What’s that glowing in your bag?


>> A slightly rejigged set of contents goes into a suitably waterproof Furla Candy bag as I flew to Reykjavik in Iceland today for the Reykjavik Fashion Festival that's taking place over the next few days (heavy rain predicted for the next three days in Iceland whilst there's glowing sunshine in London – typical).  I realise there's been a fair bit of blog lovin' for Furla's luminous and pleasingly plasticky vessels but like I said, it was the fumes that drew me in.  This is wee reminder post for any one who's up for sending in the ol' "What's in Your Bag?" piccy.  Anyone who enters gets to some Furla Candy lovin' at a wee party held at the London Furla store on 12th April with discounts, drinks and hopefully some fun.  Anyone in the world though can enter to get chance to win one of the five Candy bags in your colour choice that are up for grabs…  

I'm not normally a giveaway type person which is why I'm being a bit difficult and asking to nose around what's in your bag… but hey, you're voyeurs of my secret nooks and crannies, so it's err… only fair that I ask of the same?  Ok, no that didn't make sense…

Still, the point is, we all love a "What's In Your Bag!" pic so get on it and send to [email protected]… my vague deadline is 11th April. 

(Nars travel moisteriser, Topshop lipbalm, Six Scents 'Preen' scent tester, lens case, vintage leather gloves, Blackberry, iPod, Smythson passport holder, powder case, a copy of The Gentlewoman which is EXCELLENT as always, Proenza Schouler wallet, Verdel knitted turban)

Welcome to the House of Hackney


I'm slowly conforming to the convention that I once flouted – steady boyfriends, nesting at home, cooking, eventually buying a house and possibly having little sprogs – well the last thing is still questionable for me but the cold fact of the matter is that buying my own place in London, something that I once guffawed at ("I'll be Parisian and rent for the rest of my life…!") is creeping into my head so much so that I've actually gone on scary mortgage calculators.  This need to nest is down to a few reasons but let's get to the primary one – that I currently don't have the ability to decorate my rented digs in the manner that House of Hackney have done. 

House of Hackney, tongue-in-cheekily named, is a new interiors/lifestyle brand conceived by couple Frieda Gormley and Javvy M Royle (yes, I did get glum over the dullness of my name…), who both previously worked in fashion.  Why I'm covering an interiors label, something seemingly more apt for Apartment Therapy than for a fashion blog, is all down to Frieda and Javvy's direction with House of Hackney.  The rise of blogs such as The Selby and our curiosity about people's hovels was one reason why House of Hackney came to be and another was that the couple felt a backlash towards whitewashed minimalism and generic identikit furnishings.  It goes without saying that food, interiors, fashion and general lifestyle are intrinsically linked with each other but it seems that relationship has been reinforced over the past few years with the style sectors creeping into each other.  You may not see it on this blog but I get just as excited over a new Fergus Henderson restaurant or a new Deborah Bowness wallpaper strip (though I have to pin my wallpaper up because I'm in crummy rented digs… grrrr…) as I do over a vintage Versace dress.  I'm certainly not the only one and House of Hackney recognises and salutes that.   

They describe themselves as "Colefax and Fowler on acid", which basically means that more is more and if it's not enough, then add a dash of more to it.  That was certainly the impression that I got when I entered their own home, which is quite literally a house in Hackney and is being used as a showroom for clients.  Their first outing consists of three collections, with the first being Hackney Empire, not necessarily a direct reference to the theatre but definitely one for people with a penchant for theatrics. 



Their inspiration for the Hackney Empire prints are derived from different periods and various sources of grandiosity but the final effect is something more intimate than that.  I love the illustrated quality of the animal print that isn't at all naturalistic which makes it all the more amusing to look at, which I did – I may have stared for a good two minutes…who doesn't want a koala bear swinging off their walls?




