London’s eternity: In books, buildings and bespoke shoes

London is an eternal city, it is full of historical significance and amidst change and movement, there are places of complete standstill, older than any of the passers-by.

© The Print Collector—Heritage-Images/Imagestate

The Old Curiosity Shop, 13-14 Portsmouth Street WC2A

In Holborn, near the wonderful London School of Economics, not far from King’s College and the Thames river, is a very old and historical part of town where presently, there is a lot of construction going on.

Image source here.

But amidst all the updates, refurbishments and additions to Central London, there are historical sights which have not changed for centuries.

You might think that I am speaking of great and famous buildings which there are plenty here in London, but I am referring to the tiniest and most humble structures with arguably some of the greatest significance in terms of history and continuity of this beautiful city.

 

The Old Curiosity Shop as it stands in November 2017 – it’s 5th Century here. How many people has it seen walk past on this very corner?

The place I have photographed here is no other then THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP made immortal by Charles Dickens’ novel. I love the backdrop of intense construction and the 16th Century shop in  a bubble of eternal tranquility. Whereas in other cities of the world the memories of the past would have had to crumble under the pressure of the heavy wallets of property investors, London preserves and protects many heritage sites. Thank goodness.

Of course, it is not where Nell Trent and her grandfather actually lived, for this was fiction, nor was it called “The Old Curiosity Shop” when the novel was published in the mid-19th Century, but received its name later – probably due to the immense popularity of the book.

But the present day resident is still a remarkable protagonist, if you like. The Japanese designer shoemaker Kimura Daita-san has set up an atelier where he makes incredible bespoke shoes, a rather English tradition you could argue.

 

I quote Chrissy Grübel from her fantastic post

“Kimura has been in residence since 1992, crafting truly unique designs for both men and women. What will you find? Shiny leather oxfords, cool “hog-toed” boots, colorful unisex sneakers—classic shapes with modern details that can live in anyone’s wardrobe. I am personally begging for the Eley Kishimoto laceups: “Please, sir. I want some more.” Yes, I know this quote is from a different Dickens novel, but I’m a blogger not a scholar.

The shop may only exist in a magical lil’ nook of what I think is the most magical city on earth, but luckily for those who don’t share my urban obsession, you can shop online! There is justice in the world!”

You can see the full collection of shoes here and below is a movie made by Kimura-san:

 

 

Alpha Books, 1 Portsmouth St, London WC2A 2ES (corner of Sheffield St.)

And then, opposite The Curiosity Shop is another gem: Alpha Books. This shop provides the university students, lecturers (like me) and bibliophiles with rare, used, out-of print or specialty books at very decent prices. It is, not to say the least, quite a “Dickensian” sort of place. When I went in, an grumpy man hidden behind a partition and half-way into an antique stairway leading to the basement. I could not see the man at first, but only hear him grumbling and ranting.

I asked: “Exuse me?”

He shouted: “Yes, excuse me! We are busy, you have to wait!”

And when he had carried a box out to the door I asked: “Yesterday, you had a book on structuralism outside…”

“Yes! By Piaget,” he finished my sentence and then went on to fetch it out the many random piles of books on the floor.

Incredible, I thought, because not only did he know exactly which book it was, he also found it within the seeming chaos in a split second! And it is an out-of-print 1971 edition! Of an author who only certain people even have heard of!

If I was filming a scene of a movie, this would be it. Only at that point, I was in the movie. A shop devoid of any signs of modernity, inside or out. It could have been the 1980s, the 1950s, or earlier.

Alpha books and its owner are a cultural heritage of London.

 

A view from inside the bookshop, looking at one of the London School of Economics’ buildings.

Whilst in the shop, and scanning it’s book tables just outside I fell in love with at least 5 more and will be stopping there again. Alpha books is a rarity for connoisseurs, of knowledge, history and authenticity, when bookstores are disappearing and gentrification is making little old curiosity shops extinct. The owner can be grumpy if he likes, I don’t mind – this place is not to be missed.

With love from London,

Olga

xx

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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….

 

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!

 

Hoshinoya Hotel Tokyo – a brand new old-style Ryokan

The Hoshinoya opened in 2016

Today’s post is once again influenced by my love for Japan, Tokyo and the amazing buildings that you can find there.

