First there was the Alexia (020 8789 6752) cotton and crystal scarf-necklace in Grazia magazine’s fashion charts. Then I spotted another scarf-necklace hybrid yesterday at the press day for German jeweller Sabrina Dehoff. Finally, today, while being given a tour of The Shop At Bluebird, I spotted another scarf-slash-necklace by Maison Martin Margiela! You know what they say – ‘twice is a coincidence, thrice is a trend’…
Pics – top to bottom
Alexia, Sabrina Dehoff*, Maison Martin Margiela*
*Apologies for the lousy picture quality. I was actually taking a photo of Sabrina Dehoff’s wooden jewellery so her scarf-necklaces are a bit obscured, while the Margiela one is under glass.
News that international fashion buyers are playing safe when it comes to designer labels should have Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts jumping for joy. While stores struggle to encourage customer spending, buyers are increasing their orders on timeless separates and well-performing mega-brands while taking fewer risks on newer designers. I’m not entirely surprised. Even those designers that are new and innovative have toned down the wackiness in lieu of a commercial style that will appeal to as many monied customers as possible, in all corners of the globe. Long sleeves were one noticable trend at the recent round of fashion weeks that were understood to be a clear sign of reaching out to the affluent Middle Eastern market. According to WGSN, Selfridges will be sticking to established brands for its designer customer. “People aren’t buying as many unknown brands. We all want to invest in something that we know we are going to really love and will carry through a bit more to the next season.” said Selfridges’ designerwear buyer Laura Larbalestier. With Burberry announcing a 14 per cent increase in sales during the last six months, they are obviously doing something very right indeed and proving the point that customers want to invest in well-known, trusted brands. “We could turn off everything right now, but we’re not going to,” says Ahrendts. “This is the sort of time when leaders are born and made, and we will micromanage this business to stay on top. We are absolutely going to stay the course.”
“Sabrina Duncan always wore turtlenecks and we would call her ‘The Lesbian’. We always fought over who was going to be who…”
Dan and Dean from D Squared declare their love for Charlie’s Angels in Arena Homme Plus
Pop-up shops just keep on coming! The latest is House of Masquerade, popping up in Shoreditch’s Redchurch Street from 24th -27th October. (Redchurch Street is east London’s new It street – my favourite secret shop, Caravan has just relocated there, the new Conran hotel is opening there imminently and Shoreditch House has been happily settled there for a year or so.) Absolut Vodka is behind House of Masquerade, a collab with vintage outfitters Mint who have worked with fashion illustrator Daisy de Villeneuve to create a special live dressing up box experience complete with on-site stylist and Absolut Vodka on tap. Apparently, de Villeneuve has also produced 250 limited edition journals to go on sale during those 4 days (well, evenings actually, it’s open from 5-11pm) with proceeds going to The Terence Higgins Trust. I love Daisy De Villeneuve and I’m loving the sound of these journals. Especially as I’m sure they’ll cost less than the £350 that Smythson are charging for their exclusive limited edition Ed Ruscha diaries. (I know the money goes to charity but still…)
Not quite a pop-up shop but an interesting space none the less, Acne Jeans opened its new mini department at Liberty during London Fashion Week. I went along to the opening with fellow bloggers Alison from Bish Shops and Géraldine from Café Mode but to be honest, I was more interested in cocktail sipping, oggling Alexa The Chung and speculating on the arrival/non arrival of Kings Of Leon than the actual clothes. But I went for a closer look this week and…it’s fabulous! I love the slim-leg chinos and cuboid storage and of course the perfect-in-every-way Acne Paper. If only the Lanvin-for-Acne collection would hurry up and land already…
While news circulates that Miss Sixty’s UK operation has just gone into administration, its competitor Diesel is on fire! Diesel’s latest ruse is ‘Dirty Thirty’, a promotion celebrating its 30th anniversary in which 160 stores worldwide will sell 30,000 pairs of their Matic (womens) and Heeven (mens) jeans for £30. The jeans go on sale on October 10th at 10am with the first influx of customers also given invitations to one of the anniversary bashes taking place in 17 countries on October 11th. Yikes, that’s a lot of canapes. The UK party is at new club Matter with Mark Ronson headlining – surely reason enough to join the queue, never mind the jeans?
It will be interesting to see whether this event is a success. My gut instinct tells me yes. Consumers have always responded to novelty and hype and by tying in the credit-crunch friendly £30 gimmick, I think it’s a pretty savvy move. (Mind you, whether the jeans are kept as collectibles as hoped by Diesel or end up on Ebay is anyone’s guess.)
Our last day dawned with clear skies and sunshine a-blazing. Amazing! D took himself for a walk with his camera while I started on the packing. The only thing I really wanted to do on this trip (apart from meet Liberty London Girl who alas, was at the shows in Paris) was to see the Joe Strummer mural in the East Village. Because of the weather we kept putting it off and I’m glad we did as it would have been zero fun in the rain. After checking out of our beloved Bowery, we took a cab to Tompkins Square Park and found the mural right next to it. It was smaller than I expected and some idiots had graffitied over parts of it but it was still great to see it. Good old Joe!
