Last week I was in Bali sourcing materials and working on some new designs. It was a fleeting trip but as I was travelling without my children I was able to do a rare thing - read a book. Now, for people that know me, they will be aware of how I am more likely to be seen delving into a Donna Hay magazine than scouring the latest Richard & Judy Book List for my next read. I don’t really ‘do’ book reading. There I said it. Unlike my mother and sister who are book worms extraordinaire, I’ve never really been into reading and joke that I’m more likely to start a Box Set Club than join a Book Club.
I think it might be to do with the fact that I read, very, v-e-r-y slowly and so starting and then finding time to finish [insert three other time-impacting reasons here: my two kids and running my own business] can take months. I’m not sure why I’m such a slow reader but think it is to do with needing to absorb everything, drink in each and every word on the page. My sister has been known to get through 5 novels on the 12 hour flight over from London to Singapore. To me, this is unfathomable. While at school, my father was so worried about my snail-pace-reading that he borrowed some kind of curious reading machine that had a metronome-type scroller you could set at different speeds, with the idea of teaching you to read faster and faster. Sorry Dad but it didn’t really work.
A luxurious free evening, couple of flights and solo dining meant that I was finally able to finish my dusty bedside read which had been ordered months ago (via free global shippers the brilliant Book Depository) - the book in question was not a novel or crime thriller but department store MD Ed Burstell's memoir 'At Liberty - from rehab to the front row'.
It is a fascinating read and charts his epic career in fashion and retail from the eighties until now. His journey from Florida party-boy to a humble Macy’s spritzer to Managing Director of Liberty of London is far from conventional and totally inspiring. He was a heroin addict and had two near-fatal overdoses before these 'wake-up calls' drove him to forge a career in retail. From Macy's he goes on to share his experiences as a buyer at Bloomingdales, then to running and turning around Henri Bendel to his catwalk encounters at the prestigious, luxury store Bergdorf Goodman ...gulp for air...before flying over the pond to Liberty of London which he would soon end up running.
The book is intriguing not only for his anecdotes with so many of the great and good of the fashion world but equally for his take on how events in history have shaped, influenced and affected consumer buying. From the amusing (if now baffling) appeal of pot-pourri in the late 80's, to the devastating affects following 9/11 and the 2008 stock market crash, the rise and rise of the super-expensive IT bags to pin pointing the turning point when department store 'sales' went from being a bi-annual affair to being dangerously close to year-round. He is doubtless a skilled raconteur and the book is peppered with stories and experiences which are both funny, earnest and often so self-deprecating they defy his clear, natural ability at retail.
Even though his perspective is coming from the stance of a buyer, so much of what he wrote made sense to me as a small brand that I wished I had carried a fluoro pen with me to make notes in the margins. I would urge anyone who has even the tiniest interest in fashion to read his memoir.
Burstell talks a lot about the theatre of retail and also how important it is to have a great story to tell. One of our latest stories is connected to a new little cross body bag called the Savannah. I've designed this bag as a mini travel companion with a clever in-built wallet and multiple compartments. I envisage taking this on our summer holiday when I need easy access to all of our passports and papers but a much bigger bag on my back carrying all the children’s in-flight necessities.
The naming of this bag is somewhat humbling too. Our good friend Nick, himself an ex-forces chap, wanted to use his 40th birthday celebration as a way of raising money for a charity that was close-to-his heart, Help for Heroes - which supports thousands of brave men and women and their families from the Armed Forces.
So rather than the usual merriment, pomp and ceremony for ‘big birthday’ celebrations, we all had to get dressed up as one of our ‘Heroes’ and party the night away at their house. I went as Farrah Fawcett as I can't resist a big back-combing blow dry (and had a green-goddess jump suit to hand)!
In order to raise funds for the charity there was a silent auction for items ranging from a night in a Bangkok hotel to four lads hosting a BBQ dressed as the 'Butlers in Budgies' (well done to my husband for stepping up for this challenge!!!). The naming of a bag was another prize and a lovely lady called Renee bid the highest amount for this opportunity. This Super Mom has four beautiful daughters and chose to name this bag after her youngest, the adorable Savannah. The night raised over over 7000 SGD for the charity which was brilliant. I invited Savannah and her Mum along to our Isetan pop up recently for a photoshoot - see above!
Hurry though, as the Marine colour combo is almost sold-out!
