Gourmand smells and tastes at Ladurée and Harrods perfume hall – unicorn trend?

Tapping into the unicorn trend?

Unicorn Frappucino

Today’s post is on yummie rainbow things, because I am always drawn to interesting and gourmand smells and tastes. On some days, I absolutely have to indulge in tasting and smelling amazing things, so recently I went to Ladurée in Harrods London, followed by a sniffing escapade in the Harrods Perfume Hall.

Writing this I wonder, if I have been zapped by the growing unicorn trend or if I have always been a veteran unicorn when it comes to certain things. In Japan the “Kawaii” trend has been present for many many years so pink, cute and girly things are an old fad of mine! But with the ongoing unicorn trend in the West, your guess is as good as mine!

 

The original Ladurée in Paris

Ladurée is one of my go-to places when in Paris. The Paris branch is a granny’s paradise, a heaven of antiques in a splendid building on the Champs Elysees (there are a few more in Paris but this is my fave one. Thick cushions, lunch, tea and dessert….give me good book or send me there with a friend and I will be one happy Olga.

Ladurée Tea Room in Paris

But whilst I am spending time in London, its a delight that in this city they also have a branch – styled slightly different, with more marble and modernity.

Ladurée is famous for its rainbow-cloured MACARONS

If you have seen the recent trends of rainbow coloured, unicorn-themed gimmicks, candy and accessories, well, Ladurée had it all first, I say. They are the masters of all shades of pastel colours, sweet macarons (the FAMOUS macarons) and cakes.  If you want to have a macaron with you at all times, you can purchase it as a keychain, too as the company has branched out into a broad scope of merchandise in the last years, from fragrant candles to bags to key chains and more.

Ladurée macaron keychain

My healthy snack of that day was a coffee and a chocolate eclair which was so chocolaty that I won’t need any chocs for a week at least. The service was impeccable, and so was my treat.

Harrods Perfume Hall

After Ladurée, I explored the Harrods Perfume Hall where you can find best-seller fragrances, but more importantly, they stock all the niche perfumes. This place is often packed and hard to maneuver through during peak hours, however it is a one-stop-shop for many beautiful olfactory creations that are not widely available, including the private lines by jewelers and fashion brands which have become quite a trend lately.

For example, and completely in tune with sweet desserts, there was a bottle of this year’s new fragrance by Amouage in a rosé flacon, entitled “Blossom Love!” Yes I am quite obsessed with it now…

The unicorns are out to get us…

You see what I mean about the unicorns? Everything is pink and girly and pastel coloured at the moment. Why oh why?

“Van der Poel says that her team originally projected the unicorn trend for 2012 and 2013 following the sudden popularity of pastel-colored French macarons in the food world and a spate of fairy tale-themed films in theaters. She labels the trend a “combination regression-escapism” moment, especially for Millennials who grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s during the original incarnation of the “My Little Pony” cartoon.” explains the San Francisco Chronicle.

It may be well true….

 

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London’s Tokimeite & Tombo Café x Hello Kitty

Konnichiwa my dear readers, and my apologies for being silent for so long. London life has been keeping me rather busy so it is only today that I found time to post.

I have had a very Japanese weekend indeed, and I want to tell you about two lovely restaurants that I visited.

 

  1. Tokimeite

A beautiful and refined Japanese restaurant in Central London, near New Bond Street. This gem serves Kyoto-style cuisine, prepared by a star chef. I tasted the Bento lunch set which was delightful!

While enjoying a look at the wonderful interior, I started wondering about the design of the lamps. Do they look like temple lanterns to you?

Tokimeite London with star chef Murata Yoshihiro

 

2. Tombo Café

Tombo Café is my go-to for a large Matcha Latte and a home-style Chicken Katsu Curry. But today, I bumped into Tombo’s Hello Kitty promotion! Yes, yes, Hello Kitty, you read it correctly! This is  enough to get me excited in a girly, squeaky kind of way.

Check out all the amazing things they are offering:

 

 

 

My Matcha Latte!

 

Still have to try this delicious assortment of cakes….

