As the buy for each new season progresses, a bit of a theme often starts to emerge. Style references, sometimes subtle, sometimes undeniable, that culminate in a distinct look throughout the store. For SS17, we were seeing the '80s. A coming-of-age kind of summer, fun, laid-back and beachy. The sun shines endlessly and there are pools and palm trees and parties. Think The Breakfast Club meets Miami Vice. Yes, we're in Miami, definitely Miami. But Miami Nice. No bad hair or shoulder pads in sight. Just saturated pastels and bleached out stripes, high waists and relaxed, oversized shapes; metallic details, fun prints and just the right amount of kitsch. This is Miami Nice as seen in womenswear.
We love cherries and we love cake, and right now we also have a thing for La Cerise sur le Gâteau, the beautiful French linen which, quite true to its name, is setting the tone for SS/17 in homewares. All washed out pastels and trails of gold polka dots. Here, founder Anne Hubert talks us through the La Cerise sur le Gâteau story and some of the highlights from the brand's Instagram feed.
Summer term just started and we’re all taking that as a good excuse for a fresh new notebook courtesy of Write Sketch &, the latest addition to our stationery department. The collection caught the eye of Lucy and Victoria back in January at Maison&Objet. Our theme for summer, Miami Nice, was taking shape - all saturated pastels, strong prints and nods to fun days gone by - and Write Sketch & was the perfect addition with its bold colours and retro geometrics.
The brand was founded in 2014 by Italians Matteo Carrubba and Angela Tomasoni, two designers with a decade long partnership at the head of their own agency specialising in art direction in the design and fashion worlds. With Write Sketch &, the duo created something for themselves, combining their passion for print and obsession with quality.
The collection is inspired by the Memphis Group, an Italian design and architecture group founded in Milan by Ettore Sottsass in 1981 which designed postmodern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass and metal objects. Google the ‘Carlton’ room divider, the group’s most iconic design, and you instantly see where Write Sketch & is coming from. It’s a strong look and just the right amount of ‘80s throwback we’re loving right now.
Production is 100% Italian and uses Fedrigoni paper with Pantone inks and super strength thread stitched binding. The thing we're really loving though is the ability to fully open each page to 180 °. Not a design feature we’d really considered before now, but actually super practical. No more holding down pages that just want to jump up. These, stationery fans, are notebooks worth getting geeky about.
We had an inkling we were in for something quite special upon Meri Meri’s return to our Project Space, but wow. Stef and her team from Meri Meri HQ arrived on Tuesday, and here we are with the results of two full days spent transforming the window and mezzanine level.
We don't think we’ve ever seen a brand make the space their own quite so completely. It’s like walking into Meri Meri wonderland and we absolutely love it. Boughs of blossom, garlands of stars, mermaids and dream-catchers, rainbows and unicorns; colour, fun and gorgeous stuff everywhere you look. Plus a beautifully made bed to crash in when it all gets a bit too much.
Yes, we have a bed in the shop window, made up with Meri Meri’s new organic bedding range and cushions. We’ve got their storage baskets and soft toys, bunting and dream-catchers, totes and purses, badges and clothes patches, plus even more on the stationery and party front (including their Meri Meri Liberty collaboration).
Highly, highly tempting at every turn. Here until Sunday 23 July.
Easter isn’t egg-shaped here. Instead we’re focusing on the best quality chocolate we can get our hands on, serious artisan bars through to fun flavour combos. Here’s a tempting and timely round-up of our current confectionery scene.
OCELOT: New for spring, this is the eye-catcher of the pack. The pretty packaging is just the start though; gorgeous flavour combos, great quality and a commitment to sustainable, organic and fair-trade production pack substance. Founded by a married couple of former chefs from Edinburgh, Ocelot’s chocolate comes from Peru and the Eastern Congo, where the farmers and environment are cared for as much as the produce. Bee Pollen and Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla, Porcelana with Salted Almonds; we’re struggling to narrow down a favourite.
