Apologies for Chic Shopper's radio silence... a few technical hitches, and few too many 9-5 deadlines...
But here we are, this month with a mini celebration of all things British in the month that the UK takes global centre stage. Blighty boasts much in the way of creativity, style and humour, if not sunshine, so this is our ode to all those in Team GB (beyond the track, field and pool).
Time for a glass of the crisp, cold pink stuff... enjoy!
OLD ENGLISH GARDEN IS NEW AGAIN
AUG. 2012 If there was ever one thing that might entice me to live south of the river in London, it would be the opportunity to sit immersed in the beauty of this rejuvenated old walled garden in the heart of Battersea Park every day. At breakfast on the day of its official launch on July 5th, many of us were quietly calculating how we could set up satellite offices under the jasmine and wisteria-laden arbour for the rest of the summer and convince our various editors we were actually working.
The garden, long rundown and undernourished, has been brought back to life with the help of funding by Jo Malone London, the iconic fragrance house much loved for its classic scents like Lime Basil & Mandarin and Red Roses, but also in more recent years, its English garden inspired scents like English Pear & Freesia and Wild Bluebell. By helping to fund a garden that has been planted with the flowers, herbs and fruits used in the house’s fragrances, it was also the perfect solution for the company’s ambition to find ways ‘to give back to the community’ long-term.
Here, under the shy but passionate eye of Sarah Price, the gardening world’s rising star (she won gold at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show for her poetic evocation of ‘wild Britain’ and has been part of the team creating the ‘2012 Garden’ at the Olympic Park) and gardening charity Thrive, it is the first of what Jo Malone hopes to be many urban garden renewal projects around the world.
Thrive, founded in 1978, is a particularly brilliant charity to be supporting - with programmes such Working It Out and Pathways, its mission is to help transform the lives of unemployed disabled and disadvantaged people, whether it’s through strength training after an accident or stroke or by providing the vocational training necessary to work in the horticultural sector full time. “Gardening is good for the soul, it slows you down and forces you to listen to nature,” says Sarah. “I’ve long been inspired by Thrive’s understanding of the restorative powers of gardening.” One gardener on the Old English Garden project, only partially sighted and assisted by her guide dog, is one such success story, learning invaluable skills and gaining a sense of self-confidence and purpose despite her physical difficulties.
So, next time you’re in need of some peace and inspiration, wind your way into this heavenly horticultural escape, full of wild, relaxed beauty, bees and butterflies, water lilies and rhubarb, roses and thyme... and see if you can even spot the pomegranate tree.
To find the garden, visit www.batterseapark.org.
DORSET SQUARE HOTEL OPENS (AGAIN)
AUG. 2012 In 1985, Tim and Kit Kemp opened their first boutique hotel on Dorset Square. Little did they know then what an impact this would have on the hotel world - with chic, welcoming interiors and its warm, intimate service, Dorset Square hotel became the blueprint for not only the Kemp’s burgeoning business (their Firmdale Hotel group now includes Haymarket, Covent Garden, Charlotte Street, Soho, Number Sixteen and Knightsbridge hotels in London at Crosby Street in NY), but it revolutionised forever what we now expect from staying in 4/5 star hotel luxury.
Forget anonymous, beige corporate hotels where you could as easily be in Detroit as Delhi; the Kemps’ vision of creating hotels where no two rooms are the same and each one offers a bespoke and individual experience has been keeping the rest of the hotel world on their toes ever since.
The twist here, however, is that for a while the Kemps no longer owned the Dorset Square. Sold for reinvestment into bigger properties, the opportunity arose last year to buy it back and in a way “return to our roots,” says Kit, the hotel group’s Design Director, responsible for the interiors in every one of their hotels. “Dorset Square is very personal, and small, like a hotel de charme,” she furthers.