We spent the rest of the morning ambling and stopping for breakfast and then I took D to Central Park (via my favourite Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture on 6th Avenue) as he’d never been before. It was glorious and romantic just hanging out in the park in the September sun and writing our postcards home.
We’d deliberately not given ourselves a massive to-do list on this trip but I remembered that I’d wanted to look at the Colette/Gap store at 54th and 5th Avenue.
It was tiny! As there were only a few days to go (it closes tomorrow) most of the good stuff had been snapped up including the grey jersey Longchamp bag, the grey Alexis Mabille bowtie clutch and the Interview magazine T-shirt – all sold out pretty sharpish according to the saleslady.
There was still a lone pair of grey jersey Repettos (try wearing those when il pleut!) and a few graffitied Gap trenchcoats but thankfully I’d exhausted my appetite for spending. (If anyone’s interested, according to Fashionista, these V Magazine model T-shirts are on sale all weekend.)
We realised that we’d done all we’d planned to and still had a few hours spare so decided to grab a cab to Williamsburg as D wanted to check out ‘just one last’ record shop. Ah bless. After a chocolate milkshake at the Blackbird Parlour and a late lunch at Felix, our fabulous five days were soon over and we were haring it back to JFK.
As a bit of a Tripadvisor fan, I checked out its reviews of The Bowery before we left for NYC but they didn’t go into enough detail so I shall do the honours here. The hotel is fabulous. Our corner room with dramatic double aspect windows was a king room but on the small side as all New York hotels are so that didn’t bother us (although maybe a few drawers for clothes storage would have been handy).
We loved the chirpy reception staff from their patient emails answering all our inane questions before arrival, to their nothing’s-too-much-trouble attitude during our stay. The ambience is one of homely comfort, the roaring fire in the lounge was most welcome after a hard day’s shopping in the rain.
The room decor is classic 1930s Gotham with great finishing flourishes like the velvet tub chairs, ceiling fan and red-trimmed bedding. The bed was an absolute dream to sleep on. The white brick-tiled bathroom with old-school brass fittings was a comfortable size with a good shower and generous C.O.Bigelow products.
You get the works here – soap, shower gel, shampoo, body lotion, bubble bath. (Our room didn’t have a bath but you can request one.) The bathroom is also well- stocked and replenished daily with cotton buds, cotton wool pads and tissues so no need to pack these staples. I dunno about you but these are the essential details I need to know about when I’m staying in a hotel! There are plush his n hers Bowery monogrammed bathrobes and matching ‘B’ slippers which of course came home with me as a souvenir.
Even the chambermaids carry Bowery-monogrammed LL Bean tote bags – how chic! I decided not to stalk them for a photo though, that would be a bit too sad. There’s a good selection of magazines in the rooms – Interview, Time Out, Paper – and there are Apple MacBooks available to borrow from reception which are free for three hours and then charged which I think is a pretty fair deal. We didn’t touch the mini bar or snacks as we knew the prices would be sky high, but if we had got peckish there was a huge basket of luxury nibbles and drinks to satisfy every craving. Room service was expensive but worth it. I could happily have eaten my French toast and berry compote breakfast morning, noon and night for the duration of our stay.
Day 4 and eek! yet another washout – this time it was relentless. I was still wearing my not-quite-dried-out stinky Cons and it rained from the minute we stepped out of the hotel ’til about 5pm. Ugh! We went on a wild goose chase hunting for a couple of nonexistent flea markets before finding a very small one where D foraged for his beloved reggae records and I tapped my (trench) foot impatiently. As it really started tipping down monsoon-style we decided to jump in a cab and head to Bergdorf’s to dry off. Well, it being a Sunday, of course it wasn’t open yet. Doh! So there was nothing for it but to kill time at Starbucks in Trump Towers. Actually, I quite liked it!
By the time Bergdorf’s opened we were so sick of our sodden umbrellas (although I was rather taken with their natty umbrella bags) we couldn’t even muster the excitement to coo over the Goyard luggage. Seriously, it was that bad.
Finally we made it to a good flea market (The Antiques Garage, 112 West 25th Street between 6th and 7th) where we were in shabby chic heaven. I could literally have spent the entire day there. I really had to rein myself in with the spending otherwise I would have bought all manner of useless tat. In fact I bought very little, a $3 ‘gold’ chain to wear my dad’s rings on, and some vintage luggage labels for my scrapbook. I would have bought one of these name rings if I’d found my name!
Feeling quite pleased with myself for only spending a couple of dollars we exited the flea market and found ourselves slap bang in front of New York Vintage, the poshest and biggest vintage store I have ever seen.
