Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tired and emotional

You've thrown a tantrum over your Mum's choice of presents, you've cheated at charades, you've come clean to your grandparents about your sexuality/religion/interest in the dramatic arts, and hit the brandy a little too hard. Time, I think, to admit defeat and snooze it off.

Preferably in this fromMod Cloth

Or this from Urban Outfitters

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Camilla is now otherwise engaged in the festive activities of port swigging, chocolate scoffing, and present mongering. HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!

Yet more chocolates...

After my annual pilgrimage to Selfridges to buy smoked salmon and cream cheese, my new packaging heroes are Artisan du Chocolat. With the opening of a new concession just as you get to the Food Hall, Artisan appear to have seriously upped their game in terms of product development. All the loose chocolates - in every flavour from tobacco to sesame - were encased behind glass that ran the length of the concession. While the pre-packed chocolates were done so intriguingly and with a whimsical sense of humour that did not leave the realms of the incredibly chic. I loved the 'drink me' hot chocolate flakes, bottled in old-fashioned apothecary jars.

In referencing the Chanel No.5 packaging for their salted caramels, Artisan are knowingly borrowing a timeless design heritage, not to mention all the visual associations of luxury, femininity, and exclusivity. Were this flagrant referencing to run across the entire Artisan range, it would lose its credibility and stand only on the strength of the brand it evokes, but in using it sparingly, Artisan have succeeded in making it wittily their own.

And finally, (sorry it's probably got something to do with it being the season of goodwill and all that), top marks for their catalogue, which is sleek, modern, and clearly shows all the chocolates in their best light. Fabulous!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Little black book

They say it's not what you know, it's who you know, but in this case salon owner and hairdresser, Richard Stepney has combined what he knows about great shampoo with the creative skills of some of his top clients. He asked the architect John Pawson, designer Tom Dixon, artist Brad Lochore, and sculptress Sophie Smallhorn to each design a label for a special edition run of 4th Floor shampoos. With the following smart-as-you-like results.

The technique of brand alignment is, I feel, hugely underused. Especially by smaller, niche brands. Modern consumers buy in patterns - creating families of brands that, in sum, define who they are and how they like to live. Those families of brands re-enforce consumers' own sense of self and their projection of themselves to those around them.

An excellent example of brand alignment is Marylebone High Street. Here, the street's planners consciously choose a mix of shops that would appeal to a carefully defined group. This group (30+, prosperous urbanites, 'foodie', European, penchant for boutiques) were already buying their kitchenware from Conran, their sheets from Descamps, their french cotton tees from Agnes B, their dinner party gifts from Rococo, and having their hair cut in Aveda. It made perfect sense to offer it all on one street and attract one of the wealthiest, most conspicuously consuming sectors of London society.

Over the years Richard, at 4th Floor, has earned a clientele who are creative, culturally astute, aesthetically intelligent and who rely on him to provide the haircut, the look to project those qualities. By becoming a veritable expert on his clients' lifestyle he has been able to create a brand that fits perfectly into it. This new, limited edition shampoo, which fuses leading-edge creative names with 4th Floor, represents another step in the maturation of Richard's brand.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

And the winner for best crimbo outfit goes to.....

Orion London for this little number. This dress will have lords a-leaping with its on-trend winter colour palette, its rudolph motif, and its generous folds in the stomach area. Cracker-tugging-tastic!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Going bambi-eyed over Paul and Joe

Despite the fact that my parents successfully kept me in the dark about both Disney and Barbie until I hit teenage-hood (raising me, controversially, instead on Busby Berkeley musicals and bits of twig), I still think this new limited edition from Paul and Joe is super-cute. Wonder what strings they had to pull to get that collab' off the ground!?

Friday, December 19, 2008

WIth less than a week to Christmas the countdown has begun. The christmas tree has been decorated to within an inch of its life, I've watched as much Nigella, Jamie, and Gordon as to make my housemates abandon the sitting room altogether, and 4 months dedicated to jam consumption has finally paid off in the form empty jars littering every surface of the kitchen in readiness for my homemade delicacies.

It is certainly a welcome diversion from the usual 'spend, spend, spend' mentality of this time of year, but 'thriftiness' has its own set-backs. Inconspicuous consumption is a bit of a brand in itself, as it's no good proffering a few burnt gingerbread men wrapped in last week's London Paper. We must, as Nigella insists, be Christmas Domestic Goddesses - fusing treacle, star anise and xmas leftovers as if there was no tomorrow. As I leaf through a mountain of cookery books, I can't help but wonder: wouldn't it just be easier to buy them?

