Friday, 29 July 2011

Accessories for a vintage weekend

Starting today, the Vintage festival at London’s Southbank Centre is the place to be this weekend. There’s an incredible range of activities on offer, from retro shopping and dining to fashion shows, dancing and boat trips on the river. One thing’s for sure, the occasion will make for curiously fascinating people watching.

I’ve noticed that the vintage vibe is filtering down through the generations. Fashion students have led a trend that now sees young people all over the country sporting vintage clothing and accessories – even hair styles, like the quiff and the hair roll, have become rather popular.

A key accessory for any vintage look is a pair of retro sunglasses. If you’re not able to get to the Southbank over the next few days, we’ve a selection of quirky and characterful vintage shades at ShopCurious. Hopefully, you'll actually need to wear them at some stage during the summer.

Anyway, if you’re going along to join in the fun this weekend, we’ll see you there...

Are you?

Monday, 25 July 2011

Tourist memorabilia: trivia or treasure?

Whenever I go away, I like to visit any flea markets and curiosity shops in the area, so I can rummage for quirky vintage bits and bobs. However, there’s really no need to go abroad, as local junk shops and car boot sales are perfect for sourcing retro holiday souvenirs – which have become curiously collectable of late.

A few of the pieces I've found are now available at ShopCurious: I tried to sift out the most tasteful items - including a beautifully hand painted cigar box, a characterfully antiquated Flamenco dancer, and a fabulously fierce looking doll in traditional Spanish dress.

Many such curiosities are probably unwanted gifts. But what is it that compels people to bring back these kitsch mementoes from their travels? And what’s the most curious thing you’ve been given by someone returning from foreign parts? Do tell…

Will you?

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Going nuts for glamping?

Let’s face it, you’ve got to be mildly mad to go camping in Great Britain. Despite our homeland’s name, the weather on offer to holidaymakers isn’t exactly great. That’s probably why we’ve invented a clever new pastime called ‘glamping’. The idea of glamorous camping is much more appealing – better still, glamping doesn’t even have to involve a tent.

Some of my friends in the northern Cotswolds have two shepherd’s huts in their wood (one sleeping two, the other four), which they’re letting out to glampers. James Kerr’s photographs right and below give you an idea of the style of accommodation. There’s also a composting loo, which I’ve been assured isn’t smelly – and a ‘hot outdoor shower through a bucket.’

You’ll note there’s no sign of rain in either of these photographs. Email us if you’re interested…

Alternatively, if you’re determined to try out some authentic camping, young designer Ross Pugh has designed a pop-up tent that can be erected and dismantled in seconds.

His tents can also be connected together to create a camping community – and then folded away into easily transportable carrying bags.

Oh, and whenever you’re camping, it’s always useful to have some practical accessories around. Curiously eccentric (OR WOT!) Mark H has created a handy clip called Le Croc, which is quite the perfect accessory for glamping – and is available exclusively at ShopCurious. The ultimate crocodile clip, Le Croc is 18 carat gold plated by a company that also works for the Royal Mint. Made in the Midlands, every clip is trimmed with an individually customized tie hook. Cracking!

Talking of Mark camping, do you remember Mike Leigh’s hilarious Play for Today, Nuts in May?

Do you?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Glitterati, glamour and mystique

I wandered around the National Portrait Gallery’s Glamour of the Gods exhibition behind two elderly ladies, curiously amused by their oohing and aahing. Like teenage girls unable to keep a secret, they simply had to know the name of ‘that gorgeous chap on a motorbike’. I told them he was Steve McQueen, but was a little befuddled, as his photograph didn’t appear to be on display… They were reduced to a state that can only be described as ‘gaga’ by photographs of the male filmstars and celebrities of yesteryear – Elvis Presley had them in raptures...

Sharing their excitement was rather fun, though the seventy or so stunning vintage prints from John Kobal’s archive are probably enough to get anyone going. Dating from around 1920 to the 1950s, the images are of movers and shakers in the creative and performing arts, along with key members of the Hollywood glitterati.

And they are beautiful. With a beautifully illustrated catalogue to match. Though we’ve also a finely illustrated photography book at ShopCurious: Filmstar Portraits of the Fifties (published in 1980), has no fewer than 163 glamorous photographs of the stars – introduced and edited by none other than John Kobal himself.

