Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Ain't Nothin' Wrong With a Bit of Daydreamin

If you think Crochet is something only your Granny is good at, think twice. The designers at Daydream Nation have partnered up with designer Guru Peter Jensen in a fantastically avant-garde yet wearable jewellery collection, meshing up woven colourful threads with rock n' roll chains, and sweetly attached to the hip by massively opulent pearls. This uncommon combination of tradition and eccentricity makes for huge statement pieces, which are bound to turn some heads and loose eyeballs in the streets of London, and more. Like this bracelet below and the necklace above.
Obviously enough, Daydream Nation is a team of 2 siblings, brother and sister, who hail straight out of Central Saint Martins and the Royal School of Arts, to create a selection of accessories that are at once provocative and beautifully elegant. You won't see this marriage of styles anywhere else and this is why you must give them a chance. 


I did and I don't regret it. My green crochet and pearl necklace never leaves my neck. And for £70-£90 the wear and the reaction you'll get out of a Daydream Nation piece is quite worth the investment. Marylebone jewellery shop Kabiri (a personal favourite of mine) offers a wide variety of pieces by DN, while hip multi-brand b-Store, Selfridges and the lovely Labour of Love in Islington, carry a slightly reduced selection. But there is something there for everyone, the splashy, the fun, the silly, and of course the rock n' roll.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Boys Will Be Boys

I've been receiving a few comments by a couple of my male followers lately. Yes I have male followers indeed, believe it or not, and they are slowly losing interest in what LondonZest has to say about waxing, eyebrows and fashionology 101. Shaved by the bell. In this entry, I have decided to focus my attention on something quite male-skewed. Actually, it's completely male-skewed but could definitely be of interest to some of my "married or in relationships" lady followers. If you've got a Dad or a brother, this may be of interest to you too. Well basically, after much rambling, this is for everyone. 

Last weekend, as I was meandering down Old Street, I stumbled upon this gem of a spot- an old-school barbershop and traditional (yet super hip) English male grooming salon. At Murdock Shoreditch (there are 2 others- one in Mayfair and one at Liberty's), you can get the pampering you've always deserved without feeling embarrassed about it. No more sneaking out of the house on Saturday at dawn to make sure your girlfriend doesn't see the excitement on your face as you head to the hair/nail/shaving salon around the corner. No more lying in her face about the manicure "you never got, what are you talking about?" and no more of those "manicures are for gay people" comments. There is nothing girly about this man's man haven of English elegance. Walking into this wooden, leather and shaving cream scented 20 square meter box, you'll find yourself to be overwhelmed with the sensation of manliness.

It's all about the wet shave at Murdock, the most precise and traditional shaving technique there ever was and ever will be. In addition, your man can enjoy a nice and manly shampoo, a hair trim, a curly little mustache, or a buff and scruffy manly beard.

The perfect gift for the man in your life (or for yourself if you are the man in question), the shaving gift boxes will make any of his male friends raging with jealousy. Gift certificates for a 2 hour traditional wet shave or a mustache trim are available to purchase and quite the show stealer at a birthday party gathering. So don't hesitate to splurge on the man in your life. He will pay you back in due time.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Hot Dog in The City

London is chic, very very chic and so elegant. I seem to forget it sometimes. You dress up a lot in London. You wear a dab more makeup than you would normally wear in another less expensive city. You find yourself taking a cab here and there and spending a few too many coins on transport. Yeah it's all swell and nice to dine out, enjoy a few luncheons here and there, cab around beautiful London and relish in the lap of luxury, but it's also easy to forget yourself in this golden cloud of leisure. 

I find that it's important to dirty yourself up a bit, at least once in a while, especially in a city like London. So who cares if you're wearing high heeled stilettos doing it, at least you're putting yourself out there. My new, but OLD, favourite Sausage joint in Marylebone Village Biggles, is my new dirty little secret. It's my new lunch spot, my new splurge. Yeah! Break me off a piece of that.

