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!
I’ve always thought that the savviest and most stylish souvenir one can take home from London is a Liberty scarf. On my first trip to London I didn’t have quite the budget to stretch to a proper Liberty scarf, but I made do with a large cotton Liberty handkerchief, which I subsequently wore knotted around my head.
The iconic London department store is renowned for its iconic prints and textile design, and their scarves have been in demand throughout its considerable retail history. In 2009 Liberty acknowledged the importance of scarves to its heritage and opened a dedicated Scarf Room on the ground floor, showcasing the largest variety of scarves in London. Liberty’s Scarf Room is a must-visit on any fashion-lover’s London itinerary.
In this extra-large and super-patriotic scarf, Liberty has taken three of their classic floral prints (red Christelle, blue Retro Flower and blue and white Felix) and worked them to represent the Union Jack. If you’re a Brit, show your support for Team GB with this large silk chiffon scarf draped around your neck; and if you’re not, snap it up anyway – it’s one of the most stylish souvenirs of the London 2012 Olympics I’ve come across.
Best of all, if you buy the scarf before 12 August, you’ll receive a complimentary set of scarf styling cards valued at £15, featuring 12 ways to wear your scarf.
Liberty has also created a series of how-to videos demonstrating the various ways you can tie a scarf. Here is the Oversized Scarf: The Liberty Way To Tie a Scarf.
This has the potential to be the worst blog post in the history of the blogging. Seriously, London Olympics souvenir mugs, you’re asking? But apparently they’re one of the fastest-moving souvenirs that visitors to London (and lovers of London) take home, and there are some truly wretched examples out there. So as the unofficial ambassador for all things lovely about London, I’ve taken it upon myself to find 10 excellent specimens that tick all the right boxes for design, originality and quality.
1. The Animal Olympics
Can you see one of Charlotte Cory’s brilliantly bonkers artworks lining the centuries-old walls of Windsor Castle? Apparently it’s true, and word is that the Queen is a huge fan of the London artist. (I’d believe anything after her starring role in the James Bond skit). You can see what all the fuss is about at Charlotte’s current exhibition, ‘The Sporting Champions’ at her gallery in Greenwich. There are Victorian rabbit wrestlers, parrot cyclists and kangaroo cricketers, as well as hand-crafted Victorian medals. But where are the corgi beach volleyball players? Probably hanging her Her Maj’s bedroom. Until 20 August, 2012.
The Green Parrot Gallery, Greenwich 73 Lassell Street London SE10 9PJ Nearest transport: Greenwich rail/Cutty Sark DLR Click here for a Wee Birdy map. Opening hours: Fridays 11am-6pm
2. The Karl Olympics
Even the likes of iconic Chanel fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld, couldn’t resist taking on the Olympics with a limited-edition capsule collection for Selfridges. His new pop-up shop on the third floor, named Team Karl, is home to a range of Olympics-inspired fashion and accessories including medal-emblazoned t-shirts and gold-splattered Karl motif tote bags. There are also a few men’s items currently available online. Selfridges 400 Oxford Street London W1A 1AB
Nearest tube: Bond Street
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.
Opening hours until Monday 13 August: Monday to Saturday 10am-10pm Sunday 10am-8pm
[Image via Blog Deluxe Online]
3. The PopUp Olympics
Head to this pop-up shop in Greenwich throughout the Olympic period and discover some of London’s best designer-makers from Cockpit Arts and various studios. Take your pick from art prints, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, homewares, beauty products and lighting by the likes of Lorna Syson, MacMaster Design, Naomi Ryder and Siobhan McIntosh. Until Thursday 23 August, 2012. PopUp@Greenwich 20 Nelson Street London, SE10 9JB Nearest transport: Greenwich rail/Cutty Sark DLR Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 12 noon-8pm Sunday 12 noon-5pm
4. The Goodhood Olympics
Hackney is one of the host boroughs of the London Olympics, and it’s also home to some of London’s coolest and most fashion-forward boutiques, including The Goodhood Store. Based in Hoxton for over five years, the store stocks a line-up of covetable brands including P.A.M, Antipodium, Surface to Air and Peter Jensen. To celebrate the borough’s Olympic status, Goodhood has designed a limited-edition t-shirt, which goes on sale today in store and online for £35. The Goodhood Store 41 Coronet Store London N16HD Nearest tube: Old Street Click here for a Wee Birdy map. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 11am-6.30pm Sunday 12 noon-5pm 5. The Retro Olympics
London’s legendary vintage shop, Retro to Go, has gone for retro gold with their collection of original sportswear from the ’70s to ’90s, like this Olympic Karate t-shirt. Check out the range in store (there are three shops in London) or online. Retro to Go 110-112 Cheshire Street London E2 6EJ Tel. 020 7613 3636 Nearest tube: Liverpool Street Click here for a Wee Birdy map. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10am-7pm Thursday 10am to 8pm Sunday 11.30am-6pm
You know I love me some awesome London souvenirs. So I’ve been in a veritable flap all year with Britain’s designers putting their considerable talent behind all sorts of desirable and highly collectable stuff to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the 2012 London Olympic Games.
You won’t find any “official” London Olympics merchandise here, because frankly, I couldn’t find anything I fancied. And I’m sure you’re going to be hit over the head with the stuff over the next few weeks. Furthermore, the official mascots are kind of hideous and I can’t look at the official 2012 logo without seeing Lisa Simpson performing an adults-only act. Oh dear.
Instead, I’ve scoured the net for great design, a playful approach and stuff I’d actually like to wear – or have in my house. And you’ll find that most of the pieces are designed or made in Britain, if not London itself. Take Thorsten van Elten’s collaboration with East London creative agency CREATE, which offers a line-up of five “well considered” souvenirs by British designers that serve as an antidote to the “overly-commercial, tacky souvenirs on sale across London this summer”.
To celebrate Wee Birdy’s 5th birthday, I’m giving away FIVE fabulous prizes over the next FIVE days. Each prize is something I truly love and hand-picked especially for you, my dearest and most lovely readers.
As many of my long-time readers know, I’m a huge fan of Alex Monroe and I own a few of his gorgeous pieces. So I’m thrilled to give away this very special piece from the new ‘Best of British collection, which is a celebratory tribute to 2012, and encapsulates the best of British quirkiness and all the things that Alex loves: conkers, blue tits, a teapot and his own sailing boat. Here are my favourite pieces from the collection:
Fox Bracelet, £135. This rose gold-plated fox is running circles around a sterling silver bracelet.
If you’re in London, you must add Alex’s new boutique to the list of shops you have to visit. It’s located in South East London near London Bridge station, and features all of his classic collections, alongside more luxurious 18ct gold, diamond and gemstone ‘Goldcrest’ pieces. Alex also offers an exclusive bespoke service, where you will have a one-on-one consultation to design your very own piece of Alex Monroe jewellery.
1. To qualify to win, you must follow or ‘like’ Wee Birdy on either Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter – or all three if you like! If you’re already following me on one of these platforms, you are automatically qualified to win.
2. Leave a comment in the comments section of this post below and ensure you enter your email address in the space provided (your email address will not be published).
The competition closes on Saturday 21 July, 2012 at 5pm AEST. Winners will be drawn at random on Sunday 22 July. Winners will be announced and contacted by email on Monday 23 July, 2012.
Winners have one week to respond to the initial email from Wee Birdy confirming that they have won. If Wee Birdy doesn’t hear from the winner of each prize within a week, the winner/s will forfeit their prize and Wee Birdy will randomly draw another winner/s.