LAND: Another new arrival. Slightly more serious in tone, this is chocolate for connoisseurs, created by Phil Landers, a former BBC Radio production employee turned master chocolatier. The transformation took four years, a lot of time spent in south and central America learning about harvesting, fermentation and new cacao varieties, and a stint back in London training as a chef. This is his resulting collection of single origin and single bean bars, and they are very, very good. Our taste buds may be in training, but we can definitely detect the strong floral tones and underlying berry notes in the Nicaragua Dark. And we’re certainly growing very accustomed to Venezuelan Milk, which develops into a stronger fudge flavour and ends with a slight nuttyness. This is where it’s at, chocolate enthusiasts.
CREIGHTON'S: Our fondness for Creighton’s and their chocolate granny gnashers shows no sign of waning. This small, family-run business, is headed up by mother and daughter team, Andrea and Lucy, who are just lovely and know how to have fun in the serious world of artisan chocolate. Their new spring collection of breakfast bars has just arrived, and we’re seriously wondering if we can get away with meal replacement. Coffee and crumbs, a spoonful of cereal and maple and bacon, surely a fine way to proceed any day.
Pretty much every day at The Hambledon is a good mail day, but Monday was a particular highlight. After a long journey from downtown LA, Maison Louis Marie arrived to much anticipation and managed to wow us all within minutes.
We’ve opened some sweet smelling boxes in our time but this delivery literally wafted into store, displacing every lesser particle on the ground floor with some beautifully complex and delicate floral notes. And then there’s the packaging; so simple, so very elegant. It comes as no surprise then that the fancy French name is no marketing gimmick, and there’s a story here much further flung than the fragrance labs of downtown LA.
It starts in 1792 with Louis Marie Aubert du Petit Thouars, a pioneer in French botanical history. During the French revolution, he was exiled to Madagascar, La Reunion and Mauritius where he discovered a huge variety of plant specimens. After ten years he returned to France bearing a collection of over 2000 plants and was promptly elected a member of the prestigious Académie des Sciences.
Fast forward 200 years and Marie du Petit Thouars grew up in Belgium and France making candles and experimenting with scents in her mother’s greenhouse. She then embarked on a career in fashion, initially working for Isabella Blow and later becoming a fashion editor in London for The Sunday Times. Her next move was to LA to study fine art photography, eventually opening a studio, 1294 Sunset, where she went on to launch Maison Louis Marie in 2013.
Combining her lifelong interest in fragrance with respect for her family’s rich botanical history, the Maison Louis Marie line is centered around unique floral fragrances inspired by Marie’s childhood memories. While she has no formal training as a perfumer, the subtlety and delicacy of the fragrances are testament to a great deal of time, care and talent, and the slow and methodical process of building a scent that she describes.
No. 4 Bois de Balincourt combines sandalwood with subtle notes of cedar wood, vetiver, nutmeg and cinnamon to recall the smell of her family estate outside of Paris, and specifically the smell of the surrounding forests after heavy rain. While No. 10 is spicy yet floral, inspired by the site where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. Ancestor Louis Marie also makes an appearance, on the boxes of each candle. Drawings penned while in exile, capturing the Dryorkis Antidris Thouars orchid which he discovered and named.
All of it, perfection from start to finish, and we couldn’t be happier to be one of only a few stockists here in the UK; their candles, rollerball perfumes and luxe hand washes, making a final icing on the cake kind of addition to our new look bath and beauty department.
Spring clean has been taken to a whole new level at The Hambledon this year. Our bath & beauty department has had a top-to-toe refresh and welcomes an exciting line-up of new brands, from the best in natural skincare to cult Stateside beauty products.
Come and meet the author Imogen Owen!
Friday 7 April
Imogen will be in store signing copies of her brand new book Modern Calligraphy Workshop.
And she loves a good swear. Bring in your favourite cuss word and she'll demonstrate her beautiful writing for you to keep!
Welcome to the newness of our Bath & Beauty department. Let us introduce you to the new brands we have curated for you!
