Showing posts with label Shopping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shopping. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Retail Therapy

I don't have time to write a lengthy post, concerned as I am with chasing up leads and attending council meetings - it's all part of being a student reporter on a news website, don't you know. But I have two blogs I would like to share with you.

Both are concerned with one of my favourite aspects of London life - the independent shop. Coming from Ireland, with its countless Spars and Centras, it was a joy to come across the little independent stores that make up London's retail landscape. I remember being agog at the sight of fruit in bowls and night shops that sell alcohol all night long (in Ireland it is illegal for shops to sell alcohol after 10pm!) when I first moved here 18 months ago. My Portmanteau other half and I would spend hours in our local grocers when we lived in Holland Park, intrigued by the dusty ornaments and delighted by the out-of-date Immac depilatory cream.
does what it says on the tin - photograph London shop fronts, duh - but the results are often beautiful, and always representative of the vast array of shops that populate the city.

Photographs: Emily Webber for London Shop Fronts

is a blog that accompanies an exhibition currently on at Chats Palace, the Hackney-based art centre. Photographer Colin O'Brien and travel writer Jane Egginton have captured Clapton shopkeepers in their natural habitat - the shops, cafes, mechanics suppliers and launderettes that operate on Chatsworth Road in Hackney. The street's landscape is changing and gentrification may be afoot (read an article I wrote on the subject here) but this exhibition manages - through arresting images and engaging text - to capture the various businesspeople that make a living on this diverse street in 2010.

Photographs: Colin O'Brien for ChatsE5/Last of the Real High Streets

Lynn Enright

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Show & Tell

I was quite intrigued by the concept of the Showstudio shop , just opened off Bruton St. Nick Knight and his team have curated a selection of one-of-a-kind pieces used in seminal fashion shoots and catwalk shows, all for sale. There is also a live studio space for fashion designers to create pieces onsite for the shop, all filmed by the Showstudio webcams. Showing the creative process behind the final, retouched fashion image is what Showstudio has always been about and this is an extension of that.

I would be totally up for redesigning the flat to resemble the pages of a Paris Vogue editorial. I mean, who wouldn’t want a giant bunch of cherries hanging on their sitting room wall? Walking in, I had visions of a Shona Heath / Tim Walker-created fantasy prop extravaganza, brimming with whimsical wonders, everything there up for grabs. Not really the case. The gallery itself is extremely small with only a selection of the available works on show and having the pieces stand alone against the white walls mean they lose some of their magic. The website provides more choice and context and it is nice to know that the life of these amazing pieces doesn’t have to end when a shoot or show is over. Although the prices mean that it won’t be competing with Argos and charity shops as my main sources of furnishings for the flat.

Slightly more affordable are the books and mags on sale at Idea at St. Martins Lane hotel, a pop-up outpost of Angela Hill’s concession at Dover Street Market. Yet another address to add to the list of great fash mag suppliers in London town. NOK

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chelsea Girl

I get it. What a completely unoriginal title for a blog post, one that has been used countless times before in Edie and Andy themed editorials and articles. But this week, I really was a Chelsea girl – for my first couple of days in NYC, I literally did not go anywhere else in the city. I woke up in my hotel at one end of West 22nd St. and went to do some “work” at the Chelsea Art Museum at the other end. So after traipsing up and down for 3 days, and to continue our street-themed posts, I can now give you an insiders guide to West 22nd St.

This street is fashion meets art central. When you are done sampling the drug store delights of Rite Aid and Duane Reade, there are two designer shops on the street worth checking out, for the buildings as much as the clothes. Enter Commes des Garçons down the steel funnel-like entrance and into an amazing, minimalist space divided into little rooms and sections that perfectly showcase the designs. The interior of the Balenciaga flagship a few doors down is also art gallery-esque, with some trippy paisley carpet thrown into the mix but my God, Nicolas's designs are achingly gorgeous. For your art fix, there's Matthew Marks gallery, currently showing Gary Hume: Yardwork and the Chelsea outpost of PaceWildenstein. Another must visit is the the pop-up art book store Artbook @ X. On the corner of 10th Ave is the Empire Diner where you can gorge on burgers and milkshakes by candlelight around the clock at this Art Deco gem. Stop by Billy's Bakery for exquisite baked goods that beat the offerings of the Magnolia any day and for supplies of Hershey and Oh Henry! at 4am, it's got to be the semi amusingly titled Ha.Ha.Fresh - a name I found Ha.Ha. Hilarious and endlessly entertaining in my drunken state. NOK

