Xmas @ Somerset House

Yup, it is the time of the season again. Somerset House hosts an ice rink and pop-up shops by Fortnum & Mason. I visited the place with Bella yesterday afternoon and found the rink packed with skaters…

I must say that the Christmas shop by F&M was a bit lacklustre. Somerset House used to hold a really original and fun pop-up. You can read about it here. I know F&M is a fantastic shop, however, I can’t stand it when I have to see the same face everywhere I turn.

Anyway, it’s nearly December and that means I can dress my windows with Christmas lights. Yay!

Another thing which makes me feel Christmassy is this…

A mince pie! I’m a sure I will be sick of them by the end of Yuletide…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bone & Broth

Brrrrrr, isn’t it so bloody cold?! I am moanng because I am being punished for my presumptuousness. So, what did I get wrong this time? Well, I made the mistake of swapping my winter wardrobe to the spring’s straight after the Easter holidays. The weather was truly lovely at the beginning of the April, warm sunshine and the temperature soaring to mid-twenties, etc. However, the cold air from the Arctic decided to return over the British Isles and the weather had turned to wintry again. The sad thing is I make the same error every year and find myself having to suffer for a week or more in inadequate clothings. But who can blame me? My desire for wanting to shed all those heavy woolly outfits at the first sign of the Spring is so strong and it simply overrides my common sense! I sincerely hope the present weather system will be shooed off by the warm Mediterranean cousin very soon so I can turn off central heating and cast away my Uniqlo fleece jacket which seems to have become my second skin at home…
This cold spell also influences my choice for what to eat when I am out and about. Instead of reaching for a box of salad, I yearn something warm and comforting. 
And I had been intrigued by the pop-up shop near Exit 1 at Old Street station for quite a while…

Old Street underground station is definitely not one of those modern and smart show-case stations like London Bridge or Westminster. It is rather grey and even a little neglected. The passage walls sport calcified water damage marks and the tiles are missing from them here and there. And the state of the damages indicates that those defects have been left to decay for years. However until 10 years ago, the station was even more depressing and grotty. A mixture made up with revellers to the clubland of Hoxton/Shoreditch, aggressive ticket touts and drug addicts used to loiter around the ticket hall. And it did not make an attractive sight. The forbidding atmosphere definitely made me quicken the pace so I could get away from the station which resembled a den.

Then came 2011, the neighbourhood around the station metamorphosed into Silicon Roundabout – a hub of Tech industries, thanks to Google which open Google Campus on nearby Bonhill Street. The transformation also became a catalyst for cleaning up the antisocial activities within the station and energising the retail area. Now, decorative shrubs are placed in the ticket hall and the retail units which used to be vacant are being let out to host various pop-up shops. 

Bone & Broth is a typical pop-up shop which depicts the undertone of the Tech City tribe – their desire for being innovative and wholesome. The information savvy crowd are no longer excited by freshly press juice or low-carb muffins, but very much intrigued by this special “broth”. The people behind the venture claims their broth is made from slowly cooked roasted bone and packed with nutrients such as vitamin, collagen, amino acids, keratin and minerals. Sounds great, doesn’t it? So I decided to try this elixir of wellness myself.

On the shelves, there were three gigantic thermos flasks which kept  three different kinds of broth warm. ‘Would you like beef or chicken? Or vegetarian broth?’ I explained to a smiley staff behind the counter that it was my first visit and I wanted to sample their beef broth.

She filled up a small cup with ivory white liquid and handed it to me. ‘You can add some flavour to it too. We have chilli, spring onion and ginger’.

Slowly, I sipped the broth with ginger and a pinch of sea salt. The broth had a distinctive cooked beef smell, similar to roast beef. The flavour was surprisingly delicate and some may say it was a little too bland. The additional ginger gave a kick but chilli would have been a better choice as the stuff recommended. In the end, I opted for a cup of beef broth with ginger, spring onion and sea salt.

Wrapping my hand around a warm cup of broth was definitely agreeable on a cold afternoon. And if the broth was to do a load of good to my wellness, what not to like about it? 

By the way, the pop-up at Old Street station is gone but their branches can be found at St Pancras station and also at Natural Kitchen on Marylebone High Street!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Wild Kingdom @ Siren Gallery, Dalston

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending “Wild Kingdom”, the event showcasing a select group of designers at Siren Gallery, Dalston.
When I got to the venue around 19:00, the place was already buzzing with an excited crowd, exchanging pleasantry and ogling beautiful offerings on display…

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I brought Mr.B with me because of the fireworks. It appeared some idiots still could not get enough of lighting stupid rockets in their backyards. *SIGH*

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The event was organised by Jacey of Jacey Withers London who founded his jewellery line which was highly acclaimed and well received home and abroad …

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The collection seemed to be inspired by the beauties of nature…

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Animals, feathers, plants, mystical creatures, legendary motifs, they were transformed to ultra seductive jewellery pieces. The way Jacey worked with materials was so complicated and awe-inspiring.

My friend, Fei Wang, who invited me to the event was also showcasing her highly coveted collection…

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Her sunglasses were greatly in demand, especially by discerning oriental ladies who love to have original and fashionable shades but also want them to be comfortable to wear…

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Each frame was lovingly hand-made in UK…

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Fei’s frames were not plastic but made from top quality Italian acetate. At her factory, sheets of acetate were plied according to her specification in order to create a highly unique finish.

