I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a really gorgeous little frock for a three-year-old and wished there was a version in my size. And apparently I’m not alone. It was only last week at my local childrenswear shop that I discovered that the lovely tiny wee toddler’s frock in the gorgeous tropical print had also been the object of many a grown woman’s affection. And – hurrah! – word had got around that Zimmermann had a dress in the exact same print. For (much) bigger girls.
So I’m delighted to hear that UK childrenswear designers Poppy Children have responded to popular demand for adult versions of their delightful vintage-inspired kids frocks with the launch of their first womenswear collection. Featuring Poppy’s trademark storybook illustrations, the collection is inspired by a 1950s aesthetic and is available in a range of prints, styles and sizes (10-18).
Naturally, I adore their new London print, which also features on a range of frocks for little girls. Each dress comes with its own story book about Poppy and Fred’s adventures in London. I love that the vintage-inspired design features a thoroughly modern London, complete with the Gherkin, London Eye and a wandering giraffe. The collection is made in the UK and is one hundred per-cent cotton.
My favourite style is the Beatrice dress, which is superbly flattering with three-quarter length sleeves, a wide bateau neckline at the front and a V at the back, which can be worn either way and is available in five colour ways, for £129.99. Ladies can also purchase a matching petticoat for extra swoosh factor, as well as a pair of stripey cotton tights for winter.
The London print is also available on the Millie dress for girls, which features a Peter Pan collar and looks ridiculously adorable with a matching little cardigan. It would make a super-sweet London-themed bridesmaid’s frock, and it comes in sizes 0 to seven years for £62.50. There is also a range of matching fluffy petticoats and darling stripey tights for little ones.
Freelance writer Dan Jones has lived in London for years – and he’s got around: Shoreditch, Herne Hill, Hackney, Victoria Park, Stoke Newington and now Clapton. He’s written for i-D Magazine as shopping editor, ASOS.com as senior men’s ed, is media consultant to fashion brand Antipodium, and was Time Out London’s Shopping & Style editor for four years (where he was also my mentor and boss), covering everything from LFW to funeral parlours – so he’s acquired a big list of London’s best/weirdest bits.
You can follow Dan on his shiny new blog dedicated to London stores and style, JONESTOWN, and on Twitter @jonessecret. In the meantime, here is Dan’s Secret London. Enjoy!
Best shop in London for atmosphere?
My mum is a bit of a witch. When I was a kid she’d take me to her favourite New Age shop, Mysteries, on our day trips into London. Being a young cynic, I’d roll my eyes at the dreamcatchers and chakra candles, but when I rediscovered the shop a few years ago, I finally saw how special it is – especially if you suspend all irony. Fancy an amethyst geode as big as your head? Done. Books on faeries and spells? Smudge sticks? Angel cards? Got it. In the market for a polished crystal that looks a bit like Gandalf’s dildo? You’ve come to the right place. Hidden at the back of the shop is a slightly slimy-looking grotto with a babbling water feature, encrusted with crystals and icons, and upstairs you can get your fortune told by Mysteries’ psychic staff and Tarot readers. Magic.
Best in London for vintage?
Princess May Car Boot Sale
Just north of Dalston, opposite Beyond Retro’s huge Stoke Newington High Street store, is one of London’s best car boot sales. The mix of sellers is intriguing – from local trendies selling off their Topshop Unique cast-offs, to seasoned car booters (who tend to drive a hard bargain) selling knick knacks. It all makes for a great breadth of tat to pick through. On a hot summer’s weekend the sale is packed with browsers and sellers who cram themselves creatively into every corner of the grounds, selling from trestle tables and blankets.
Scoring a great car boot bargain is one of my greatest turn ons and Princess May rarely disappoints. On my last visit I picked up a Death Row Records cap, a Florida Gators sweatshirt, an old leather Camel cigarettes wallet – and possibly my best ever car boot find – a large ceramic bust of Arnold Schwartzenegger as The Terminator for £8. I didn’t even haggle. As I walked away from the stall the seller said, in a creepy Austrian accent, “you’ll be back.” No shit.
Best shop in London for gifts?
Navigating Broadway Market on a Saturday is sometimes a bit overwhelming – you might not always be in the mood for the crowds and gluten-free cakes, squeezing through the shoppers and poseurs, squinting so your eye isn’t poked out by a chocolate eclair. Donlon Books makes it all worth it.
At the north end of the market and usually manned by Conor Donlon, you can browse an excellent selection of art, fashion and culture books (new and old), and magazines, fanzines and cards. It’s great for gifts. I always find something that’s relevant to a friend’s dubious obsession, whether it’s a book on 1970s Australian drag artists or film ephemera from the collection of John Waters himself – Cry Baby tissues or a Serial Mom baseball cap.
