So! Here are this week's offerings. A bit later than usual, sorry. First time meeting Simon Lederman, which proved to be very fun. After a brief discussion about my choice of iced coffee drink, we spoke to Helene from Little Paris, a gem of a shop in Crouch End, north London.
a few things that make the window display inviting...
Helene started off as a designer, but, she told us, had a dream of opening her own shop. So against all the odds, last December she did exactly this - in the middle of a recession.
Chic French hair accessories - no research done on my part about what makes them chic; they're Parisian, so they must be
Counterintuitively, it has been going very well, not least because customers love listening to Helene speaking in her French accent. Her voice is definitely worth a hear, I'm sure you'll agree, but her products are worth the trip too. French industrial furniture, beautiful Parisian accessories and - naturally - a 19th Century fridge, currently in stock.
Next stop, TOMS shoes. As I mentioned on air, I've tried to get an interview with the people who run it for a while now, but so far have been unsuccessful so I thought I'd just talk about them. TOMS operates a great enterprise selling shoes that directly benefits people in developing countries. Their motto is 'One for One' - for every pair of shoes you buy from TOMS, a pair of new shoes goes to a child in need.
Started in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie who, while travelling in Argentina, was astounded by the amount of children he met who didn't have shoes to protect their feet, TOMS has now donated over 400,000 pairs.
new wedges, £56
In developing countries, children often have to walk miles for food and water, and they often have to walk those miles in bare feet. But as well as protecting hundreds of thousands of little feet from cuts and sores which can then become infected (often in areas where medical help is in short supply) and lead to amputation, there are other, less obvious, consequences too. It's a fact that many children can't go to school because wearing shoes is often a mandatory part of the uniform. Having shoes can mean getting an education. Sobering, but the theory of using the purchasing power of individuals for the greater good looks like it's working. For more information on how to get involved, click here.
And then, because it's summer (although, obviously, I eat ice cream all through the winter) it was off to Gelupo, a newly opened ice cream store in Soho. Yum.
They claim it's the finest artisan gelupo this side of the Alps, and really, the only way to contest or confirm this is via a taste test. Run by the same people who set up the Italian deli Bocca di Lupo, the store serves up gelato, sorbets and granitas (slushy ices) in a wild assortment of flavours. FYI: gelato is different to regular ice cream because it rarely uses eggs or cream...and the ingredients that make up the granitas are only fresh fruit, nuts or coffee and cane sugar. Mmmm. Or maybe you prefer a frozen fruit (mango, pomegranate, pineapple, melon) stuffed with sorbet? Or little spheres of flavours that go nicely together rolled in bitter chocolate sound better? They're happy to oblige.
Here's today's menu, just to give you an idea:
On your behalf, I sampled the pistachio gelato and also - not on the above menu for some reason - a blackberry sorbet. They defy expectation. What I like about it, too, is that it's open all hours of the day and night - until 11pm every night apart from Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, when it's open until 1am! But, really, it's a ridiculous thing to be told about such tantilizing deliciousness without being urged to discern it all for yourself. So think of this merely as a signpost towards a merry time.
Next we hared on down to Crystal Palace, where Vintagehart are having a sale this month. Vintagehart is a super-cool little space within an actual pub. So you can have a white wine spritzer or sambuca shot pre, post, or during shop.
Here's Daphne, one of the shop's favourite models.
Run by Annette and Dawn, it's a treasure trove for vintage fashion, and this month, they're having a sale - a proper old-fashioned sale, where everything is going for £10 and under. I can't confirm that the pieces below haven't been snapped up already, but here are some of their recent acquisitions:
Nice, aren't they? You should probably take them up on their advice to "bring a friend, a picnic, and a few fivers" and have a blast. Find them on their Facebook page, or in person at 96 Church Road, SE19 9EZ. They're open Thursday - Sunday 12-6pm, and on Fridays you can shop until 8pm. The sale ends on 29th August, so don't tarry!
Next up, and Beyond The Valley came into our spotlight. Look out for this sign on Newburgh Street:
...for behind it, you'll find a crazy little gallery and shop that acts as a platform to about one hundred new designers, who use the space to showcase their work. They've just reinvigorated their online shop, which is worth a look. There is no theme - expect wallpaper, jewellery, furniture, fashion, and on some days maybe an amalgam of all of the above. What you will find is a revolving selection of new design; you might find something you like, too.
Walnut bird necklace by Lost at Sea, £40
Some of the designs are more surreal than others. The necklace above, for instance, is cute and not unexpected. The ceramic custard cream box, however, which is the exact size to hold an actual custard cream biscuit, is less expected. I'm aware it's not the kind of gift that would be entirely welcome in some quarters, but there's bound to be a niche market for it somewhere, so here it is, if only as proof that it does exist.
designed by Robert Archard, £25
Disclaimer: actually quite cute in real life, as demonstrated above. My preference, though, is the umbrella that changes colour in the rain:
designed by Squid London, it's £35
...and the laptop bag disguised as a folded up newspaper isn't bad either:
by Mitemite, £120
Provided the potential thieves haven't been shopping in Beyond The Valley, our laptops will be safe enough.
We raced onwards and upwards to the heights of established designers, namely those who do handbags. But because it's the age of austerity, we scoured the bargain ("bargain") options. At Koodos, it is possible at the moment to get such bags at up to half price. A Jimmy Choo patchwork bag, reduced from £810 to £405. An Etro patchwork bag, was £1,465 now £730. A Lanvin 'medium bag', reduced from £1,195 to £595. Chloe's small patchwork bag, was £900, now £450. Let me know if anyone actually found this information about expensive handbags helpful.
And then just about time to squeeze in an advance warning of a sample sale:
The London Accessory Sale is happening 2nd - 5th September in the Truman Brewery - 50% off all the major designer brands (Chloe, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Miu Miu, Burberry).
...and I didn't have time to mention these, but will remind you closer to the time:
Rupert Sanderson women's shoes will be on sale on 17th and 18th September in the Music Room.
The much anticipated Margaret Howell sale happens on 23rd and 24th September, also in the Music Room. There will be menswear, womenswear, and homewear.
And...finito. I'm not on the show in a fortnight, but will be back two weeks after that. Keep in touch with any questions, ideas, suggestions or hellos in the meantime!