Saturday, 28 August 2010

Designer books - a curious new fashion trend

We haven’t heard much from Mr McDowell lately – perhaps he’s away on holiday, or working on a new book. Colin McDowell’s thought provoking posts are a far cry from your average fashion blogger’s fantasy affairs, which I suppose is what comes from being one of the most knowlegeable and eloquent fashion journalists in the world.

Here’s a snippet from one of his more recent posts:

“It seemed natural after all that to set off up Fauborg Saint-Honoré and hit the shops. My two male companions were in crazed must-have-it buying mood and egged each other on to buy … anything as long as it had a scary price tag, which meant everything, in fact. Respectively they bought a denim shirt and a pair of trainers (at a cost of over €700) and a pair of trainers and drop-crotch pants (close to €1000), all of which will be totally out of fashion in a very short time. Which is what being a fashion person is all about.”

Colin, I agree. It does seem that for many of us, ‘fashion’ has become a byword for overpriced designer label goods. What’s more, the strong pull factor of branded fashion in popular culture has got everyone trying to cash in on the latest faddish trends...Is brown the new black? Is short the new long? Are books the new trainers?

Come to think of it, astonishingly expensive designer books, a sudden demand for built-in libraries, ‘bibliotherapy’, book inspired artworks and home furnishings are just a few of the curious trends spotted by ShopCurious lately. I know we can't wear books, but expect to see book print fabrics, book inspired accessories and all manner of bibliomaniacal creations on the catwalk.

Oh, and over at The Dabbler, you can find out what us retro-progressive types make of stylized new additions to the book world.

Anyway, I guess it's all good news as it means we’ll be reading more... so I hope you’re feeling suitably bookish?

Are you?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Summer gloving

Just back from Cornwall, where the weather was… well, changeable - to put it mildly. Sometimes Summer nights in the UK get so nippy that a pair of gloves wouldn’t go amiss.

In fact, I rather wish I’d taken along some of the curiously cute fingerless feather gloves from ShopCurious. Beautifully handmade in France, there are four styles to choose from – long or short, warmer jersey or lighter net. But the really unique thing about these handy accessories is the fabulous feather trim, which makes them perfect for day or night.

Back in the 1950s, young girls always wore gloves for special occasions – like going to church, or the theatre, or meeting the boyfriend’s parents. Nowadays, we only tend to see gloves at weddings, or when worn of necessity – on bitterly cold days, or by motorcyclists and mountaineers.

I’m curious to know why more people don’t wear gloves… and I’m all for a little more retro style French Summer gloving.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Fashionably retro-progressive menswear

If you're ShopCurious, catch a piece of priceless British style over at The Dabbler, where today we visit a curiously unique bespoke London tailors' shop.

Will you?

Bustling along in curious style

This week's Curious Trends included the ever growing obsession with morbid anatomy, a museum and curiosity shop full of macabre exhibits - and a renewed interest in Victorian style bustles. ShopCurious types should definitely take a look: We think you'll be curiously fascinated.

Will you?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Boring, blinging or black?

A wave of ‘ennui’ is said to be afflicting the population of our great metropolis. Quite mystifying, considering the number of things to do in and around London - let alone a whole world of wonders available online.

Could this be why black is back in fashion (was it ever out?) Are we bored with colour?

Anyway, a growing trend, originating from custom car workshops in the USA, is the dull black paint job.

Personally, I find the morbid matt look more sinister than stylish. I asked a few people they thought of curious car colours and opinion seemed to be divided: hairdressers loved the stealthy black finish, whilst cabbies found the look not quite to their taste. One mentioned he’d seen a matt black Bentley with fluorescent orange stripes down the sides, which he found particularly unattractive – though perhaps these were 'be seen at night' rather than 'go faster' stripes?

In any case, earlier this week, an article in the Evening Standard described the lusterless look as “the hottest trend in Hollywood”, mentioning Ferraris, Aston Martins, Rolls Royces, along with the likes of David Beckham and Lindsay Lohan. It all sounds suspiciously faddish to me – and surely another example of unnecessarily disposable style? I also think it looks totally ugly, and probably gets dirty and marks really easily. No?

To me, matt black falls into the same category as those curious chameleon colour-changing cars – usually Minis or TVRs (like the one above) that I’ve seen on the streets of London. If way-out wheels are your thing, why not get a uniquely painted vehicle for free by working for one of your local estate agents? Or, if you’ve really got money to burn, go the whole hog and opt for a brazenly blinging liquid silver, chrome, gold, or rhinestone studded finish - intriguingly rare, and certainly more eye catching..

Talking of bling, I just wanted to mention that the amazingly arty, handcrafted City Rings by talented young jewellery designer, Alina Jessipovich, at ShopCurious are now available at a whopping 70% off in our Summer sale – down from £875 to £262.50.

And, for what it’s worth (hem hem), the car I lust after is a seriously stylish retro1950s 300SL Mercedes – in boring old metallic silver, or classic red.

However, cool cars don’t have to cost the earth...

I spotted a curiously characterful old hippy bus rattling down the road the other day. On the back in large, hand painted letters were daubed the words ‘Warning: may contain nuts’. Now, I find that far from boring…

Do you?

Monday, 16 August 2010

Quite contrary: Curious gardens and bustles

Bustles are curiously unique fashion features. You don’t see many these days, except at weddings, or occasionally as costumes in Victorian and Edwardian period dramas, or gothic horror films. However, the other day I was driving down the North End Road in London’s Fulham, when I spotted a young woman, with a pushchair, wearing a full length skirt with a large bustle. The immediate thought that came to mind was that she must be a fashion designer, or perhaps this is a curious new trend?

Bustles have appeared on catwalks over the past couple of decades – notably from the likes of Vivienne Westwood – but unless worn for a grand occasion, or by those with a penchant for neo-Victorian Steampunk style, they’ve been seen as little more than an avant garde stylistic diversion. Recently, more mainstream, toned down versions of the bustle have been popular sellers at outlets like All Saints and online, at ASOS.

They’re probably not so great for gardening in, but I wonder if we’ll start seeing the full length, Victorian style bustle skirt walking down the high street soon...

Do you?

Saturday, 14 August 2010

...And over at the other place

You'll find all manner of curiosities, curiosity shops and style ideas at ShopCurious' new Curious Trends blog. Do take a look. You may be curiously surprised.

Will you?

Dribbling along in retro-progressive style

Calling all Wags and fans of retro style with a curious new twist. In my new weekly blog over at The Dabbler, today's lead comes from cult early 1980s film, Gregory's Girl. If you're ShopCurious, you'll love the curiously quirky footballing fashions.

Are you?

Friday, 13 August 2010

Tink before you tattoo

Did you read the article from Shine, The 6 biggest tattoo regrets, that was posted on a major search engine’s lifestyle site today? There were a huge number of comments, indicating that an awful lot of people want to talk about their tattoo troubles.

If you’re looking to avoid regrets altogether, temporary tattoos can be the answer. At ShopCurious, we’ve just become the exclusive UK stockist of a new range of limited edition temporary tattoos by a company called Tink-It (Temporary Ink It).

None of your kiddy style sticker stuff here, the first Tink-It collection has been designed by achingly cool French artists, plus there are five designs to choose from, and between two and eighteen separate tattoos in each box set. Tinks last for one to three days and can be easily wiped off using make-up remover, but whilst they’re on your body, you’ll become a living work of art.

Tattoos are arguably the Marmite of the skin world, either loved or loathed. If you’re a fan of tattoos, are thinking of getting one, or simply curious to see how some people choose to express their personalties through body decoration, you might like to pop along to the ‘Skin’ exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, which runs until 26th September.

Part of the exhibition explores the skin “as a place where natural, cultural, artificial or supernatural marks inscribe themselves on the body. Human skin provides a living document of transformation, deformity, ageing and illness. It also serves as a canvas where personal and cultural practices of decoration, construction of identity and self-expression are communicated to the world." Something worth bearing in mind…

Tink about it.

Will you?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Silly season curiosities - the Smiley ring

I was first introduced to Smileys in the 1970s when they came over to the UK as a novel curiosity from America. They soon became a universal symbol for friendship, happiness and peace – bringing with them the rather irritating strapline, Have a Nice Day!

In the ‘70s there were two main types of Smiley face fashion ring available. One was yellow with black markings for the eyes and smile. Some of these were ‘mood’ rings that changed colour according to how you were feeling. Hmmm...

The other was silver coloured and sometimes made from recycled cutlery. The original retro Smiley ring from ShopCurious (in these photos) may well have been created from a stainless steel spoon. It’s usefully adjustable, so should fit most fingers - or toes, if you're that way inclined.

At the height of the fad in 1972, apparently around 50 million Smiley buttons were produced. However, the genuine rings are now rather rare, so look no further if you’re after some inexpensive heirloom jewellery.

Anyway, the most comprehensive information I could find on the history of the Smiley appears in an early 2009 article about the film Watchmen, written by Jon Savage in The Guardian – and is recommended reading for the uninitiated.

Over the decades, the Smiley has had many incarnations from advertising campaigns to Acid House associations - and is now digitalized as the emoticon.

So, what d’you think of these perennially sunny smiling faces – quite cool, a bit of silly fun, or curiously sinister? Do let me know.

Will you?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Perennial Summer style

At this time of year, it’s nice to wind down and relax in the sun, but in the Caribbean the sun shines all year round, and the curiously slow pace of life is a major attraction for tourists.

Looking out over London’s cloudy grey skies, I’m dreaming of the lazy days I spent a few months ago at the charming Antiguan resort of Galley Bay – a beachside paradise that’s a haven of eco-friendly style, with smiling, helpful and warm-hearted staff.

One day, I was soaking up the sounds of the sea over lunch, when a fashion show suddenly popped up in front of me. How refreshing to see naturally beautiful models of all shapes and sizes wearing swimwear, sarongs and brightly coloured holiday fashions.

It’s hardly surprising that the Caribbeans are so big on colourful clothing, what with all the amazing colours of nature in and around their stunning tropical islands.

Anyway, I thought it would be rather fun to show the Maggio sisters’ handcrafted recycled jewellery from ShopCurious alongside the outfits I saw on the uniquely Caribbean catwalk.

The hand painted earrings with scenes from Italian gardens are curiously complemetary - but for a pretty finishing touch you could also add a locally picked flower, worn as a corsage.

By the way, the dresses are from a boutique in Heritage Quay, St John’s, called ‘gingerlily’ that specializes in casually elegant clothing for women, using cool and comfortable fabrics like linen, cotton and silk. And the menswear is available at a store called Nautica.

And, how about some floral holiday nails too?

I’m not entirely sure about these as men’s accessories – perhaps this single blossom earring might work… What d’you think?

Do you?

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Dabbling in style

Something for the trend hunter? Introducing RetroProgressive, my new weekly style column at The Dabbler – a curiously cultural new blog.

If you’re a fan of the arts and ShopCurious, you’ll love this new multi-contributor site. Take a look around the Beta version and let me know what you think.

Will you?

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Iconic decade of design revisited

'Retro style and design' is currently the name of the game. I certainly enjoyed travelling back to yesteryear for a blast from the past with a modern day twist, when I read a this ‘fab’ new book.

Dominic Lutyens and Kirsty Hislop have really captured the Zeitgeist of the seventies in their glossy tome – 70s Style and Design. Focusing on the key trends of the era, their book is a visual demonstration of just how vitally important the period was for the creative arts.

From pop art, post modernism (so that’s what inspired those chairs?) and derivative timeless style (think la Belle Epoque, The Jazz Age and the Surrealist movement) - to the origins of eco-friendly cool: this beautifully illustrated coffee table style bible of the 70s has them all.

With curiously appropriate 1970s style pull out pages, the colourful volume is a roll call of pivotal designers – and not just of fashion, but a lifestyle. Yves St Laurent, Vivienne Westwood, Zandra Rhodes, Bill Gibb, Biba, Laura Ashley and Fiorucci to name but a few – many of whom, as individuals or labels, are now making a comeback.

By the way, if you’re a lover of ‘70s style and design, check out the vintage shoes new in at ShopCurious, including the design shown left, from Biba (soon to be reborn at House of Fraser), and a highly collectable pair of de Havz by stalwart style leader of the ’70 and ‘80s scene, Terry de Havilland.

Anyway, as I was saying, if you'd like to see‘70s illustrations, magazine photos and some of the most amazing art, architecture and design of the day, this book is a must.

Of course, for all 40-60 somethings who lived through the decade, it’s essential reading and will bring back fond memories of peace symbols and liberation – both for women and men - plus platform shoes, floaty dresses, punk style piercings and uncontrollably contagious disco fever.

The ‘70s was a decade of many incarnations all rolled into one, and was hugely influential in terms of interiors and design. I think a similarly eclectic mix of styles is something we’ve also experienced over the past decade…

Do you?