Saturday, 23 October 2010

article in The Independent today

I went to Paris a couple of months ago and spent some time in the fantastical bookshop, Shakespeare & Company, which has been going since the Fifties - and is a literary bohemia. Aspiring writers stay there for free, they have since its inception, and it's right opposite the Notre Dame:

I wrote about it for The Independent - find the article in the magazine today.

Friday, 22 October 2010

BBC London radio show 20th October

OK! After a bit of an extended break, back on the show again to talk about frivolity and functionality as the dark cloud of recession persists. It all began with Laura, who is one of the masterminds behind 44 Frocks"Thrify thrills for expensive women" is her motto, and her words are not empty promises.

Register for an invitation, and you could be one of 30 people who gets to go to her flat at the regular events, and try on...wait for it...44 dresses. Forty-four designer dresses, all either new or worn but once or twice - so very nearly new. (Where from, you may wonder. Well, Laura seems to have an uncanny knack of getting to know people with vast wardrobes of barely worn clothes that they're happy for her to plunder. Lucky for her, and you). What makes this enterprise so good is not just the cups of tea and cake you get while trying on aforementioned garments, but the fact that the dresses are between £20 and £60. Which for Diane Von Furstenberg, Joseph, Marc Jacobs, DNKY et al, is pretty cheap. And pretty pretty. Which is the aim. This Sunday, it's sizes 10-12. The event after that, 14th November, has yet to be revealed. Cake and tea are a constant, though.


Next, some reading material. We took a jaunt to Woolfson & Tay, the new independent bookshop in Bermondsey.

Visit online here to have a look at the gamut of events they've got going - writing classes, author talks, open mics - and for a hint of what they're about (gallery hire, cafe, a creative space). You won't find BOOKS on there, because it's not an online shop, it's a real place. Visit in real time and space at the actual address for that.


Then straight on with no delay to the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park, from 21st to the 24th October.where everything is priced below £3000. Affordable is obviously a fluid concept. But that's OK because it's a rule that everything is labelled very clearly - no embarrassing questions about how much things are. Take a look at the website for all the details, and a taster of what the 120 galleries across Europe will be presenting. I like this one by Shlomi Nissim (Minotaure Contempop Gallery), even though it's clearly disturbing and maybe even the stuff of nightmares.

 Little Red Cup, £2,900

If you feel inspired, try out some of their workshops ("drypoint printmaking" is on offer; I don't know what the drypoint part is, but sounds good, as is "collaborate mural making"). It's not just painting and photography - plenty of sculpture and prints (good news for those on a more modest budget than £3000) and, they promise, a relaxed unstuffy environment. If you go, let me know what you think.


Sorry about this, but Christmas was mentioned. Yes, before Hallowe'en. But I had to, because the V&A are having a Christmas launch in their excellent shop, which means 10% off online shopping. When you come to pay, put XMAS2010 in the 'offer code box' and hocus pocus, things will be cheaper. 

set of 10 Christmas cards, taken from 1926 set design for The Firebird

Note, above, one of the set of Christmas cards on offer. I'm always going on about cards and stationary, and most especially the V&A's Christmas card selection, which I always hope in vain to find on sale in January. So this is close. Much more on offer than cards, though - jewels, clothes, toys, books (and reading glasses for £60: who knew?) Last delivery dates, if you're going to leave it to the last minute - my favourite trick - they'll deliver internationally to get there by Christmas up to 7th December, and to the UK by 18th December. Despite all this, I'm going to go on a mission over the next couple of months to find you the least expensive most delightful things for Christmas presents. So don't fear.


Just FYI, Liberty are in the throws of a mid-season sale. This means you can buy a Marc Jacobs wool military coat for £332.50, was £475. Or a dress by Vivienne Westwood for £185, was £265. We all know this information is no recession-buster. But sometimes, information is power. And it means that now you know that because you haven't spent any money at Liberty (yet) you've saved a LOT.


On that note, we then whizzed around an awful lot of sales. Here they are:

One day flash sale by DSUK on 28th October. From 10am - 8pm in The Music Rooms on South Molton Lane, most of the big name designers will be there at discounted prices (up to 90% off, actually).

Sample Hunters are holding their Autumn Designer Sale from 21st - 24th October. That's in the Old Truman Brewery (look online for the timings) and will include Vivienne Westwood, Chloe, D&G, Belstaff and others at 40-80% off retail prices.

For a sale on TSE cashmere, go to their sale in The Camden Centre 27th (11am-8pm), 28th (10am-8pm) and 29th October (10am - 8pm). There will be up to 80% off this lovely (usually prohibitively expensive) brand. 

Heal's is having a warehouse sale on 30th October from 9am-1pm. Lots of ex-display furniture at excellent prices, up to 70% off in some cases. Get there early. It's at 9 Ardra Road, N9 0DB (their distribution centre).

Melanie Potro Bridal Couture is having a sample sale on 27th, 28th and 30th October. Prices at this brand usually begin around £1600 but you'll get 75% off (and more, they promise). If you know any brides, tell them to check it out - prices start at £299 which is not bad... Dresses are sizes 10-12. No appointments required on Wednesday and Thursday (12-7pm), but you have to book on the Saturday (11am-3pm). Call 020-7490 8634 for more info.


Anything you want me to hunt out for you? Let me know. Until next time, Clare.