Retail concepts

National Geographic Store

One of my most exhilarating discoveries during LFW was not a fashion discovery at all but a travel shop. The National Geographic Store in Regent Street has been open since November and I have probably been past it countless times but this time I actually ventured inside. Talk about ‘exciting retail experience’, I think all those tired, run-of-the-mill high street chains could do well to pay a visit. The store is laid out like a ‘museum of adventure’ where every item is for sale. As my favourite part of any museum is the shop, you can imagine how much I love this museum-slash-shop approach. Everything is beautifully executed and merchandise – think any Ralph Lauren store – with fantastic attention to detail. I loved all the furniture and the stairwell of framed photos and can personally vouch for the chocolate cake in the slow-food cafe. The only NQT (Not Quite There) element for me is the clothing. There is a range of travel clothes that could be so much better with a few tweaks in the design and quality. The idea is good – classic travel-friendly clothes for men and women – but the design at the moment is more Hawkshead than Hermes. That said, the mens shoes are really yummy and there is a range of luxury branded stationery (personal organisers etc) just crying out for aspirational types like me to snap them up. I didn’t even make it to the basement but apparently it has a product-testing chamber where you can experience extreme temperatures and generally enjoy the National Geographic experience.

For more information, this blog post is pretty comprehensive.

Roberto’s ‘up yours’ to the recession

Politically correct or no, I’m loving all the latest reports of credit crunch defying antics. From Balmain’s now infamous sell-out £1000 jeans to Christian Louboutin’s Lesage-embroidered tart’s shoes… it means I can live vicariously through those who aren’t suffering as much as me. Personally, I’m still trying to spend a wee bit to keep the economy afloat. What I do is on the days that I’m working from home I have Heinz tomato soup (not the organic one though – too expensive) or beans on toast for lunch, so the tenner-a-day lunch budget saved goes on a Wagamama/Busaba/Harvey Nicks lunch on the days I’m out and about. (Back in the days when I had an office job I was laughed at for my lavish takeaway lunches but I’m sorry, I don’t do sandwiches – too depressing – plus I need a hot meal and lunchtime is the highlight of my day!)

Anyway I digress. Roberto Cavalli has collaborated with Mastercard on a super-swanky credit card. Here’s the blurb:
‘Created for those who thrive upon excellence, elegance and quality, “The Cavalli Card” promises cardholders a host of premium benefits – each specifically tailored to their needs and lifestyle. Dedicated VIP services at every Cavalli boutique across the world; access to special sales, both in Cavalli retail outlets and online; exclusive invitations to prestigious events, fashion shows and trunk shows: these are just some of the many “deluxe” services offered to the carholders.’

Sigh. See anything wrong with this picture? My problem isn’t the at-odds-with-the-times flashiness but with the brand itself. I’d love all those benefits, just not with Cavalli. However if Acne, APC, Margaret Howell or Chloe decided to do the same, I’d sign up straight away.

Pop-up shop alert!

Recessions stink but if there’s one small redeeming factor it’s the Dunkirk spirit that seems to be bringing out the creative mojo in everyone. I’m loving the idea of ‘Rag and Bow’ a pop-up vintage shop that will be in situ at 47 Lambs Conduit Street, WC1 for two weeks only! Resourceful recessionista, Hazel Holtham is the brains behind the business. Hazel usually brings her vintage fairs straight to customers’ living rooms (with free champagne and retro Ipod tunes thrown in) but from 16th- 27th February you’ll be able to browse her wares while chomping on a bespoke cupcake or two.