 

Of course, all these delicious treats are still a far cry from what you can get in Japan, but this is very close and – very yummie! The reason is mostly because it is difficult to obtain or even ship the special and very fresh ingredients over here. I recently bumped into a stranded container from Mitsui Shipping Company and wondered how food is shipped from Japan to London, but that’s for another story.

Mitsui in North Acton. This must be the only existing shot where a crocodile, a magpie and a seagull all peacefully pose in one single shot.

Anyways, should you be in London, please do try out these tasty treats!
Mata ne!

 

Can you take e-commerce offline? Ask Alexa and Amazon.

Image result for storesigns.com

Image source here.

Hello boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen,

One of the hot topics I lecture on is e-commerce, physical stores and the combination of both. The usual way this is done by companies and brands is that they have a store and then absolutely must expand into e-commerce, making sure they are available to customers through all sorts of digital and mobile devices.

But can this work the other way around? Can a pure-play retailer (only selling via e-commerce and with a business model entirely devoted to it) take its business offline?

The world’s pioneer of e-commerce Amazon has done just that. The infamous inventor of Alexa was once famous for being an on-line bookstore and a few decades later this bookstore is now a physical store. What’s highly interesting is how the digital gimmicks of ratings or purchase suggestions have been turned back into brick-and-mortar. Although I usually write about fashion, art, Japan and textiles, I want to direct your attention to books, in this case. It’s a great example for any e-business, including e-tailers like ASOS or Net-a-Porter and Zalando who all might consider a brick & mortar store (and not just a pop-up store which they open from time to time).

Below I am re-posting an excerpt of an insightful article by Anne-Marie Kovacs and her blog “As a Consumer.” Enjoy and click on the link to read it in full if you fancy!

 

“[…] The shopping experience at Amazon Books, the physical store

I walked into Amazon Books in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood last month. This was the company’s fifth physical store. At 6,000 square feet with only 3,800 titles on display, it’s definitely not a bookstore on the scale of the mega Barnes & Noble or Borders bookstores of lore. It’s “small” but the whole product selection is curated – with guidance from Amazon’s top ratings and product popularity – to feature only top selling favorite products. Add Amazon’s tweaks and “secret sauce” to the traditional bookstore model and it made for a very enjoyable shopping experience.

 

Amazon Store in Southport Corridor of Lakeview neighborhood, Chicago

 

Book display Amazon Books store

Reviews and ratings

Amazon Bookstore reviews and ratings

Each book presented here has been deemed worthy of taking up shelf space. That’s because any book in the store has a rating of at least 4 out of 5. There is also a chosen reader’s review is featured on the review card that is displayed with each book. As is a barcode that customers can scan to get more information. As a consumer, I’m comforted to know that every book in the store has been vetted by hundreds – thousands? – of readers and should provide a satisfying, if not captivating read.

Visual cues

If you like youll love feature in the Amazonbooks store

I particularly enjoyed the “If you like {_____}, you’ll love {_____}” feature. A visual, immediately accessible way to find other books in a similar theme, style or category.  

Reading prompts and local interest

Amazon Books endcaps

The endcaps each feature different compelling reading “themes” such as the geo-relevant “Fiction Top Sellers in Chicago”, the take-it-on “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime”, addictive “Page Turners” and “Highly Rated” books in various categories. The books throughout the store are all placed face up. This take up a lot of real estate but it does make the selection easily scannable and shoppable.

Mobile enabled and encouraged

Using the Amazon app in the store

Amazon knows exactly how consumers shop today: always with a phone in hand, ready to “showroom” and search for reviews, coupons, opinions… It’s probably pointless to “showroom” in the Amazon store since, as we know, Amazon is the usual showrooming reference when we shop elsewhere.