Speaking of 'thriftiness', it seems the Christmas card is dead. Long live the e-card. I once read somewhere that, over Xmas, Londoners waste enough paper to make a rather excellent game of pass-the-parcel out of Trafalgar Square. And, while it is certainly a little depressing not to have the usual hoards of cards festooning the top of the piano, I have seen some excellent e-cards doing the rounds instead.

E-cards from top:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gift ideas for the alcoholic in your life...

Special edition Veuve Clicquot presentation box

Gilbert & George inspired earrings from Tatty Devine

Polished off with a wine tasting tour at Vinopolis down on the southbank.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Take a break from TMF's top 50 most annoying Christmas songs of the 80's, with this super-chill song and stunning vid from upcoming band, The Android Angel. Playing Boogaloo, Highgate, in January!

The Mothership and I have a time-long Christmas tradition of munching our way through a gratuitously large box of luxury chocolates over the course of the holiday period. This year I have thrown caution to the wind and taken our luxury standards up a notch or two with an 18 piece box from Paul A. Young. I am particularly looking forward to the mulled wine truffle and white orange snowball!

His sumptuous shop in Camden Passage is like a box of chocolates in itself - clad in decadent purples and heavily scented with the smell of cocoa. I especially like the fact that, more often than not, I find Mr. Young himself present in the shop. Not hiding behind the scenes like some agoraphobic Willy Wonka, nor lolling about under a palm tree as the cash rolls in, Paul A. Young is there to see, first hand, how his chocolates are consumed and enjoyed.

This, I'm sure, contributes in no small way to the fact that a recent Boing Boing post (one of the most read blogs internationally) waxed long and lyrical about the delights of Paul's chocolate - garnering hundreds of comments, most of which bemoaned the fact that he does not ship oversees. Tough luck yankees, more for us brits!

Click this for details,
And recently feted here, on the internationally acclaimed blog, Boing Boing.
The New Aura Phone from Motorola

Ooh, loving this. It's like they've gone right back to the drawing board in terms of what we expect mobile phones to look like. The clock-face detail, in particular, is floating my boat. Gorgeous.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Highland Fling

Arriving early for my Saturday bridesmaiding duties, I took the opportunity of a free afternoon on Friday to explore Edinburgh for the first time. As a thorough-bred Londoner, I am usually of the opinion that other cities may have unique characters, unusual quirks and points of interest, but London is always the Daddy. But, I am forced to admit, that Edinburgh took me utterly by surprise on all fronts. From the dark and towering Victorian architecture, to the views of distant snow-capped peaks, to the perfect hot chocolate in one of the city's many little cafes, I absolutely fell in love.

With only a few hours at our disposal, my companion and I took a whistle-stop tour of the place, fitting in what seemed to be the most important destinations - namely, the Christmas market, a few boutique shops and, naturally, Harvey Nichols. Castle? Shmastle! We both fell upon The Red Door Gallery, which prides itself on showcasing the work of upcoming artists and seemed, to me, to be the retail equivalent of this very blog - so brimful was it with fun design ideas.

Secondly, my companion went absolutely jingle bells to find his Xmas jumper in Oddities - a venerable co-operative of creativity, fusing clothes, art and music all under one super-cool roof. I however, felt rather partial towards a massive bright purple bag that could have fitted in at least two small children.

Finally, buoyed by several jugs of mulled wine from the Christmas market, we wound our merry way to Harvey Nichols, where I was fascinated to find it packed not with the usual wealthy urban professionals found in the London branch, but hoards of well-dressed students seeking inspiration and sartorial guidance. I even overheard one young man rebuff his friend with a terse 'I told you, they don't do sushi, you idiot'. Ah, the modern young!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ok, before I jet off to Edinburgh (see previous post), I thoroughly recommend you while 5 or 6 hours away on Trend Hunter. Totally addictive, just give in and click your way through the globally weird and wonderful.

Have fun!
Camilla is off for a spot of bridesmaiding!

The Art of Branding

The Tate Modern has released its list of upcoming 2009 exhibitions, amongst which is 'Sold Out' - an examination of how artists have used the medium to 'brand' themselves. As the write-up says, "Going beyond ‘Pop’ as a style, the exhibition will foreground the ways in which certain key artists, since the 1980s, have created their own ‘brands’, engaged in self-promotion and co-opted marketing strategies."