Built on the site of the original Lord’s cricket ground, Kit has used this as inspiration for many of the Dorset Square interior’s finishing touches - cricket bats wrapped in newspaper, painted or fanned out, like a peacock’s tail, and framed; Peter Rocklin cricketing paintings teamed near old cricketing memorabilia (ball, bails and astro turf framed in a Perspex box, an old school sports locker and framed cricketing caps and jerseys); and old cricket balls for doorknobs. There are other touches too, like in the Potting Shed restaurant where there is one wall hung with old pieces of plasterwork and cornicing, and another filled with 198 porcelain pots by Martha Freud, inscribed with cricketing sayings which are illuminated internally at random intervals throughout the day.
“It’s been fantastic to return to Dorset Square and turn it on its head,” says Kit, whose eclectic, unique and distinctly British decorating style (in the way she mixes antique with modern, art and craft, brilliant pattern and palette) has been catalogued in her first design memoir called A Living Space, to be published by Hardie Grant in October (pre-order at Amazon).
Rooms start from £150 per night, Dorset Square Hotel, 39-40 Dorset Square, London NW1 (020 7723 7874)
ULTIMATE TEATIME TREATS
AUG. 2012 There is no one more brilliantly British than sweets purveyor Miss Hope of Hope & Greenwood. Retro in mood but modern in nature, she and her other twirly-moustached other half Mr Greenwood have brought back the nostalgic joy of white mice, sherbert lemons and flying saucers alongside their own ever-expanding range of delicious sweets (think Treacle Tart and Cherry Bakewell boiled chewy lovelies, salty sweet Peanut Butter Fudge, Bucks Fizz truffles). So good are her sweets that she has just become ‘Sweet Hostess’ at Claridge’s in London, creating an Afternoon Tea range for them which includes such (new but no doubt soon iconic) favourites as Victoria Sponge (with raspberry jam centres) and Loverly Lemon Meringue.
And if world domination is not enough – a new collection of vintage-inspired baking accessories and homewares (available at John Lewis), their own two stores in London, in Dulwich and Covent Garden, stockists such as leading department stores like Selfridges, a series of H&G shops throughout Japan and supplying Dylan’s Candy Store in the US), saucy, naughty, clever-toothed lady has penned her third book, Miss Hope’s Teatime Treats, published by Ebury (available at Amazon)
Here Miss Hope reminisces with Chic Shopper about her inspirations and memories of a happy teatime childhood, and shares some favourite recipes:
Where does your passion for a proper afternoon tea come from?
When I was little, my father went to his am dram rehearsals and my mum, if the wind was right, invited my sister and me to ‘Arf-ter-noon Tea’ in the front room, said with an all-important London accent (I’m actually from Sunderland). This was (and still is) a girls’ only affair. Silver teapot, sugar tongs, linen napkins, rainbow crystals, leaf tea. Mum was a great baker so there were always scones or fruit cake, and melting moments were very popular. On BIG teas there were vol au vents and old pennies hidden inside the scones.
How does being British inform what you do - how is it that it creates such a unique, quirky and humorous take on things?
My father was a natural comedian and appeared on stage with his am dram chums, including venues like the beautiful Sunderland Empire. I spent my childhood watching in the wings farces such as One for The Pot, When We Are Married and Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime. My father also sang opera so part of me is Gilbert & Sullivan too. At home I was obsessed with films such as Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob and romances like An Affair to Remember, Brief Encounter and Now, Voyager. The astute reader will spot quotes and pastiches throughout my recipe books. Limoncello Creams for example.
What do you think is the enduring appeal (for young and old) about sweets and what is that you try to do that makes H&G special?
The appeal is based on good memories – I have yet to meet someone who has a bad memory about sweets. It’s usually the memory of something in Granny’s pocket on Friday night after swimming lessons... for me it was going to Campbell’s corner shop after mass on Sunday for a Pink Panther Bar and Twinkle Magazine, and for Mr G it was pineapple cubes exchanged for a knicker flash. That hasn’t changed. H&G have a strong nod to yesterday but our feet are well planted in today. We also do everything to the highest quality. Top notch. There are no pretenders, our Midget gems are real midget gems. And customer service is very important to us, we will carry your bags to your car, drop heavy parcels at your house, feed your cat and water your petunias. We advocate ‘pop in for a chat’ because that is exactly what Campbell’s corner store did.
