Finishing your Christmas shopping this weekend? Here’s my edit of the best presents for all the lovely ladies in your life, starting at £8.96. If you spot something you fancy for yourself, just share it on Facebook or Twitter prefaced with a big ‘Hint, hint’!
1. ‘Dash Dot’ pointy mittens by Donna Wilson, available in three colours
£32.50, from Soma Gallery.
2. Aesop Reverence hand wash, £27 from Cult Beauty.
3. Postie leather envelope, AU$190 from Follow Store.
4. Dinosaur Designs set of three bangles, AU$215 from Dinosaur Designs.
5. Polli woven peacock pendant, AU$79.95 from Polli.
6. India Knight Mutton (hardcover), £8.96 from Amazon.
7. Paul & Joe Kitty Blusher Stick in Minou, £19 from Rose Apothecary.
8. Paris Wakefield Additions Bliss cotton satin cushion, £59.50 from Paris Wakefield Additions.
9. Melinda Young hand cut acrylic flamenco pendant, AU$95 from Collect.
10. Cadiz serving bowl, £34 from Anthropologie.
11. Ceramic band bowl XXL, €70 from Foldoys.
12. Paul and Joe colour powder (081), £19.50 from Rose Apothecary.
13. Eiffel Tower ring dish, £10 from Anthropologie.
Want more lovely present inspiration? Click here for all my Christmas 2012 Gift Guides.
Prefer to buy handmade? Click here for my Etsy 2012 Christmas Gift Guides.
And don’t miss my Top 20 Christmas Crackers and my Top 20 Christmas Stockings!
I first heard of New Zealand designer Sharon Paris over two years ago when an email from her landed in my inbox. Sharon was on her way over to London and wanted to meet for a coffee – she had followed Wee Birdy and wanted to discuss breaking into the UK market. At this point her leather accessories brand, Paris House, was sold in over 60 shops throughout New Zealand and internationally including Colette and Le Bon Marche in Paris. Sadly, I was heading back to Australia so we never had that coffee. Not that Sharon needed any of my advice – Paris House is now sold in the likes of Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Urban Outfitters.
So this is a long overdue post about some excellent and rather unconventional leather wallets and bags – the kind of bags you stroke longingly because the leather is so soft and the colours are so pretty, all the while chuckling because the gold-embossed bunny is saying ‘Bite Me‘.
Paris House wallets and handbags are for those who have an aversion to bags that take themselves just that little bit too seriously. You know the ones I mean. After all, how many luxury leather bags can get away with a googly eye or two as embellishment? The bags themselves are beautifully crafted, with sumptuous printed fabric lining, double-stitched leather and metal zips, and the leather colourways offer a delicious spectrum of macaron-inspired hues.
Paris House’s signature gold-embossed one-liners channel David Shrigley’s sardonic witticisms and add a playful edge to the sweetness of the lilacs and corals and emerald greens, and the extensive collections include iPad covers, envelopes, weekend bags, card holders, shoulder bags and travel wallets, with prices starting at US$78. There is also an incredible collection of Swarovski evening bags, bearing ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few’ and ‘Hey good looking’ slogans.
Available online at www.parishouse.co.nz.
Legendary British fashion editor Hilary Alexander once described London’s state of style as “fantastic coloured tights, fancy legs, colour, print and pattern… London is free.” (You can watch the video here – you might also spot a certain Wee Birdy giving her perspective on London style at the beginning of the video.) Fast forward to Spring/Summer 2012 and Hilary’s still on the money about London’s penchance for “fancy legs”, with London creative consultancy Patternity‘s limited edition collection of hand-printed tights. The brainchild of East London duo Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham, Patternity creates tights that are more pieces of art than ladder-resistant nylon accessories for your legs.
Patternity’s understanding and masterful manipulation of pattern has caught the attention of the likes of Céline, Central Saint Martins and the BBC, and they have recently collaborated with The Barbican to create a limited edition collection of tights inspired by the Bauhaus exhibition. Inspired by the Bauhaus aesthetic of bold geometric shapes, the ‘Totem’ tights have been hand screen-printed in three primary colours associated with the movement. £48, patternity.co.uk.
p.s. If you haven’t seen the Bauhaus exhibition at the Barbican, this is your last chance – it closes on 12 August.
It’s back! By popular demand! My Secret London! This is where I pin down prominent London style/design/food insiders and ask them to share their favourite London addresses and secret destinations with Wee Birdy readers. This is London by locals – and knowledgeable, super-stylish locals at that. Here we go…
Sarah Drinkwater (pictured top right) grew up in the countryside with a postcard of London above her desk and moved there to study. After careers as a vintage clothes buyer and a journalist, she turned her favourite hobby – exploring London – into a career and now works as a community manager for Google Plus Local, helping users find great new places to go to through their friends. Sarah also blogs (sometimes, honest) at www.theenchantedhunters.com.
Best shops for vintage homewares?
I love coloured glassware, and Vintage Heaven on Columbia Road is, as the name suggests, rammed full of pastel glass ice cream glasses, deep green vases and piles of mismatching saucers. The Old Cinema in Chiswick is one of those treasure troves where they have everything from red velvet rows of cinema seats to industrial steel lockers and kitsch Seventies porcelain. And I’ve picked up some great midcentury bargains at The Peanut Vendor, a tiny shop on Newington Green.
Best shops in London for clothes?
I feel like high street fashion’s never been better for us early thirty-somethings who are simply not into Topshop’s mesh crop tops anymore. I own lots of Whistles, who balance great quality basics with quirky prints and luxe leather jackets. Cos lets me pretend I’m an extremely trendy architect with their sculptural shapes and great jewellery (I love oversize jewellery) and Hobbs’ NW3 range can be cool, too – I just bought a grey merino wool tight-fit jumper in the sale with an orange paperclip print.