It’s strange, but today’s stars do absolutely nothing for me. Yesterday, Nespresso sent an email to ‘follow George Clooney in Costa Rica.’ I can think of nothing more dull – especially as I rarely ever drink coffee. Yet I could look at the glamorous photographs in this exhibition all day. Perhaps it’s about more than just glamour… I suspect being ‘godlike’ has quite a lot to do with the curiosity factor.

Do you?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Fashionable fine art...

Despite the contemporary design of its Chelsea home, Heatherley’s School of Fine Art is fairly traditional in approach – at least that’s the impression I got from my visit to preview the Annual Exhibition, which starts today. I was invited by my neighbour, Patrick Earle, who has just completed a portrait diploma at London’s oldest independent art school. His works stretch the boundaries of Heatherley’s tried and tested painting techniques to handsome effect. Amongst his exhibits, Earle bares his soul in a curiously clever self portrait - inviting us into his inner world, to share his absorbing love of painting.

Even further removed from a prescribed formula, and closer to fashionable trends of the art and design world, is a series of works by Caroline Weir. Combining found objects with musical forms, old dolls, bones, skulls, anatomical specimens and charred embers, Weir has captured a number of current themes.

She’s even created a rudimentary automaton called The Tapper, which brings to life an old 'cello case.

ShopCurious particularly likes Hell’s Kitchen, which showcases Weir’s accomplished ceramic sculptures in conjunction with a retro cooker… and Tabasco Sauce bottle.

The show is open until Saturday 23rd. Do get along to see it.

Will you?

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Recycled retro style rocks

A staple of the jukebox, Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock probably kept quite a few teenagers out of jail in the late 1950s. Instead of making mischief, they were jiving away the hours at their local diner – or more likely at a youth club in the UK.

“The American diner has had a lasting impact on popular culture – influencing fashion, design and music – as well as our habits of eating and dining out. Diners also seem to be perennially popular with young children and teenagers…” Find out why the diner is still commanding respect from today’s youth in my latest post at The Dabbler.

Retro style is currently very popular and musical accessories are an emerging trend for the coming season.

At ShopCurious, we’ve found a curiously cool piece of jewellery that combines both trends in a fun, recycled charm necklace. Lovingly handmade by Jo Knowles-Lee, each necklace consists of a vintage domino, together with an enamelled guitar charm on a plain black chain.

If you’re curious to know what to wear to your local diner, I think this simple but stylish accessory would look perfect for a casual night out with friends.

Do you?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Couture and stars at Claridge's

I was impressed by my old friend Nicholas Oakwell’s debut couture show, held in Claridge’s elegant French Salon on Monday. His first collection, inspired by the scenic designs of Robin and Christopher Ironside, was unusual without being overly showy.

Sophisticated designs in luxurious fabrics such as cashmere, chiffon, lace, leather and silk jersey incorporated draping, pleats, ruffles and beading. Large collars and exaggerated shoulders were very much in evidence – and bang on trend for the coming season.

As the team who’d put so much effort into creating the collection and presenting the fashion show relaxed backstage, I managed to sneak a few ‘behind the scenes’ shots. I was rather taken by the dramatic Ironside print cape…lined with feathers – and the classic chiffon gowns, with beading and delicate starry motifs.

Talking of stars, we’ve a lovely pair of vintage, star shaped clip-on earrings at ShopCurious. Delicately embellished with mother of pearl and iridescent rhinestones, they’d probably work rather well with Nicholas’s designs.

I wouldn’t mind one of the dresses either, though I’m curious to know the price…

Are you?

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Festival of fashion and design

ShopCurious recently acquired a copy of the original programme for the 1951 Festival of Britain. It’s packed with colourful advertisements placed by booming British businesses of the era.

I’ve picked out a few of the ads, mainly featuring fashion and design, just so you can see how things have evolved over the years...

Technology may have advanced, and social structures been broken down by massive changes, but have you noticed that fashion and home furnishings are looking curiously retro of late? I wonder if the way we run our businesses and conduct our relationships will also become increasingly inspired by the styles of a bygone era?

Do you?