Riddle me this: You do construction work in a multi-million people city and find a natural hot spring. What do you do with it?

Answer: You do some more construction work and put a multi-million-yen building on top of it, call it a traditional-yet-modern Japanese Inn and connect the hot-spring up to the 17th floor.

This is very close to what really happened in downtown Tokyo very recently. The result is the magnificent Hoshinoya Hotel right smack in the middle of Tokyo’s business district Otemachi – a 5-star treat with a real Japanese flair.

The Telegraph describes the interiors:

“A clever addition to Tokyo’s hotel scene, the city’s first luxury ryokan fuses contemporary design and traditional craftsmanship with high-tech touches. The tower is encased in a black metal grid repeating a traditional Japanese kimono motif.

Inside, there is a dramatic double-height genkan entrance with a seasonal flower display, indigo walls, sliding paper screens, expanses of aromatic Japanese wood and modern-style cotton jersey kimono outfits for guests.

The 84 guestrooms are split into groups of six on 14 floors – with each floor resembling a self-contained ryokan inn, with its own Ochanoma lounge. Here, at a communal wooden table or on low sofas, staff serve o nigiri rice balls, coffee, tea or seasonal sakes.”

Omotenashi

Omotenashi

Hoshinoya is good at hospitality and excellent service, because that is what Japan is good at. In the style of a tradition al Ryokan (Guesthouse or Inn) the staff takes care of the guest and makes sure that he or she longs for nothing. This concept is known as “omotenashi” in Japanese and it is truly lived to its fullest potential.

Omotenashi - long-for-nothing at the Hoshinoya.

Omotenashi – long-for-nothing at the Hoshinoya.

 

What does it cost to whatch your dreams on a fluffy futon, after soaking in the Onsen, enjoying a dinner delight of the most delicious traditional Japanese cuisine and staff bringing you tea and slippers before bed time? It will be in the region of $590 to $1000, depending on season and room options. But remember: When you are there, you must take off your shoes at the entrance and show your best manners.

Sliding washi screens and tatami mats with soft futon beds make up the standard room at the Hoshinoya Hotel.

Sliding washi screens and tatami mats with soft futon beds make up the standard room at the Hoshinoya Hotel.

 

Venturing into luxury fashion’s sensory branding: From BOSS candles to edible Birkin Bags

PLEASE FIND BELOW MY LATES ARTICLE FOR THE ACADEMIC WEBSITE WORNTHROUGH.COM!

 

Venturing into luxury fashion’s sensory branding: From BOSS candles to edible Birkin Bags

When teaching fashion branding, I often like to look into futuristic topics, picking up on the latest trends. So recently, my class and I ventured into the world of sensory branding of the luxury fashion world.

Scense-Branding-300x230

Imge source here.

For those of you who are new to the term, it basically “is a type of marketing that appeals to all the senses in relation to the brand. It uses the senses to relate with customers on an emotional level. Brands can forge emotional associations in the customers’ minds by appealing to their senses. A multi-sensory brand experience generates certain beliefs, feelings, thoughts and opinions to create a brand image in the consumer’s mind.” (Wikipedia)

Specifically in fashion, the POS (point-of-sale) such as the flagship store is the most suitable place where all senses can be triggered. Students went out to the shopping district in Munich and examined flagship stores such as Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss or Max Mara and others on Visual, Tactile, Auditory, Olfactory, Gustative elements.

Overview Men´s Floor Louis Vuitton Maison München Residenzpost Opening 23.04.2103 Foto: Louis Vuitton

Overview Men´s Floor
Louis Vuitton Maison München Residenzpost; Foto: Louis Vuitton

Facade Louis Vuitton Maison München Residenzpost Opening 23.04.2103 Foto: Louis Vuitton Louis Vuitton Mesh Design Foto: (c) Louis Vuitton

Facade
Louis Vuitton Maison München Residenzpost; Foto: Louis Vuitton

They came back with very interesting observations: The luxury stores have a thoroughly and very specifically designed interior, which caters to the visual and tactile sense by using luxurious materials and subtle colours (as well as lighting). Furthermore, the background music is soft and elegant, because this makes one linger longer in the store (as compared to loud and fast music which also shortens the time a customer spends in store).

brandscent

Image source here.