And if Miss Hope was a sweet, what would she be?
Two Cherry nipples with a Fizz! Bang! Wallop! centre.
SCROLL RIGHT for Miss Hope’s recipes for Hazelnut Tarts with Strawberries and Prosecco with Nasturtiums
Hope & Greenwood, 20 North Cross Road, London SE22 (020 8613 1777) and 1 Russell Street, London WC2B (020 7240 3314)
More on Miss Hope from our previous issue here.
Photography, from top left, clockwise: Miss Hope and Mr Greenwood; Buttermilk scones with raspberry jam; Miss Hope’s Teatime Treats; Crab and samphire tarts. Photography by Christian Barnett
AUG. 2012 This recipe for hazelnut biscuits layered with strawberries and cream comes courtesy of Granny Hope, taken from Miss Hope’s Teatime Treats.
50g (2oz) whole blanched hazelnuts
25g (1oz) icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
40g (1½ oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
A pinch of salt
40g (1½oz) chilled unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
1 medium egg yolk
For the decoration
250g tub mascarpone
3 tbsp icing sugar
12 small strawberries (if larger, halve or quarter them as necessary)
Piping bag and 1 cm star nozzle
Preheat the oven to 200˚C (Gas 6). Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment.
Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 5 minutes until golden. Cool the nuts completely, then put them in a food processor with the icing sugar and whiz until coarsely chopped. Now add the flour, salt and butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the egg yolk and blitz until the mixture just comes together. Tip it onto a board and bring together with your hands. Wrap the dough in baking parchment and chill for 15 minutes until firm.
Unwrap the dough and leave it sitting on the baking parchment. Dust your rolling pin and the surface of the dough with flour, and roll it out (on the parchment) to a 5mm thickness. Cut out 24 rounds using a 4cm round cutter, re-rolling when necessary. Prick each round all over, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Beat the mascarpone and icing sugar together in a bowl. Chill it for half an hour so it firms up. Spoon it into a piping bag, fitted with a 1cm star nozzle, and pipe a swirl onto all the pastry rounds. Put two halves together, and top each tart with more cream and a strawberry.
AUG. 2012 “Lady Jane Clutterbuck sojourned at elegant Evermead House Hotel, Torquay, in the last summer of her golden years,” writes Miss Hope in Teatime Treats. “It was she who invented this darling drink, a crystal-cold Prosecco with a soupçon of rosewater and a light pinch of sugar. The edible nasturtium came a little later when, after a fierce session of ‘Zumba with Pauline’, a dizzy spell catapulted her into a flower bed.”
Serves 6, or 1 depending
6 edible nasturtiums
A splash of rosewater
1-2 tsp golden caster sugar
75cl bottle of chilled Prosecco
Pop a nasturtium into each of six glasses. Add a drop of rosewater and a pinch of sugar to each glass, and top them with the chilled Prosecco. Simple but intoxicating.
AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO THE OLYMPIC CITY
AUG. 2012 When not being brilliant as the deputy editor of Red, one of the UK’s leading lifestyle glossies, Saska Graville likes nothing better than booking a chic boutique hotel, grabbing her passport, donning her favourite pair of gold Ash trainers and boarding plane, train or automobile to explore a new city, whether it be New York or Porto, Lille or Berlin. But there’s one place she always loves coming back to, time and again, and that’s home in old London town – which makes her perfectly qualified to share the city’s best kept local secrets in her recently published London Style Guide.
As a born and bred Londoner (give or take a decade’s stint living in Sydney), what is the essence of London life and how did that inform what you chose to include in the book?
The whole world knows the ‘traditional’ image of London – all pomp, ceremony and tradition – but for me, I wanted to capture the edginess of the city beyond the postcard sights. London has so many layers which a tourist might never get to see them so I wanted to reveal the London that Londoners love – cool local places to eat, sleep and shop; to show how the city is divided into a series of villages, each one with its own personality; and how it’s that diversity which makes London so brilliant. I can't think of another city in the world that has such a dynamic mix of the traditional and the thoroughly modern. It's unique.
Your favourite spots?