You haven't seen matchy-matchy until you've seen a House of Hackney room and the first thing that strikes you as you walk in is how complete their range of product is.  Frieda and Javvy didn't just decide that they'd quit fashion and put out a line of cushions.  Nope, it's the full shebang – porcelain, cushions, curtains, lampshades…



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… and more impressively, made-to-order furniture such as this Victorian conversation chair that has been repro-ed accurately from a Victorian original and has been clad all over with the print. 


The next part of the collection is named Dalston Rose, which by all accounts seems to be the overriding fave.  I'm personally undecided but give me a rose-print with a deep and dark degrade effect and I'm definitely not complaining. 


Frieda and Javvy's inspiration sources also stem a lot from fashion and I spot a few Tim Walker shoots on this mood board here.  The instant visual appeal of Walker's set-ups can definitely be seen in House of Hackney's work which is probably why I clapped my hands together as soon as I walked into another room as though I had discovered a whimsical escape…



The same furniture shapes and styles can also be covered with Dalston Rose fabric…


… and once again, the range is utterly comprehensive…


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The piece de resistance of the Dalston Rose bedroom is this carved wooden bed which can also be made-to-order.  Was I tempted to bounce about on the bed like I normally do in posh hotels?  YES!  Especially when you have an abundance of pillows and bolsters (I'm a big fan of having four or six pillows on a double bed…) and a BEAUTIFUL eiderdown.  The other impressive thing about the way House of Hackney works is their sourcing of home-grown factories.  For instance they've worked with one of the few remaining eiderdown makers in Britain to make these ones, an industry that's dying because apparently our generation aren't that into down-filled comfy blankets.  Let's get that rectified yeah?  I've learnt that spending a few more ¬£¬£¬£ on bedding makes for a fulfilling home comfort that really is rewarding when you curl up in bed.  Likewise, they've sourced porcelain factories, furniture makers and the best materials from Britain and Italy to ensure that quality, sustainability and a sense of tradition are instilled in their products.  Yeah, yeah, yeah… we've heard those buzzwords before bu you only have to touch the House of Hackney stuff to feel the immediate difference, especially in something like bedding…  



The last collection is Queen Bee, decidedly more grown-up than Dalston Rose and Hackney Empire but appealing in a more quiet and subtle way.  The colours of ochre and teal with gold accents give off a very Art Nouveau-ish feeling…





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Just to establish that link between House of Hackney and fashion, they have collaborated with Vogue Italia photographer David Dunan and stylists Celestine Cooney and Kimi O'Neill on these shots where the prints have been made up into garments (I can already greedily see the fashion possibilities…) and used to create the ultimate matchy-matchy set-ups…

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The website will soon launch with products available to buy on the site but for Londoners who are around the next few days, House of Hackney have set up a pop-up shop at 76 Stoke Newington Road (a beautiful Hackney townhouse owned by Castle Gibson) that's open until this Sunday 3rd April.  By night, the interiors and prints also take on a very different and slightly more subversive identity…



Everyone's cakey fave Lily Vanilli is also going to be hosting a high tea for the duration of the pop-up shop…


Lily's boyfriend was also on hand to type out people's fortunes whilst wearing a tattered suit…


At the opening party last night, House of Hackney helpers were also in outfits to match the prints of the collection, again asserting the lifestyle potential of this fledgling but utterly accomplished start-up brand.  Which brings me to ask what's on the horizon for HoH (did you spot a cheeky monogram on some of the pillows)?  For them there are immediate plans to offer services such as sourcing antiques for clients to go with all the lovely House of Hackney wares and also arranging wedding lists that are House of Hackney themed.  After a good look around the house and seeing the accompanying pop-up store, I got hella excited and started thinking about a House of Hackney empire – kitchenalia, lifestore stores, collaborations with fashion brands, House of Hackney pop-ups all over the world – who knows what else!  I guess what I'm trying to say is‚Ķ what's NOT to love about all of this? 




