Wednesday, 19 May 2010

BBC London radio show 19th May

** Hello to the listeners of the Robert Elms show. Here are my twitterings and whitterings from this week. **

So, first of all, I spoke to Ed Burstell from Liberty who brought us up to speed with the flower power party they're throwing on 25th May. I also wondered out loud why I choose such difficult words to pronounce. It doesn't sound quite the same when you say Flar Par. No matter, if you have been graced with the name of a flower, go along - you've got the chance of winning a classic bike in Liberty print, as well as gift coins from the Liberty mint. We established that should Robert join in the parade claiming his name was Violet, he'd be welcomed with open arms.

Next, it was the Kerry Taylor auction, also on the 25th May. This is the Spring Fashion and Textile extravaganza which promises a cornucopia of sartorial wares, not least the 1950s-60s Savile Row wardrobe of the actor Richard Todd. For something more startling, I suggested having a look at the wardrobe of Charles Lucas. He's the dapper man who used his inheritance in the Sixties to buy kipper ties and rides in Formula III cars. Kerry Taylor describes his collection as "a riot of stripes, flowers...and velvet. It is one of the grooviest male wardrobes ever to come to auction."

You may have heard me note with some surprise that they also have Queen Victoria’s underwear for sale. Crashing on: there are Edwardian summer gowns for sale, as well as antique bridal wear, beaded flapper gowns, bias cut 30s garden party dresses, 40s suits with angular shoulders, 50s prom gowns, and lots of couture. Have a preview if you like on Sunday 23rd (12-4.30pm) and Monday 24th (9.30-5pm) so that you can whizz down there (Unit C25, 40 Martell Rd, London, SE21 8EN) on Tuesday 25th to buy glamorous things - and Queen Victoria's underwear.

I then burbled on about the all new Brixton Village, which is but three minutes from the tube station and is a creative space bubbling over with ideas. You might know this 1930s market as 
 Granville Arcade — it has entrances off both Atlantic Road and Coldharbour Lane - so don't get confused. It's in the process of being revitalized by a collective called Space Makers Agency which is filling the 20 empty shops with theatrics and pop-up retail ventures and other such modern ideas. (See how comfortable Robert is with the whole "pop up" idea now?)
Every Saturday there’s something extraordinary (or at least quite interesting) happening there from 11am - 6pm. And here are some of  the shops you'll find:

Within this space you'll find a lantern-​maker, furniture-​maker, and an ethical fashion designer.
As well as stocking locally made food, this corner shop is in the business of collecting food stories from the locals.

The goal is a zero waste wallets that were windsurfing sails in a former life, or remarkably sturdy belts upcycled from bike tyres. (The free Give and Take stall also sounds like a good idea...)
Run by Margot Waggoner, who trained with Alexander McQueen and Brigitte Campagne, Leftovers sells French antique costumes and vintage fashion from the 1850s to the 1950s. Everything comes from  Paris and New York.

Then it was on to Holly's Houses where Holly-Anne Rolfe designs beautifully personalized stationary. I love stationary and old fashioned writing of cards, so this is right up my street. If you send Holly a picture of your property, she will - for £69 plus p&p - illustrate it, and make it into a rubber stamp. 

She’ll include address and telephone number etc if you want, too. Very clever.

I then scooted to Unto This Last, where they aim to deliver "local craftsmanship at mass production prices". The name comes from a book written by John Ruskin in 1880 urging just that.

Using innovative digital tools in their small workshops, they niftily cut out the industrial processes and thus the expense. Find them at 230 Brick Lane, London E2 7EB, or in Battersea Park Workshop Queens Circus, SW8 10am-6pm every day.

A speedy peek through the window of the OWL & LION - not a London shop, but they are online and stock great handmade books as well as printed greetings cards, if you're into stationary but don't have the time to stamp your own (btw - make time. It's strangely satisfying.)


A handmade book for £4
A greetings card for £3. A little more poignant than Hallmark...

And finally, the sample sales

First, it was Reiss, who are having their up to 70% off sale from 26th - 29th May. It will be in The Music Room, 26 South Molton Lane, from 9am-7pm ,and entry is free.
French Connection are also having a sale from 28th - 30th May. That's in Centro One, which is 39 Camden Street (entrance on Mandela Street). Open from 9.30am - 7.30pm the first day, 10am - 5pm on Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. They promise new stock daily. It costs £1 to get in, but the entrance is donated to Children with Lukemia.