HONEY CORN: A boutique, 100% natural and organic skincare range that caught our attention, this time centred around Manuka honey "liquid gold". Made in small, artisan batches, the anti-ageing properties are notably potent, the face cream goes on a treat and we're loving the 2in1 Cream Cleanser & Face Wash. SHOP HONEY CORN
NAILMATIC: Probably the most fun, environmentally-friendly and fashion-forward nail polishes out there so we had to have them. We're stocking their grown-up polishes (great colours, solvent free, phthalate free, formaldehyde-free) and a nail polish remover that actually smells nice (lavender and 100% natural). SHOP NAILMATIC
JAO BRAND: Made from 28 plants, fruits, butters and flower oils Jao Brand's Goe Oil has become a bit of a cult product over in the States; a multi-purpose balm that does it all to great effect. It is indeed amazing stuff but we're also total converts of their anti-ageing face cream. SHOP JAO BRAND
TANGENT GC: GC stands for garment care and Tangent started out providing "a superior range of garment care products that will naturally and effectively give your garments a long life". Their delicate liquid detergent with orange oil makes hand washing clothes an actual joy, and their range of organic hand washes are very, very good. SHOP TANGENT GC
SISTER & CO: A beautiful collection of truly natural products made with the finest skin superfoods from around the world; 100% organic, cold-pressed coconut oil, raw nut butters and milks and pure essential oils. The Apricot, Vanilla and Lemon Bodymelt smells so good we actually want to eat it. SHOP SISTER & CO
AROMATIKA: Natural and organic bath and skincare range, founded by a qualified aromatherapist and hand-made in small batches in Devon. Essentials oils are used generously so this is the stuff you'll be smelling when you walk in the shop. We're loving the orange and geranium body wash and the fragipani bath salts. SHOP AROMATIKA
The bath and beauty department has had a spring overhaul and Sister & Co. is one of the incoming brands we’re all taking home, testing out and totally loving; the products are beautiful, but it’s also knowing the stuff that goes into making them and the story behind it all that has us sold.
The brand was founded by Sophie, a London girl who discovered the amazing effect of using raw, organic coconut on her skin while holidaying in India. Suffering a skin breakout, a local lady handed her some raw coconut oil and it quickly cleared everything up. So impressed by the results she tried and failed to find coconut oil of the same purity, lightness and absorbency when she returned to London and so set about sourcing it herself. Eventually she found what she was looking for, the ultimate grade of raw coconut oil, cold-pressed at a small organic farm on the Sri Lankan coast. And so her original product, Sister & Co. Coconut Oil, came to be.
Having previously been sceptical about the effectiveness of natural skincare products, believing she needed something 'stronger', Sophie was now inspired by the ability of food-grade, nutrient-rich natural ingredients to heal and nourish the body. Looking to the market for entirely natural products she found there were barely any options; even those brands that label their products as 'natural' very often add chemical fillers, preservatives and synthetic fragrance which even in small quantities can compromise the integrity of any active natural ingredients.
Giving up her career as a lawyer and working with a cosmetics chemist, Sister & Co. now encompasses a complete ‘skin food’ range, made using the finest cold-pressed plant oils, raw nut butters and milks, sugars, salts, clays, waxes and pure essential oils. No synthetic compounds chemical preservatives, stabilisers or fillers, synthetic fragrances or toxins of any kind in any quantity are added. Plus they carry out production runs every twelve weeks and bring batches to market straight away meaning that every product is at its peak efficacy.
Organic, vegan, vegetarian, dairy and gluten free, the stuff is basically edible and smells good enough to eat. The coconut oil is the ultimate multi-purpose product and can be used as a cleanser, make-up remover, moisturiser, hand cream, hair treatment and bath oil. The Apricot Vanilla and Lemon Bodymelt is just scrummy, and we think should also be a flavour of ice-cream. And we’re also fascinated and enjoying many a conversation about the effectiveness of the Charcoal Tooth Whitening Polish. It really does work. Come and take a look at our big smiles and shiny white sparklers next time you’re in. We’ve got Sister & Co. to thank.