The Amazon Books store encourages customers to use their app, not for showrooming, but to see the item’s price, additional recommendations and information on the Amazon.com site itself. The Amazon app (incidentally categorized under “Essentials” in iTunes) is quite fun to use in the store. Click on the app’s camera icon and it will scan pretty much any object (you can use it anywhere! Try it on any object where you are now) and provides eerily accurate search results within seconds. It found my Macbook right away when I was revisiting the app at home…

Prices are not marked on any of store items. In what we can guess is an attempt to onboard new Amazon Prime customers, existing Amazon Prime members get Prime pricing (which fluctuates constantly, so it can’t be listed) as opposed to the higher “list price” for non-Prime people. I don’t know anyone who’s not a Prime member. Do you? I bet only a minority of customers here actually pay MSRP. Anyhoo, if you don’t have the app, there are plenty of “scanning stations” throughout the store that can be used to get all the item’s info.

Electronics demystified

Amazon Books store - electronics section

Innovative electronic gadgets are not always an easy sell. We often need to see them in action to convince us to take the leap and purchase. The electronics display seen here, paired with competent and enthusiastic sales associates, make the sale a lot easier: easily understood product descriptions, customer reviews, samples to play with and salespeople available to ask questions to. This is the model needed to break through that customer hesitancy barrier. […]”

 

Sonic branding for fashion

AS I am researching this topic to include in my lecture next week, I want to share some interesting things I have found out with you, my dear readers.

Sonic branding – it is the stuff our windows PCs are made of when we start it up, what makes (some of) us love McDonald’s or know that a 20th Century Fox movie is starting. Yes, these are all familiar sounds, forever engraved in our minds and representative of the brands they are attributed to.

But how does it work for fashion? Fashion rarely makes use of repetitive jingles, perhaps because fashion is built on the concept of always presenting something new, something fresh, something yet unthought of. However, fashion DOES use music to its full advantage! Think of the famous Levi’s commercial which my dear friend John Altman arranged the music for.

“Levi’s Engineered Jeans were promoted in 2002 in “Odyssey”, a TV commercial that has come to be known as a classic. A young man (played by French actor Nicolas Duvauchelle) opens a door, steps back and emotionally prepares himself for the odyssey. And then he runs. Through the door, through the wall of the next room, and the room after. As he continues to burst through one empty room after another he is joined by another runner, a woman (played by Antoinette Sugier). Finally they stop, breathless. They catch a glance at each other, preparing for the next stage of the journey. It’s through the exterior brick wall, out into the forest, up the trees and into the sky. The text: “Levi’s Engineered Jeans. Freedom to move. levi.com”.” (Levi’s ‘Odyssey’ was the first major project delivered by special effects production company Framestore CFC since its inception at the end of 2001.)

The beautiful music was produced by Jeff Wayne and arranged by John Altman. The music is Handel’s ‘Sarabande’ from the Suite in D minor for solo harpsichord. John Altman employed a late-classical chamber orchestra — 22 strings, flute, clarinet, bassoon, three French horns and timpani.

This is a classic example of fusing – erm, classical music with fashion to get a very specific brand experience across.

But now lets fast forward a decade and a half to 2016, when Uniqlo (one of my favourite Japanese brands) made a fantastic music video to accompany their flagship store launch in London on Oxford Street. The campaign is created by Faster Horses and what they managed to do in this commercial is to capture the very unique spirit of London through visuals and sound. They used a German DJ named Konstantin Sibold: https://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/konstantinsibold [this has a great sound cloud link so you can sample his art] for the music and 8 individual dancers whose sequences were choreographed by Lukas McFarlane. They actually used derelict buildings and passages with graffiti all over London to make it authentic, unique and more cutting edge.

I hope the link works and you can watch their “This way to Utopia” commercial and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What emotions does the video evoke? What do you make of the soundtrack?

 

 

 

Fuselage brand has new items in stock

Dear readers, boys and girls,

It’s been a long time since I have created new pieces for my artistic brand Fuselage, so I am delighted to have some new items in stock!

A few new colourful scarves in various formats have arrived in my Etsy shop, as well as two bright large throws for armchairs or small sofas. As usual, most of the square scarves are made of 100% silk but for the new large airy ones, I have experimented with a silk and viscose mix. The home decoration throws are thick and sturdy as well as stretchy, because if you move around while sitting on them, they will give and not rip. 😛

Check them out and let me know if you like them or if you are considering buying a gift for a loved-one!

