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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Bags (and pots) of gold



Not quite done with gold yet – one more post left (did I detect a snore?) Apologies if you're totally fed up after all the gold you’ve seen on the catwalks this season, but I'm going to be so bold as to suggest that you seriously consider gold’s long term investment potential and point you in the direction of this very comprehensive article from the Telegraph website, listing 10 ways to invest in gold





By the way, I’ve come up with a curiously clever 11th way of investing in gold – how about these vintage gold handbags from ShopCurious? They’re unique, timeless pieces that may turn out to be collectors’ items and could actually appreciate in value too - plus they look great and are accessories that will work with a multitude of other colours.




The bags are also very reasonably priced, though if you want to invest a little more we’ve also got a luxury gold satin evening bag with diamante trim and exquisite kid lining (left), handmade by top designer Anya Hindmarch in her pre-'it bag' days – and it’s on sale!

There’s no doubt in my mind that the fashion for all things gold is only just beginning to gain momentum. I was even tempted to go searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow the other day, when I saw this magnificent arc of colour (see below) on the South London horizon – probably somewhere in Wimbledon. The rather ugly tower blocks either side add to the dramatic effect, don’t you think?








Anyway, at least this colourful addition to the skyline leads us nicely into our theme for July. If you’re curious to know more, join me in my next blog, where I’ll reveal all.

Will you?

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Fool's gold?




Just thought I’d better point out that, in addition to bona fide pure and unadulterated gold, there also exists what is commonly known as ‘fool’s gold’. Take what seems to be a curiously generous proposition - add some disclaimers, plus a wadge of small print - and it's probably not nearly as genuine an offer as you originally anticipated ...





It’s worth taking a look at the gold rush phenomenon, which happened in various parts of the world in the mid-late 19th century. For instance, gold was first discovered in California on 24th January 1848 at Sutter’s Mill on American Fork River, when James W Marshall had the curiosity to examine some quartz rock lying in his mill stream. Shortly thereafter, immigrants were travelling from all over the world to San Francisco to dig for gold – however, as soon as winter 1850, the time for making fortunes was already almost over.




The events of the Californian gold rush prompted San Franciso born David Belasco to write a play, which in turn inspired Puccini to write one of his most dramatic operas, La Fanciulla del West – an abject lesson in the perils of speculation and a tragic tale of innocent lives lost in the pursuit of fool’s gold.







It used to be the streets of London that were considered to be paved with gold, but perhaps now it’s a city somewhere in the Middle East. I recently visited Dubai and, outside the entrance to my hotel (the highly recommended Royal Mirage), were these incredible hand painted gold camels (above) – curiously cool, if a tad over the top. Gold seekers who are into such conspicuous consumption might like to consider this rather unique gold plated baby pram, left.



I also heard that it’s possible to eat gold. I found this fascinating blog about edible gold and ten different ways to eat it – if you’re so inclined you can even feed 24 carat gold caviar to your dog! By the way, I also noticed that Waitrose’s brand spanking new branch in the Dubai Mall has what looks like gold leaf lettering instead of their usual green corporate logo …I suppose it blends in with the surroundings, but personally, I prefer the more authentic approach of the Organic Foods and Cafe, which seems to stand out as being altogether more original – and it’s much more eco-friendly and natural too.




Which leads us on to fool’s gold: it’s probably not a great idea to be taken in by the dazzling glitz of gold - and it’s definitely best to know about the provenance of any piece of jewellery you are buying. All of the stylish gold accessories in Sarah Bond’s Saretta collections, currently available at ShopCurious, are not only ethically sound, but have been hallmarked at the London Assay office.






Of course, these days, even with a relatively small amount of money, you can also invest quite sensibly in gold ETFs or buy gold coins with a value that is recognized the world over. I know what sort of gold I’d prefer to invest in though – I simply love this exquisite gold arm cuff...

Do you?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Golden oldies are the winners


Just back from Ascot and re-visiting our gold theme. I enjoyed a bit of a winning run with the bookies and just about broke even on my bets, but maybe I should have stuck to the gold standard? Depending on the quality of gold (24 carat being the highest quality), even the 'scrap' resale value of gold can be excellent. Gold is definitely something to have in reserve if times get hard – and it’s a currency with worldwide worth. Appropriate then that our group at Polyvore – Are you ShopCurious? – had a GOLD contest this month. Here are the winners and some comments on why we chose them:

The winning composition is, curiously, not entirely gold - there’s a teesny-weensy bit of silver and some black … Well, one has to hedge ones bets. Not much explanation required as this set is so cool, but we particularly like the layout and the clever use of the brooch as a hair accessory.




Little Wonder also submitted a couple of other fabulous sets – one of them featuring the stunning hand painted Timmy Woods Eiffel Tower bag worn by SJP in the Sex and the City film – we're expecting the limited edition bag to be in stock again within the next few days.

Of course, we’re not big on celebrity endorsements, but interesting that Sarah Jessica Parker has named one of her newborn twins Marion. Judging from the photograph of
Marion Davies here, film stars with real style and great fashion sense were even more mesmerizing in Hollywood's golden days than they are today.