Oh my word. When the shop guy asked D if I was a designer and D told him I was a stylist, well, a whole other room suddenly opened up for us. And then boxes and boxes of silk scarves were brought to us to rummage through. Can you imagine getting this sort of service in London? Forgeddit. Half an hour later and $100 lighter we left with a bagful of vintage Charvet and Celine scarves and ties.
Thankfully, the rain decided to ease up so we ambled to Mercer Street Books where I bought some black and white postcards to send to our families and D bought more used records.
Back to What Comes Around Goes Around where they let us have a snoop downstairs. Luckily there were none of the things I wanted (vintage Levi’s jackets/Ralph Lauren-esque jumpers/chinos/cuban heel ankle boots) in my size otherwise lord knows how much I would have spent. I did buy a new pair of old Converse though, should have really done it days ago!
By the time we got back to the hotel we were utterly exhausted. We lay on the bed for a wee rest, half watching the New Kids on The Block documentary and the next thing we knew we’d both passed out and it was only 9.30pm. Another early night in the city that never sleeps. Oh dear!
Another rainy day, on and off but not as bad as day 2. We headed to Soho for breakfast then to R by 45 RPM where D proceeded to try on every scarf in the shop before buying me a nylon puffa neck-warmer. As we were paying for it, in walked Lauren Hutton! I tried to keep my cool while frantically mouthing and head jerking to D. She was wearing lime green high top Cons, a denim knee length skirt, some sort of blue outdoorsy jacket (isn’t she a hiker?) and a straw (straw!) backpack. She looked amazing. And she tried on a neck-warmer thingy like mine.
Then to Prada where D wanted to buy a shirt he’d seen in London. Beautiful store, it was like being in a film and I don’t care if it’s fake, I just love being asked ‘how are you’ when I walk into a shop. Unfortunately they didn’t have his size but they did have a lovely little blue man-clutch which I just couldn’t resist for myself. Well, it’s an investment isn’t it?
After lunch, more meandering and yet more shopping, this time for a giant suitcase to carry all our wares home in, we went to the movies. I love seeing films in New York, I have fond memories of seeing my first Sofia Coppola and Miranda July films there. We decided on Wild Combination, a documentary about Arthur Russell (no, me neither), an experimental musician and disco producer who frequented the legendary New York Loft parties and died before his time in 1992. It was a great little film and quite moving at the end. There was only a bit of footage of the Loft parties – I would have loved to see more of that time – but lots of interesting characters and storytelling. Little did we know that there would be a Q & A with some of the participants immediately afterwards and it turned out D knew a couple of them so we chatted to them for a while after the Q & A session. D was pretty hyper all the way home and wore me out with his excitement so we had a quick bite to eat then straight back to the Bowery’s fabulous marshmallow pillows and 400 threadcount sheets.
Everything about New York was great apart from the weather. We had one beautiful day and four shitty ones! It was quite cute how the Bowery put their little weather forecast signs up in the lift, even though the forecasts were bad they kind of cheered us up.
Stupidly, I had only brought two pairs of shoes and both are on the leeky side. Tip: Do not wear leaky Converse to New York if you are planning to spend several hours a day on foot and the forecast is showers. We found that everyone wears snazzy wellies in New York when it rains – seriously, there were more wellies than Glastonbury. My wet squidgy feet and the constant up-and-down of the umbrella started getting on my nerves but I perked up when we got to Anthropologie. Mary Portas would love it! It has everything – charm, atmosphere, great merchandising. There is something to see wherever you look and even though the clothes don’t really float my boat, they have such a good selection of books and knick knacks you just have to buy something. I bought the Poppy King book, Lessons of a Lipstick Queen (part autobiography, part business manual, part self help) and a box of New York matches.
We also checked out APC (gorgeous store but nothing we can’t get at home), What Comes Around Goes Around (wanted everything but all madly expensive) and the MOMA shop. After lunch we headed to the New Museum of Contemporary Art which is a great space and has the biggest lift in the world. Seriously, the lift was about the size of a house. Alas, two of the floors were closed as they are putting together an Elizabeth Peyton exhibition which I would have loved to see but will eventually land at the Whitechapel Gallery in London according to the info on the New Museum’s website.
We consoled ourselves with more shopping. Why does being on holiday feel like shopping in the sales? You get into this now-or-never frenzy buying the most crazy amount of stuff like there’s no tomorrow. We bought a huge I Love New York scrapbook coffee table book and this New Museum laundry bag which I think should be tax deductable as I am so going to use it for my shoots.
We also popped into the John Varvatos shop a few doors down which used to be CBGBs. Although D turned his nose up, I actually thought they’ve done a really good job with it. They’ve kept a lot of the original stuff on the walls and sell records and vintage band tees from What Comes Around Goes Around.
Dinner was at Sala, a random restaurant we spotted across from the hotel. Phenomenal Spanish tapas, I could go there again right now. G wanted to take us out clubbing but we were too pooped so another early night for the lightweights.