Another items intrigued my antenna was Feather.M

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The brand was founded by Leo Featherman in 2012.  Her iconic pentagonal bag came in various sizes and finishes. Her attention to detail did not end on the outside but it was carried on reflecting on the material and finish employed for the inside of the bags. They were lined beautifully and it was a pleasure to slip in my hand into them.

Another amazing point of her product was this python bag, named as “Friday Clutch”…

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Could you believe that the clutch would glow in the dark? How cool would it be?
It would be very useful when I were to be lost in a dark night club. I would just hold up the bag above my head and my friends could find me.

Next to Leo’s sleek handbags, there were lovely silk scarves on display…

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They were by Silken Favours, the brand created by Victoria Murdoch. Ever since Liberty of London picked up her silk cushions, her collection had been amassing fans of her kitsch yet irresistable artworks…

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“HEDGEHOG SWEETHEARTS”…

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“I LOVE EVERYTHING” in pink…

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It was a lovely occasion to catch up with old friends as well as to meet new people. I was so inspired and energised.
Like Earl Nightingale famously quoted,  “Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm”, we, all like-minded creators, have to fuel each other with our enthusiasm in order to move forward together and fill our environment with beautifully original things…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Pop Up @ Hoxton Boutique

Temperature plunges and the sky is overcast – the autumn is knocking at our door.
Even though sweet memories of the summer still flicker with Instagram hues in my head, I am looking forward  to the change of season.

 

Last Friday, I was browsing my FB as usual and noticed the post announcing a pop up boutique this weekend…

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The post was put up by my friend, Alison, who was a founder of the legendary fashion treasure haunt, Hoxton Boutique.
The boutique closed its door at the end of May 2011 which saddened many of the shop’s avid followers who adored quirky & fun yet very wearable styles the shop offered as an alternative to mainstream fashion.

When my West End stockist, Koh Samui, went into liquidation in the summer of 2008, Alison kindly took my knitwear into the boutique which helped me to pick myself up and move forward. And I am forever grateful for it.
The reason Alison decided to close the boutique was her desire to concentrate on her fashion brand HOBO fully instead of having to divide her attention to running the boutique and designing. As a creator myself, I understood her frustration totally. I wouldn’t be able to work if my concentration was broken all the time.
However, I missed a purple neon, HOXTON BOUTIQUE, glowing on the white fascia every time I walked passed Hoxton Street. Hoxton had lost one very important character which made the area so worthy of a visit.

Hubbie & I hadn’t seen Alison since she permanently relocated the operation to Ramsgate. Therefore, we were very excited about the reunion. So, Mr.B in tow, we walked to the boutique eagerly…

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Alison, her dog, Charlie and a pop up shop participant,  Amelia were there…

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We caught up with each other about how things had been in the last 2 years.

The items on sale in a front half of the boutique were old stocks from the late Hoxton Boutique…

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And a rear half was occupied with a vintage clothing collection by Amelia…

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Amelia also has her own shop in ASOS Marketplace, MORE AMELIA.
The selection is modern and bang on trend. Please have a look and you won’t be disappointed.

Charlie knew Mr.B since he was a puppy…

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He had been making every effort to be on a friendly term with Mr.B ever since they acquainted each other 8 years ago. However, Mr.B hadn’t responded with the same enthusiasm…

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Mr.B just kept on slipping away from Charlie. Oh Mr.B, open your heart a tiny bit more…

At the boutique, Hubbie bought me necklaces by Tatty Devine…

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Aren’t they sweet?

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I’ve heard from Alison that a new Hoxton Boutique web store will open from the middle of this month. And she is suggesting a come back to the Hoxton scene in some way near future. I am so excited!
Viva la Hoxton Boutique!!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Pop Up Britain @ Piccadilly

I was on an upper deck of the number 19 bus, heading towards Royal Academy when the word “POP UP” literally popped into my eyes.
Yay, a pop up shop!!
I love pop up shops. But who wouldn’t?
You get to meet designers / producers, listen to their amazing stories and are able to buy their unique products without any customary shop markups.
So I ran down the stairs like a flash and jumped off the bus at Waterstones on Piccadilly…

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On the east end of Piccadilly, an extensive redevelopment has been going on for nearly a decade.
The pop up shop by Pop Up Britain was located in one of the retail units which was yet to be filled.

The shop was comprised of soft furnishings, sunglasses, vintage chinas, clothing accessories and jewellery.

The stall by Astrid & Miyu was the the I was especially drawn to…

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Their collection was dainty and girlie.
They were so pretty. I wanted them ALL!

Then, I noticed a guy with a huge camera dancing around one particular man in suit.
Intrigued, I craned forward to see who it was…

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It was George Osborne the Chancellor!
He was chatting to the exhibitors.

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Hmmm… He looked remarkably well. His skin was smooth and line free.
I wondered how he managed that. Being the Chancellor of the Exchequer wouldn’t sound like a particularly skin / anti-aging friendly occupation. I would love to know his beauty secret. He really really looked like just undergone a luxury facial!

Anyway, I came home with these babies…

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Aren’t they pretty?
Can’t wait to wear them with a plain T or a silk blouse…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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