Saturday, January 31, 2009

Geek me up!

Forget Disneyland, forget the Oscars, the American destination of choice for me in 2009 has got to be SXSW Interactive. Four days of nothing but web-techy-geek stuff in Austin, TX? That's my kind of holiday! I'm mean who doesn't want to attend talks that go by the name of 'UR blog sux and print is dead', 'Help! My ipod thinks I'm emo' and 'Web Typography: Quit Bitchin' and Get Your Glyph On'??

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Schedule outage

I'm afraid blog posts have been suspended for a few days while I come to terms with the fact, that contrary to what the news may say, I have got myself a new job. Will be back posting once the shock, and the exhaustion from information overload, has worn off. Meanwhile I suggest you take a look at two websites I have been particularly loving lately, Black Cab Sessions and Valet Mag. And finally, so you don't forget about the wonderful Camilla's Store, why not 'subscribe' to my blog and get it delivered fresh to your inbox every time I post. You know it's right.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Housemate extraordinaire just sent over these inspired job adverts. This goes out to all you 1.92 million out of work! Chin up!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An open letter to The Guardian OR When cupcakes go bad.

It is not often that I am drawn to personal anecdotes on this blog, but I feel that what went down in my kitchen in the late hours of Saturday night deserve to be recounted for the greater public good. Due to the impending nuptials of my Father and his gorgeous lady friend, I was called upon to put my renowned cake baking skills to good use and make 30 cupcakes for their assembled guests. And so, Blue Peter-like, I commenced stage one last weekend by baking said cupcakes according to the Red Velvet recipe on the Guardian website (here). And, I must confess, was slightly disappointed with the results - no light-as-air sponge as expected, but chewy, flesh coloured patties. Putting this down to the 'American' style, I froze them for this past week, ready to ice them the day before the party.

And so, arriving home late last night, I duly set about whipping up the butter cream icing. 7.30pm - first mixture separates and resembles scrambled eggs. 8.10pm - second attempt, same scenario. I put in an urgent ship to shore call to a fellow baker and we deduce that 'sugar' in the Guardian recipe is ambiguous - they meant icing sugar. Tears and whimpering. 9pm - drive to Sainsburys re-purchase butter and buy icing sugar. 9.30 - Start over and, now using a hand-whisk, proceed to coat the entire kitchen and my good self with icing mixture. Angry sobbing. 9.55 - What remains in the mixing bowl is piped on to the cupcakes only to run out half way through. 10.15 - Operation icing, stage two. More kitchen decorating and near-hysterical crying. 11pm - Cupcakes look horrendous and taste worse. Totally lose it, abandon entire project, decide to attend wedding party empty handed and spend the next hour trying to get butter out my hair.

And so, dear, dear Guardian, in future, please check and double check your recipes before another eager baker risks getting themselves committed in the quest to bake the perfect cupcake. Meantime, Dad and M, if it's the thought that counts I think it's the biggest wedding present you got!

Friday, January 23, 2009

My penchant for two of a kind continues...

Beautiful recycled notebooks from Ecojot

And cute DIY project from Derek and Lauren at Design Sponge

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hide and seek

As a blogger, there is nothing worse than discovering that a company you like and want to write about does not have a website. Such is the case with linen-company to the stars, D. Portault. A few months ago I wanted to feature their insanely decadent white and blue tiger-print sheets from the Sex in the City Movie. Then I read a piece in Vanity Fair announcing D. Portault are reviving the wedding trousseau. And now, their towels have cropped up in the first episode of the new season of Gossip Girl. I'm all for exclusivity, but it seems crazy for a label to be so obviously courting publicity to not then have an all-singing-all-dancing website to match.

Indeed, I often find that some of the best designers are guilty of some of the worst web presences. Unless you can find decent pictures on Net-a-Porter, or are happy to use runway images, the likes of DKNY and Marc Jacobs simply do not stretch their brands as far as the web. They may be leading edge when it comes to their clothes, but are tech-shy in their marketing methods.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The First Lady

So, Obama and the first family are no doubt slinking around the White House, trying to decide what picture to hang where and recovering from the 10 inaugural balls they attended last night. And, while we are left in no doubt that political history was made yesterday, the fashion blogs have naturally been going nuts over Michelle's choice of inauguration outfit.

Given that, and paraphrasing Obama, the economy has been weakened due to greed and irresponsibility, it seems there has never been a better time to make sound investment buys. So I will be showing my support for the new Pres with these fabulous Michelle-inspired leather gloves from John Lewis. With care, they might even last the entire Presidential term!

Also, click HERE for The Telegraph's look at what the blogs had to say.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gotta get me some merch'!

Doll from Dutch Blythe Fashion on Etsy.

It's Obama time! Image sourced from The Guardian.

Topical thong from Cafe Press.