Gary Hume @ Matthew Marks

Commes des Garcons

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Liberty Belle

I love Liberty. Shopping there is like wandering around a Tudor manor owned by someone with the most exquisite taste. The stock is the best edited of all the London department stores and it's the only one that doesn't make me hot and bothered. No harsh lighting - just a calm shopping atmosphere and lots of wood panelling. Much nicer. The ground floor is the best - gorgeous coffee table books, afternoon tea and Cire Trudon candles. Heaven, basically. This season, there is another welcome addition - a Frederic Malle concession. Oh dear God, where do I begin? All their fragrances are phenomenal but French Lover is the ultimate. I swear, this stuff is unbelievable . One completely unattractive guy + one spray of French Lover = insanely hot. It could make even Ant "nice forehead" Mc Partlin seem attractive. (Sorry. I’m in a bit of a Britain’s Got Talent zone today, but soooo many points - how cute are 2 Grand? / why is Amanda Holden taking style advice from Katherine Jenkins? / how do Ant + Dec still have a career when they have no discernible talent?) And one more reason to visit Liberty at the moment - to see A.P.C's take on their iconic floral print. NOK

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lightening the Load

I have no money but how could I attempt to get through this dark month without cheering myself up with sales bargains? And although I may be cash poor, I am in possession of a credit card, which exists purely for the purpose of buying dresses and flights that I can’t afford. And so yesterday I hit two of my favourite boutiques in Dublin - Dolls and Potrero Hill - for some sales action. In Dolls, I knew exactly what I wanted - a floral print Antipodium blouse - and luckily for me they had it in my size and with a significant reduction. Easy. Shopping at Potrero Hill was different because I didn’t immediately fall in love with the muted cardigans and dresses, but instead I knew that those simple pieces would stand the test of time and become one of my wardrobe staples. And so I invested (it makes sense to use a credit card when it’s an investment, yes?) in a silk, mushroom-coloured, Ella Moss dress that is relieved of boring neutrality by orange bows.

I skipped home merrily, until I looked down and saw that the Potrero Hill bag was empty, the dress obviously having fallen out at some point of the 20-minute journey home. I started sprinting in the direction of Hibernian Way, scanning the ground for any sign of the dress. Since the Paris pickpocketing incident, I am a little more suspicious of people but my faith in man(woman)kind was restored as I spotted a very friendly-looking girl carrying a package wrapped in Potrero Hill’s signature purple paper. “That’s mine”, I snapped as I yanked it out of her hands, before realising that I was being really rude to the person who had saved me of an incredibly bad investment. She explained that she was going to leave it at Trinity's Science Gallery as she assumed that whoever owned the dress was en route to the Lightwave exhibition. I'm not sure what about the dress indicates an interest in optical effects - perhaps the bright orange bows - but I am eternally grateful to her for illuminating the darkness of January!

The dress that almost got away...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rue the Day

Times are tight at The Portmanteau. First came the recession, then the pickpocketing incident and now Christmas. What little money we do have is being spent on presents and there is none left for party dresses or any other luxuries. We are still expert window shoppers though and did our fair share in Paris; ogling the wares at Colette, Lanvin and Chanel.

But even when window shopping, I like to aim for something that is semi-affordable, i.e. out of my reach now but attainable when there’s a sale on and I’ve just been paid. And so I hit three of my favourite streets in Paris – Rue des Martyrs in the 9th, Rue du Jour in the 1st and Rue Beaurepaire in the 10th.

Rue des Martyrs is primarily a street for food lovers and we most definitely fit into that category. There are lots of little cheesemongers and greengrocers at the bottom and as you walk up towards Montmartre, you will come across Rose Bakery, my favourite breakfast destination. Further up the street lies the No Good Store, a great shop that stocks both menswear and womenswear, vintage and new. The staff are really helpful and have been known to knock a few euro off vintage stuff if you ask nicely.