Shoring Up the Yarn


The bulk of my favourite shows at London Fashion Week took place not in the tents or some other swish venue but it was in the Portico Rooms of Somerset House where salon-style shows were put on by a handful of New Gen sponsored designers.  Craig Lawrence took the word 'salon' and literally gave us a 50s style presentation where the models came turning out accompanied by a narrator who read out intricate descriptions of the clothes.  It was a juxtaposition of styles – Lawrence's radical knitwear up against a steady and level narrator voice.  Still, the effect was to emphasise not just the visual impact of Lawrence's knitwear pieces, which never cease to amaze me when I see them on body, but to really make the point of Lawrence's craft and work put into the often hand-knitted pieces.  Just lazily listening to some of the descriptions already gives you a much more rounded perspective of the clothes – "Navy metallic gimp yarn is mixed with blue elastic and ladder stitched into a raglan sleeve top.  Black metallic yarn is engineered into a high waisted floor length skirt.  Ladder stitching and hold techniques create a full circular knit without seams.  To juxtapose the direction of the horizontal striped skirt, vertical stripes are ladder stitched into leggings and worn underneath…"

…and so on as all fifteen looks were accompanied with this level of detail in the voiceovers…





For me the accompanying descriptions were a bonus to what is already a stunning feat in Craig Lawrence's progression from a designer that would send tinsel trailing and flailing about to somebody whose work you can see in reality.  The yarns are still hanging loose but this time, it was really the silhouette exemplified in looks such as this opening full length dress that really took this collection to another level.  You want to call it elegant but you don't want to taint the collection with anything that might take away from Lawrence's forward-thinking notions towards knitwear.  Still, that e word lingered in a lot of the looks and for me there's a detectable trace of Alaia that can be seen in the movement of some of the piece, except of course Lawrence's unorthodox choice of materials creates a tension that cuts through any notion that this is plain ladylike…





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I visited Craig's studio, in the deepest burrows of Somerset House to find out more about the different textures that went into this collection as well as finding that he has a penchant for the sort of knick knacks that you might find in Oxfam…


Craig loves a ¬£1 treat every now and again… it's like giving yourself a gold star except there's iridescent varnish, pandas and dolphins involved…



In addition to the kyototex yarns that Lawrence has favoured for the past few seasons, he also used a knitted plastic cellophane that was made into a yarn and chunkily knitted into cardigans and dresses…



Other chunky textures included this velvet that was shredded to make a yarn and then made into this pleasingly thick knit…


The basis of a lot of the pieces started with a circular shape that when knitted into different sizes could create different shapes and volumes in the dresses when stitched together so effectively there weren't any straightforward seams in a lot of the pieces…


Another variant to Lawrence's knit arsenal was this jersey that was also shredded to make a yarn which probably proposes one of the more wearable textures.  Jersey-loving me of course is in favour of this soft and slightly unconventional knit.  // The circlular pieces in some of the dresses were sometimes reinforced with cord at the edges to give it structure.  It needs to be emphasised that movement in Lawrence's pieces is extremely important and from hanger to model, the pieces are transformed in such a way that has you wondering whether the person wearing his clothes is doing something specifically slinky to make them move so well.  Nope, the slink is all down to the engineering of the fabrics…

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I also lvoed this kyototex mixed with elastic which created a great stretchy knit.  Stretch is always good in my books…


Lawrence is looking at Martin Parr's photographs for his next collection… who knows what will come out of that but in any case Parr's imagery is always inspiring on some level or another…


As a memento of my exploration of all things Craig Lawrence, I took away these arm warmers which demonstrates the changing properties of this kyototex/elastic knit, revealing more flesh than I had initially thought.  Like I said, the same goes for the rest of his A/W 11-12 collection, where seeing his pieces on body is essential to understanding his proposition in knitwear, one that seems to be ready to be elevated to another level…


Slow on the Bespoke Uptake


A personalised leather envelope and card holder from Belgian label Delvaux and a grey leather Dunhill evelope with my initials are the sort of things that make me mighty happy these days.  It's the sort of happiness that is slightly frightening as I know that I'm approaching that age when sturdy, well-made things (that also depressingly come with a haughty price tag) are becoming more and more appealing.  Who knew that day would come when ten years ago, I mocked my mother's leather bags and thought my faux fur backpack was the best thing EVA…



