Article Archive: June 2011

Leather forecast

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I’m in Austria and have just checked WordPress… Ooooooops!

Tuesday 7th, 1.21p.m. 1 new comment awaiting approval: Helena says…

‘Please, please write more! I love this blog but please you don’t write enough! I check it every day! Hx’

In response. Helena thank you. Maybe I should write daily. But I didn’t think that ANYONE would want to read about what I get up to EVERY SINGLE day here. Does it warrant a blog post? And to be honest I didn’t really think that anyone would even care.

So look away NOW if you bore easily.

Where to start… for the past few days I’ve been in Austria’s Viva-Mayr researching skin problems and cures for my next Goddess book. Apparently a clean inside is a good starting point to great looking skin. The research included a colonic (I know you can get one of these anywhere but it’s part of a bigger programme.) It was my first. It was tough. I’d never had a colonic before.

So OK I’ll give you this one Helena… maybe there was something to report. OK YOU WIN!

So…… Helana 1   Gisèle 0

Wednesday  8th, 1.17p.m. 1 new comment awaiting approval: Hattie says…

‘Please, please write more! I know you are very busy but this blog is amazing and I love it! Please write about anything! It can be what you wore today or what you ate for breakfast it would all interest me! I am desperate for more Goddess-y-ness! Please write more!’

In response, Hattie, I ‘got’ a soft boiled egg for breakfast and a cup of green tea. Nothing else to report here except I’ve had two dreams about chocolate Lindt Bunnies (the big ones). And there isn’t much fashion (it’s in deepest Austria and the guests here usually dress for swimming), but I’ve discovered slowly, that both the Austrians here and their foreign guests lead utterly fascinating lives.

So…… Hattie 1   Gisèle 0 (I’m crap at this game).

Thursday 9th, June 2.00a.m.,

I’m sitting in my room now ignoring the ‘lights out at 10pm’ curfew. Huge rainfall has forced me to stay indoors all day. So I haven’t had a run. Oh no… life can be SO CRUEL. You think I’m blissed out? Nuh uh! I geared myself up to be the best detox specimen that Austria had ever had. But I’m no good to them, I crave lattes, pizzas, macaroons and huge creamy cakes too much.

And then…

Then…

You’re all probably asleep at this stage, I’m staring at my bag in my room and thinking hang on there just one minute… should I just grab it and make a run for it. I have to tell you about this amazing new bag I found in London to take on this trip. (I’ve just checked and I’ve photos on my laptop from when I bought it.)

Helena isn’t this more like it…. to talk about USEFUL stuff…. Things like what questions to ask yourself when buying a bag… ‘Are the straps long enough?’ ‘Does it sit right against the body?’ ‘Are the handles too wide, too long, too narrow?’ ‘Does the hardware look wrong?’ ‘Is the colour the right shade?’ ‘Does it look like a bucket?’ ‘Is it heavy on my arm in a good way?’

Um how can the word heavy on my arm ever be followed with the words in a good way? Yes, this is the conversation which rattled about in my head when browsing for a new bag at London based designer Mimi Berry‘s Cheshire Street store (just off Brick Lane) last week.

Founded in 2001 by Mimi Berry after she graduated Central Saint Martins, this British leather goods brand offers a level of craftsmanship and understated design that equals that of many of the fashion industries most prestigious names.

No. Not good enough yet says Helena. Keep going G…..

OK look at the satchels, the totes, the sleek weekend bags, the ice-cream coloured cute clutches, the sweet purses and the separate collection for men. Did I tell you about my Mimi Berry GOLD leather oyster card holder? I love it! And my new Mimi Berry silver leather bag? Mimi uses the best quality Italian leather and her price point is fair and genuine. And best of all look at the gold leather dog collar she made for her dog Dora. Isn’t it chic! Wouldn’t every puppy want one of these?

So voilà, here’s my last few days in a nutshell. When I think back to the care tips that Mimi Berry gave me for my new leather bag  in her store ‘Nourish it constantly with the right things and it will take more wear and tear and the skin will wear in beautifully’ it wasn’t far off what I’m learning about skincare here at Viva -Mayr.

So taking time now to wish you all a night filled with chocolate dreams. And also to plant maybe a little seed about where to shop when you’re next looking for something completely British, utterly honest and beautifully crafted.

And of course, to promise you Helena/Hattie that I’ll post more here for you!!! Ooookay, big, big, big hugs until tomorrow!

Is this the future?

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The shop I’ve just visited is underground (LITERALLY!)… and I need a cup of tea to gather my thoughts. Initially I think it’s the best shopping experience I’ve had in a long time. Finally I’ve decided that it’s the best online shopping experience I’ve had to date.

I think I’ve glimpsed the future of shopping. I hope so

The concept at LN-CC (Late Night Cameleon Café) is ingenious – a service which allows me to buy everything online (all manner of left-field fashion designers, cutting-edge and rare books and new and used vinyl) but a phone call or email will get me an appointment to browse and shop and try on items at their physical shop space.

To gain access to LN-CC’s physical shop in Dalston, East London I made an appointment via phone. For most physical shops, this would be a nuisance; as they depend on daily passing trade, it would be a financial nightmare. But for the people at LN-CC who sell everything online anyway, the manned space is like a shop cum gallery, a ‘wonderful’ place to work and welcome shoppers to view their online stock.

