Friday, 30 May 2008

Accessories and the City

I went to the opening night of Sex and the City - the early showing as the later one was fully booked. Mine was full of teenage girls, which made me feel rather old. But seeing the characters in the film made me feel a lot better - or was that just because I laughed so much? Have you seen it yet, what do you think?

My thoughts are as follows:
This is a modern day fable from our fashionably fickle world raising big questions like: Are you a believer in girl power or are you a slave to fashion?Do you believe that 'love' conquers all or are you a slave to men?

This is also a film about the constraints of real life in the city - which is probably why the girls are seen wearing the most curiously fabulous belts. And then of course there are the other accessories - the bags, the shoes, the dogs AND THE MEN!

Accessories are everything in the city, but thankfully so is laughter. This is a tale about what it is to be human, to have good friends and to discover that laughter is actually the best medicine (so perhaps we should be subscribing to the Readers' Digest instead of logging onto Carrie Bradshaw's Diary?)

Above all, this is a film about not taking anything too seriously, especially not designer brands. It's also a lesson in true taste and discernment and a salutary warning, not to let your clothes - or your accessories (!) - wear you. Choose your accessories carefully, mix and match them with style, take good care of them and they should be around to love and cherish for many years to come...
Do you?

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A bug's life

If I mention a very curious bug, you'll probably think there's something wrong with my computer. But no, this is a really weird type of bug that appeared for the first time last year, moving sluggardly over the leaves of my lovingly nurtured little fig bush. Such was my curiosity that I tried to identify the bug in several different insect books and on the internet - but to no avail.

I spotted one of the mysterious bugs the other day on some lavender (see left and right- not on lavender) - and there's a baby one too. Does anyone know what this is and where it might have come from? Please don't tell me it's going to eat through all the plants on my terrace!

If you're also curious about the boundless biodiversity of nature, you might want to look at some of the unique vintage bug bangles available at ShopCurious. They're made from real bugs set in coloured resin, so every one is slightly different. Some of them are chunky sized and some are skinny. They look really stylish and individual, make totally unusual gifts - and they're also curiously collectable.Are you? Will you?

Friday, 23 May 2008

Chelsea's curiously changing climate

The other day I bumped into a girl who was struggling to carry a small potted olive tree to the lift. "The climate's changing," she explained, "and apparently olive trees are growing really well here now, so I've just got this for my balcony." I responded, "Yes, so long as you keep them out of any freezing cold north easterly winds - should be fine." And indeed, my rather large olive tree is thriving.

The Day of the Triffid?

Not only that, but during the course of the Chelsea Flower Show this week, an as yet unidentified plant (see above - I think it's a variety of yucca?) on my balcony has exploded into flower. At first I was amazed at the speed of the blooming, then rather amused at the curiously erotic eruption emerging ever higher from the splaying depths of the plant - and finally just stunned at the Triffid-like growth, if not a bit concerned that it might twist up through the window and eat me alive in the night.

If you're also a lover of naturally beautiful things, you might be interested in some of the curiosities on offer at ShopCurious. There are some unusual handmade stone ginkgo leaf coasters and placemats - and a couple of really unique raffia bags from the 1950s. One in verdant green with an ultra-stylish bamboo handle. The other in summery white, with blossoming flowers and pretty gold shells - reminds me of 'Mary Mary quite contrary... '
Are you?

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The ultimate recession proof lipstick

I read in an article that City economists follow lipstick sales to monitor potential upturns or downturns in the nation's fiscal wellbeing. Curiously, when things get tight, apparently (according to the Mail on Sunday) women spurn expensive designer dresses in favour of more modest retail therapy, which has resulted in increased lipstick sales in US department stores over the past few months - a time when other areas of department store spending have experienced significant falls.

Nicola White, 23 who works at House of Fraser department store in London's Oxford Street explained that although she was watching her finances, she still wanted to indulge herself: "Buying an inexpensive treat like a lipstick gives me instant satisfaction and lifts an outfit without my having to purchase a new pair of shoes or a bag which can be expensive".

We've come up with an even better solution to those cravings for luscious lippy - it's called Colorsport lipstain. It's so damned inexpensive that you can afford to buy a few at a go and still have change to spare to go towards that stylish bag or those smart new shoes. Even better, there's no need for frequent money wasting applications as this lipstick lasts for up to 12 hours.

This strikes me as the original sort of stuff that glamorous Hollywood filmstars have been wearing for years... And I can also personally vouch for this lipstick - the colours are fabulous and it really does work. But best of all it's curiously cheap and chic. Will you?