Best shop in London for food?
It’s not much of a secret – Lina Stores has held its own in Soho’s red light district since the ‘30s – but the Italian deli just keeps getting better. The small shop had a bit of a makeover a couple of years back – and achieved the impossible: updating the place to feel thoroughly contemporary but preserving its traditional quirks.
You can have a quick snack or a coffee at the standing tables or buy up big from the impressive stock at the fresh counter (cheeses, charcuterie, etc) or the shelves (biscotti, Venchi treats). The homemade bits are best: pumpkin and sage or veal tortellini, pesto. The fresh pork and fennel sausages usually make the shelves in the early afternoon (amazing rolled up into meatballs at home).
Your number one London shopping secret?
I discovered Casa Mexico last year – although I’d walked past it lots of times on my way to the Antipodium studio in Bethnal Green. A few earthenware pots at the entrance had always made me think the place was a ceramic store, something to do with tiles or garden furniture – a bit boring. Still, I decided to try it out one day and it’s good I did.
Inside it’s all Day of the Dead dolls, handwoven rugs, pinata and paper fiesta decorations, bottled sodas and beers, fresh tortilla – and those ceramic garden pots. The Casa team have opened a Mexican pastry counter next door that’ll be selling tacos come September. In the main store, check out the genuine Caballeros cowboy boots, shirts and hats and Lucha Libre wrestling masks, or pick up some religious candles (£4.50 for Jesus) and proper Mexican sweets. Steer clear of the hot salted tamarind candies though – the packaging’s great but they taste like death.
The London trend you’re loving right now?
Okay, it may not be the best news for the nervous eater, or those prone to bouts of heartburn or animal welfare, but this past summer in London was all about the grill. Dirty burgers, chunks of bone marrow, pulled pork, barbecued ribs… Alongside the stars of the BBQ scene – Meat Liquor, Meat Market and Pit Cue Co. – there are a few relative newcomers that are worth checking out: Burnt Enz at the Climpson Roastery (currently closed for winter) is less about classic BBQ sauces and more about using the grill to cook posh things like scallops, quail and more traditional stuff like lamb ribs with mint or beef brisket. Elliot’s Cafe at Borough Market collaborated with Raw – Borough’s wine fair – in the form of a pop-up burger stand selling aged beef patties with beer-braised onions, Comte and a brioche bun… it’s totally dirty – in a good way.
Click here for a Wee Birdy map of Dan’s Secret London, complete with all the addresses and contact details.
Click here for more Secret London posts.
Image sources: Mysteries; Donlon Books; Lina Stores; Lina Stores.
Some of you have asked for some plus-sized options for Frock on Friday, so I’ve turned to Clements Ribeiro‘s clever new collection for UK plus-sized label Evans for inspiration. This is the London-based designers’ second collection for Evans, after their triumphant Spring/Summer collection earlier this year which sought to slash accepted fashion cliches for plus-sized women. Clearly, they’re on to a winner.
Clements Ribeiro’s (northern hemisphere) autumn/winter collection for Evans sees a return to their signature prints (traditionally a no-no for curvy shapes) with a line-up of some cracking frocks. If you’re after a classic LBD that works between seasons, look no further than this crepe LBD (above). The supremely flattering cut features a v-neckline and a bang-on-trend peplum. It’s available in sizes 14 to 32. Swan by Clements Ribeiro Debra dress, £75 from Evans.
However, it’s impossible to ignore the fabulous prints from this collection, including (below, from left to right) Swan By Clements Ribeiro Placement Print Salome Dress, £95; Swan By Clements Ribeiro Pansy Print Betty Dress, £75; and Swan By Clements Ribeiro Lace Grace Dress, £95. Clements Ribeiro for Evans.
I’ve been obsessed with London souvenirs for as long as I can remember. From the spectacularly crap to the artfully awesome, there is something about a flash of Routemaster Red that makes my inner magpie sing. Over the last few months I’ve brought you the top 10 London souvenir mugs; the 25 best London Olympic Games souvenirs; the best non-tat Jubilee souvenirs; and had a Union Jack love attack.
And now, with the London 2012 Olympic Games drawing to a close this weekend, I present my top 30 non-crap London souvenirs.* But really, can you blame me?
* It’s actually 31 non-crap London souvenirs, with Charlotte Olympia’s magnificent perspex clutch pictured at the top. It’s sold-out on Net-a-Porter, but her London 2012 Union Jack clutch is still up for grabs!
What’s your favourite London souvenir?
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.
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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.