- Read this Beach Polo Chic post by Travelshopa featuring our Savannah bag HERE
- Polaroids Designed by Freepik
This week sees the start of the great floral spectacular that is the Chelsea Flower Show. It is a joyously British time of year and an opportunity to see the Queen in a lovely pastel coloured hat and Alan Titschmarsh in his finery as opposed to his usual gardening gear. The first ever flower show organised by the Royal Horticultural Society was over a hundred years ago in 1913. Held in the grounds of those familiar red-coated Chelsea Pensioners - the Royal Hospital London - it is still the most prestigious flower show in the UK despite now not being the biggest - a mantel that has gone to the Hampton Court Flower show.
The grounds of the Royal Hospital are transformed into another world(s) with gardeners from around the world competing to present the best most imaginative gardens. Some boasting well being with plants with healing properties (A Modern Apothecary for St John's Hospice), Nick Bailey's ‘The Winton Beauty of Mathematics', "is a celebration of the beauty to be found in the mathematics and algorithms that underpin all plants, growth and life." (source RHS website) One of my favourites (from the pictures I have seen online I must point out) is the clever Garage Garden by Artisans Gardens and designer Kazuyuki Ishihara. If all urban planning factored this clever integration of plant and real life, the world would be so much prettier.
So in celebration of all things botanical, I have put together a feature based loosely on this flora and fauna theme - albeit with a slight tropical edge. Featuring some gorgeous decorations and knick-knackery for home, jewellery, bags (well of course), clothes and fragrances. And while many of us won't have a chance to get to the Chelsea Flower Show in person, see the links below for a link to the many beautiful gardens on display this year. And lucky for those of us residing in Singapore we are blessed to have our very own Botanical Gardens and from the 28th May til June 5th, for 'Heritage Week', there are tons of (free!) activities (for kids and adults), concerts, plant sales and talks to attend. Details below. Enjoy XOXO
Click above product to view in a larger size. Shopping and image source credits as follows, starting top left and working clockwise:
1) Indi Nyah - a gorgeous range of candles, body lotions and hand washes with divine smells. Singapore based company.
2) Have year-round flowers in bloom with a potted silk plant or other flowers from Silk Flowers Singapore
3) Buy original antique floral prints available from Panteek
5) Find (free) vintage botanical images to make into lovely pictures like this one from Pintrest / Swivel Chair Media
6) Uniqlo and Liberty of London have teamed up to offer a range of adult and children's clothing using their iconic prints. Shop it here.
7) Add some flutter to your bag with one of our Get Knotted Pompom or Tassel keyrings/bag charms. Available in lots of different colourways here.
8) Search Pintrest or Vintage Printable for free images to download like these butterflies.
9) Aviaria Coasters from Cluny Court's Bungalow 55 - available in store or online.
10) Miller Harris perfumes, colognes and candles are available from their website and stores.
11) Alex Monroe's quintessentially British jewellery is available online here - he is offering 25% off selected lines in celebration of the Chelsea Flower Show.
The illustration of the tropical flowers and leaves featured in this post were designed by Freepik.
Chelsea Flower Show - read more about it here
Singapore Botanical Gardens - read more about it hereHeritage Week runs from May 28th to June 5th - with free concerts, performances, free entry to the Orchid garden, plant sales, free arts and crafts for children as well as talks too. Don't miss it!
The old adage of losing socks in the laundry doesn’t really stand up in a country where wearing socks is confined to school kids, city slickers or gym goers. I have certainly spent the last four and half years pretty much barefoot or in sandals/flip-flops. My husband might protest and confirm the saying’s validity given the number of partner-less socks in his drawer. No, instead of losing socks, my infuriation comes in the disappearance of what Americans call bobby pins, or what we Brits called kirby grips - those little hair slides that keep your hair invisibly in place. An item that is sold and packaged by the dozen, but a package that seems to have mysteriously emptied whenever you reach for one in your hour of hair need.
As I am both growing my hair and simultaneously fighting the frizz caused by Singapore’s unyielding humidity (good for pores and keeping skin youthful - not great for having a sleek barnet) - the evaporation of these little hair heroes is a menace. Much like socks, I wonder where they go? Is there a Bermuda triangle full of singular socks and a bountiful booty of hair grips? I leave you to ponder this yourself.
Sales of bobby pins must have shot up last week as Hollywood’s beautiful and best posed, strutted and selfied their way down the red carpet. Incidentally, “to selfie” cannot yet be a verb as my spellcheck is angrily underlining ‘selfied’ in red. However, the word ‘selfie’ was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2013 (collective sigh of woe). My personal favourite ‘do’ was girl-of- the-moment Alicia Vikander’s. An ethereal updo (by hairstylist Christopher Naselli) which complimented her angelic, white Louis Vuitton column dress perfectly. I adore the dress’ cross-strap back and its long, linear hanging pleats. I cannot wait to go and see The Danish Girl which stars Brit wonder Eddie Redmayne.
