Friday, 27 February 2009

Motherly love

Not long until that special day when we can give back a little something in return for all the years of unconditional love from our mothers. I’ve come up with a few suggestions for some unique and unusual gifts from ShopCurious that you might like to consider for Mothers' Day

For the very proud parent, who’s spoiled you silly and sent you to all the right schools (and just look how you turned out!), how about a precious piece of jewellery like a pretty marcasite butterfly brooch, which can also be worn as a pendant. It’s such as shame you had to fly away from home, but there you go.

If your mother’s the natural, eco-aware type, how about a useful recycled folio. You know she’ll never get around to using a computer, so she can use this to keep all her reminder lists and pictures of you as a baby. If you do ever remember to send a postcard, she can keep it there too. For the arty Mum, how about a hand painted mother of pearl pendant? She’ll love the fact that it’s handmade and as totally individual as you.

For the country-loving, traditional type you might consider a vintage silk scarf – even better if you can find one from the year that you were born (that’ll bring a tear to her eye no doubt).

If your Mum’s always running around, something pampering and relaxing may be just what she needs. Exotic bath salts from Mad et Len smell divine and they come in a beautiful and old-fashioned style bottle too.

For the nature-lover, a stylish silk corsage is a bit more original than a bunch of tulips. We've one that's really versatile: you can wear it in on your clothing, or as a bracelet - and these make fabulous hair accessories too … plus, you never know, she might even let you borrow it.

Of course, there are some things that all mothers will appreciate – like a nice big hug in return for all those hours of story-telling… and don’t forget to put ‘lots’ of love on your Mothers' Day card. Why not add some extra kisses too…

Will you?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

From greed to green

1) Greed - for those who like to feast with no shame ...

Nowhere is this more in evidence than at fashion shows. I was trying to avoid the media feeding frenzy that is London Fashion Week, but curiosity got the better of me: I was truly shocked by the astonishing greed for those front row seats (mostly nabbed by fashion students) and for luxury goody bags and freebies. Scary!

2) Gluttony - for those who want to scoff every last drop ...

Shrove Tuesday is also known as Mardi Gras, which means ‘fat Tuesday’ – hence the PR push today on anti-obesity/diabetics clogging up GPs’ surgeries? My TV has just painfully reminded me that some are as unnaturally superskinny as are supersize. Which do you err on the side of? Best eat up now, as we’re all going to have to tighten our belts soon anyway.

3) Envy - exclusively for everyone, but especially for the eternally miserable ...

Some are jealous of Kate Winslet, who received a rather valuable looking award the other day – great if she ever needs to melt it down, which might be likely sooner than any of us imagined possible.

Fashion, food, fame …

Who is paying for all of this overindulgence and are they likely to stop any time soon? And what happens when we can no longer afford to support the media? Perhaps it’s time for a re-think?

Why be green with envy for the celebrity-led, appearance-obsessed, designer-driven lifestyle. Why not simply be green? Live off your recycled belongings, wear vintage clothing, pawn your jewellery, buy handmade accessories, invest in timeless, collectable and iconic things for your wardrobe and home, learn to knit, use natural cosmetics, grow your own veg ... all very eco-friendly and what we at ShopCurious call 'style with brains'.

Once the dust of our depression has settled – probably quite a while after this Lent has come and gone, there will be a time for denial, recovery and, hopefully, change for the better. I understand that we aren’t allowed to pray any more, so I’ll make a wish instead.

Will you?

Friday, 20 February 2009

Vintage British style

I’m going to be a bit alternative during London Fashion Week by devoting this blog to vintage British style. Trends may come and go on the seasonal media merry-go-round, but vintage British style will never go out of fashion.

The key to this eccentric manner of dressing is to put together a rather eclectic selection of pieces to create an individual and distinctive look. Some consider such a curious mix to be totally over the top – they’re the sort of people who snigger at the merest hint of non-conformity (how dull). Others will observe such style with amusement, possibly even with subdued admiration – or most flattering of all, may seek to emulate some elements of an unusual ensemble.

Of course, one of the key advantages of mixing up vintage clothing with unique accessories and stylish modern fashion pieces is that it’s impossible to be copied - at least not exactly. However, it is still possible to create a similar look that is your own and will always be original if you select authentic items that are one-offs, are part of a limited edition, or are just a tad different from the mainstream ...