Vinyl sticker from Lana Kole on Etsy

Tote from Happy family, also on Etsy

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What women want

Sacre bleu, the French certainly know how to live! Croissants for breakfast, teeny-tiny little dogs, le petit mort in the afternoon, and now this - the chicest, sexiest underwear from Kiki de Montparnasse!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Not since they put red together with blue and made purple has the art of mixing been executed so perfectly. Pantone for Gap - currently only in the new pop-up shop on 5th Avenue, but will hopefully wash up on these fair shores in the not too distant future.

One for the diary.

On Monday Flash, the hipper than hip pop-up restaurant at the back of the Royal Academy is having a clearance sale before it pops off for good.

Who doesn't want 125 napkins or a Giles Deacon chandelier??

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gone are the days when 'own brand' meant budget products in depressingly bleak packaging. Big supermarkets like Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury are doing great things with their own brand products. Be they responding to consumer demand for organic beauty products, as Tesco has with their B Natural range, or developing their brand image as a 'foodie' or gourmet destination, as Waitrose is doing with vintage-inspired packaging for their frozen desserts.

It seems that 'own brand' now really does mean just that - an opportunity for stores to speak directly to their customers by really 'owning' their brand.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Old habits...

It's now the second week of January, so I'm guessing that resolutions about going to the gym twice a day, only eating from your organic veg box and becoming evangelical about sobriety are long, long out the window. As Joey in Friends once said, "If you're going to do something wrong, do it right!" In which case, I can only suggest...

Handmade doughnuts from the Pippin Bakery (will be at the Henley on Thames farmers market on 22nd) or delectable cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery (a bit closer to home in South Ken' and Notting Hill).

Or slip off the wagon in style by joining the Wine Society. Top vino delivered straight to your door. The Mothership swears by it and so should you!

And finally, have a night of total debauchery and out and out decadence at the Wam Bam burlesque club in Soho - ideally located for staying on the sin-train long into the wee hours!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Where there's a Will, there's a way.

If there's one thing the British upper classes are brilliant at, it is exclusivity. Without the right surname, the right public school alumni, the right postcode, you're not allowed in. The adult upper class are bad enough, but look at their teenage children and you find a group utterly obsessed with 'fitting in'. Jack Wills, the fashion brand aimed specifically at young Sloanies, is more than savvy to the fact that wearing one of their hoodies instantly tells you its wearer's class, income and even education. Indeed, Jack Wills has taken the concept of a lifestyle brand and run with it.

Starting with its stores, Jack Wills creates homely retail environments through a combination of vintage homeware and non-traditional store design; their shop in Marlow is a converted townhouse which maintains its original layout of 'snugs', 'dining rooms' and bedrooms. By being the outfitter of choice to teenage Sloanies, Jack Wills has won sponsorship opportunities in areas usually dominated by older, more traditional brands. It sponsors club nights at Mahiki and polo events at the Guard's. It has 'Seasonnaire' teams in every hot ski resort in the world. On its website, it even has a online 'lending library' with a tailored reading list which includes the likes of The Great Gatsby, Richard Branson's autobiography, and P.G. Wodehouse.

Nor is Jack Wills resting on its laurels. Recognising that Sloanies must eventually grow up (if only for the sake of coming into their trust funds) Jack Wills is currently rolling out its sister brand, Aubin & Wills. Aubin caters to an older, richer shopper and has a corresponding website which purveys a more mature, cultured mindset and a look straight from the pages of Vanity Fair.

With old favourites like Abercrombie & Fitch in front and newcomers like I Don't Go To fast approaching behind, Jack Wills seems to have done the impossible by not only infiltrating that most exclusive of clubs, but dressing it as well.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Hadley. Selfridges. Yesterday, 2.35pm.

From the lastest Cool Hunter newsletter...

"The Bloguls (blog moguls) have revolutionized the global media and the practice of journalism. Print can no longer compete, in terms of reporting information first. By the time newspapers and magazines hit the news-stands their content is already old news. Bloggers are setting media agendas and have become a crucial resource for print journalists, who rely on them to supply raw, uncensored, immediate information. We experience this first-hand every day when we receive emails from major publications asking us for high res images and more information on posts, which we see covered in their pages weeks later.

The world's most powerful mastheads, such as the Vogues, Vanity Fairs, Wallpapers and New York Times' of the world - have had to accommodate the increasingly influential Bloguls, with whom they now compete with for advertising dollars as growing slices of marketing budgets are being funnelled into the blogosphere."

Money AND power? It's every blogger's dream!

Click HERE for the Cool Hunter article
Or HERE for a previous Camilla's Store post on the subject (yes - I think I got there first! Not so 'cool' now, Cool Hunter!)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Success in a downturn

A recent study conducted by the Design Council has revealed that 'more than half of UK businesses are using design to help them to survive the economic downturn', while the number of businesses who feel that design is integral to their business has doubled in the past three years. Which leads me to explore a topic I have been pondering for several weeks - namely, what will 2009 hold in store for UK retail?