Image credits: Christopher Naselli/Instagram
Another trend that I pleasingly noted was the presence of the silver minaudière clutch. As a loyal Downtown Abbey fan, I could not help but gasp in wonder at the delightful Joanne Froggatt’s steel blue Reem Acra dress. Its plunging neckline and full skirt was reminiscent of a yesteryear Hollywood glamour - what a full circle transformation from the dowdy uniform worn by her TV character Anna Bates! She complimented the look with a simple silver clutch bag - oh how I would have loved that to have been our silver Marieke Minaudière - Joanne or Joanne’s stylist if you are reading this please get in touch as I’m sure we must be (distantly) related as my father’s middle name is Froggatt and perhaps you’d like to wear one of our bags for the OSCARS or BAFTA’s if you are going?!
Image credits: Joanne Froggatt/InstagramKate Hudson chose to highlight her svelte physique and enviable abs in a shimmery blush Michael Kors cut out dress. Her golden locks tustled onto her shoulders, diamonds sparkled from her ears and she clutched - yep another - structured silver purse. The dress silhouette teased you into thinking it was a two piece bandeau + skirt from the front. Yet, the back told a different story - revealing it as a one-piece cut-out dress. A lesson in risqué versus demure with its choker neckline, to-the-floor length juxtaposed with cheeky cut outs to midriff, shoulders, hips AND leg slit. Of all the ladies to carry off this look, it is surely Kate Hudson.
No one does the leggy look quite like J.Lo - she absolutely stunned in a canary yellow Giambattista Valli Haute Couture design, with its thigh high split and that colour made her golden skin shimmer. While the split might be high, the risqué element was tempered by the cape sleeves and high neckline. The look was finished off with glossy hair, a red lip, an eye-watering amount of diamonds, sparkling silver shoes and yep you got it, a sparkling silver clutch bag.
Image credits: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP via Forbes
Image credits: Getty / Jason Merritt via Popsugar
So calling on all stylists, please note we have a gorgeous, red-carpet worthy minaudière in our collection - the Marieke. Available in Disco Gold and Silver and suitable for all occasions - lunches, weddings, bar mitzvahs, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Oscars, Bafta’s…please do get in touch!
Pose like a Red Carpet Pro - ELLE has summarised the most flattering stances and poses from Hollywood’s finest
Energise yourself to get to the gym by perusing this slideshow resume of Golden Globes care of The New York Times
SOCK IT TO ‘EM - never lose a sock again. Wikihow has a few clever tips on how to achieve sock pairing bliss.
Our gift guide for the holidays is inspired by all that glitters and sparkles! From jewellery, stationery, home decor and of course bags – here's our wishlist this Christmas:
'Wonder' Necklace, Carrie K
Gold Bee Thank You cards, Clare Pannell
SG$18 for 10
Marieke in Disco Silver, Elyse & i
Nell Emboss in Bronze, Elyse & i
Unity bracelet, Catherine Preston
Copper cookie cutter lights, Cox & Cox
Scarf with silver dragon flies, Tatty Marsh
Rosanna nesting trays, Dreams & Confetti Great World City
Marieke in Disco Gold, Elyse & i
Pineapple ice bucket, Singapore Tradepost
Gilded Stag Ring Holder, Bungalow 55 - Cluny Court
Alex Monroe pineapple necklace, via Annielka from Chillax Market
Find out more here
I’ve always felt an affinity with America - my parents met there, my sister was born there and visits from our childhood friend Amanda, who was from ‘over the pond’, with her blonde curls, Osh-Kosh dungarees and twangy accent felt extraordinarily exotic in England’s rural countryside.
So it is no exaggeration to convey the excitement of seeing our bag adorn the online pages of a store that has been a huge inspiration to me ever since I first stepped into its Broadway store in New York in my early twenties - yep, our collaboration bag with Canadian artist Claire Desjardins dropped into Anthropologie US just last week! Drum roll please…see the Aquarelle Minaudière in its splendour here just in time for the holiday season…
It’s a nice segue as this week it’s Thanksgiving - a national holiday for Americans (but also
Canadians though they celebrate it next week). Celebrated on the last Thursday in November, they give thanks to their Pilgrim forefathers for the previous season’s harvest. Tradition has it that friends and family get together to feast on turkeys, yams and pumpkin pie, then watch a spot of American football and/or the Macy’s parade.
What has become another tradition, also founded in the US, is the day that follows Thanksgiving – infamously known as Black Friday. Stores in the USA (and now many other European countries too) open their doors at midnight to allow in hordes of revved up shoppers to snap up bargains, as items are heavily discounted in the anticipation of a good sell-through in the lead up to Christmas. The term Black Friday has its meaning rooted in the fact that it is the day that allegedly marks the turning point for retailers to go from being ‘in the red’ (e.g. making a loss) to ‘in the black’ and turning a profit.
I remember being aghast at the news last year showing footage of stampedes even in the UK – frenzied shoppers, queuing for hours then hurling themselves through the doors,
trampling over the top of others to get their hands on a half-price TV set or two! Gives new meaning to the phrase bargain hunters…
Black Friday now has an online companion in ‘Cyber Monday’ which is the Monday that follows Thanksgiving and is heralded as the biggest day in the calendar for online sales.
As a much safer bet from the marauding masses, why not shop from your sofa and enjoy our jumping on the bandwagon flash sale - it will run from Thursday 26th November until the end of Monday 30th November, offering you a pumpkin smashing 20% off*
Simply use the below promo code on checkout to benefit!
And remember, a handbag will always still fit even if you eat too much
turkey!!! We give thanks to you our customers and loyal supporters – Happy Thanksgiving
*on orders of above 55$ only
PROMO CODE: IATETOOMUCHTURKEY
ANTHROPOLOGIE see our Aquarelle Minaudière here!
Gobble up these Thanksgiving Tit Bits:
Image Credits: Huffington Post
- According to the US Agricultural Dept. more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten over the Thanksgiving period in the US alone.
- Turkeys have great hearing but no external ears (Source)
- The name given to the flappy bit of skin on a turkey’s neck is a WATTLE
- Move over Martha Stewart, the Mary Berry equivalent of US cooking for me is the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Here is her recipe for Pumpkin Pie.
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade started in 1924 and Snoopy has featured as a giant balloon in it more than any other character. If you are in NY then check out Time Out’s Guide to watching this year’s Parade here
- And finally, a bit of a curveball for the list but it made me smile - GQ magazine’s top 100 ‘most American’ things which is probably most-amusing as it’s compiled by non-Americans - nos. 58 and 59 made me chortle the most. READ IT HERE
We're pleased to announce a special trunk show held in conjunction with our friends at jewellery line Carrie K! Drop by on Friday Oct. 30 & Saturday Oct. 31 for a fun day out shopping with us and other independent labels at the Carrie K Atelier.
Carrie K. Atelier
136 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 229838
30 – 31 October 2015, 1 to 7pm
Free parking is available.
To RSVP, please email Stefan@CarrieKRocks.com by 19 October 2015
As September draws to an end, that can only mean one thing at Elyse & I – feverishly packing for Premiere Classe in Paris!
We’re looking forward to previewing our next season of bags for Spring/Summer 2016 to buyers starting from this Friday, 2-5 October 2015.
Look out for us at
STAND C88, ZONE 1, PREMIERE CLASSE IN THE JARDINS DE TUILERIES
2-4th Oct: 9 am to 7 pm.
5th Oct: 9 am to 6 pm.
Already in the city for Paris Fashion Week? Then here’s a few recommendations on what we adore and love to do when in Paris. There’s more than just macaroons (or should that be Macarons?)…
Image credits: Tripadvisor
Favourite Sips & Suppers – Paris is full of restaurants, many good, many overpriced, many impossible to get into. The restaurant that I go back to time and time again because it never fails to delight is Le Petit Marche (9 Rue de Béarn, 75003 Paris, France) - a friend who lives in Paris introduced me to it years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. They are also open on a Sunday night which is rare in Paris.
For a pre or post dinner tipple, my sister and I stumbled across a jolly wine-tasting bar called Wine by One (9 Rue des Capucines, 75001 Paris, France) on a recent trip. Wine is poured from (bottles in a) dispenser so effectively you can sample lots of different varieties without committing to a bottle. Perfect if your thing is Rosé and someone else’s is white or red. However, there is something rather decadent and splendid about sitting al fresco, with your face in the sun, either enjoying an espresso, a light lunch or aperitif in one of the hundreds of street side cafes, watching the world go by and practicing your French with the attentive waiters.
- Favourite Vista - Other than the Eiffel Tower by night - it is probably of the Seine river backdropped by the Louvre while walking over the Pont Neuf.
- Favourite Places to stroll & people watch - Strolling down the left bank, down the Rue St. Honore or wandering through, Les Jardins de Tuileries.
Image credits: Musee Rodin
Favourite Museums / Galleries - My husband would opt for the Musee D’Orsay for its symbolist and impressionist works while I have always loved the serenity of the sculptures and garden at the Musee Rodin and find it the most enchanting. It’s worth noting that on the first Sunday morning of the month, the galleries are all free to the public.
