London shop tours

October 14, 2009

Shopping in London: Swanfield

I know that London (and this blog) has gone a little pop-up crazy in recent weeks, but here’s one that’s definitely worth a visit. Swanfield originated in East London as a collective of designers, and has recently gone ‘on tour’, with pop-ups in central London. The swans are currently nesting on the first floor of Kingly Court (just off Carnaby Street) with their fresh mix of independent fashion, vintage wares and accessories.


Three young designers, in particular, caught my eye on a recent visit: Cecilia Hammarborg (for dramatic swing coats in tweeds and worsted wool); Lucie Gonnard’s French and English Confectioners (for custom-made limited edition shoes and bags) and Katherine Pont’s MINE fashion label (keep an eye out for her whimsical Spring/Summer 10 collection – she's one to watch).

More posts to follow on each designer…

Swanfield (until the end of Oct)
1.2 Kingly Court
London, W1
Tel. 07595 64040

Nearest tube: Oxford Circus.
Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 11am-7pm

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September 23, 2009

Shopping in London: Shop at Bluebird


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.


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.



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.



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.



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.


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.



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.


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

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September 16, 2009

Shopping in London: M.Goldstein


As much as I love my modern, minimalist boutiques with carefully-considered stock and refined aesthetic (A.P.C’s new flagship store on Dover Street is a great example), there’s something about the thrill of finding treasure in a real magpie’s nest, where the approach to visual merchandising errs towards the chaotic rather than the simple and streamlined. This is what you can expect to find at M.Goldstein, a small vintage shop on Hackney Road, just at the bottom of Columbia Road.



The name comes from the former 1930s owner, a newsagent who by all accounts was no stranger to East London’s shady underworld at the time. A jumble of antiques, paintings and the odd human skull, M.Goldstein is today the brainchild of Nathaniel Lee Jones and Pippa Brooks (formerly of Shop at Maison Bertaux in Soho – how we miss you so! But these days you can find Pippa blogging at Madame Says).


It’s not overly or self-consciously styled – in fact, Nathaniel describes it as a bit of a work in progress. There are old drums hanging from the ceiling and mid-century grocery boxes stacked on top of the cabinet, with a Victorian skull sitting on a Gothic stand in the corner.


Taking pride of place is a cabinet of curios, which on my visit was filled with a collection of tiny bird skulls, bird eggs and um, dead birds, as well as some really lovely vintage jewellery, hair combs and mantillas. It’s all rather like stepping into the old office of a mad, fashion-loving scientist.




I also found a seaside entertainer’s jacket form the ‘30s, some vintage straw hats in the style of Dior’s New Look, and a pair of Eley Kishimoto heels (from Pippa’s personal collection). Nathaniel and Pippa have also started to produce their own small run of garments, like some lovely shirt dresses as well as some screen-printed tees (like this lovely violet number featuring Quentin Crisp).



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Fingers’ crossed there’s more on the way from this creative duo!

67 Hackney Road
London, E2.
Tel. 07905 325215
Nearest tube: Old Street
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

Opening hours:
Thursday to Sunday 10am-6pm

Click here for more shops in East London.

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September 9, 2009

Shopping in London: What Katie Did


Fans of London’s burlesque scene may already be familiar with What Katie Did, the British-based label behind luxe vintage-style lingerie and hosiery. In fact, the Notting Hill shop, tucked away at the back of Portobello Green arcade, is one of London’s few locations where burlesque performers can get fully kitted out – from their nipple pasties and corsolettes to proper silk stockings and feathered fans.


But you don’t have to be into burlesque to get something (saucy) out of What Katie Did’s delightful collection of vintage-inspired lingerie and shapewear. In fact, those of you who love their vintage fashion, particularly cinched-in styles from the ‘40s and ‘50s, will rejoice in their range of shapewear and girdles made specifically to pull you in and create a silhouette of your wildest Mad Men-inspired dreams.



I really love their collection of bullet bras (£27.50) – the peach satin version is particularly gorgeous – as well as their fancy frilly knickers (£14), available in sizes 10 to 18. Keep an eye out for their excellent range of authentic seamed stockings, which are made in an old-fashioned British factory on a machine that actually stitches the seams together, as well as the seam-look stockings from £4.50.



You can also sign up for one of their workshops, where you can learn how to make your own nipple tassle or fascinator over tea and cake. Crafty and raunchy, oh my!

What Katie Did
26 Portobello Green
281 Portobello Road
London, W10 5TZ
Tel. 0845 430 8943
Nearest tube: Ladbroke Grove
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday 10am – 6pm
Sunday 12 noon – 6pm

Click here for more good shops in Notting Hill.

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August 25, 2009

Shopping in London: V&A shop


Over the past couple of years I’ve posted quite a lot about my favourite bits and pieces from various London museums and galleries, but I’ve never delved into any great detail about the actual shops themselves. So naturally, that’s about to change…

It’s a given that any gallery-goer’s journey will end in the designated shop space – in fact their presence (and the promise of a toy dinosaur) has been used as the proverbial dangling carrot to get many a child through the tedium of an exhibition itself. But some of the world’s greatest and most-loved museums and galleries (New York’s MoMA, London’s Tate Modern, Design Museum and the V&A) have evolved in such a way that their shops are a retail (and tourist) destination in their own right.