With a colourful range of flavours, from Morroccan and Toulouse, Lamb and Rosemary to the Veggie and the breakfast sausage option, and an accent of Biggles seasoning (above), these beautiful and amazingly juicy/tasty/electric sausage bangers would beat a Cipriani overcrowded and overpriced veal Milanese any night of the week. Forget about those fad diets, follow Metropolitan Mum's advice, let yourself go, live happily. Except that I might want to add that Mr Atkins would have been a huge supporter of Biggles, protein and healthy fat and all. It's to Biggles credit though, that the meat is pure and additive-free and will gift you with a long and happy life. No doubt. Add a half a baguette, some relish, mustard and ketchup on top and you're bound to live through the first real Cuban election.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Blaze it Up!

A couple of my friends have been "launching their own businesses" lately and I've been feeling quite sentimental about it all. Not only does it impress me so much that a 20 something year old can quit her regular day job to dedicate her time and energy to something she really loves and feels passionate about, but it also makes me so proud to know someone who has this much determination and passion for a personal project. In New York, I used to meet tons of young entrepreneurs. They would always leave me bright-eyed and curious to know more about their passion, their decisions to do it, their relentless ambition and their thirst for success.

Surely enough, my friend Christina and her friend and business partner Louisa have come to London all the way from the Big Apple to present their new Guy French blazer collection next Thursday, March 25th from 6-9pm, at an intimate trunk show in a Chelsea home. Their collection of cool and original jackets is so hot that they've already managed to get articles published in Daily Candy and WWD and many fashion blogs. Guy French jackets have only been around since February but they sure are popular and are already selling like hot cakes in trunk shows all over the US. 

The line is directly inspired by the women they know. They're smart, sophisticated women--who have lived in some of the most dynamic cities in the world--with great taste and an eye for good value. The Guy French ladies even named their first line after them. The Camille jacket (below) is one of them- loose, relaxed and sophisticated, it personifies its namesake perfectly: a young Parisian woman working in crisis communication in New York. 

They are starting small to focus on the fit, attention to detail, and quality of materials. Each of their garments--showcasing colorful, patterned, 100% silk liners, imported Italian wool and 4-ply silks fabrics--are made by hand in Manhattan. All jackets are made to order for £250-400 and are available at trunk shows and online.

If you are interested in attending the trunk show, please RSVP and ask for address details at, reference Emily at LondonZest, and they will put you on the list. There is of course no obligation to buy, just an excuse to view the jackets and mingle with other ladies. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Lights, Camera, Blog-tion!

As I obsess and salivate over my newly acquired toy, my super professional blogger camera, I think to myself that I have absolutely no idea how to use it. 

This makes me think of swimming. You think you know how to do it until someone teaches you the strokes and the breathing and then you think, you had absolutely no idea how to do it your whole life. And you were just pretending. Taking nice photographs is like swimming. You think you're the best photographer you've ever known and you are so proud to upload these gorgeous snapshots onto your blog, but actually, they're plain, they lack depth and the lighting is all wrong. 

I am deeply in need of a photo tutorial. My blog is fine but the next step is to make it a fantastic photo and text blog. And lately my iPhone photos (like the one above) have been boring me to death. So a photography course springs to mind, and it comes highly recommended by a couple of photographer friends. Studio Time offers full day workshops for beginners and amateurs (me me me!!!!) for £120. They will teach you everything from taking fantastic portraits and landscapes to the intricacies of using an SLR camera like mine. 

