Sunday, 2 March 2014

Self Service

Any regular readers (and I still don't really believe that means anyone aside from Grandfather, my friends Kim and Simon and my sisters, but the statistics say otherwise) will have noticed that I don't seem to have written much recently.  There is one overwhelming reason why, and that is that I have been focusing on getting English Abode live, English Abode being the online magazine and shopping platform which I've set up, with a little (i.e. a massive amount of invaluable) help from my friends Emma M-T and Christopher T-R.  I'm delighted to be able to inform you that, from us, you can now buy everything from antiques to contemporary design, via cushions (obviously), wallpaper, fabric, Potichomania lamps, silk ikat lampshades, Rajhastani dhurries, antique Venetian mirrors, and some of the prettiest laundry baskets I've ever seen.  I'm actually having a hard time resisting buying all the stock myself - fortunately we've got more coming soon.

Susan Deliss silk ikat cushions and lampshade

Rose de Borman hand-printed silkscreen cushion.  See how hard it is for me?!

Anyway, this isn't meant to be all about English Abode, this post is actually about the night we launched when I finally left the office for the first time in what felt like months (but obviously wasn't) and went to Linley on the Pimlico Road for an exhibition celebrating 'British Design, Craftsmanship, Engineering and Innovation,' which is on until mid-March.  

The entrance was kind of fabulous.  Check out the JCBs.  

Anyway, inside was packed, not least with Elizabeth Hurley holding court next to Gladstone Motorcycles (admittedly her date for the evening was Henry Cole, CEO of said motorcycles) - incidentally, just to illustrate how busy I've been, I hadn't even realised that she and Shane Warne had broken up for good, i.e. I haven't even had time to keep up with the Daily Mail sidebar - but also because every stand was so worth looking at properly.   They weren't just presenting wares, but were showing exactly what goes into everything.  For instance, my friend Bettina who was there with her quite stunningly amazing bespoke handbags was accompanied by Ruth, who actually makes the handbags, and things like a length of ostrich skin, to demonstrate how little of each can actually be used (I never knew that it wasn't all spotty).  There was stationery (Smythson's have got competition), millinery, guns (I genuinely know somebody who was given a pair of Purdeys as a confirmation present), cars, luggage (OMG I love Globetrotter so much - I actually travelled all across Russia, Mongolia, China and then flew to Vanuatu accompanied by nothing but a single ancient Globetrotter one summer, a million years ago) - indeed everything, almost. (There were no cushions.)

You should totally go and see it.  But you should especially go and see Bettina's handbags, because they are both beautifully crafted (we're talking Hermes standard) and immensely practical:  the straps are reinforced to make sure that they don't stretch, they're just the right length to carry over your arm comfortably - in fact she offers two sets of straps so that you can change how you wear the bag - travel bag straps are non slip(!), there are all the pockets and pull-outs you could dream of, and they actually stay looking pristine for a mega long time because Bettina has found some wonder coat-er which protects the suede and the leather.  Oh, and because they're bespoke, you can actually change whatever you like.  

This gives an indication of the different sizes.

Different colours - though actually any colour is possible - but gosh I would like the caramel coloured one on the left . . . 

What's included:  spare straps, detachable wallet with inside pockets for different currency etc.

Tragically (for me) Bettina's bags are, as to be expected, quite expensive - though in comparison to other brands (I'm whispering Hermes) insanely good value - so I can't afford one, yet.  However, if enough people buy enough on English Abode, I might be able to, soon.

The title of this post ought to make sense now.
The exhibition is at Linley Belgravia, 60 Pimlico Road, London SW1W 8LP until the 14th March