Olga

xxx

On French Elections, Karl Lagerfeld & French Astronaut

Hi boys and girls,

On the day of legendary French elections, I want to re-post a cosmic article that shows what can happen when fashion meets astronauts. This is so out-of-space, first seen on WWD.

Whatever the outcome of today’s election will be, I will always love  and admire France! Enjoy!

And BTW, Thomas Pesquet has his own Twitter page:

****************************************************************

Karl Lagerfeld Interviews French Astronaut in Space

The designer revealed Thomas Pesquet, who has been aboard the International Space Station since November, inspired his fall collection.

By Joelle Diderich on May 6, 2017

ROCKET MAN: Karl Lagerfeld has revealed the real inspiration behind his space-themed show for Chanel in March: French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who has kept the nation in thrall with his regular reports from the International Space Station since November.

The designer hooked up with the cosmonaut for a remote interview broadcast on French radio France Info on Saturday, in which he asked him everything from what he eats, how he washes and how often he works out.

“I admire [him]. In fact, he has even inspired fashion since I was indirectly inspired not only by where he is, but also by his personality, because I think he is more charismatic than his predecessors,” Lagerfeld said.

The designer installed a giant rocket (35 meters/115 feet high) inside the Grand Palais in Paris for his spectacular fall ready-to-wear display.

“I am very flattered that Karl Lagerfeld draws inspiration from space for his collections,” Pesquet said. “Thankfully he did not draw inspiration from astronauts’ outfits, because obviously here, we tend to wear European Space Agency polo shirts and pants with Velcro fastenings, which is not that great.

“But it’s good. It means space makes people dream, that people are interested in exploration and science, and that’s a good thing, because we are doing this for them. We don’t do this for fun, but to be useful to society, at the end of the day,” he added.

Asked if he would like to trade places with Pesquet, Lagerfeld demurred. “No, I think it’s a little late [for that]. And the training is terrifying, on top of which I only speak four languages, and he must speak six, so you see, it’s not enough,” he said.

The designer did have one special request. “Is there a way to design a room in my house where I float around? I would quite enjoy that. It’s nuts,” he said.

 

Kansai Yamamoto thrifty Tribute

Ladies and gents, boys and girls,

Have you ever heard of the Japanese Designer Kansai Yamamoto? Yes, no or maybe? Just to give you a little hint (or reminder for those who know him), he is one of the most colourful, experimental and legendary designers who clothed David Bowie for his Ziggy Stardust Tour. 山本 寛斎 is just fabulous!
david-bowie-and-kansai-yamamoto-in-japan-1973

Image above: Kansai Yamamoto and David Bowie trying on one of Yamamoto’s creations. Sourced here.

It was just my luck, that strolling through London, as one does, I should veer off the road into a thrift store and discover…drum rolls please…a Kansai Yamamoto sweater from the 80s!With a beautiful appliqué dragon and “Kansai Yamamoto” appliqué signature below it.

Kansai Sweater 2

 

The thrift store ladies gave it away almost for free, asking with much concern on their faces: “Are you going to wear it out or just at home?” Yes, of course, OF COURSE I am going to wear it out! I don’t care if I look like I just arrived fresh from the 80s in a time machine, this is a Yamamoto original and my tribute to his great talent.

Check it out:

The discovery of this vintage piece is coincidentally perfectly timed with the Louis Vuitton 2018 Cruise Collection Show in Kyoto, Japan – held on May 14, 2017! Nicholas Ghesquière made a vivid tribute to Yamamoto and it turns out he is a fan of his just like moi.

 

 

Louis Vuitton 2018 Cruise Collection – Image source here.

Louis Vuitton 2018 Cruise Collection seen here.

If you are as inspired as I am, you might like to check out Pinterest with lots of fantastic images of his creations: https://uk.pinterest.com/beaconscloset/kansai-yamamoto/?lp=true

And if you feel like you must have a retro piece, too, there are a few sites which offer Kansai Yamamoto vintage pieces: https://www.1stdibs.com/creators/kansai-yamamoto/fashion/

Have you got a cool vintage story to tell? I would love to hear from you!

Olga xx