Saturday, 25 August 2012

Regarder, Aimer, Amour...

Ok, so the title is quite possibly the extent of my French which has departed my consciousness since the age of 16, (and I'm sure grammatically I'll get pulled up on it). However, experiencing Paris for the first time with an old friend who spoke the language fluently, and who used to live in the city, made it one of the best trips for quite a while...

The week-long trip was a heady mix of tourist must-sees and back street markets, and all neatly rounded off with some of the best food, which for me, and for most, is the key ingredient of any holiday. Now, I don't want to write a city break guide necessarily, but simply want to share some of my highlights, some of which will be pretty obvious, (The Eiffel Tower), and maybe some less so, (Place D'Aligre market). But the hardest thing to do is really condense it down so as not to share every photo I took along the way.

With that in mind, I'm going to be brutal and simply give you my top ten moments from the chicest city on the planet...

Nombre Dix
Jardin du Luxembourg
Park Life - Parisians don't do parks like we do parks. We're all about lazing on the large expanses of lush greenery that we are lucky enough to have in abundance. The residences of Paris on the other hand want to keep the grass green and untouched, so parks consist of tree-lined avenues, and lakes to sit by, to take in the scenery, and of course partake in some serious people-watching from behind those big Dior sunnies...

Nombre Neuf
Image courtesy of
Vintage Finds - Of course no trip would be without a bit of vintage, and as we were strolling down on Boulevard Beaumarchais, I say, "what we need now is to stumble across a little vintage store..." and as if by fashion magic, Little Box Vintage appeared in front of us! A tiny little clothing and accessory store, its window filled to the brim with vintage Chanel. Inside, a treasure trove, and such a lovely lady helped us play dress-up in our new Parisian walk-in wardrobe!

For a bit of fresh air and a proper rummage, then you have to go early to head down to Place D'Aligre, it had a mix of bric-a-brac, clothing and hidden treasures, all of which you can haggle over prices with the seasoned stall holders...

Nombre Huit
Carousel near Palais de Chaillot
Spinning Around - Something that no doubt will turn into a bit of a tradition on return trips, and please do have a go if you're there, is the classic and beautifully painted carousel poised half-way on the walk from the Place du Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower. Away from the seriousness of the historical legacy of the city is a cheeky fairground ride which couldn't go unnoticed...

Nombre Sept
Piece by Nick Walker
Grit and Glamour - Paris has a reputation of being the city of glitz, but it's as much about the gilded statues and elaborate architecture, as the rawness in a similar vein to London, expect Paris is much more condensed so these juxtapositions literally jostle on every corner. From the Moulin Rouge on Boulevard de Clichy to the Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre, both iconic and both within walking distance of one and other. 

I loved this piece by Nick Walker, perfectly positioned next to the classic street sign...

Nombre Six
A good gossip in Place des Vosges
People-watching - I had anticipated seeing glamorous Parisian's at every turn, but like New York in August, the locals tend to head to their holiday homes throughout the month, so there was much more tourist-spotting than  Parisian chic going on. This did have it's advantages though, as people you may not have noticed on a visit during Paris fashion week in September, came to the fore. I had to capture these four ladies sat in Place des Vosges, on one of our many pit-stops. Deep in conversation, with some definite gossipping thrown in, these life-long friends have probably been meeting here for years...

Nombre Cinq
Merci - Boulevard Beaumarchais
Merci beaucoup - As a designer, there were a couple of stores that were a must for me, and pretty well known by the creative industry. Namely, Merci and Colette. Merci on Boulevard Beaumarchais is a hybrid of all the best design stores, a touch of Habitat, a sprinkling of The Conran Shop and Muji. It's chilled, it's a meeting place, and with it's iconic entrance, this lofty space should be on the to-do list. 

Having a slightly different vibe, and more akin to Dover Street Market, the concept store Colette is like walking into a bar, but with no alcohol. The music is cranked up, but just enough not to interfere, and the all white space highlights its wares perfectly. A shopping experience not to be missed...

Nombre Quatre
Original detailing - Art Nouveau style
Metropolitan marvels - An iconic Parisian view, but unfortunately there aren't many of these beautifully languid Art Nouveau Metro entrances left in the city. A few were saved and remain one of the most recognisable details as much as the London Underground symbol is to London...

Nombre Trois

A little bit of Mona time - Now it can't all be quirky corners and cafes on this trip, it did need to be balanced with a touch of tourist activities. And aside from the Eiffel Tower, (we'll get to that,) seeing Mona Lisa was a must for me, and unsurprisingly for millions of people across the globe too.

The Louvre was actually our first stop, and I had no idea it was so big! Reliably informed by my good friend, and personal tour guide, it would take a week-long trip just to see the entire collection of art and sculpture that grace the various wings and rooms of the former palace.

Mona was on a wall all to herself, holding court from behind glass, not shy to the hundreds of cameras constantly capturing her rye smile. I suggest a good zoom on a camera is a must to try to edit out the sheer volume of people gathered...

Nombre Deux
La Belle Ferronniere - Brasserie Parisienne
Nourriture - Now down to the serious business of food! There's always been a bit of snobbery from the French that British food is inferior to their own, and as a lover of our British food, I have to say this statement isn't without warrant. We had talked about going somewhere 'special' and quintessentially Parisian, and after turning down a few along the way, we stumbled across this brasserie called La Belle Ferronniere. 

Typically, locals sit at small tables outside, and not facing their company, chairs are positioned facing outwards to partake in some good old people watching. Words cannot describe how incredible the food and wine was, all I can say is it was a good job we pounded the pavements from morning to night exploring the city in all its glory, and killing a few calories along the way...

Nombre Une
The Tower in all its glory
There's no introduction needed for my number one spot...of course it had to be the Eiffel Tower. I remember my first trip to New York, I loved every second, but it didn't feel like I was actually there until I saw the Statue of Liberty. The same is true of the Eiffel Tower. It's iconic stature is amazing, and whether first thing in the morning with the sun behind it, or as night falls, sparkling and twinkling on the hour, as a constant reminder its still there, it's amazing, and in my opinion, a beautiful beacon wherever you are in the world... Au revoir!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Paper Cuts...

A new designer-maker to welcome to the fold is Polly Tucknott, a London-based teacher who has always been creative, with a particular interest in fairy-tales and far-away lands.

Experimenting whilst drawing, led her to cut her designs out of paper, and naturally her interest took a lean towards screen-printing.

As an introduction to Polly's work featuring in our shop, we have a step-by-step series of photos showing the process she uses to create her delicate designs...

Quick sketches

Checking scale and proportion

Adding detail

The completed design

The cutting process

Exposed onto silk screen

Transfered onto material

Finishing touches


Polly's whimsical work has been translated onto a series of silk and vintage lace cushions, which will be available to buy from the shop very soon...