>> You’re going to have to endure some sentimental mush as I’m deep in the process of packing up six years worth of belongings (plus the remnants from my flat before this current one, where Style Bubble first began) and inadvertently stumble upon things that send me on mad Google Image searches. Today, it was a Sonia by Sonia Rykiel cherry belt, which then spiralled from Instagram into a look back at the shop counter culture in London, which I luckily got to experience. London’s shoptastic past is something I regularly fantasise about. My time machine destination would be the stores that set things in motions such as Biba, Granny Takes a Trip, Mr Freedom – but as second best, I live vicariously through writers like Paul Gorman, who knows this subject like the back of his hand. Growing up, as I began to physically seek out the weird and the wonderful in London’s warren of indepedent emporiums, Camden and to a lesser extent Hyper Hyper in Kensington (I caught the vaguely crap tail end of this iconic London destination, which later inspired Dover Street Market) but the shop that defined my lustful relationship with fashion in my teenage years was called errr… The Shop, later known as The World According To and finally set up as a basement outpost in Maison Bertaux, which sadly shut up shop a few years ago.
Max Karie With full knowledge that my friends and I couldn’t afford a single thing, we’d step gingerly down the steps (of the Brewer Street store) and rifle through the racks giving each other sideway glances as we baulked at the prices. Fortunately owners Max Karie (who now consults for Cambridge Satchel Company) and Pippa Brooks (all-round multitasker but mainly does the sourcing for Hackney curiosities store M. Goldstein) were obliging and just about ok with us scroungy browsers. Their way with retail was perhaps a little ahead of its time with its eclectic yet zeitgeist-ridden selection. Silas, Hysteric Glamour X-Girl, their own Shopgirl line and later Marc by Marc Jacobs and Sonia Rykiel were all part of that late nineties to early millennium vibe when fashion didn’t feel too precious or overwrought. A pair of Dunlops emblazoned with cute Babycham graphics had me trekking out to the shop on a weekly basis to just stare at them. That was satisfaction enough. When the bores on Guardian regularly rant “Fashion taps into your insecurities andmakes you buy stuff you don’t need”, I am clutching on to memories like those unrequited Babycham x Dunlops. Going to The Shop/The World According To every weekend was enough to feed the brain and make you dream a little. You didn’t leave saddened because you couldn’t buy anything, but hopeful that one day you might just be able to.
Oh, and I’ve only just discovered Pippa’s previous life as awesome pop star with musical partner James in their various outfits Shopgirl, All about Eve Babitz and Posh. Check out this video “Exotic Pictures” featuring real Harajuku girls, a lot of Elastoplast pink vinyl and Soho at its smutty finest.