Ta da! That's it for now. Leave a comment if there's anything you'd like me to find out for you on the next show. This is a very new blog, so there will be tweaks and shrieks to come. (I'm trying to work out how to make it so that followers can be alerted when I do a new post - I'll keep you informed if I suddenly become super technological.)


Saturday, 8 May 2010


"Each object is in reality a small virtual volcano."
(Helene Cixous)

That is why it's not frivolous to write about beautiful things. And why it is wrong for people to assume that if you write about beautiful things, you can't comprehend or articulate the other. Appreciate the object, but don't objectify. Soak in the beauty but keep alive to what is ugly - and if you can change the ugly, do. If you can't, then barricade its pernicious ways and flick the switch so that it can be seen.

BBC London 5th May 2010

** if you don't listen to my slot on The Robert Elms Show, this is where I jot my trippings through London's shops. If shopping isn't your bag, skip on to something more serious. But if you like trinkets and tropes, here are all the details...**

First of all, I interviewed Jenny Dyson - the self professed 'Mrs Rubbish'. She isn't rubbish at all...what is the opposite of rubbish? Usefulness? Not exactly. Before you draw any conclusions, that's not to say Jenny isn't useful. As well as publishing London Fashion Week's daily paper and writing magazines for Liberty (their summerzine is going to be in circulation on 22nd May, and promises to be a thing of beauty - I'll alert you to that when the time comes), she's a creative consultant for a multifarious collection of brands, and the co-founder of Rubbish Magazine. On Wednesday, though, we certainly weren't talking about something useful. Sorry if you have a utilitarian perspective on finger puppets, but that was our subject. Entirely frivolous, but suitable for the time - bespoke finger puppets (£10 a pop) in the form of some prominent politicians all too familiar to us. 

 Clegg (unrelated fact: in the north of Ireland, a clegg is a fly that bites.)

A knitted version of Brown. I doubt I'll ever type that phrase again.

Poor Green Caroline. Dracula would envy that representation of your eyebrows.

Because it was the BBC, I had to give each of the finger puppets an equal amount of airtime, criticism and praise. True.

After a brief stop at the pop-up Parliamentary Waffle House run by jelly sculptors extraordinaire Bompas & Parr (where they were measuring the mood of voters by the numbers of politically themed waffles consumed), I sped on to M.Goldstein. That's the shop run by Nathanial and Pippa - old familiars to the show, particularly Pippa who used to run the secret shop at Maison Bertaux on Greek Street in Soho. (If you never found it, sorry - it's magicked away now. Alas, you did miss a trick there.) They sell all sorts of treasures, and I cherry-picked these for the show:

A Billingsgate Fish Market porter's hat - made from wood, leather and hobnail, it's handily flat at the top to carry trays and, naturally, the wide brim stops fish guts getting in your eyes. For £1800 I certainly hope so.

Or maybe better just to shade your eyes with 1970s sunglasses by Brigitte Bardot (£120)

Original 1930s trousers (plus eights). Brilliantly they are brand 'new' - unworn dead stock. I love that. £150 (don't love THAT so much, but if they REALLY suited, that's three lots of £50 which you could spend on worthless things so why not buy something you'll keep and other justifications etc...)

From the very niche to the very opposite...thanks to my friend Caroline Kamp who writes an excellent design blog, we took a jaunt to IKEA to have a laugh at the election themed kitchens she'd found. The Domestic Policy range lets you choose from a Brun (featuring a Cabinette, "easily shuffled and reshuffled at speed, with a revolving door"), Kamerun (with Deceptivia surfaces, underpinned by a "Maggie design") or Kleggi (complete with a Fotoshelvia to display those "honeymoon periods". You get the idea. Tricksy territory with the old equal measuring and non-opinioning, so we whizzed through that more quickly than I might have planned.

And then, the all important sales

Ghost promises 90% off in the 20th Century Theatre in Notting Hill  (Sunday 9th May, 11am-5pm)

The Affordable Vintage Fair comes to London on Sunday 9th May; they guarantee you'll find vintage clothing for 75% less than on the high street. Open 12-5pm in York Hall in Bethnal Green (all details on the website).

Finito! Next one is 19th May. Speak to you then.