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I must confess that I’ve been guilty, on more than one occasion, of making a specific gift-buying dash to the V&A shop, without so much as a peep in at any of the permanent collection galleries (I know, shameful behaviour!). But that’s because the V&A, in particular, offers up an expertly-edited line-up of gifts, accessories, books and children’s toys – all perfect candidates for being packaged up and sent away to friends and family far away.


There's also a dedicated bookshop, with subjects spanning the worlds of design, art, fashion, textiles, jewellery, photography and architecture. And they always have an extensive range of the most gorgeous cards:


The website is also an excellent source for all manner of design-led products and accessories, and autumn/winter’s new collection has just arrived online. I’m loving the cherry brooch by Francoise Montague, squirrel ring box by Jonathan Adler, and chirpy cicada brooch.


There's also a really lovely selection of luxe hairbands and headpieces, like this little pleated beauty


The shop is also particularly good when it comes to accessing a clever range of kids’ toys, games and activities, starting at pocket-money prices. I’m particularly fond of the vintage-style wind-up tin toys, like this circus elephant, and these Clifford Richards cat and fairy notebooks.



The V&A also have a brilliant prints service, where you can order any print from their vast collection in the size, format and paper of your choice.

Also keep an eye out for pieces from the Cherry on a Cake collection, a brilliant line of limited edition designer collaborations, making them perfect (read: non-crap) souvenirs for tourists and London newcomers alike. Inspired by the museum’s extensive collections, you can take your pick from a stunning Grayson Perry doll (at a super-cool £4000, wow) or a Concise Book of Patterns necklace by Comfort Station. Art and history has never been so wearable.

The V&A Shop
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
Tel. 020 7942 2687
Nearest tube: South Kensington
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

Opening hours:

Monday to Sunday 10am-5.30pm

Late night every Friday until 9.45pm

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July 29, 2009

Shopping in London: Courverture & the Garbstore


Courverture & the Garbstore is a rather charming concept store on Notting Hill’s Kensington Park Road, offering a carefully edited selection of womenswear, menswear, homewares, gifts, toys and childrenswear over three enticing levels. Open since April 2008, it brings together Emily Dyson's shop Couverture with Ian Paley’s cult men’s brand the Garbstore.


I was immediately drawn to the back of the store, where rows of super-cute childrenswear labels hang next to shelves of Japanese and Scandinavian wooden toys and beautifully designed treasures. There’s also a rack of fanciable dressing-up clothes sourced from around the world. The kids’ dressing room is also quite at treat, decorated with a vibrant vintage wallpaper.


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It’s worth taking the time to explore the racks of clothes up the front of the store, which feature New York designers such as Lyell, Rachel Comey, as well as denim from Jean Shop. There’s also netural cotton jersey pieces by Dutch label Humanoid, knitwear by former Paul & Joe designer April May, and streamlined designs by Indress (think of a grown-up A.P.C.). There’s also a good selection of (Wee Birdy favourite) Belle by Sigerson Morrison shoes.



Head upstairs and you’ll find a light and bright level of more womenswear, as well as hand-picked vintage items and homewares. A cabinet of vintage Sasha dolls – still in their pristine boxes – sits next to Scholten & Baijings’ brightly woven Dutch table linen. It’s all been expertly edited, and although the pieces have been sourced from around the world, they all share a similar mid-century/Scandi aesthetic. Keep an eye out for the magnificent vintage patchwork quilts, as well as Spanish ceramics and Japanese glassware. I love the hand-stitched cushions and throws by Parisian homewares brand Caravane, which use reissued vintage fabrics and have an almost hand-painted feel to them.




Moving downstairs to the basement Garbstore, you’ll find vintage-inspired and Japanese brands exclusive to the UK, such as Bedwin & the Heartbreakers, General Research, Naval Research and Mountain Research. There’s also a wall of Garbstore’s own-brand denim jeans, which boasts 19 different classic styles that were inspired by ‘40s and ‘50s cuts. Look out for Australian’s Rittenhouse t-shirts, as well as Han Kjobenhavn sunglasses. I also found a good selection of vintage tie pins and clips from from £5 (especially hard-to-find clips for skinny ties!). And don’t miss the line-up of vintage Action Men, with prices starting at £45.



Now is a particularly good time to visit, with a store-wide sale on both current and last season’s stock. Or plan a trip on Saturday, when they’ll make further discounts of up to 70 per cent.

UPDATE: Just got news of some of the discounted goodies to expect in store: Belle by Sigerson Morrison ankle strap sandal for £199 (from £299), Rachel Comey chartreuse skirt for £139 (was £349), Ann-Sofie Back crepe fitted blazer for £225 (from £559) and Michelle Lowe-Holder printed silk blazer for £90 (was £229).

Couverture & The Garbstore
188 Kensington Park Road,
London W11 2ES
Tel. 020 7229 2178
Nearest Tubes: Notting Hill Gate and Ladbroke Grove
Click here for a Wee Birdy map

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 10am-6pm
Sunday: 12 noon-5pm (December only)

Click here for more Wee Birdy shop reviews in Notting Hill.

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