Musee Rodin - Musée Rodin, 79 rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France
Musse D’Orsay - 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France
Favourite Shopping: flea and fancy -Marche aux Puces - the flea/antiques markets in the north of the city on a Sunday morning. I think the shopping philosophy of a flea market should be ‘impulsive’ - I have always regretted not buying a vintage Japanese accordion fan shape purse on one weekend amble. I have gleaned much inspiration from vintage buttons and ribbons bought from here in the past.Boutiques/Indoor Markets - Galerie Vivienne or wander through the streets of the Marais to find hidden treasures and independent boutiques.
- it is a magical experience to ride the gilted elevators or look up to the art nouveau stained-glass cupola of Les Galeries Lafayette. While there is something so majestic about the black and white escalators that criss-cross their way up the floors at Le Bon Marche. Whether you buy anything or not, the experience of visiting these stores as well as their usually incredible window displays are worth the visit alone.Le Bon Marche - 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris, FranceLes Galeries Lafayette - 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris, France
Ah Paris. City of Love. City of Light. A city that gives meaning to the phrase coup de coeur - for you fall in love with her from the very moment you set eyes on the Tour Eiffel or from your first people-gazing, café au lait you sip on the sidewalk of the Rue Saint Honoré. A city where, fashion, art, and gastronomy collide.
So, imagine my delight on seeing this gorgeous photo of international recording artist, Anggun Cipta, breezing around a Parisian street wearing our little Nell bag. Whoop of excitement probably doesn't even cut it. Double trumps as next week we are off to Paris for Fashion Week - the bi-annual event which sees all the big buyers, editors, models (and probably some Kardashians) descend on the city to peruse and buy the next season’s fashions. We will be there, in the famous white tents in the Tuileries Gardens (any buyers can find us at Premiere Classe), selling our next season of bags for Spring Summer 2016.
But more on that in another post….
Back to Anggun and Paris. Born in Indonesia, the naturalised French singer-song writer, is the Asian artist with the highest number of album sales outside of Asia, she sung for France in the 2012 Eurovision contest, was a judge on X Factor Indonesia and earlier this year on Asia’s Got Talent. She's also been a UN Ambassador of Goodwill and will soon release her sixth french-language studio album, ‘Toujours Un Ailleurs’ (Always Elsewhere). I think my favourite Anggun-related fact is that she appeared as herself on an episode of the Muppets in 2006 giving flirting advice to Miss Piggy - anyone who knows me, knows my long standing love of the Muppet Show, will realise I’m as green as Kermit with envy on learning this.
Wearing a billowy blue blouse, jeans and summery wedges, the Nell in black and white snakeskin, brings a focal point to her outfit. It demonstrates wonderfully what a great day-to-night bag the Nell is. Wear it cross body by day and when cocktail hour approaches, take off the strap and wear as a clutch to accompany your Kir Royale.
But if you aren’t headed to Paris anytime soon, here are a few easy ways to feel French in Singapore…
Image credits: Ladurèe
- EAT MACAROONS: try Ladurée in Takashimaya Shopping Centre (#02-09,Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Rd)
- SHARE A COTE DU BOEUF: our favourite French spots to eat in Singapore are Bistro du Sommelier or Bar-Roque for classically beautiful French cuisine. No one can stop my husband from ordering Bar-Roque’s tomahawk steak…
- DRESS LIKE A PARISIAN: Imbue the Parisian’s sense of style and read Caroline de Maigret’s provocative book ‘How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are - love, style and bad habits’ (available at Kinokuniya) then kit yourself in French designer wears from Rosalie Pompom in Cluny Court.
- COOK FRENCH!: cuisine up a storm at home with Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen Book’. The English chef’s cook book celebrates the very best of French home-cooking in a modern and accessible way with gorgeous illustrations. If you don’t have her book some of the recipes can be found here.
- WATCH JULIE & JULIA: the 2009 film about the memoirs of Paris dwelling American diplomat’s wife-turned-cook-author of ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ (Julia Child) and Julie Powell who over fifty years later took on the challenge of endeavouring to do as the title suggested and recorded her cooking journey in a daily blog. It’s a hilarious film as you’d expect with a combination of Amy Adams and Meryl Streep as the lead roles.
Image credits: Dreams & Confetti
- TRAY CHIC: keep your jewellery or tit-bits in a cute tray by Rosanna - mine has ‘Bonjour’ written on it but they also do others with slogans like ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ or ‘Oui Oui Cherie’ - available from Dreams & Confetti in Great World City or at Robinsons. The box it comes in is a super cute keepsake too.