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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Prints & The Revolution

After what has felt like ages of colour blocking, statement brights and the 'new nudes', prints have rolled back into town to shake things up just in time for Summer. Not too long ago, I blogged about fruit motifs and have noticed more and more of these fresh prints being served up in the shops along with tribal designs, floral pieces and bold stripes (to name a few).

I'm pleased to see that there is a huge range of prints available - it's no secret to those that know me that I am a leopard print fiend and when it comes to clothes and accessories, the more detail the better tends to be my mantra - this blog will cover my top picks for looking pretty in prints, with a particular focus on bags.

Stripes are making a huge comeback this season with Prada and Jil Sander leading the way with their bold multicoloured designs. Prada's new (and already iconic) stripy handbags are coveted by many and can currently be drooled over in the window display at House of Fraser, Buchanan Street in a selection of stripy variations that would give Bertie Bassett a run for his money. Most of Prada's current season is adorned with some kind of bold print, but it seems to be their take on stripes that is causing the biggest stir. Karen Millen's stripe box bag (£250) will give a similar look for less - but as it is limited edition you'll need to be quick!

I'm really liking Jil Sander's Market striped bag (below) - it reminds me of a Tesco carrier bag and it's nautical blue and white stripes get the thumbs up from me:

Market striped silk-twill bag (£445) by Jil Sander

Want the look for less? You could always sail round to Tesco and buy a loaf, they are literally giving these bags away. Or you can check out this nautical stripe bag for £15 at ASOS.

Floral prints are definitely growing on me (sorry) this season, and twee, flowery pieces normally championed by Cath Kidston are everywhere. My favourite floral prints so far have to be those featured in D&G's collection. D&G to me have totally nailed floral prints and I have seen few do it as well as they have for Spring/ Summer '11. I especially love this satchel, perfect for a picnic in the park. However, with price tags averaging around the £600 mark for a D&G bag I doubt I would have anything left for picnic food. Fear not, Urban Outfitters have a cute range of floral bags for a fraction of the price, hurrah!

Nike's collaboration with Liberty has seen the sportswear brand give their sneakers a feminine fash-over, with their famous Blazer mid and low tops, Dunk hi skinny & Air Force 1 lows decorated with Liberty's iconic floral ditsy prints. These shoes have been flying off the shelves ever since the first collaboration a few years ago and are girly enough to convince those of us who wouldn't normally wear a pair of trainers to try them out. This month another collection was released and at around £72 a pair they are sure to be just as popular.

From Nike & Liberty's collaboration

Finally, we have my favourite print - leopard. I have already published a blog professing my love for the mighty animal print so will keep this mention brief. This season, my jackpot* leopard print piece is Vivienne Westwood's 4646 Leopard bag with pink accents (£355). Purrfect.

Will you be rocking the prints this season?

* a 'jackpot' item is my most recommended/ wanted piece.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Shops: La La Land

One if the best things about living in the West End is the shops. You won't find too many chain stores up this neck of the woods, and shoppers feel well and truly spoiled for choice with so many unique boutiques, vintage stores, gift shops and cafes to choose from. On the other hand, it can be hard to stand out in a crowd of offbeat and exclusive retailers who all try to offer a break from the norm. De Courcy's Arcade on Cresswell Lane is home to a handful of independent stores, and La La Land has quickly become my favourite store of the bunch.

La La Land opened in September 2010 and occupies a bright ground floor shop at the entrance of the arcade. The store specialises in selling clothes, accessories and gifts by cult labels and Scottish designers. After visiting the store I had to write about it, as I was blown away with the selection and cute displays and frankly wanted to buy almost everything myself!

Some of the cute jewellery displayed in-store

I recognised some of the labels on offer such as old favourites Tatty Devine and Lazy Oaf, as well as pieces by lesser-known labels like Brat & Suzie and the ever-amazing comic-strip style headbands by Janine Basil. The store displays were extremely eye-catching and quirky, such as a selection of rings and brooches on a cake stand and necklaces being displayed on coat hangers:

A selection of jewellery and accessories displayed with a La La Land twist

What sets La La Land apart from most other West End Boutiques is the attention to detail and selection of designers. There aren't many other stores that support Scottish independent labels as passionately as this one and although the store started with the aim of exclusively stocking Scottish designers, they now hand-pick unique smaller designers from all over the world. This initiative gives new talent without the opportunity for retail a platform, and La La Land are still on the lookout for new designers. The shop is run by the multi-talented Sarah Graham, who has a background in vintage retail, fashion journalism and styling. Sarah - who is also the Editor of the rather excellent Coveted Magazine (known as 'Scotland's first and only fashion magazine dedicated to supporting & promoting The Scottish Fashion Industry') - decided to open La La Land to offer a change from the busy and predictable high street, to support Scottish design and to stock the cult labels that she (and so many others, myself included) loves.

Accessories and headpieces available at La La Land (including my favourite POW! Comic-strip headbands by Janine Basil)

La La Land offers independent fashion at affordable prices - from just £3 for a set of Lazy Oaf badges, to mid-range (about £25 for a hand printed Brat & Suzie tee) and the most expensive item in store will set you back £180 (a gorgeous handmade jacket made from luxurious fabrics such as wool and mohair). The customers that walk through the door can vary from young girls to students, to the more mature customers, and even though the products sold cater predominantly to les femmes, La La Land hasn't forgotten about the guys with their 'Token Men's shelf' attracting boyfriends and hip dads alike!

Clothing includes tees by Brat & Susie, £25 and other independent designers

Sarah specially selects her stock from smaller original brands and the shop has a selection of unique pieces you will struggle to find in other stores. I chatted to Sarah about the pieces in store and she showed me her current favourites, cameo necklaces made by the super-talented Untamed Menagerie. These beauties are priced at £25/ £28 and are delicately crafted with slogans such as 'Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History' and 'Carpe Diem':

A selection of necklaces by Untamed Menagerie, £25-£28

I also enjoyed looking at other items, particularly the well-made and eye-catching tights by Les Queues de Sardines, which at £35 I may have to save for a pay-day treat:

Lightning bolt and Winged design tights, £35 by Les Queues de Sardines

La La Land are official stockists of cult labels and at times even exclusive stockists - colouring books (£7) and paper dolls (£10) by I Love Mel won't be found anywhere else and make great gifts. The store also exhibited designs by fashion illustrator Shona McGuiggan and now stocks gift cards by the designer. The shop is also open to collaborations and keeping local talent involved and there are projects and events planned for the near future. An upcoming project involves designing the shop window, and local artists specialising in fashion illustration/ patterns will be commissioned to design a display for it (which has a prominent placement on Cresswell lane). The store will also be launching its Spring/ Summer 2011 collections very shortly and the sale featuring items from Autumn/ Winter 2010 will continue for the rest of this week.

As previously mentioned, La La Land are always interested in new designers and you can get in touch with Sarah by email (please include photos of your work) or just by popping into the store in person.

Be sure to visit La La Land on your next trip to Cresswell Lane, I promise you won't be disappointed by this brilliantly cute and quirky store.

To learn more about La La Land, or to shop online visit the website
Designers/ contributors can contact the store directly at: