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Saturday, 31 December 2011

A curiously Happy New Year from London 2012




Trafalgar Square, London - Happy New Year - 2012 xxx

Is that clock right?

Are you?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Curious celebrity Christmas



2011 was a year when absolutely anyone could be a celebrity. It was also the year in which ShopCurious featured Nathalie Queyraud’s curiously irreverent fashion icon jewellery, and Liz London’s curiously kitsch celebrity inspired artworks.

I decided to mark the occasion by inviting some very special guests to share Christmas with me. I had Boris and Mr Bean, Kate and Camilla, Simon Cowell, Posh Victoria Spice-Beckham - and I wasn’t quite sure which half of Jedward… oh, and there was a special guest appearance by none other than Lady Gaga. Not forgetting super-celebrity personage, Her Madge.





















































Celeb of honour was none other than our esteemed Prime Minister, along with world-renowned blogger, Thoroughly Modern Milly.










































Santa came along too – with a soon to be famous Samurai.

Are you?


PS See more celebrity images of the year at The Dabbler...

Sunday, 25 December 2011

A curiously decorative Christmas...



Merry Christmas!

May your holiday weekend be filled with decorative Christmas curiosities... like mine:

I decorated the tree (a Nordmann fir from pinesandneedles.com) with a mixture of cherished vintage baubles, together with some of the hand painted wooden decorations from ShopCurious.

I managed to smash just one – unfortunately a rather lovely, old fashioned glass ball. But Henry the hoover came to the rescue. He's very busy at this time of year, what with all the pine needles and Christmas crumbs on the floor...


















































































Talking of which, my mother arrived with a curiously kitsch Christmas cake. Apparently, she won it at her golf club in a ‘guess the weight of the cake’ competition. 7.02 pounds in case you’re curious…










I took her to the Christmas Market at London’s Southbank. It was teeming with people and full of nasty cooking smells. I’m not quite sure what barbequed burgers and bratwurst have to do with Christmas? There were dozens of candy stalls, and a glut of gaudy snow globes.





Don’t you just love this time of year?

Do you?


PS Check out the latest posts at The Dabbler for more Christmas curiosities – including our retro 3D Version of The Night Before Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Arty angels and celestial Christmas curiosities


Have you noticed that we’re surrounded by angels at this time of year? Excuse the rather blurred photograph on the right, but this is the sort of thing you may have seen in shop windows lately…










Much as I adore ecclesiastical carvings and sculptures of angels, it’s sad that a fair few of those sold at antiques fairs and auctions have been purloined from churches over the years. However, it’s great to see that contemporary craftspeople and home accessory designers are once again turning to angels for inspiration - as featured in ShopCurious’ latest trends post.





Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing choirs of angels singing at the traditional Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, on Christmas Eve.

Incidentally, after that, at 8.20 pm, during the interval of Handel’s Messiah on BBC Radio 3, there’s a programme called Angelology. For twenty minutes, The Reverend Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James's, Piccadilly, will explain that angels aren’t always as sweet or cherubic as they are often seen to be…








I suppose that probably goes for some of the choristers at King’s College too?

Do you?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Seasonless and sustainable salvage designs


Artists have been salvaging bits of old scrap metal and recycling waste material to create unusual and sometimes disturbing artworks. At least there’s still something worth salvaging…

I’m trying not to think about the economic prospects for 2012. Those in the know are already prepared – I’ve spotted some curiously retro-progressive designs for the new Dark Ages (see my latest post at The Dabbler for photos).










If you’re also thinking ahead, you may wish to consider some of the upcycled curiosities at ShopCurious for Christmas gifts this year. Check out our unique selection of jewellery and accessories for handcrafted, sustainable pieces and one-off vintage finds.

Will you?

PS Last day for UK Christmas delivery is 22nd December (see website for details).

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Does happiness have a price?


Curiously, the Royal Academy of Arts isn’t making too much of a fuss about the Haunch of Venison Gallery's Krug Happiness Exhibition. Leading designers and celebrities are donating items for sale - all proceeds going to the Academy's coffers (and all publicity to the sponsors and donors).

So is happiness really a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes? Is this what we are striving towards... the stuff of our innermost dreams and desires? Really?

With global economic problems affecting all of us, we may not think there’s much to look forward to in 2012. But the New Year is a time for resolutions - and making the right changes can help us to live happily ever after... yes, even without the luxury designer trimmings.

It’s not just our financial system that’s changed dramatically in recent years, social structures have been smashed up too – without recourse to moral or familial ties. Rules and responsibility don’t seem to exist any more. We feel like we’re victims… but aren’t we actually the culprits?

Why can’t we be accountable for our actions? And why don’t we work together to help make the world a better place for all of us (so long as we can agree on exactly what that entails).



It’s never too late to start over again, but changing directions is always going to involve taking some risks. And we have to be brave…

I’ve read a lot of personal development books in my time and, after a while, they all start to sound the same. However, this book (left) takes rather a unique angle – helping us to develop “the habit of curiosity.” Did you know that curiosity is both a cure for boredom and the key to discovering what we really want? Georges Philips' book is full of useful ideas and exercises to help us crystallize our ideas – and, most importantly, to put our plans for the future into action.

For those curious to become happier and more successful, we’re giving away a signed copy of this life-changing book. To enter the draw for a free copy of a signed edition of Georges Philips’ transformational book, simply email us at info@shopcurious.com, quoting Change Directions by 31st December.



Oh, and do take a look at the Action for Happiness website too - their video says that, in terms of happiness, we're stuck in the '50s - well, I suppose we can always sell our memories:-)

Will you?

PS I’ll let you know shortly what new directions ShopCurious will be taking in 2012…

Friday, 9 December 2011

The world's most glamorous garden?




Berkeley Square always looks magical at Christmas (as in this prize winning photograph, courtesy of National Geographic). Considered to be the very heart of Mayfair, Berkeley Square is also the hub of London society. Formerly quintessentially English, now Quintessentially cosmopolitan, Mayfair has long been a playground for the rich and famous.



Back in the day when the gorgeously gnarled, elephantine trees were almost as fat as they are now, but just as valuable, Nick Drake wrote his haunting song (released posthumously in 2004):



Mayfair strange in the morning light,
Mayfair strange in the summer night,
Mayfair strangest in the afternoon.
Mayfair stretching far above,
full of fame but lacking love,
Could it be we see the Mayfair moon?

Mayfair strange across the park,
In the day or in the dark,
There's no need to walk or even run.
Mayfair faces clean and nice,
But beauty here is cold as ice,
Could it be we see the Mayfair sun?

Mayfair strange at every hour,
Hidden frowns with mystic power,
Starry heights and golden throne,
Down below you're on you're own.

Mayfair strange for passers-by,
Sights of wonder for the eye,
Could it be they'll pass by again?
Mayfair calling far and near,
For even trees are wealthy here,
Could it be we hear the Mayfair rain?




A curious fact is that Nick Drake performed in a band called the Perfumed Gardeners with his schoolmates in the mid-1960s - doubly fitting, since Berkeley Square is currently home to a unique garden ‘installation’ by Tony Heywood and Alison Condie.






Heywood’s latest work, Glamourland (on show until 20th January), is aptly located - in an enclave bursting with bejewelled, manicured and silicon enhanced souls – as well as Britain’s most expensive tree: a Victorian Plane (one of 31, all of which are at least 200 years old) opposite Berkeley Square House, which was valued at £750,000 in 2008.

But glamour doesn’t have to cost the earth. If you’re feeling in need of some added glitz, why not try out a trio of Colorsport lipstains from ShopCurious – also a great idea for a curiously cheap and chic Christmas gift.

Will you?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Arty avian Christmas decorations



‘Arty’ and ‘avian’ may conjure up images of antique taxidermy, or curious contemporary craft creations, like this surreal seagull-through-the-wall installation by Joanna Bryan-Smith...














A reminder that birds are not always cute, or friendly – and they’re certainly not birdbrained, especially when it comes to getting food:






If you prefer birds that are decorative rather than dangerous, then check out the fabulous boxed sets of partridges, baby doves and snooty chicks at ShopCurious.

















Each pretty little bird has been lovingly handcrafted in wood - and hand painted too. They look great on the tree, but are also the perfect gift to take along to a Christmas house party. And you can rest assured they won’t gobble up your turkey, either.

















Will you?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

12 Curious days of Christmas




We’ve some charmingly characterful, handcrafted Christmas decorations at ShopCurious this year. They’re beautifully hand painted on wood, and make a welcome change from the usual glass baubles - especially as they can be recycled year after year, rather than ending up smashed to pieces when the tree starts to wilt, and they fall onto the floor.

Our piece de resistance is this collectable boxed set of the 12 Days of Christmas (right), which would also make a very unique Christmas gift.




In terms of music and meaning, the twelve days of Christmas have been subject to many interpretations. Here are a few examples:







And now there’s digital art too… Our latest contest at Polyvore was inspired by the 12 Days of Christmas. Take a look at the curiously creative winning sets, below:


Variety is said to be the spice of life, so if you have your own opinion, or favoured version of the timeless-yet-seasonal rhyme, please do have your say too…

Will you?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Bags of classic vintage style


I recently went to dinner with Bruce Oldfield. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just me, but a select gathering of Fashion Group International members...

Coming from his Barnardo's background, Bruce is an advertisement for all that is achievable from a combination of nothing more than raw talent and hard work. Oh, and it helps that he’s a real charmer, who claims to be able to “sell ice to Eskimos.” Plus, he also makes proper party dresses.

Citing Sam Cam’s mother, Lady Astor as his “first nob client,” Oldfield later became couturier to the likes of Princess Diana. He says that Charlotte Rampling is his favourite customer, and Queen Rania of Jordan is someone he’d most like to dress. Curiously, X-Factor judge Tulisa has also been seen wearing some of his rather retro looking frocks, with petticoats underneath for added volume.




Oldfield says he doesn’t pander to fashion trends, “though you have to nod to what’s going on.” The idea of fashion as art leaves him cold. According to Bruce, “fashion should never become an academic subject… it’s just something to make people look gorgeous when they go out in the evening.”

But the times are ever a-changin’… and fashion offerings now range from (un)wearable art and design-led pieces, right through to disposable high street and celebrity inspired items, with some rather nondescript, mainstream stuff in between. Of course, there’s vintage too – which is all the better because it’s recycled and has that much more charm and provenance.




Bruce Oldfield certainly has plenty of classic vintage style, much like these bags from ShopCurious. They’re perfect for Christmas parties (or as unique gifts) – and, much like Bruce, they have the added appeal of a bit of history.

Do you?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Choosing curiosity accessories



Big bling is all the thing, though not always practical. Imagine you’re in the office, wearing a ginormous knuckleduster (like this one by Kyle Hopkins), that gets in the way every time you put pen to paper – or digit to desktop.

Much like breasts, accessories seem to be getting bigger – possibly because larger is seen to be more curious - but what about more cumbersome? To avoid a disconcerting tangle, it’s advisable to choose jewellery with some consideration for size and practicality.






Here’s a necklace that reminds me of a voodoo themed room divider. However, it’s possible to find shell chokers that are authentic, but also manageable.












As for seasonal accessories, stars and glittery baubles make perfect charms on a chain necklace or belt. But you probably don’t want to end up looking as though you’re part of a Christmas window display.






This jewelled body armour rocks, but how comfortable or convenient would it be to actually wear? A similar effect can be achieved, with the addition of usefulness, in the form of a precious stone and snakeskin clutch from ShopCurious (available in a range of colours – and every bag is totally unique).













Or get the curiosity shop look with a vintage resin necklace - so much more in keeping with an old style dress than contemporary plastic bling, don’t you think?


















Do you?