Sunday, 30 March 2014

A place where it is always Summer....

My favourite shop in the whole world in situated in Summertown in Oxford.  The street is aptly named, South-facing, the sun shines fully on the cafes and outside dining restaurants all day long.

However grim the weather, Vanilla is full of light and beautiful things, brands include 120% Lino, Juliet Dunne, Velvet, Citizens of Humanity, Graham and Spencer and many more...

 They make it very easy to spend money there, with everything from small gifts for under £10 to beautiful leather jackets and bags for a few hundred, it's almost impossible to leave without one of their delicious little bags.....

Do you have any brilliant boutiques near you? Do you support them or are you a hardened online shopper?

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Herself Magazine...

If you are passing Collette or Selfridges or the Saatchi Gallery you could avail yourself of the latest copy of Herself Magazine.

How to explain what herself is an illustrated fashion magazine, which seems very strange in this digital day and age.  Edited by Lula, her illustration means that she is not confined by the limitations of time and space and her imagination is free to run wild, and what an imagination it is.

In the 'Amazing' Issue is out this week, the Summer beauty pages are edited by the Goddess Aphrodite, with Calgary Avansino and Mary Greenwell playing a supporting role.  Famous works of literature from Jane Eyre to Lolita and the Iliad are brought to life with the latest season's fashion collections and there are interviews with Eleanor of Aquitaine (in Ralph Lauren), Zelda Fitzgerald (in Roberto Cavalli) and Boudicca in Givenchy.

If you are bored of every day magazines, this is something different and magical.

Many wonder if the mysterious Lula really exists, she is easy to find in animated form...

...but trickier to track down in the flesh.  She was there and she is a dead-ringer for her cartoon alter-ego, she is tiny and perfectly proportioned with the biggest eyes I have ever seen.

Lula is clearly a fashion visionary with impeccable taste and a chameleon approach to fashion, if you want to  be surprised and delighted try to get your hands on a copy before they sell out.

Amanda Wakeley

On Wednesday night I went to an event at Amanda Wakeley on Albemarle Street, her new store is stunningly beautiful with the most amazing interior design, I thought there would be some great pics of it online, but I couldn't find any that did it justice.

I used to be a regular at Amanda Wakeley back in the early 90s and remember going into the Fulham Road store listening to a lady laughing at how she had accessorised her evening gown with a pair of trainers as she was still in gym kit, and when she stepped out to look in the mirror, it was Princess Diana.
I am not sure when I fell out of love with the brand, but for the last 6 years or so, it stopped being somewhere that I made a beeline for.

There is a new CEO and the lady in charge (apart from Amanda herself) is ex Azzaro, of the flowing statement gown fame.  She is nearly 6 foot tall with thick dark waistlength locks, Amanda is of similar stature with her trademark blonde, they are like a couple of Valkyries and I would imagine will be quite a force to be reckoned with.

AW used to be quite an investment buy, up there with the more expensive designer brands, but in a world where a Top Shop T shirt is £60, the price points seem a little less extreme than other Bond Street fashion stores and the value is superior to either the high street or the big names.  Think some where above Whistles, around Joseph, but the quality is superior to their more expensive neighbours. Everything is made in Europe and the dresses hail from the same factory as Victoria Beckham mainline.

There is a movement away from 'gown dressing' to great leather jackets, perfectly cut trousers and statement bags, pretty much the London lunching ladies uniform.  You could shop exclusively here and and always look a million dollars (literally) and eternally chic.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Grace Belgravia

This week  has been one of those mad weeks with loads on, but everything being positive and moving in the right direction.

Early in the week it was a 5am start to set up a networking event at Grace Belgravia.  Grace is a new ladies only club just behind Knightsbridge, between Waitrose and Mosimanns.

It is probably the most beautiful and livable interior design I have ever seen.  I've probably mentioned before about how I get quite bored in those Zen like spas and that all the emptiness makes me feel distinctly uncomfortable, my mind goes to depressing places and I start to feel well, just empty.

Grace is different to that, it is precise and ordered, but very busy, there is lots to see and discover and many details that occupy your mind and keep you centred in the present without feeling lost.

Full membership is quite pricey (around £3,000 a year) for that you get full use of the spa and all of the classes, but there is an evening membership which is only £250, it is offered fairly quietly, but I am tempted to join as I loved the crowd there.  Unlike most uber-luxury places, it's not full of women hunting for a rich man.  Quite the reverse, since it's ladies only, it's a place for women who like the company of women (not sure how to put that without some kind of double entendre).  Simply, if you are a girl's girl you will love it.  Everyone is relaxed and chatty, it is the friendliest I have ever found a group of London ladies to be.  There's just no distrust/female competitive behaviour, if that's your bag you wouldn't even consider joining.  I thought it would be all local Knightsbridge ladies who lunch, but it was mainly business women, who use the club as a second office, and what a beautiful second office...

I wore my Jaeger trousers and Alberta Ferretti top from the Music Rooms, (just realised I looked like I was in my beautician's uniform)

I was admiring how pretty the roses were, when they came to change them as they were looking a bit old!
My friend looking stunning in a Preen dress she tried.

We finished the day with a couple of glasses of wine and some of the delicious food made on site, it was a lovely day, and I met some great people.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Day trip to st tropez

It is possible to get there and back in a 24 hour period. The only day that it 'works' with easy jet is  Thursday with 7am departure and 10pm return.
The 'season' starts next week and it was like watching the preparations for the biggest party ever, everything is being swept, cleaned and painted and the sense of anticipation is palpable. I didn't realise how many places just shut down outside of the main season.  The shopping was pretty good with new season arriving soon, the shops that were open we're offering everything at knock down prices to make room.  Marionette is a beautiful interiors shop with a number of outlets in the centre of the town, and even they have a total clear out with everything at up to 70% off.
I had lunch at Senequier in the port, I had always dismissed it as an expensive tourist trap, but interestingly it was the only restaurant full of Tropeziens in their lunch hour.
I loved the tiny house that I had come to see, but it needs a lot of work....