Doing the rounds of the various shows over winter, Victoria and Lucy were feeling a bit of a French country vibe; a fine, un-fussy way of living, centered around the kitchen. Table linen and pudding moulds were taken care of, but then they came across Gien in Paris and the whole thing came together beautifully.
When it comes to fancy French china, Gien are the business. That said, the company was actually founded by an Englishman from Stoke-on-Trent called Thomas Hall. It was 1821 and Hall thought it was about time the French were introduced to fine English earthenware (they call it ‘faience’), so he set up shop in Gien, a small town on the banks of the River Loire.
Over the course of the 19th century, the company became best-known as the supplier of Europe’s finest bespoke dinner services. Thousands of aristocratic families across Europe ordered Gien sets adorned with family crests or monograms, and descendents continue to place orders today. While some of the processes have been brought up to speed, the company still manufactures 100% of its earthenware in Gien and honours traditional techniques such as paper printing and hand painting which gives slight variations between each piece.
Now we’re not so sure about fancy monogrammed china, but we do love a set of plates intricately decorated with curious French riddles. Especially when they come in orange, blue and pink, packaged beautifully in round wooden cheese boxes. We're stocking both dessert plate and biscuit plate sets, and the pink set is marriage themed (perfect gift alert!).
Daughter of Tony Lonsdale, the man behind the legendary Jean Machine stores, and denim model Chekkie Maskell, Chloe Lonsdale has jeans in her genes. She re-launched her godfather's denim label Made in Heaven in 2005 and we've long since been fans. Here's what life looks like as a mother of four at the helm of a major global denim force (who've just delivered another gorgeous collection for SS15); super busy, satisfying and all shades of blue!
Carhartt are celebrating an impressive 125 years in business and to mark the occasion we've given them free run of our project space. It is, as you'd expect, a full-blown workwear affair, clean and simple. On the rails we've got a really nice cross-section of Carhartt then and now; all-American workwear meets contemporary streetwear. Heritage bombers, classic work jackets and twill chinos sit alongside camo shirts, print slacks and their much-loved Ts, hoodies and sweatshirts. Say hello to your SS15 uniform.
A lot changes here. Things come and go. All the time. But some stuff, we've loved for what feels like forever. Pearl and Duralex glassware. Fridge jugs and milk bottles. Weck jars and Falcon enamelware. All of it has a home on the shelves we call the main run, slotted between our latest loves and finds - which are arriving thick and fast right now.
To start, we're taking spring cleaning very seriously with a gorgeous new range of household products from Common Good: dish soap, laundry liquid, all purpose cleaner, scented candles and hand soap. All sweet smelling, clean, green and worthy as can be.
Stacked next to them we're airing crispy white table linen from Variopinte; table cloths in two sizes, table runners and sets of napkins, all finished with classic grey or blue stripes.
Glassware also gets a new addition in the neat little Americano tumbler, we've got new stock of our favourite vintage willow pattern platters, and we'll soon be making space for pudding moulds and printed china. Spring at The Hambledon is here.
We survived Christmas. On a diet of wine gums and Michael Buble. Now we're a vegetable juice and reggae only zone. Really we are. Incongruant as Ska might be to Hampshire and the Cotswolds, it's the only thing that truly cheers a winter's day.
That and the arrival of spring in big cardboard boxes. Lucy and Victoria have been on a mega buying spree and we're literally stalking the local courier drivers in expectation. So much newness heading our way.
Mostly though, Shop Ban.do. Creative Director Jen Gotch is a major IG crush and the watermelon cooler is going to be the accessory of the summer. Mark. Our. Words.
Over at Cowley Manor, Laura spent twenty minutes talking to a customer called Cath about her career and love of shopkeeping before the penny finally dropped that it was the Cath, as in Kidston. The rest of the conversation went like this:
Laura: "Oh, what was the name of your shop? I might know it."
Eponymous owner: "Oh, erm...Cath Kidston."
Laura: "Never heard of it."
*jokes* - of course!
Back at the mothership, we took WinchQUAKE in our stride. Lucy thought it was her fridge rumbling. Rob thought it was his stomach. Not one single thing fell off the shelves.
Lemlem has just landed in womenswear, all bright and breezy, and way more than just another collection of beautiful threads. The label was founded in 2007 by former model and WHO Goodwill Ambassador, Liya Kebede, with the aim of inspiring economic independence for women in her native Ethiopia and preserving the traditional art of cotton weaving. Here we take a look behind the scenes for a serious dose of colour and sunshine.
Rob and our lovely new menswear assistant, Sam, took the annual trip to Berlin to buy A/W'15 last week. Here they caught up with some old friends - Merz B Schwanen, Universal Works and Filson - and brought a couple of great new brands into the fold.
It was Sam's first ever buying trip so Rob walked him through the process (shopping for nice threads isn't as easy as you might think!), and they bonded over the love of a good burger. Turning down an invitation to a veggie restaurant, the boys hotfooted it across the city on a tip-off in search of the best burger joint in Berlin - The Bird in Kreuzberg. And it was worth the trek. The burgers were indeed tasty, and they met Plya, a beautiful Hungarian Vizler who sat doe-eyed watching them eat their burgers. Quite possibly the highlight of the trip.
Anonymousism, Apenteur, Baracuta, Barena, Beams Plus, Buzz Rickson's, Carhartt, Champion by Todd Snyder, Christys', Converse, Edwin, Engineered Garments, Filson, Gitman Bros, Grenson, Iron heart, L.V.C., Merz b. Schwanen, Moscot, Norse Projects, Oliver Spencer, Orlebar Brown, Our Legacy, Redwing, Sunspel, Tanner Goods, Trickers, Universal Works and Woolrich.
What was the original inspiration behind Studio Nicholson?
To create an advanced contemporary womenswear brand based on a menswear silhouette.
Describe your typical working day.
Before lunch I devote my time to business matters, after lunch is all about the design and development.
Who or what couldn't you work without?
Beth Hackett, my Global Brand Director and Japanese Brown Rice Tea.
What do you like most about what you do?
Selecting fabric - it's at the core of everything I do.
Who or what inspires you?
Japan. I visit at least once a year and it also happens to be our biggest single market.
Who would you most like to see wearing a Studio Nicholson design?
Which pieces from the AW14 collection have made their way into your wardrobe?
The Flynn pant - a great pleat-front cropped wool and cashmere trouser - and the Irving Skirt - the simplest silk slip skirt that works with everything.
What has been your proudest Studio Nicholson moment to date?
Being called a 'Womenswear Hero' in Monocle.
What has been the most important lesson learned?
Patience gets you everywhere and to expect nothing.
What would you like to do in the future?
Open our first bricks and mortar store in London and launch menswear.
And finally, what is team Studio Nicholson's guilty pleasure?
Novelty stationery from Japan!
The Studio Nicholson Pre SS15 collection is now available in store.