This is old news for those of you that are very grown-up and swan around Knightsbridge dropping wads of cash here and there, so please ignore if you've seen this all before.  Said Knightsbridge regulars better not laugh at me either because today was my first discovery of Anya Hindmarch Bespoke line as they have popped up at Selfridges for six weeks with a shop that looks more like a permanent space than a temporary pop-off venture.  With my complete non-sed-ness over bags, all things Hindmarch probably floats over my head so even though Anya Hindmarch opened up her Bespoke store on Pont Street in London two years ago, it's not a place I've ventured before (this video is a GREAT overview/intro).

Good on Selfridges Oxford Street for planting a compact Anya Hindmarch Bespoke space at the department store for six weeks, so that yobs like me get to gawp at all the customised, engraved and personalised leather goodies that I have a penchant for copping a feel and getting a whiff of.  Hindmarch was there herself today and she joked that if she died, she wouldn't mind having her ashes sprinkled over her Bespoke store and I can see what she means from just seeing this pop-up space.  In this vaguely Victorian, vaguely English, distinctly old-looking set-up are a slew of little delightful surprises that unfold, reveal themselves and are pleasingly discreet…

The main diffentiation between AH Bespoke and a lot of the customisation/personalisation options that high-end brands offer is that often you're just limited to initials your name in fonts that are pre-selected.  At Bespoke, if you can doodle, write and draw your message/inscription clearly enough, anything goes basically…

Oh and not to be stereotypical to think all mothers mend clothes but honestly this sewing kit box needs to be given to some mothers out there this Sunday.  At the very least it will get you a "Awwww!  That's so SWEET that you THOUGHT that I would sew your buttons back on for you…  Now bugger off and get me my proper pressie…"


Drinking money is of course important to prioritise in a wallet…


Each wallet comes with a lucky penny because… "see a penny pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck…" as spoken by the sage Frenchie in Grease…


I love how there's a compartment for mints in the Ebury Travel bag… ever so useful after you've huffed a bowl of Chinese dumplings and get the meat burps…


The beauty of being able to doodle your text is that any language is possible…


In this box case, which I think is the perfect size for holding credit card, Blackberry and Canon S95, you can also print the lining with a photo of your choice…



I know you're supposed to be all creative and come up with your own messages but I really loved the examples that they had in store… such as digs at Apple…


… as well as some wordplay on iPad on this iPad case (STILL thinking about getting one…)


There's a lovely J.M. Barrie quote on the corner here that sums up the everlasting appeal of Bespoke keepsakes… "God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December."


I love that even tawdry bachelor parties can have a beautiful leather-clad item attached to them, such as this USB stick holder…


More traditional personalised thoroughfare such as journals, sketchbooks and notebads are the sort of luxuries that I'm now finding myself increasingly swayed by…


These Ultimate boxes are the modern take on an apothecary's chest with nooks, crannies and secreted spaces for you to explore and dedicate to whatever you like, be it newborns, weddings or just because you want a box that is literally labelled with 'Bits' and 'Bobs'…




The process depends on what you want done but in general it takes two weeks to have plates made up for you to customise your goods.  They give you a template for you to take home and really think about what you want to say on your wallet, journal etc lest you think on the spot and come up with cheeseball phrases like "I'll love you forever and ever and ever…" and spank money on said cheesiness…




I did get my other half a little something-something because this is all right up Steve's street and because I tend to shower him with gifts to make up for the fact that I've been travelling around a lot – yes I'm a monster for buying affection.  I'm still pondering what exactly it will say though…

Hopefully I'm not the last person on the planet to discover what Anya Hindmarch Bespoke is all about.  In any case, the Bespoke service will soon be rolled out online on the website so that everyone can have a go at thinking up witty one-liners for their beloved ones…