I was lucky enough to receive a voucher to a beginner's workshop last Christmas and while I haven't used it yet, I have booked it, and I am very excited to finally be able call myself a photographer! Well not quite but almost. A short walk from Bethnal Green station, and a hop and a skip from Liverpool Street station you can rediscover the magic of photography all in one day and gain your confidence as photo-blogger again.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Lobster & Roses: The Posh Version of the Surf n' Turf

For all of you who haven't noticed it yet, Spring has sprung. Yes it's springtime in London, finally! Gotta love it here when the weather is this bright and cheerful. I love it. I feel great, ready for whatever is to come my way. Bring it on. The spring flowers are beginning to bloom, kids are running and scooting around with Mum & Dad in Hyde Park, pub terrasses are crowding up, I am riding my bicycle everywhere, enjoying the outdoors, breathing in the London spring air. One of the great plusses of spring is the amazing luxury of time that we seem to suddenly have. We sit outdoors for hours and we enjoy - a chilled glass of white wine on the tip of your lips.

The smell of freshly-cut roses and tulips from a neighboring florist. 

The sight of a large metal tray packed with fresh, sea-scented, lemony oysters. 

The sound of crackling lobster claws and the feeling of salty meaty juice trickling down your chin.

The smell of fresh spring air. A great place to enjoy all of these magical sensations. The Oyster Bar at the Bibendum on Old Brompton Road offers almost all of the above. All you need is a little company to enjoy the moment with and you're good to go. The special historic Michelin building does not only house the cool and hip Conran Shop but it also offers the best combination of seafood and flowers all in one place. Gorgeous flowers might I add. There are no other places like this, in London, or anywhere. It is what it is: a chance for a delightful Saturday afternoon in the middle of springtime.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Perfect Gift to a Blogger Soon-to-Be Columnist

A few of my friends have been giving me the same present over the last year or so, thinking that this was indeed, the best idea for someone like me - a blogger. The pride in their eyes gleamed when they handed it over to me, the little Smythson diary.

"You'll be a columnist one day and I will continue to gift you with this present until you become one. I am SUCH a supportive friend." Indeed, such supportive friends I have. "Thanks" I would say, loving and embracing their support, yet wondering where it suddenly comes from. I NEVER said I wanted to be a columnist! Why the sudden urge to turn me into Carrie Bradshaw! Anyhow, I have been enjoying these little gifts. Not because I am deeply hoping that these aspirations of my friends will come true but because they feel quite nice in your hand, they are quite handy, and they fit right into your blogger purse. Whip it out when you've got a genius idea for your blog. It looks so professional, so Sherlock Holmes. It's a great gift, for non-columnists and non-bloggers alike. And it's a daily reminder that we still enjoy our little paper-made items to write random notes and draw funny pictures in. We are not obsessed with technology, and can live without it. In fact, sometimes, a little Smythson notepad can fulfill the note-taking desire much better than your Blackberry or iPhone. 

Smythson can be found all over London, from your favourite department store, Sloane Street and New Bond Street, to the adorable Westbourne Grove. It's no secret gem, but it's quite a fantastic place if you're on the hunt for the perfect last-minute gift.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Women of the Cloth

Nevermind spending hundreds of pounds on spring scarfs, cushion covers, drapes, curtains and sarongs at Liberty's and Harvey Nichs, this spring and summer it's all about being on a budget and making things yourself. All you need is a needle and thread and a basic idea of how to sew and you're halfway there. A sowing machine can never hurt but it's possible without one, if you're up to the challenge. At the Cloth House on Berwick Street in Soho, you'll have at your disposition all the most beautiful fabrics you've ever wanted, from all over the world and for a good price per meter.

Their philosophy is pure and simple: source the best fabrics from local villages and support local craftsmen and local traditions. From Asia, India and Africa, all traditions are covered and you'll be sure to find fabrics and patterns you could only ever find at their local markets and shops.



Buttons, ribbons and funky colored threads, all of these accessories can add an extra splash of colour to your fabrics and give a special personality to any scarf or wrap.