Aubin & Wills also turned up some sale goodies, like a balloon print silk shirt dress, and Liberty has the very best selection of pricey brands including Carven, which I wish I could afford. I’m also pretty excited about Folk‘s new womenswear range…
Best shops in London for accessories?
The only jewellery I wear are necklaces, but I wear one every day, and I’m always looking out for them! Tatty Devine is the classic quirky London jeweller, and I own plenty of their cheerful pop art pieces. Luna and Curious on Calvert Avenue stock some really unusual items by independent designers, and they’re right opposite the queen of enormo jewels, Mawi. My burger locket necklace by Lazy Oaf is my current favourite, and I’d love one of Jessica de Lotz’s wax seal initial pendants.
Best shops in London for buying gifts?
I really like giving books as presents, and both Broadway Bookshop and Daunts in Marylebone have the best recent novels and those gorgeous coffee table books you don’t buy for yourself. I just bought a friend a design-your-own-banner kit from Nook on my local high street, too. They do craft workshops which I think make a great gift.
Best shops in London for perfume, make-up and skincare?
At the risk of sounding poncy, I wear Diptyque’s Vetyverio, which smells like the velvet-lined inside of a wooden box, and their Marylebone shop is a bit of a treat. For most of my beauty and skincare products, I head to Space NK, a micro-chain that stock both unusual brands and big hitters like Laura Mercier and Nars.
Best places in London for food?
Between my job and my insatiable curiousity, I’m a bit of a tart and always keen to try new places. I’d definitely take any visitor to two places; Bob Bob Ricard, a luxe restaurant dishing up Brit classics that’s decked out like an Edwardian gentleman’s club, and Spuntino, a cool-as diner with bourbon cocktails, bone marrow sliders and peanut butter and jelly icecream for pudding. I’d also nudge them in the direction of Pitt Cue Co’s trailer on the Southbank which is dishing up macaroni cheese and pulled pork patties, and Mark’s Bar below Hix in Soho for some mighty fine cocktails.
You’ve got 24 hours in London. Where do you go? What do you see? What do you buy?
That’s so hard! I’d start with breakfast at Towpath Cafe overlooking the canal and then pick up a Boris bike so I could avoid the crowds. First stop would be the Barbican, a Brutalist arts centre that’s endlessly interesting, whether you want to see their current Bauhaus exhibition or just wander around the grounds. From there, cycle to the Southbank and stroll past The Globe, The Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye.
Grab lunch at Pitt Cue’s Trailer and haul your bike over the bridge to Liberty in Soho, for the best collection of British design in one place. A nice cup of tea at Kaffeine will prepare you for cycling up to Hampstead Heath for a ramble with the best view of the whole city. I’d pick up a beer and a burger at Dach and Sons, then head to the Everyman Cinema there to watch films how they should be watched; on a sofa, with waiters bringing you mojitos!
Where do you go for a good coffee in London?
I’m a coffee fanatic so this changes all the time; my current favourites include Ozone Coffee Roasters right by Silicon Roundabout and arty cafe The Russet. But for the best coffee and breakfast, try the avocado on sourdough (so hard to get in the UK!) at Wilton Way Cafe, where they run London Fields radio in the corner, or the bircher muesli in a jam jar with passionfruit at my beloved local, Mouse and de Lotz.
Your number one London shopping secret?
Never judge a book by its cover; the shop next to Wilton Way cafe looks a little challenging from the outside, but sells an amazing collection of vintage glasses (for not junky prices).
Click here for a Wee Birdy map of Sarah’s Secret London, complete with all the addresses and contact details.
Click here for more Secret London posts.
There aren’t many British companies that have enjoyed such phenomenal global success in recent years as The Cambridge Satchel company. I remember stumbling across their proper old-fashioned leather satchels in 2008 in London’s Labour & Wait and loving them instantly. And while I believe their success is primarily down to timing – they produced the simple old-school satchel at a time when the heavily embellished and extraordinarily expensive ‘It Bags” were just coming off the boil – their commitment to high quality production values using traditional methods and British artisans is also an important factor.
The Cambridge Satchel company is the brainchild of Julie Deane and her mother Freda Thomas, and back in 2008 the range was limited to classic shades of brown and black. I remember tracking them down online when I started working at Time Out London in 2009 and was thrilled to discover that you could get a custom satchel with embossed initials. I made a call to their office and placed an order with Freda for my husband’s birthday. It’s a rather masculine dark brown number and is a stark contrast to the veritable rainbow of hues that have since been launched.
There have also been collaborations with the likes of Comme des Garçons, American department store Bloomingdales and Paddington Bear (they provided him with a handsome new satchel). And for summer 2012, they’ve hooked into the pastel trend that Marc Jacobs set in motion with his sweeter-than-a-Parisian-macaron SS12 collection for Louis Vuitton with a limited edition collection of four delectable and dainty hues.
I think the lilac bag is rather lovely and while the pastel head-to-toe look can be tricky to pull off, a bag in just the right hue is the perfect nod to the trend. Otherwise, leave the pastels to the young-uns (I’m thinking my 16-year-old niece would think they’re all rather fab) and stick to the classic neutral hues, or for a pop of colour, consider the jaunty yellow satchel (my favourite). www.cambridgesatchel.co.uk. Click here for stockists.
I’m showcasing the Best of British in honour of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Click here for the 25 best London Olympic Games souvenirs.
Click here for the best Union Jack souvenirs.
Click here for the best non-tat Jubilee souvenirs.
Louis Vuitton images via Style.com