For Sunday lunch: my local pub, The Chamberlayne in Kensal Rise, is a perfect blend of cool neighbourhood hangout and fantastic restaurant. A Bloody Mary and roast chicken, perfect.
For a shopping fix: Bypass Notting Hill’s Portobello Road and do as the in-the-know locals do and head ten minutes north to Golborne Road. It's a short street of interiors shops, market stalls and the best Portuguese custard tarts. Here you’ll find some of the most interesting homewares in London. For vintage clothing, it’s hard to beat Camden Passage – one not to miss is Annie’s Vintage.
For a good night's sleep: in the heart of Soho, one of my favourite hotels is Dean Street Townhouse, part of the very laid-back glam Soho House group. Set in a row of Georgian townhouses, it's urban luxury with a slight rock 'n roll edge.
For a cultural fix: Did you know that the café at the Victoria & Albert Museum was the world's first museum restaurant? Built in the 1860s, it's a gloriously ornate showcase of British design and craftsmanship. Definitely a hidden gem.
For an unbeatable view: The middle of Waterloo Bridge. As you stop and gaze east towards St Paul's and the Gherkin, it makes you happy to be a Londoner.
Somewhere you couldn’t include in the book, but worth a mention: For all of my mother's friends who complained that I didn’t include their beloved south-of-the-river areas of Barnes and Putney – both beautiful green and leafy parts of town, with gorgeous parks and walks along the river, but more gentile than edgy (I grew up in Barnes, so I'm allowed to say it's not very cool!)
Finally, this summer, you'll be... drinking rosé in the sunshine, on the pavement outside one of London's many brilliant pubs. If the sun doesn’t shine, then I'll be making the most of the brilliant events (much of which will be free) as part of London 2012’s cultural Olympiad.
Buy London Style Guide (Eat Sleep Shop) by Saska Graville (Murdoch Books) at amazon.co.uk.
ICONIC LIBERTY PRINTS FOR THE HOME
AUG. 2012 There is nothing more quintessentially British than the Liberty print, in its never-ending collection of iconic soft, fine cotton Tana Lawn prints. From classic paisleys, peacock feathers, abundant meadow florals and art nouveau swirls, to modern interpretations in recent seasons by the likes of singer Florence Welch and artist Grayson Perry, there is instant affection for a Liberty print, particularly when used in collaboration with brands such as Barbour and Nike, Merci Paris and Erdem.
This month sees the launch of an exciting new ‘Jubilee’ collection for the home, created by the inhouse design team at Liberty (established in the 1950s, now with an archive that now boasts over 43,000 designs). “It’s been a long journey,” says Kirstie Carey, Managing Director of Liberty Art Fabrics, “with much trial and error over the past two years to take Liberty’s renowned traditional design approach – where everything is drawn or painted by hand – and transform it with modern printing techniques. All our fabrics are also made in England, which is something to be truly proud of.”
The result is an eclectic, vibrant, bold array of prints in linen and velvet, from wild Sixties’ ‘Kate Nouveau’ florals and the inimitable French Art Nouveau-inspired ‘Ianthe’ (which actually dates back originally to a wallpaper border found in the archives from 1902), to one of my favourites, a brand new heritage-inspired design called ‘September Roslynd’ (in navy blue and white). More designs will follow later in the year, with a global launch in early 2013.
PS If you have an insatiable passion for Liberty’s prints, why not sign up to one of their sewing classes in the autumn.
Prices for the Jubilee Collection start from £65 per metre, available instore on online at Liberty, Great Marlborough St, London W1 (020 7734 1234).
CHILDHOOD MEMORIES FOR YESTERYEAR FOR TODAY
AUG. 2012 And here, case in point, is an example of one person inspired by the iconic Liberty print...
Textile designer Camilla Ridley, the ‘It girl’ of scarves in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has made a comeback with new childrenswear label milliemanu (so named after Camilla’s family nickname of Millie and her daughter Emmanuelle’s nickname Manu).
Made in the UK to Camilla’s designs by a fine cotton shirt-maker, usually more used to making up smart Jermyn Street men’s shirts, everything is French-seamed for durability, and Camilla has a team of local seamstresses who can also create something bespoke at very short notice.