Le Mont St Michel is one of my favourite labels and Rue du Jour is home to their little flagship store. Big knits jostle for rail space with delicate silk dresses while simple leather boots and bags perch on shelves. A few doors down you’ll find the cutest haberdashery in the world – La Droguerie. It’s filled to capacity with spools of colourful yarn and jars of buttons and beads. Rue du Jour also boasts branches of agnès b., Zadig & Voltaire and Manoush. Oh and there’s an Irish pub called Quigley’s Point!

Rue Beaurepaire is a little street off Place de la Republique. There are several plumbing supplies stores but in amongst these, you will find a brilliant boutique called Renhsen. Renhsen stocks well-known labels Junk de Luxe for men and Sessun and Nümph for women and their own range of jeans. The Kooples is a new French label with 12 stores in Paris, one of which is located on Rue Beaurepaire. Based on the idea of couples and sharing clothes, The Kooples has lots of unisex cardigans and blazers but still stocks quite a few dresses. The Cobra Snake-style photos of ridiculously too-cool-for-school twosomes adorn the walls and the shop assistants are suitably stylish.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Starry Starry Store

A Store is Born is a little treasure trove filled with vintage wares that has been opening its doors (well mechanical shutter type thing) on Clarendon Street every Saturday since the '70s. It's not cheap - vintage in Dublin rarely is - but the quality tends to be top-notch. There are lovely cashmere cardigans, amazing furs (both real and fake) and plenty of decadent evening dresses.

Whilst browsing last week, the very friendly proprietress told me that from Saturday 6th December, they are throwing their usual Saturday only opening hours out the window and are open every day to accommodate the throngs of Christmas shoppers who are on the look out for something a little more unique to wear to the annual Christmas party. Top of my wish list would be an amazing mink jacket if only I could only banish my sense of guilt at the thought of wearing a jacket that cost the lives of over 60 little minks. Eek.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shopping Secrets of Mother Russia

I promise to stop boring everyone with my Russian exploits soon but before I do, I must give you my shopping recommendations. At first glance, shopping in Russia seems to be a choice between a) old Russian babooshkas selling kittens by the roadside b) depressing, abandoned Soviet-style department stores and c) Louis Vuitton for the oligarchs. However, there is actually more to shopping in Russia than this. First stop in Moscow has to be Cara & Co which is a little bit like Dover Street Market in London and stocks designer labels and vintage alongside books and magazines. Also worth a look is Magazin-Zing which showcases a great selection of labels like Whyred, Acne, Peter Jensen and A.P.C. Then in St. Petersburg, Maison Martin Margiela has to be on the itinerary - if not to purchase the gorgeous but expensive brogues, satchels and cashmere scarves, then to just ogle the hot shop assistants in their cute doctor's coats. For some shopping sustenance and to escape the cold, head to the Dostoevsky-inspired Idiot Cafe or La Borsch (11 Fontanka Emb.) for some modern, Russian cuisine and then pretend you're back in the nineties and knock back the cheap vodka at grungy basement bar Fish Fabrique (53 Ligovskiy Prospekt). 

                                                                                        Cara & Co


                                                  Maison Martin Margiela

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mulling Things Over

The Christmas season is well and truly upon us – shops have started staying open late, the Brown Thomas Christmas window has been unveiled and Christmas party invites have been popping into the mailbox. Along with the mulled wine and mince pies, comes the inevitable what-will-I-wear conundrum. In this Facebook age, it’s hard to get away with wearing the same dress to different parties because although there might be a diverse crowd at each bash, chances are they are all on Facebook and have seen the photos of you in the black dress with the red shoes already. Maybe I’m just being stupid and nobody notices what I wear in my various Facebook photos but I still feel the pressure to pull a few different OFs out of the bag for the festive season.

The high street is heaving with party dresses at this time of year but the thing is they all look kind of the same – satin or sparkly, above-the-knee, tight and a bit blah. I’ve seen lots of ladies in trousers on The Sartorialist recently and have got to thinking that perhaps that’s the way to go this Christmas. I did try trousers earlier in the year but abandoned the idea when the two pairs I tried on in Topshop just didn’t fit properly. That was during London Fashion Week and the canapés and free drink had combined to make me a bit too porky for the Tuxedo trousers I was desperately trying to stuff myself into. Disheartened, I returned to my smock dresses, tail between my legs. Three months on, I feel that perhaps it’s time to try the trousers again. I’m never going to abandon my wardrobe of dresses completely but it would be nice to seem nonchalantly sexy, like the chic Parisians below, in amidst the crowds of trussed up Christmas party goers.