In second place, the glorious Pin-up Gold set is a vintage inspired throw-back to a glitzy, glamorous era and lifestyle – incomplete without a few unique retro accessories from our online store and the stunningly sparkling addition of the incredible
tree of life gold and diamond brooch/pendant by talented London-based jewellery designer, Marcelle Lawson-Smith.





In third place this rather bold Bling set, which we love for its creative styling and curiously quirky sense of humour. This also features that much sought after Zac Posen dress, plus a load of ultra-covetable gold coins (hope you have a few under your mattress?), as well as the beautifully bold ethical gold/semi-precious stone cocktail rings by
StyleCurious featured designer, Sarah Bond. By the way (as per a few blogs ago), did I spy those Louboutin shoes under a table at Royal Ascot last week?




Finally, here’s one I made earlier – my own study in glittering gold:



Curious that gold always reappears in a big way at crucial times in history – I guess because it’s so timeless and has global value, as well as international appeal. Do let us know your views on the merits of gold.

Will you?

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Handmade accessories with attitude



Are the best things in life really free? Unfortunately, Luther Vandross is no longer around and Janet Jackson probably doesn’t have to concern herself with such issues. However, I’ve a theory that cost is less important than putting a little bit of an effort into making something rather special: You’re much more likely to be pleasantly surprised with the outcome of a piece you've lovingly created yourself than if there’s no effort involved whatsoever.







And so it is with hats. This year at Royal Ascot, I added a few bits and pieces of haberdashery to a plain orange hat to create something totally quirky and original. Take one orange hat (in this case vintage Jacques le Corre), add an aubergine feather headband from ShopCurious, plus a curiously unique vintage stuffed bird’s head – et voila, a masterpiece of modern millinery design is born ... or at least recylced.







It’s really easy to decorate hats to make them stand out from the crowd. Lucy (left and with Emma, right) chose one of our plain black raffia hats and added some mauve and maroon marabou for a flirty, feathery look. Simple and inexpensive, but very effective.



I loved this Greek-inspired handmade design in blue and gold (right) – it’s such a classic, I hope they don’t want to appropriate it for the new Acropolis Museum. Georgina - also pictured here with her wonderfully eccentric, talented photographer husband, Francis - informed me that her milliner had adapted the decoration on her giant fascinator that morning so that it matched the colour of her outfit. Wearing unique accessories is all about getting the details right.


This retro-psychedelic-meets-space age ensemble (left) certainly showed a curious attention to detail. And another lady, (whose name I think was Jennie?) had a fabulous ‘50s vintage bag with real equine appeal. How lovely it is to see something that’s individually handcrafted and beautifully hand painted – so much more stylish and unusual than your common-or-garden designer ‘it’ bag – and probably a lot cheaper too.



I’m not averse to creating an eclectic mix that includes the odd, carefully chosen, designer accessory (like these vintage Chanel sunglasses), but I think that truly original style involves a little more thought, effort and creativity than buying the most expensive and celebrity endorsed items you can afford.

Do you?

PS Jane, thanks so much for reuniting me with my lost ring via the lady with the horsy handbag xx

Win a stylish summer hat


I was curious to find out more about the new sculpture gracing the lawn at Royal Ascot and discovered that the Queen is wearing a hat after all, albeit an appropriately aristocratic and fashionably discreet little number. The description of the arty addition to the racecourse reads as follows (click on pic to view):










Everyone wants to be photographed standing next to the Queen and, although we can’t offer you that opportunity, ShopCurious is running a curious caption contest, which you might like to enter.

The prize for the winner is a simple but stylish summer hat (see left) in your choice of black or natural raffia – for the person who creates the most curiously amusing caption for the photograph below:







You can respond either as a comment to this blog, or by email to info@ShopCurious.com

Hope you’re feeling suitably inventive.

Are you?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Green's the new gold at Royal Ascot



Shortly after arriving at the race course for Tuesday’s Royal Ascot meeting, I found myself amidst an eclectic group of Lladro-meets-Vettriano-style statues that looked to be made of copper – or at least they were green … a colour that just happened to match my outfit. The new additions (click on pics to enlarge), created by much-lettered sculptors, are representations of ‘The Establishment and The Working Class’, so it was somewhat appropriate that I should be standing betwixt the Queen and Prince Philip. Curiously, it looks as if the Queen is without a hat.




I was on the lookout for gold clothing and accessories and spotted a wonderful old-school style gold horse brooch from Royal Ascot days of yore, worn by throroughly professional member of staff, Sheila (right), who certainly gets my gold star for helpfulness. I also spied these gladiatorial gold sandals under a table (left) … mmm, not so sure about those. And there were plenty of traditional gold waistcoated men (see below).



I noticed a lot of gold jewellery, but nothing quite as unique and original as the vintage Swoboda pendant from ShopCurious. I’m really surprised that this amazing bargain of a gold and semi-precious stone pendant (right) hasn’t been snapped up yet. Vintage jewellery can be a great investment as it's usually timeless and you can wear it year after year – and real gold pieces might appreciate significantly in value too.