“I like children to look like children, but to have clothes that can last, so that they’re free to run and climb trees,” says Camilla. The use of Liberty fabrics is “as close to what I’d try to design if I had the time to do it myself,” she explains, and she draws on both Liberty’s nostalgic classics and new collections to create what are tantamount to one-offs. “Many of the Liberty collections are limited edition, so once they’re gone, they’re gone.”
Her sweet, simple designs in classic floral Liberty prints are Camilla’s answer to the much-loved heirlooms of her own childhood, made by her Mum. “I hope my dresses will be treasured and kept by my daughter for her own grandchildren, as I’ve kept mine for Manu,” she enthuses. “I want to create pieces that are worth keeping.”
Dresses and pyjamas for children from £35; dresses, shirts and pyjamas also available for women. To buy online or for bespoke orders, visit milliemanu.
GORGEOUS VOICES FOR A SEXY SUMMER
American born, now Manchester based, Jesca Hoop has a delightful yet distinctive lilt which is a little like imagining what a songbird must sound like in human form – which is not to say it’s wishy washy, there’s guts and bravado in her lyrics and delivery too, and a heavy dose of eccentricity in her phrasing, but it is at its mesmerising best on her latest release, The House That Jack Built (bold pink linkreleased on Jesca Hoop Curuja). Having fallen in love with previous tracks – particularly City Bird (Snowglobe), The Kingdom (Hunting My Dress) and Money (Kismet) – this new album has a rockier, faster tempo with the likes of Born to, Ode to Banksy and the eponymous The House That Jack Built. No wonder she boasts high-profile champions such as Tom Waits, (she nannied for him in her twenties) and Elbow’s Guy Garvey amongst her growing fan base.
For details of her tour through the UK starting this month, visit jescahoop.com.
LIANNE LA HAVAS
Even before you realise how much you love the much-awaited-with-baited-breath debut by young (very young, in fact only 23) British songstress Lianne La Havas, its rhythm has your hips swaying, your toes tapping and your head swooning. There are great guitar riffs on Forget, a whoozy lullaby on Lost & Found and I defy anyone not to sway and sing along to No Room for Doubt (featuring Willy Mason). Surely set to be the anthem of the summer.
I have a thing for Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ so any intimation of those classic disco riffs, and I’m there – so with great joy last September I downloaded Hackney local and Brit newcomer Delilah’s ‘Go’ and can see why Khan herself called it ‘genius’. Moody and atmospheric, it’s eerie and evocative in equal measure. Collaborations with the likes of drum’n’bass duo Chase & Status on ‘Time’ give her added cred, so expect more of the same from her new release, From the Roots Up.
On tour in September/October, go to delilahofficial.co.uk for details.
BRITISH BEAUTY QUEEN LIZ EARLE MAKES US OVER
AUG. 2012 British beauty skinscare guru Liz Earle has turned years of being in the television make-up chair (as ITV’s beauty correspondent for many years and now on QVC around the world for Liz Earle) or in front of a camera’s zoom lens (which is quite often being held by her photographer husband Patrick) to our advantage.
She’s tried and tested more colours, brushes, foundations and powders than one can bear to imagine, and has now turned her eye from award-winning skincare (her iconic Cleanse & Polish face cleanser alone has garnered over 77 awards since it launched in 1995) to creating a chic capsule collection that works for all skin types, day to night. The sheer skin tint (enriched with our own blend of natural source vitamin E, borage and avocado) leaves skin plumped and dewy and the natural finish loose powder is genius – finely milled particles left in varying sizes so as to fill every facial crevice, giving a smoother sheer surface. Personally, the three soft, supple make-up brushes – for powder, blush and precision eyeliner – are now an absolute must for my own make-up kit.
“We take our time to launch something new,” says Liz. “We took six years to make one shampoo, and this capsule make-up collection was no different.” It took three years of research, formulations, and then more research, Liz says. “It needed to work with and compliment our skincare; we wanted to use as many botanicals as possible without sacrificing performance; and we wanted to innovate not imitate what’s already on the market. The industry told us it wasn’t possible to create a collection of colour without using ingredients like carmine (also known as cochineal, the red pigment created from powdered scale insects) but I think we’ve proved we can do it without crossing our strong eco line.”