The show starts with the work of Andy Warhol - an artist who manipulated iconic images and brands to reflect back society's innately material values and, in doing so, make powerful statements about the modern world. In subverting other brands, however, he simultaneously created his own 'brand' - one that has gone on to eclipse even his original subjects.

'Sold Out' will raise interesting questions for those in the branding industries. Especially as we see more and more artists - everyone from traditional artists like Banksy to performance artists like P Diddy - break free from the confines of just the products and services they create and expand into entire 'branded' empires.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Interesting article on blogging from The Guardian

Apparently the key is "just write great content". Consider it done!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Camilla's Store freakin' obvious gift guide!

"Oldies but goodies", "it's the thought that counts", "you can never have too many..." - the British are a polite nation, maintaining a stiff upper lip while, inside, we're throwing the mother of all tantrums. But the truth is that no matter what good intentions we start the Christmas season with, by the time we've done battle with the crowds, frozen half to death, and spent most of our paychecks, we're generally clean out of fresh ideas for presents. So, if you are going to plump for the obvious, at least try and do it in style.

1. The Mug
Personally, I love a good bit of mug, but it can all go so wrong - as an ex-boyfriend of mine once discovered after proudly presenting me with a Disney-esque one some years back. It wasn't the sole reason for our break-up but certainly didn't help matters! These Pantone ones, however, are mug-ilicious, being just the right size, infinitely collectable and totally cool!

2. Socks
Once the recipient has got over the initial disappointment of finding yet another pair of socks under the Christmas tree, they will discover that a killer pair like these cashmere ones from Paul Smith quickly become the most treasured thing in their wardrobe.

3. Slutty Underwear
Apparently Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. On Mars, it is commonly understood that women spend their days pillowfighting in prozzie-Red crotchless thongs. In reality, Venusians are much happier on the sofa with a bar of Galaxy while wearing cream silk granny knickers beneath fur-lined velour tracksuits. So what happens when these two worlds collide? A compromise must be reached. The girls at Agent Provocateur and Myla are well-versed mediators.

4. The Merry-go-Round bath products
By merry-go-round, I mean that box of 'smellies' that re-appears each and every Christmas and is passed on to the next unsuspecting recipient like some kind of evil-scented chain mail. With each December I am consumed by an overwhelming fear of the whiff of a Body Shop dewberry gift set. Break the chain with this set from Cowshed, which reeks of glamourous mini-breaks, rather than mouldy bathroom cupboards.

5. The Book
If you do insist on verging towards the educational when it comes to gift giving at least make some effort to blow their tiny minds. Pick a book packed full of sex, drugs and gratuitous violence and that has ideally been banned at some point in its history. Include an inscription along the lines of 'this book was an inspiration to me' and ensure that your relatives fear for your mental well-being to the point of letting you pick the Xmas tv-watching schedule. Result!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Westfield Revisited

Armed with an extensive Christmas shopping list and a rare free day, I decided to finally visit Westfield as a proper shopper - rather than a frazzled retailer liaison! Sunlight bounced across the marble floors, shop fronts battled for attention with eye-catching window displays and happy shoppers meandered, bags in hand. I had quick chat with some of the shop staff as I went round and was really thrilled to be met with warm smiles and efficient, knowledgeable service - proving that Westfield was staying true to its word about 'raising the game' amongst its retailers. While Matthew at Tabio said that sales had been really great in the run up to Christmas.

But - yes, you knew a 'but' was coming - I'm not entirely convinced they have understood the habits and preferences of the London shopper. Westfield London was meant to leave behind preconceptions about British shopping malls and compete with the likes of Bond Street, Regent Street and Oxford Street. Sure enough there's all the new, boutique-y shops we love, like The White Company, Terra Plana, and Twenty8 Twelve, but it is not shops alone that makes us adore a skip through W1.

Walk along Regent Street and you cannot help but marvel at the grand, almost ceremonial sweep of the Nash curves, or revel in the aspirational pangs created by lower Bond Street, or meander in a dream-like state around Liberty - all these experiences are what makes London... well, London. You may start the day with a strict to-do list, but return empty-handed and you will not feel like you have missed out. I wish so much I could say the same of Westfield, but despite its manageable size, covered walk-ways, and clever mix of fashion and food there was no additional 'experience'.