Take the curiously colourful-yet-timeless outfit I’m wearing in the picture above left (shot when sinking into the grass on a very windy day), which consists of an early 1900s opera cape with tassels and a marabou collar (purchased at a flea market), a vintage Voyage petticoat (mid-late ‘90s) underneath a handmade and beaded draped silk dress (from my former boutique around 2000-ish), vintage Dolce & Gabbana wooden wedge platforms (bought in London in the early noughties, with the addition of red rose corsages), a large feather hair accessory and an exotic Timmy Woods handpainted acacia wood handbag (a new addition to my wardrobe - and admittedly from a US designer) – plus a few old strings of beads from my jewellery box.

To put together something similar using items available at ShopCurious, you might choose the truly wonderful and very rare early 1900s embroidered velvet evening cape (pictured above), which has awesome gold thread embroidery and floral silk chenille jacquard lining that’s so beautiful you could even wear it inside out. Add a dress which picks out some of the colours – like this frilled swishy skirt evening dress with a glorious golden rose corsage, (as spotted by Style Bubble).

For a more classic vintage look, you might like these bargain priced Jimmy Choo shoes, which were handmade in the early 1990s by the man himself. There’s also a matching diamante trimmed gold satin bag with delicious kid lining by Anya Hindmarch.

Give it a twist with some slightly quirky jewellery like a handpainted antique mother of pearl pendant, or a collectable cameo choker.

Don’t get me wrong, I love London Fashion Week … but I simply adore vintage British style.

Do you?

Monday, 16 February 2009

Love Obama fashion baby

How wonderful to see all the African influenced designs at New York Fashion Week, especially so many Barack Obama inspired pieces.

It makes a change after the campaign t-shirts, baseball caps and curiously unmemorable memorabilia to see some stylish and collectable fashion by top African-American designers – like Lola Faturoti, the Nigerian-born fashion designer, whose uniquely timeless and iconic commemorative Obama Dress is available to order at ShopCurious - as presciently reported by Hilary Alexander on the Telegraph’s website.

What I’m curious about is why no commemorative garments were designed for our beloved leader Mr Brown. Perhaps there’s a Jeremy Clarkson of the fashion world who’d hazard a guess as to why that might be?

I strongly suspect that Gordon Brown doesn’t quite have the style and charisma of President Obama, let alone the mesmerizing voice. And I suppose that not actually having been elected might have something to do with his lack of glorification by the art world?

Nevertheless, in my opinion, Obama’s popularity has got a lot less to do with hero worship and a lot more to do with hope. Okay, so Obama’s got a great bod for a man of a certain age – think Charlton Heston in Ben Hur, but he’s also become an icon of hope.

I loved Rowan Moore’s description in the Evening Standard of the Shepard Fairey poster for Obama’s campaign, as shown next to the Big Brother logo at the Design Museum ‘Designs of the Year’ exhibition: “One represents the selfish, decadent, shallow, cheap world we hope is passing into history. The other is serious, aspiring and hopeful ..”

I’m certainly full of hope.

Are you?

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The way to a man's heart

I’ve recently discovered the most curiously delicious biscuits. I’m not usually one for sweet things and rarely does a sugary morsel pass my lips, but now I’m hooked on these damned things and feel compelled to eat one every day for elevenses. I blame Waitrose for introducing me to Tortas de Aceite, the wonderfully light and crispy Spanish delicacy, which are handmade according to an original Moorish recipe – and exceedingly moreish they are too.

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so I’d suggest you feed him one of these and that should be enough to get him coming back begging for more. Alternatively, you might decide to visit ShopCurious, where you’ll find all manner of stylish little treats to tickle a man’s fancy.

If you want to splash out on something really special for Valentine’s Day, take a look at some of Sir Tom Baker’s unique accessories. These gold plated quirky coin cufflinks would make a very unusual gift – how much d’you think your man is worth?

For a more classic Valentine gift, what about one of these hand-stitched silk ties – available in a range of funky colours – or perhaps even a silk cravat, if your chap’s the old fashioned type.

For the truly individual dapper dandy about town, a stylish pair of spats might be just the thing? Order anything before midday on Friday and we’ll guarantee it reaches you on the 14th.

And let us know what you think of the biscuits ...

Will you?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Gents only

How about some quirky Valentine gifts that are just for men?