A quick scan of the papers and magazines of the past few months show that thiftyness, eco-trends, and the demise of the highstreet are already hot topics and we have seen what happens to companies that have failed to move with the times as Woolworths and Whittards went into administration. So which businesses will thrive and why?

As consumers struggle with the environmental consiciousness developed in 2007 and 2008 coupled with a reduced disposable income, companies who offer - or appear to offer - both ethical and monetary value in the products they sell will do well. The co-op has been doing this for a while, while the tone of the new Thompson holiday adverts seems to pay homage to the sentiment. Highstreet fashion brands are taking the inconspicuous consumption approach - with American Apparel and H&M's January window displays looking decidedly understated and monotone.

And what will become of luxury and artisan brands? If credit crunchers do decide to treat themselves to something special, they will no doubt want to feel they are also getting a little something extra. This may be found in the service - places like Rococo Chocolates and the Monmouth Coffee shop pride themselves on their free samples, and knowledgeable, attentive staff. Or it might be in the shopping experience - the new Dunhill store in Mayfair also has bar, private screening room, and barber on site. Or it might be in the finishing touches, which is where this newfound commitment to design will come in. Consumers will demand beautiful packaging, a stunning, navigable website, and a welcoming, comfortable shopping environment if they are to feel their precious pounds are going further.

2009 is going to be a tough ride for everyone, no matter what industry, but it will be those companies who insist on pushing boundaries and exploring the new, who will enchant their customers and come out the other side.

For the Design Council's list of companies working with designers to improve their performance during challenging conditions, click HERE.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Forget the cold snap, these sheets alone are enough to make me want to stay warm in bed!

Monday, January 05, 2009

I'll give you a tenner for it!

While Mary-Kate Olsen is stomping around New York congratulating herself on the latest bargain from 'Recession', we in Britain are apparently learning how to haggle. Indeed, as my friend assured me over dinner last night, the price on the ticket is now simply seen as jumping off point to start negotiations.

It seems that there really is no part of 'no' that British consumers understand - if we can't afford it we demand our right to a price drop. And, with more and more highstreet retailers heading towards administration over the coming months, the customer is king in a way not seen for years.

But in what stores and on what items, my dinner companion wondered aloud, was it okay to go in for the haggle? She tried her luck on an unsuspecting Body Shop employee and had no joy, while I had copped an incredible deal in Gap. We both agreed that haggling should be kept strictly to sale items - non-sale items seen as bad play. Electrical items and associated memory cards and pouches are definitely fair game. While a little competitive blackmail along the line of 'well, they're 50% off online' was certainly felt to be the best approach.

Suddenly those cheap EasyJet flights to Marrakesh begin to come in useful as a short course in the art of bartering!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Light installation outside the Chelsea College of Art and Design. For all those reduntancees out there: short courses enrolling now.

When I am old I shall wear purple Snowjoggers.

As I fast approach a quarter of a century, one has to take into account those trends and fashions that one - no matter how slim, smart, or good-looking - can no longer get away with. Lost, alas, to the recesses of times gone by go the sloaney denim mini-skirt, the Miss Sixty low-slung black cord flares, and hoodies worn any day but a Sunday. Cultivating an age-appropriate wardrobe is as much a rite of passage as renting your first flat, buying your first car, and no longer getting ID-ed at the bar.

But, just as one occasionally returns to the joys of our formative years (waking up still drunk on a work day, kissing a friend's boyfriend, or sneaking home for a mum-cooked meal), so one can be inexplicably drawn to fashion items that are really intended for a person nearly a decade one's junior. I present, by means of confession, exhibit A: Silver Snowjogger boots. Fabulous? Yes. Warm? Yes. Comfortable? Yes. Affordable? Yes. Totally inappropriate for a woman on the wrong side of 24? Regretably... Yes.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Died and gone to carbohydrate heaven.

A recent mosey along Wardour Street - a street infamous for its quick turnaround of businesses - revealed a new patisserie/deli which, I hope will stand the test of time a little better than its predecessors. Princi was clearly conceived in more affluent times, as is evidenced by its bakery-cum-viewing gallery, which takes up no less than a half of its frontage. Inside, you are drawn - lurching from tasting basket to tasting basket - along an unending display of patisseries, each one more delicious-looking than the last.

Temporarily insane from the carb high, my companion and I split the extortionate £3.50 on a loaf of soda bread, while the punters in the heaving cafe area looked on smugly. Credit crunchers may not be able to buy new clothes, but they can certainly eat cake!

Thursday, January 01, 2009



The Guardian


Le Monde


New York Daily News


Austin Statesman