And Liz’s own hero product? “The light reflecting concealer – it’s the one thing all the make-up artists steal from my handbag.”
For more information, to buy online or national stockists, visit lizearle.com.
A GRAND TOUR OF PICNICS PAST & PRESENT
AUG. 2012 Picnic Crumbs by Anabel Loyd is a reminiscent memoir of her own past picnic adventures, teamed with a wonderful witty anthology into the history of what proves a most eccentric of British past times (we can thank, Annabel suggests, the Romantic Movement transforming alfresco eating from necessity to entertainment).
“Picnics were the mainstay of my childhood and remain a fondly held tradition in my own family,” Annabel says. “The whole purpose of a picnic is to afford pleasure and as a child it was heaven on earth to go to the beach and eat sardine sandwiches.” Today, however, we wholeheartedly agree with her recommendation that it is a generous serving of alcohol that makes the perfect modern day picnic. “Enough alcohol is essential to the multi-generational beach picnic, oiling old and arthritic appreciation of the young, ravenous and incredibly loud and encouraging healing post-prandial sleep for all ages.”
Here we love the sound of her husband’s Bloody Mary recipe, seemingly straight from the Dean Martin school of cocktail making – “for choice his vodka is lightly coloured with tomato juice,” she jokes.
To one large bottle of Mott’s Clamato Juice in a jug add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, celery salt, a spoonful of grated horseradish, ground black pepper, juice of half a lemon, ice and vodka at a judicious level of 1-4, to be raised according to need. Give it all a good whisk/shake. To find the optimum spice levels for individual taste requires regular tasting and testing.
For more information or to order, visit Polperro Press.
SWIMWEAR FIT FOR A HOLLYWOOD CLOSE-UP
AUG. 2012 As I sit and write this, I’m actually lazing in the heat of the sud de France sun and wishing I had one of these swimsuits by Storm in a D Cup to liven up my rather dull repertoire of one-piece racing bathers. How glamorously Fifties’ St Tropez (Tom Polumbo’s portrait of Anne St Marie, circa 1953 Vogue, comes instantly to mind)… how superbly Fifties Hollywood (think Brigitte Bardot, Ursula Andres, and Elizabeth Taylor in her hey day, bottom right). These would look great on anyone, D cup or not.
DISCOVER LAYERS OF MEANING IN THESE COLLECTIBLE COLLAGES
AUG. 2012 In the lead up to the Jubilee I became obsessed with having one of Hello Geronimo’s Queen’s heads as a memento of such an auspicious occasion... here button and badge mad designer (and former interiors magazine intern) Vicky Cockerell tells us how she started on the road to handcrafted madness:
How did you get started?
I hadn’t worked with buttons before but decided to make a cushion and hand sew buttons on to it for a good friend’s wedding present. They loved it so much I continued making things with buttons. The badges came later when I realised that more meaning could go into pieces I was producing and my map of the UK proved to be the turning point as it conveys much more than what you see at first glance. As does the LOVE collage – I use badges that have little compliments and little messages about love and relationships on them.
Weirdest places you've found the bits and bobs you use?
Actually my mum is a great help as she goes into the charity shops near to where she lives and sends me jars full, and every now and again I’ll stumble upon a tin of beautiful things in an antique shop. So there’s a lot of searching, a great deal of luck and a magpie’s eye involved!
So they’re more than pretty pictures?
I recently completed a massive piece on London which took me weeks to research and make (all the badges on the piece are correctly geographically placed) – actually I do this for every picture, so the more interesting the country, the better my geography becomes.
What's it like being a craftsperson in the current economic climate?
I only started the business at the start of 2011 and for the first year I was working part-time at the interiors magazine Living Etc, but as soon as I left at the end of last year to concentrate on Hello Geronimo full-time the orders increased tenfold. I don’t know what happened but I’m certainly not complaining!