‘Green’ hats are also sensible style – create your own, or invest in handmade works of millinery art by designer Sandra Bamminger, or Laura Wellington. Clever ladies tipped their hats to a hint of green. Isabell Kristensen, for instance, with her delicious looking strawberries and cream creation: New season’s fruit that looks just as fresh as the ever-youthful designer herself, pictured left with her beautiful daughter.


The most stylish ladies were distinctly natural and understated – but they said it all with their hats … and with one simple word: recycled. Those with style and brains know that recycling is ‘old hat’ – ie get out an old hat and spruce it up with some embellishment like a corsage, some foliage, unusual bits and pieces that will set you apart from the crowd. Vintage and homemade hats were the order of the day.

Alice (right) discovered she had left her hat in the car, which was driven away by a chauffeur. She quickly cobbled one together from a newspaper (inadvertently picking up on the fashion for gold coins) and some other bits of stuff - more of which were added as the day went on - making for a quirky, individual look. Good job it wasn’t windy.


The lovely doctor pictured left (married to dishy actor, Marcus Gilbert, who was sadly absent) told me she was a dab hand at sewing sutures, so she decided to handcraft her own Ascot hat. How curiously cool is that?

By the way, I’ve designed and decorated my own hat for later this week – details to follow shortly, plus the chance to win a rather natty summer hat.

Will you?

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Goldfingers

Early civilizations equated gold with gods and rulers and, as a result, we almost intuitively place a high value on gold - equating it with power, beauty, and the cultural elite. From the ancient Egyptians to James Bond, gold has shone out as something of special significance.

The pre-Incan Moche civilization in Peru, for instance, sculpted extraordinary items from gold – jewellery, ceremonial vessels and memorial pieces like these gold votive burial hands. Gold was later considered by the Incas to be the ‘sweat of the sun’ that reflected the glory of their sun god and was handcrafted into all manner of stunning adornments for tombs and temples.





More recent evidence of our fascination with gold: Ian Fleming used gold as a theme throughout his Bond novels. Shirley Eaton’s gold makeup in the Goldfinger film apparently took two hours to apply for only five minutes of filming. A doctor was on set at all times in case of possible skin suffocation.







A much safer and quicker means of gilding your fingers (and perhaps your arms too) is with a pair of these gorgeously glamorous vintage gold gloves from ShopCurious. We can’t guarantee that our gold opera gloves will give you the Midas touch, but you’ll look like a movie star without being painted – and with no need for Turkish baths to sweat out the gold from all those pesky little nooks and crannies.



If you’re a fan of unique accessories, you might also like to adorn your fingers with some stylish gold rings, like the ones designed by Sarah Bond for Saretta. These days, you don’t have to blow up Fort Knox for gold, it’s fairly affordable - plus it makes the ultimate romantic gift and can be a great investment too. Hope you’re taking notes Miss Moneypenny.

Are you?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Golden memories


The latest Ken Loach film, Looking for Eric, starring Eric Cantona, is full of golden memories – rather like a cinematic psychotherapy session – and Steve Evets’ acting is simply brilliant. I love a good tragi-comedy … and this film is to drug and gun culture what The Full Monty is to the dole queue.

It’s true, we need to ‘have danger to go beyond danger’ (and there are bound to be a few bad memories in life's lot) – but legends like Cantona have the ability to influence us - and, with the 'elp of great coaching credentials and a philosophical turn of phrase, can inspire us to better ourselves and seek out happier, more fulfilled lives.



A bit of laughter also goes a long way – and there was plenty when I unearthed this old photograph of me (left) wearing the couture designed gold sequined GoldenEye dress that’s now on sale at ShopCurious.

The legend that is 007 was Pierce Brosnan at the time - and when I wore this dress to the premiere of his first Bond film, he and his wife, Keely, stopped dead in their tracks at the sight of me walking towards the cinema. No, they didn’t break down in fits of giggles, but were simply awestruck at the gorgeous glittering glow of my glamorous designer gown.



The dress was specially created by celebrity fashion designer, Isabell Kristensen, back in the day when structured eveningwear was big on the red carpet, as it is to this day, though apologies for the curiously un-cool colour combo of the floor covering in this shot – it has nothing to do with me, I can assure you!

Now something of a collectors’ item, this dress would be great if you have an awards ceremony, or a special party to attend. The dress also has one of Isabell’s trademark built-in corsets to ensure the perfect hourglass figure.



Funny how fashions have changed: In the early-mid 1990s, it was stylish to dress in a grown-up, sophisticated manner that meant you could end up looking a rather like Krystle Carrington from Dynasty. Around the time of this photo, new trends were evolving and, by day, true fashionistas opted for the cutting-edge and creatively unstructured designs of Prada and Marni, as well as Voyage’s Bohemian hippy chic style. Designs later became even less formal, morphing into grunge fashion, but the trend for recycling and the vintage look that started all those years ago is only just beginning to be taken seriously.






Ooh aah, golden memories and precious pieces of history recycled for future generations to appreciate, learn from and enjoy.

Will you?