London takes its personality from being an old city, which is steeped in history, and forges its very character from the weather-beaten streets, while its citizens place their faith in the past and preservation of tradition. Westfield London, however, is a mere baby - Londoners are still coming to terms with this alien approach to shopping. Nevertheless, it is still early days and perhaps the centre is still finding its groove, its rightful place on the Capital's fashion map.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Holidays are coming... holidays are coming.

You know it's Christmas when an impossibly red-cheeked Santa starts necking Coca Cola, when Mariah Carey starts insisting that she doesn't want too many presents this year, and when usually stylish stores start selling things like this...

Holidays jumper from Comme des Garcons at Dover Street Market.

And weird and wonderful tree decorations from The Conran Shop.

Keep checking back next week for a selection of Christmas shopping guides you won't be finding anywhere else!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Must visit...

The Wallace Collection is usually just a way of injecting a small pinch of culture into a day that is to be otherwise spent entirely in Selfridges, but their current exhibition of Osbert Lancaster - the satirical cartoonist - is an absolute joy. Fantastically witty, unmistakably English and free to the public.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Ugg Debate/ When Brands Turn Chav

Let's go back 4 or 5 years. A smattering of aspirational role-models from Heidi Klum to Keira Knightly are spotted in what the world initially decried as the the ugliest boots known to man. When pressed on the subject of their shodding, said celebrities revealed that said boots were, in fact, Uggs - lined with sheep's wool and owned universally in Australia. As a result, the fashion elite - not wanting to question the authority of either celebrity taste nor the continent that gave them that bastion of afternoon entertainment Neighbours - started shipping them over in their hundreds.

Within seconds of fashion's most twinkly toes hitting the soft lining, it was generally understood that the gentle sex was being offered a rare treat - namely being warm and comfortable while simultaneously making a serious sartorial statement. (Why else are the glossies currently pushing the 'pyjama' look so hard?). And so the trickle down effect began. Over the following 18 months Ugg boots marched through the pages of Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire, striding on to the likes of Glamour and Cosmo, before finally arriving a little scuffed and soiled in Heat and Now.

Which brings me to my current dilemma. In 2006 I couldn't decide if they were Ugg-lee or Ugg-ilicious. In 2007 it all got a bit band-wagony. And now, in 2008, I've got seriously cold feet - both metaphorically and physically. Not since wall mounted plasma TVs has a product gone so swiftly from bohemian, off-duty Oscar-toters to Footballer's wives on Cribs. Ugg Boots now go hand-in-hand with Juicy Couture track-suits, LV luggage and designer dogs. Their price tag alone makes them practically impossible to wear post-modern ironically unless you are super-rich and even then, there's no way to play them down. But if you want warm tootsies this winter, there is no comparison. And so there lies the question - to Ugg or not to Ugg? What's a non-Essex girl to do?

And don't even get me started on Men in Ugg Boots. I mean, really? Really?

To view the full Ugg collection visit

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

There's a light at the end of the tunnel... and it's out.

Tivo, America's version of Sky+, has teamed up with Domino's Pizza. Apparently you can now order and track a pizza via tivo without having to prise their lardy behinds from the sofa! A rep from the company is quoted as saying, "This is the first time in history that the ‘on-demand’ generation will be able to fully experience couch commerce by ordering pizza directly through their television set. You’ll see a television ad for Domino’s and you’ll click ‘I want it’ through your remote. In about 30 minutes, your pizza will show up at your door.”

Whatever happened to delayed gratification?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Readers of Design Sponge will know that West-Coast Americans go absolutely cherry cheesecake for a bit of letterpress printing. This past year I've seen so many incredible examples which range from cute and delicate to chic and sassy. Here in England we are just starting to see letterpress printing come back into its own, as the discerning stationary-fetishist begins to shun mass-produced Paperchase tat in favour of something a bit more special.

In a Maida Vale boutique I happened upon an intriguing wooden box of work by Lucy May Schofield - a letterpress printer and book binder who, judging by the list of stockists on her website - has already enchanted the great and the good from London to California. I think her Proverb Postcards are just darling. Just wish I had someone naughty to send 'Forbidden Fruit is the Sweetest' to!

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's a winter conundrum - eat yourself a sweater or stay skinny enough to get into your Christmas party dress. If you opt for the latter, at least these biscuity treats won't go straight on your hips!

Wai-Lian Scannell's porcelain mugs from Pedlars.

Or hide a fistful of jelleytots in this from Beyond the Valley.