Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The Staple - Advent Calendar

Mistletoe and Wine

"So here it is, Merry Christmas..." and I've been Xmassing to the max all week. Although this time of year is always a bit of a whirlwind, for me, Xmas has been more or less confined to December, and even then to the last fortnight or so. Schmaltzy adverts, shopping panic, eating too much and even Xmas music; all of it has kind of passed me by, in a very pleasant way. I think this is mostly as I'm not working in retail any more, and as a result I've had a terribly civilised yule. And I think this is the way forward; as much as I love shopping, I have been very virtuous this December with my present purchasing in anticipation of the sales. Not only that, my train journey home was fine - I even managed some seating in First Class, I had a lovely Xmas eve lunch with my mates, Xmas day itself was very relaxed, and even Boxing day has been rather lovely. The only constant thing throughout December was my lovely Thorntons advent calendar - a Staple if ever there was one; there's nothing like counting down the days until something exciting happens, and marking that with chocolate is the only possible improvement. Maybe I'm getting old, but Xmas now seems to be so much more of a real holiday and a break from everything than before. Lovely stuff. Xmas is an absolute must; time to chill, eat and relax. And of course throw yourself into the sale mêlée at Leeds Harvey Nicks tomorrow. Other Xmas Staples include:
Thornton's Advent Calendar
Watching old BBC programmes on Dave and Dave +1
Pink prosecco
A Vivienne Westwood checked scarf
A real fire
The Yard pub in Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Giving greatly appreciated presents

Sunday, 16 December 2007

The Staple - Gold Converse

If Gold was Good Enough for Jesus...

As the mythical 'Xmas party season' rolls into view, style sections seem to be full of partywear for both men and women. However, unless you work at some sort of UberTwat banking firm in the City, the suggested tuxedo and smart shoe look is a little OTT. Not that I dislike smart (quite the opposite in fact), it's just that I am rarely invited to an event which demands it, where other guests will appreciate the sublime cut of my jacket and the subtle choice of shirt and shoes that I would, in theory, make. In practice, I have been spreading a little Chistmas cheer in these beauties. I bought them in early spring - hence the slightly worn gold - after spraypainting both loafers and Converse for a few years before. They are some sort of Limited thing, only available from Foot Locker in Covent Garden, In gold leather, with diamante studded sides, and gilding on the rubber toecap as well. For me, not seeing anyone else wearing them has been a higlight, except for M.I.A. in a photoshoot. They are widely admired, and were well worth the premium over the more subtle gold Cons. Gold shoes are ideal Xmas party outfit finishers; they certainly solved my last-minute shoe crisis. And though they are everywhere in adverts; in reality, even in 'trendy east London', metallic shoes are rare. They are, however, best paired with an understated outfit. Give it a try this Xmas; after all, if gold was good enough for Jesus...Other Staples this week:
Gold leather, diamante-studded Converse hi-tops
Cantaloupe in East London
Daft Punk classic songs
Decorating the Xmas tree
The V&A's 'Out of the Ordinary' craft exhibition
Boycotting Tesco
A lovely evening in Camino, Kings's Cross

Monday, 10 December 2007

The Staple - Liberty

Palace of Dreams

I've touched on the joy of shopping at Liberty before, but this past week has really seen a zenith in my appreciation of the store. The Christmas cardholders event was an absolute pleasure, free glasses of wine, beautiful objects wherever you cast your eye, gorgeous guests and staff, and some of the most civilised shopping surroundings possibly anywhere. Particular highlights were seeing my dream sofa - previously discussed with a friend a couple of days ago - and more or less faling in love with it; a button-backed Chesterfield chaise longue in thick cerise velvet. Unfortunately at £2650, it costs almost 6 months worth of rent. One can dream. However, the Christmas shop yielded some gorgeous decorations and gifty items; as did the stationery department. As did the cosmetics and beauty hall. As did, almost, the menswear hall. And the shoe department. It's not just exceptional well bought-in and selected pieces that make Liberty great, but the entire experience of civility and hallowed surroundings or a gorgeous Arts and Crafts building. Liberty has a presence that Selfridges and Harvey Nichols with their steel and glass and marble and thick swathes of people and music just cannot match. The one thing that could make it better would be a well-stocked magazine department, and possibly a better area for men's grooming. But, this would merely be fiddling with perfection. Liberty is, quite simply, diving and I urge you to visit it at some stage over Chrtistmas to escape the histle and pick up some truly fabulous gifts. Other Staples:
Liberty department store
HOPS! pub in Covent Garden
Rediscovering the first Bloc Party album, 'Silent Alarm'
A green, double-breasted winter coat
Julien Maclaren-Ross' 'Bitten By The Tarantula'
The George on Great Portland St.
Seeing old Bond films on ITV - Christmas is here!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Staple - Apple

[Insert Apple pun here]

So, as a result of the deathly illness that has struck me, I've spent nights in with my trusty laptop on which I am typing now, and I've been reminded just how important the internet, and available access to it have become. The free wifi has been a little intermittent this week, and without it, I've felt more isolated than I expected. However, typing as I am now, with a full fan of internet signal, sitting on my bed with the Mac balanced on a B-Store shoebox and the Guillemots in the background, I'm reminded of just how lovely it is to have this invisible connection with the world. And, perhaps more importantly, a device so ergonomic and efficient that if my wifi disappears here, I can pack up and go to Camino (or anywhere with interweb) and set up in 30 seconds. There's something appropriately edible about Apples; the glossy finish, soft touch and veritable malleability which makes using them a complete pleasure to use. The idea of a fully portable, uncomplicated portal which can store all my music, photos, writing and can allow me to book tickets, talk to my mates, do my banking, shop, meet people, even work is fabulous. And the added bonus of looking like a spare prop from 2001 is the icing on the cake. I am truly a convert; after years of crashing, boxy beige PCs and constantly breaking laptops, Apples really are top banana. Other, less pun-worthy Staples this week:
Apple laptops
The Baz Luhrman-directed Chanel No. 5 advert
Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes
A diamante spider brooch
Thornton's Advent calendars
Ian Curtis' biopic, 'Control'