Admittedly, the space in which they operate is not your run-of-the-mill rack and shelf box city warehouse – they are after all working in a space dripping in Dries van Noten and Damir Doma, Aaaah, you think to yourself, slightly less impressed at this last point, it’s one of ‘those’ type of places G? Yes I too had initial ‘aaahs’ but was quickly converted to pure happiness at a) how rare most of the stock is and b) the staff are just so darn nice. (Um, quick check here… aren’t hipsters meant to be nonchalant?)

Following on from yesterday’s blog post about Scott Shulman (aka The Sartorialist), here is yet more evidence that talented people in the fashion industry are nice.  Subsequently after three hours of me poking about in every nook and cranny in LN-CC we spotted that the old girders holding up the operation were forged in Middlesbrough not unlike owner John Skelton and his brother Michael Skelton. (I’m only saying!). You might be lucky enough to have Michael help you on your visit, he has that rare invisibility skill that all good waiters have. He made my visit extra memorable.

So apart from the lovely staff, what made the shopping experience different? Let’s rewind just for a sac. Arriving with my cameras and notebook in Dalston in East London and ducking down Shacklewell Lane to LN-CC’s HQ, a discreet alley lead me to their big metal door. I buzzed nervously. In situations like this, I expected everything to be warehouse-eee as many of the very beautiful shopping websites storage facilities usually are. After climbing down the concrete stairs, a door swung opened onto ‘the tunnel’ and suddenly it was ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.

The tunnel and the six bespoke rooms leading off of it were built by the talented Gary Card with the help of his father (cool). Incidentally Gary has also pimped out loads of other great stores and you’ll find a low-down of his pimpery on his blog.

I spent three hours browsing the selection at LN-CC and John Skelton although well known in the industry deserves a little introduction and explanation here. I was impressed with his tongue-in-cheek-modest admission that ‘I used to be the buyer at Harrods, the most expensive leathers, anything really, it was a great place to cut my teeth. Then I went onto become Creative Director of Oki-ni before leaving to start this.’

Addressing a very attentive Gisèle, John Skelton explained how he chose each designer. ‘I visited several hundreds and whittled it down.’ Indeed, the online store is a prefect showcase for both John Skelton and Daniel Mitchell’s very honed buying skills. But it’s this underground warren that’s the icing on the cake, an ideal environment to experience the pieces and get to now the buying stories behind them. I think this is a very clever way forward for luxury shopping, maybe more luxury brands with online stores might try it like this.

The physical LN-CC space left a lasting impression on me. It was interesting to hear John break down the technique of construction of a neat chiselled Rick Owens jacket while offering me the garment for some Goddess fondling. The buying has focused on exacting fit, luxurious fabrics and handworked finishes from established names such as Martin Margiela, Raf Simons, to more recent success stories J.W. Anderson, Haider Ackermann and a host of Japanese brands stocked nowhere else outside of Japan.

Each little thing that I was shown only deepened my respect for this level of passion and service. I was so interested that I viewed the entire inventory of garments, shoes, books and vinyl, which allowed me to stitch together this gargantuan gushing synopsis (I do apologise).  Anne Demeulemeester’s fitted black leggings, and ‘lace’ shawl slung over a prim white shirt was a highlight for me and the ‘feeling’ I got at LN-CC while looking at these pieces up close returned when I went online later that evening to browse. I got a first-hand shopping experience and an insight into who John Skelton and his team were and from the get-go the experience gave me a ‘feeling’ of warmth. I’ve NEVER gotten that from a press release or an exorbitant ad campaign.

“My friends wanted something different, a new way to shop, garments, books that are different from what everybody else has,” observed John. And at a time when the latest catwalk trend hits the highstreet before the designers can even deliver them online, only top quality, speed and guaranteed exclusivity will cut it when prices are high. I really love LN-CC (I especially like that Donlon Books curates their perfect bookstore). I’d like to call what I experienced at LN-CC “quiet luxury”. Every little thing in it place.

As shoppers poured over the meticulously merchandised rails secret smiles and glances erupted at the 2001: A Space Odyssey tunnel which received an inordinate amount of excited squeals as shoppers stepped through the door. I’d like to also say at this point that the ‘tunnel’ is not just a scheme to impress me or shoppers to prise open our wallets, if it were I think I’d feel it.

Up until my visit I had begun to fear that “luxury” had become an over used word, it had become hard to define. What it has come to mean to me since is something a little more refreshing; care and attention, and passion. LN-CC is a lesson in how to put personal back into one of the most personal things of all – getting dressed and choosing your sartorial identity.

“May we buy the beaded Computer Memory Sticks please?” three Japanese girls asked. African label The Inoue Brothers have a lovely idea, they give an exclusive beaded memory stick, containing information on the label, images, a soundtrack free to each person who buys a garment (their hemp t-shirts are beautiful). So unfortunately a purchase is necessary. Incidentally LN-CC will give you a friendship bracelet if you purchase anything at all online or in store – it’s part of their packaging and a befitting symbol I feel on which to end.

Goddess In The Details: To schedule a shop visit (email: enquiries@ln-cc.com or telephone: +(44) (0)203 174 0736 ). LN-CC, The Basement: 18-24 Shacklewell Lane, Dalston, London. E8 2EZ