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Power dressing - A matter of taste?

What happened to the hotly predicted revival of power dressing? Remember those curiously scary shoulder pads? The American footballer look brought to the office... What if they really were to become a fashionable every day reality again? Would you? Could you?

Might we be influenced by Kim Cattrall's penchant for accentuating her curves in the new Sex and the City film, inspired by the forthcoming release of Dallas, or perhaps the recent revival of the Conservatives to get out those shoulder pads (if indeed we are old enough to remember them, or haven't already removed and thrown them away?)

Isn't it funny how taste develops over time - what's quite acceptable, even aesthetically pleasing one moment suddenly becomes outrageously naff the next - like figurative art and mahogany furniture.

But what goes around usually comes around.. which is always a good excuse for recycling. Take a look at some of our vintage gems - a remarkably stylish looking Celine power dress that might just clinch the job at an interview, an Isabell Kristensen lime green satin number that would grace any aspiring rock star's wardrobe, or an Alexis style suit that would definitely get you noticed in the office this summer. Will you?

Do you ShopCurious?

  • Are you ready to buy something you really like, rather than something you want to be seen to have, because it’s supposedly the current ‘in thing’ that everyone else – especially the press – is raving about?
  • Do you identify with the trend away from mass-market branded luxury goods. Are you more discerning, more aware of original-yet-timeless style?
  • Will you forget the hype, ignore celebrity endorsements, go with your gut feel, take responsibility for what you choose – even use your taste as an extension of your personality?

James Martin, writing for Live Magazine (The Mail on Sunday, March 2008) says: “This is a disposable world. Fridges, phones, TVs, cars: everything’s made to be scrapped. High-street chains sell £20 copies of the latest designer clobber that conveniently fall apart before you’re bored with them. That’s fine – stitches put in by a Chinese 12-year-old aren’t designed to last. But these days I’m interested in stuff that is.”

“....these days. Everything looks nice. Everything looks Italian. And modern. And a tiny bit retro without being old-fashioned. With one of those cowhide rugs thrown in front of the HD plasma…And this is why the sharp end of the market has moved on.. The forward-looking bods in the interiors market no longer shop anywhere you or I shop, because if they did there would be the chance they might buy something someone else might own. No, the fashion these days is for one-off pieces that aspire to art..” says Dylan Jones, editor of GQ Magazine in Live Magazine (Mail on Sunday, March 2008).

“After a decade of an increasing obsession with brands, glitz and sleek style, accompanied by a faux cheer … a new era has begun…The result is a shift in values. When it comes to lifestyle and design, practicality and comfort merge with style. Life’s objects are chosen because they delight the eye and lift the spirit, not to impress others…this era of exploration involves discovering, honing and embracing ones own tastes, making them less contrived, truer – even if they run counter to trends.” Shelley von Strunckel, Elle Decoration, February 2008

Couldn't agree more! And you?
Are you? Will you?

The eye of the beholder

Is the fact that something's new, quirky and individual enough to make it desirable? I think not. Ultimately, it's all a matter of taste.

Putting together a load of innovative and unusual pieces of clothing or furniture isn't necessarily going to make for a stylish or harmonious look. Creating something that's unique and beautiful has much more to do with having a flair for fashion, an eye for aesthetics and to being able to mix and match chain store pieces with designer, vintage and antique one-offs in a very clever way. It's about looking much more carefully at the way we buy, collect, wear or display things for our wardrobe, home and lifestyle. It's not about buying what's new and different, but about a new and different approach to buying.

Sarah Mower writing for the Sunday Telegraph (fashion supplement, March 2008) says, “This emerging pattern is more akin to the way wine connoisseurs operate: the idea of ‘laying down’ a smart buy to wear later – at the exact moment when its attractiveness is at its optimum… What this kind of purchasing entails is regarding your clothes as a personal collection, an in-depth, stylistic work-in-progress rather than a quick in-and-out medium slavishly reflecting every passing trend.” She adds, “Having looked at all of the shows, the one thing that struck me as transformative was the creativity that has suddenly broken out in jewellery: necklaces, pendants, brooches, bangles and hair ornaments

An extraordinary, well-chosen chunk of jewellery can stretch a wardrobe, change the sense of clothes you already own, go back into its box, hibernate and then come out to perform again years later. In other words, it meets all the criteria for fashion that is special, surprising, long-lasting and personal – an ideal addition to a lifetime’s collection.”

As Vivienne Westwood says in her World's End Manifesto :"We have a choice to become more cultivated and therefore more human...In pursuit of culture you will start to think. If you change your life, you change the world.”

Will you?