This special gem of a store is not to be missed if you fancy rummaging through colourful bits and fabrics and making your own stuff. You'll fall in love with all of it, the place, the helpful staff, the cloth, the colours. You'll want to take the whole place home and make an entire outfit for yourself, your kids and even your dolls. Maybe even your dog. So give it a visit, you won't regret it.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Giving back to the Community

Today I celebrate 6 months of having this blog. I can't stress enough how much it has changed my life. Getting up every morning- nearly- and dedicating that one very special hour of my time to researching, writing and communicating with other lovely bloggers. Discovering London in a way that I never thought I could, just because I have my camera and my notepad on hand and I have to, I just have to, keep feeding into my oh so cherished London journal. It's been a valuable part of my daily routine, and London is all the more special to my eyes because of this blog.

So with this in mind I would also like to hand out a couple blog awards, since it leads nowhere to pat yourself on the shoulder. Or it does, but only for so long. Here is a Top 5 list of a few of my favourite daily reads from my fellow British bloggers. These ladies have caught my eye, simply by telling their story, or by sharing anecdotes from their lives. Some of them also venture out in London and inspire me to keep my eyes peeled for hidden corners and little charms off the beaten track. 
  1. Wee Birdy- by bringing London to life on the "page" with her quirky words and her colourful photographs
  2. The Bottom of the Ironing Basket- for sharing her talented sense of aesthetics, poetic life approach and gorgeous photographs with us.
  3. A Rose Beyond the Thames- for bringing the "daily read" to the next level, by discussing anecdotal and bigger issues and always letting her lively voice shine through.
  4. Metropolitan Mum- for giving us a glimpse into the fabulous family life of Little L., Big M and MM, from the wee events in a child's life and the trials of tribulations of being a mom to just being a woman in a fun metropolitan city like London.
  5. Glitterball- for spicing up my reading portfolio in the morning through her love of fashion, home decor and people and simply by being her lively, bubbly self.
So thank you again, lovely lady bloggers. Enjoy the beginning of Spring and have a happy Thursday!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Living in the Trenches

After a memorable holiday in the sun, all I can think about is palm trees, turquoise blue water and sun-kissed skin. Unfortunately, since I've been back, I've seen a lot more rain, cloudy skies and gray-toned cheeks than any of the above. I love London, don't get me wrong. The rain has always appealed to me as a kind of a necessity to a romantic Sunday afternoon filled with long walks in Notting Hill, tea and scones at the local coffee shop. But now, I am desperately seeking to make this week go faster and Spring seem nearer than it actually is. Screw the rain, tea and miserable baked sweets. I want a colourful cocktail with a little umbrella in it. I want a sunburn on the back of my neck and some aloe vera to soothe it with. I want some salsa and guacamole. I want a hot and humid afternoon at the beach. But I can't have that so I've got to find a way to survive.

Here's my remedy. Find myself a warm and practical accessory to protect me from the rainy weather. The famous trench coat is the obvious answer. The trench coat will help me find my way and help me last til the much awaited springtime in London. So let me present you with a selection of my favourite S/S 10 zesty discoveries.

The zestiest one of all, the APC trench (to find at Liberty's)

It's short, it's spunky, it's well-tailoured and it's definitely sexy. The detachable hood makes for a perfect rain and shine accessory and you'll love riding your bike in it since there is no excess material to get caught in the wheels of your Pashley bicycle.

My guilty-pleasure and object of desire, the pink Burberry trench, timeless

It's not as pricey as you'd think, though it still exceeds the amount I would spend on a barely-there piece of cloth. At £695, you can look, act and dress the part of a glamazon living in London. Love the pink, it gives the coat a little spice, a little attitude, a little je ne sais quoi.

The wanna-be Burberry trench, the Banana Republic trench coat


For £140, this adorable belted trench gives you the confidence to walk into any room and feel like you're worth as much as the Burberry-clad Emma Watson: 9 million bucks. 

The Comptoir des Cotonniers trench, a far cry from the Burberry one, but a lasting style at that

The baggy hood makes for an air of skateboarder meets Harry Potter and I've gotta admit, I kinda like it. 

So go on, confront the rainy weather with the Brit-style trench coat. It will guarantee a faster recovery to Spring and a long-lasting fashion item to last you for at least a couple years.