Talking of ‘Men Only’, I was just listening to the news and heard that WH Smith is withdrawing its Playboy stationery range from shops in the UK – I'm not at all surprised that the Agent Provocateur meets Clinton Cards mass market offering of an iconic brand was deemed to be unsuitable for schoolgirls. And just look at that seedy old Hugh Hefner – is he still alive or in cryogenic suspension? Okay, so lounging around in pyjamas is rather fashionable these days, but pleeeeze … (don't take that for ‘yes please’ by the way).

Wasn't Penthouse Magazine so much more classy and stylish than Playboy? Just look at these early editions, available at ShopCurious, in all their splendid and unique glory with some amazing original photo shoots from the 1960s, featuring real people, without plastic surgery, and wearing some seriously hip and groovy retro clothing.

If the fashions of the day aren’t enough to capture your attention, just look at the bodies. All perfectly healthy and human and unadjusted by the surgeon’s knife. And they don’t look unhappy about it either.

Now I’m going to be even more controversial here and suggest that one of these magazines might make a rather amusing Valentine's Day gift for your beloved, or even an unusual gift for you, because:

1) It’s not serious – and we all know that men don’t like to get too heavy,
2) It’s perfectly tame and not at all like the hard porn that most 13 year olds are looking at every day on the internet,
3) The beautiful vintage 'girlies' are reassuringly normal looking,

4) This magazine is being ‘recycled’ and is hopefully going to be reused many, many more times,
5) It only costs £20 and is a collectors' item … plus you can nab it afterwards to refer to as a style guide for seasons to come.

Now I think that’s good value. And these stylish gents look happy too.

Are you?

Friday, 6 February 2009

Pop the question

Other than flowers and jewellery, it’s traditional to give chocolates as a gift for Valentine’s Day. These are often heart-shaped, or typically come in an appropriately shaped red velvet box with an oversized bow. Chocolate's not only delicious, but has a reputation for being ‘psychoactive’ and sales of the stuff have soared during the recent cold weather (click on pics to enlarge).

Apparently the Aztecs prepared a frothy hot chocolate drink from cacao beans, which is thought to have been a stimulant, providing wisdom and vitality. It’s also said that Casanova ate chocolate as an aphrodisiac prior to bedding his conquests.

It’s even rumoured that the high polyphenol levels in chocolate can help protect against heart disease – not sure what the British Heart Foundation would have to say about that.

If you’re looking for a slightly more unusual Valentine gift, I suggest you visit ShopCurious, where you’ll find a selection of intricately handpainted collectable Valentine rings, each bearing a suitably curious question.

The rings are inspired by Italian fumetti/pop-art style comic-strips. Each features its own quirky cartoon beauty and a uniquely curious caption – which is great if you’re looking to pop the question, but a little lacking in courage.

There’s no need to say a word, just put on your curious pop-art Valentine ring and wiggle your finger about in the air – preferably in front of the face of the person you’d like to give you an answer.

Adorably and irresistibly cute, as well as being something of a fashion statement, these unique accessories each have their own story to tell. Not only are they the perfect substitute for chocoholic urges, but these totally original rings overcome the requirement to even open your mouth. Unless, that is, temptation simply gets the better of you …

in which case you might find that you just have to pop a chocolate, as well as popping that leading question.

Do you?

Monday, 2 February 2009

Say it with snow

I woke up in London today to this view from my window ( left - click on the pics to enlarge) – which soon turned to this (right) – anyone for a bit of snowbathing?

Curious to find out what was happening outside, I ventured into the local park, where I discovered a proliferation of snowmen along the bank of the River Thames … the race was on as to who could make the biggest.

The snow seems to have put a smile on everyone’s faces. The people of Putney suddenly started talking to each other, old ladies out sweeping their doorsteps spoke of the last time they had seen snow like this and dogs went berserk in the park.

I was going to call this blog ‘say it with flowers’ and tell you about the beautifully scented magnolia and magnolia rose parcels by Catherine Masson that are now available at ShopCurious. They’d make a suitably unique Valentine’s gift and will last much longer than a traditional floral bouquet – both come with a wonderfully fragrant room spray too.

They’ll look really stylish in your wardrobe and the perfume will make it smell fabulous too, as well as keeping nasty bugs at bay - though these are so exquisitely decorated and luxurious that they’re good enough to keep on display in your bedroom.

Then I noticed that someone had an even more romantic gesture to make for Valentine's Day … why not ‘say it with snow’?

Tom, I hope you’re reading this and that you’re able to identify the lovely lady who's got style with brains and a winning smile and who wants you to know that she loves you ...

Are you?
PS It's snowing harder than ever now - can barely see out of my window at all ... help!