When it came to the olfactory sense or simply put smell, my students became highly interested in the topic. How is smell integrated in the flagship stores? There is actually an entire industry catering to boutiques of all sorts, supplying fragrances for the so-called “ambient scent branding” which makes us feel relaxed and enchanted when we enter the premises. The big names of today’s scent manufacturers are Givaudan, Firmenich and IFF as well as Symrise. But this is actually nothing new: Singapore Airlines was one of the first companies to use a signature scent inside their cabins way back in the 80s. And in 2015, Hugo Boss has a signature ambient fragrance which they also let you take home in the form of a scented candle.

Scented Candle Tambodi Wood by BOSS

Scented Candle Tambodi Wood by BOSS; Image source here.

The last sense left to cover is taste. It is not something that immediately makes sense when thinking of luxury fashion. However, marketers have not been ignoring it and came up with a clever idea: The flagship stores now boast a cafe, restaurant or bar.

For example, Armani has the Armani Caffé in Munich and Burberry has followed the trend closely by opening a Café at its Regent Street flagship store this past summer. If you happen to be in Shanghai, there is the 1921Gucci is a fully-branded restaurant at the top of its store and in Tokyo the Maison Hermes Le Cafe will serve a coffee with miniature chocolate Birkin bags.

Thomas's - Burberry Café London

Thomas’s – Burberry Café London

Gucci chocolate

Gucci chocolate – Image soure here.

Hermes Birkin Bag chocolate

Hermes Birkin Bag chocolate – Image source here.

So what is next? – one wonders. How can fashion tempt us by reaching us on all physical and emotional senses? Have you eveer explored the topic of sensory branding? What do you ebvision for the future?

Originally posted on Worn Through:

http://www.wornthrough.com/2015/09/venturing-into-luxury-fashions-sensory-branding-from-boss-candles-to-edible-birkin-bags/

Spa CHANEL au Ritz Paris

chanel-gel-purete

Image source here.

Here’s fantastic news, as first seen on my fellow-blogger’s page “I love green Inspiration”:

Chanel will be taking up it’s long history with the Ritz in Paris by creating a day-spa full of Chanel beauty products. What a lovely idea!

CHANEL-spa-Paris

Image source here.

“The Chanel/Ritz partnership makes sense for many reasons. Coco Chanel herself was a fan of the Place Vendôme hotel and lived there for more than three decades in what is now called the Coco Chanel Suite. In fact, the famous Chanel No. 5 perfume is in a bottle reportedly inspired by the architecture and design of the Ritz. And although Chanel has been selling beauty products, from sunscreen to lipstick, for many years, this will be their first attempt at having an entire spa stocked with their branded products and treatments.

Le Weekend De Chanel

Le Weekend De Chanel

Image source here.

So far, the French luxury brand is keeping mum about any specific offerings or prices, but we can already hear spa-goers from around the world frantically looking for good flight deals to Paris. Meanwhile, the Ritz’s website will reportedly begin taking new reservations as early as next month.” Source here.

And here is some history, icluding the roots of Ritz in Switzerland:

Source by I love green Inspiration: Spa CHANEL au Ritz Paris

Brunch at the Victorian House Munich

Today my Singaporean friend Howie and I went to the Victorian House in Munich for some lovely late brunch.

The restaurant is really special, as it serves authentic British food and has about 20 different classic British breakfast dishes. It’s located opposite the old market place called “Viktualienmarkt”. Whenever I feel like I really miss London, I come here and treat myself to some eggs benedict, pancakes or just a nice “cuppa.”

They actually have 4 other locations in Munich which you can check on their site here.

The Viktualienmarkt in Munich on a Sunday is rather unspectacular...

The Viktualienmarkt in Munich on a Sunday is rather unspectacular…

Outside the Victorian House

Outside the Victorian House

 

In deep thoughts with my historic friend....

In deep thoughts with my historic friend….

Just in case you were wondering about the fashion: The purple leather Jacket is by Amaya Arzuaga and the bag is a small Gucci Boston bag.

He is too funny!

He is too funny!

It really feels like I am back in Britain, when I look at the lovely interior....

It really feels like I am back in Britain, when I look at the lovely interior….

Pankaces and fruit - only at the Victorian House

Pankaces and fruit – only at the Victorian House

A lovely bowl of fruit

A lovely bowl of fruit