Images from The Sartorialist

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas Shopping with all the Trimmings

In these dark, depressing days of credit crunch chic and the recessionista, shops are doing all they can to get us through their doors, especially in the run up to jingle bell time. And if they’re offering free wine and burlesque dancing to entice us inside, we’re more than happy to oblige. This week sees Paper Dress on Curtain Rd throwing a soiree to celebrate its new late night openings. Paper Dress is one of my favourite vintage stores – simply on account of its close proximity to the office; I am lazy in the extreme when it comes to shopping. This Thursday from 7pm you can browse the party frocks and furs to rockabilly tunes, have a drink and get 20% off.

London also loves pop-up shopping experiences at this time of year – basically, these establishments want you to feel the pressure to get there before they're gone forever – the “BUY THESE SHOES NOW OR YOU MIGHT JUST HAVE TO KILL YOURSELF” kind of vibe that Grazia specializes in. My favourite this season is Swanfield Inn. This group of designers are setting up shop near Brick Lane in the weeks leading up to Christmas and providing a delightful shopping experience, with silent films projected on the walls and the designers themselves on hand to offer advice, as well as tea and cake. I paid a visit last Sunday and am glad to report that I did not feel panicked, pressured, hot or bothered once - my usual reactions to shopping. My favourite discovery was jewellery designer Karin Andreasson's nautical themed necklaces and bracelets. Yes - I think we have established that I'm not the best shopper. So basically, if a store isn't offering alcohol and/or baked goods along with my purchases this festive season, I think I'll be doing my shopping online.

Jewellery by Karin Andreasson

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

High Street Update

The good people at Space NK have heard our prayers and are opening a branch in Harvey Nichols at Dundrum Town Centre in the coming weeks. And while I’m very happy to hear that Dublin is finally getting a Space NK, I’m a little disappointed that it’s in Dundrum. I guess it’s a convenient place to go shopping if you’re after something specific and just want to nip in and out quickly or if you have a hangover which necessitates that you are never more than 100 metres from a fast foot outlet and the toilets. And it is quite fancy what with the little Harvey Nichols and the fountain and the theatre. But it’s still a shopping centre and I don’t like shopping centres. They’re filled with teenagers and prams and harassed dads. And you can’t trick yourself into thinking that you’re popping into town to grab some lunch or meet a friend and then just happen to stumble across that pair of shoes in Topshop. Shopping centres tend to rob shopping of any spontaneity and Dundrum especially gives the impression that they’re trying to brainwash their customers (I think it’s the way they play that piece of Manu Chao music over and over again). But I guess I’ll just have to get over my shopping centre prejudices and jump aboard that Luas because I am not missing out on all the lovely beauty stuff that Space NK has to offer.

Cult brand By Terry available at
Space NK

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The High Street

So American Apparel is apparently coming to Dublin. The store is set to open on Grafton Street some time before Christmas, which is a huge relief to those that have been buying their lamé leggings online or stocking up whenever they go abroad. Shopping for basics like well cut t-shirts and nice vests can be difficult in Dublin, so American Apparel is a very welcome addition to our retail landscape.

And while we are against globalisation and the homogenisation of our high streets there are a few more shops that our fair city could do with.

Krispy Kreme Donuts – Yes, it means that due to weight gain we would look a bit obscene in our lamé leggings but they are just so deliciously sweet and soft and moist and amazing.

Space NK – Belfast has one so why don’t we? Ok, we couldn’t afford to shop there on a regular basis but it would still be nice to know that there is somewhere to buy Dr. Hauschka rose day cream and Kiehls blue astringent and lots of other lovely stuff for those days when Boots own brand just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Whole Foods – Yes, we are obsessed with food but at least Whole Foods is kind of healthy. Whole Foods is way posher than Marks and Spencer could ever hope to be with little rooms dedicated to cheese and the best salad bars ever. It’s an American chain but there’s one in London now. When will it be our turn?