby sets (£2) and Tooth Mouse boxes (£3.50).

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    Don't fret if you're out of London – you can dig into this whimsical treasure trove online at www.lapinandme.co.uk.

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    Lapin & Me
    14 Ezra St
    London E2 7RG
    Nearest tube: Liverpool Street
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours:
    Friday 11am-2.30pm
    Saturday 11am-3.30pm
    Sunday 9am-3pm

    Click here for more shops in East London.

    * Please bear with me - I'm flying back to my Sydney nest so I'm digging into the Wee Birdy archives for a couple of weeks. Normal posting (and ace new London shops) will resume shortly. xx

  5. Best of London shopping: Shop at Bluebird*

    8 Comments

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    I finally paid Shop at Bluebird a long, overdue visit last
    week, and I’m delighted to report that it’s looking better – and dare I
    say more accessible  – than ever. But it’s difficult not to
    be impressed and a little over-awed by the listed art-deco location
    alone (the former Bluebird garage), let alone the beautifully edited
    collection of fashion, books, music, homewares, vintage, and skincare
    products.

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    While it’s loosely divided into departments, all sorts of found
    objects, accessories and artworks are scattered throughout the 10,000
    square foot space. Here, for example, you’ll find 1950s American glass
    milk bottles (£18) sitting on an oversized French farmhouse table, next
    to a rack of glorious Erdem frocks.

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    I really loved the selection of vintage greeting cards as well
    as the fabulous brioche mould pendant lights by Sally and Mark Bailey.
    The range of playful pastel-coloured ceramics by Berlin-based Kuehn Keramik was also a highlight.

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    The
    women’s fashion department is extensive and carefully considered, with
    labels ranging from Jasmine de Milo, Alexander Wang, Peter Jensen to
    Elizabeth and James, Luella and Richard Nicoll. Shoe-wise there’s
    Rupert Sanderson and Vivienne Westwood, while the jewellery cabinets
    are stuffed with Marni gems, vintage fob watches and Nymphenburg porcelain pendants.

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    There’s also an excellent spa with Micheline Arcier (Prince
    Charles’ aromatherapist of choice) joining this month along with an
    exclusive treatment menu. Right now you can pick up skincare products
    by the likes of Malin + Goetz and Ole Henrikesen, but keep an eye out
    for Aesop and Bigelow, which should be arriving over the coming months.

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    What’s most appealing is that the shop is constantly evolving,
    with new designers and pop-up spaces keeping it fresh and relevant.
    Launching its international project in the pop-up room this week is
    French label Kitsune (next stop is Colette in Paris). Then there’s
    Atelier Abigail Ahern, the new homewares concession which brings
    Islington interiors (and some rather lovely Jonathan Adler ceramics) to
    the Kings’s Road. I was also (predictably) excited to discover that Rob
    Ryan will be curating the Christmas shop this year.

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    Whatever you do, don’t leave without a twirl around the
    spacious dressing rooms, which are in the process of being decorated by
    individual designers. I’m looking forward to seeing the Bobby Dazzler dressing room (think hand-crafted creature feature!), but I rather liked the room with the incredible sepia photo collage.

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    Shop at Bluebird
    350 King’s Road
    London SW3 5UU
    Tel. 7351 3873
    Nearest tube: Sloan Square
    Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

    Opening hours:
    Monday to Saturday 10am-7pm
    Sunday 11am-6pm

    * Please bear with me – I'm flying back to my Sydney nest so I'm digging into the Wee Birdy archives for a couple of weeks. Normal posting (and ace new London shops) will resume shortly. xx